Writers, Land of Culture

Agustina Bessa-Luís

Agustina Bessa-Luís is a Portuguese writer, born in Vila Meã in Amarante. With her many collaborations with several newspapers, she is now considered one of the most important voices of Portuguese contemporary novel-writing. Her début in literature was in 1948 with the story “O Mundo Fechado”, though she wrote her first novel (not published) at the age of 16.

Receiving several literary awards, she was honoured with the Order of Santiago (1979) and has been a member of the Science Academy of Lisbon since 1989.

She was a member of the Communità Europea degli Scrittori (Rome, 1961-1962) and directed the Porto newspaper “O Primeiro de Janeiro” as well as the National Theatre D. Maria II.

Apart from writing novels, she also compiled biographies on some historical figures from different fields. Amongotherworks, shewrote “Contos Impopulares” (1951), “A Sibila” (1954), “A Muralha” (1957), “Ternos Guerreiros” (1960), “Embaixada a Calígula” (1961), “Os Quatro Rios” (1964) , “A Brusca (1971), “Santo António” (1973), “As Pessoas Felizes” (1975), “As Fúrias” (1977), “Florbela Espanca” and “Fanny Owen” (1979, with the latter being made into a filmby Manoel de Oliveira, in 1981 underthetitle «Francisca»), “O Mosteiro” (1980), “Sebastião José” (1981), “Os Meninos de Ouro” (1983), “Adivinhas de Pedro e Inês” (1984), “A Corte do Norte” (1987), “Aforismos” (1988), “Eugénia e Silvina” (1989) and “Vale Abraão” (1991, being made into a filmby Manoel de Oliveira in 1993) .

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Augustina won several literature prizes, among others: the Delfim Guimarães Prize for the novel “A Sibila”, for the manuscript (1953) and the actual published novel, Eça de Queiroz Prize (1954), the Prize Ricardo Malheiros from the Science Academy of Lisbon (1966 and 1977), the Portuguese Pen Club Prize (1980) and the Grand Prize from the Portuguese Association of Writers for the novel “Os Meninos de Ouro” (1984) .

According to the Dicionário de Literatura Portuguesa (1996, p. 60), the work of Augustina as a whole, enormous in size, focusses mainly on the topic of the elaborate and manifold analysis of a changing society in Entre Douro and Minho on the one hand and a storytelling approach much influenced by the heritage of Camilo on the other hand.” However, Augustina was not only influenced by Portuguese literature, Dostoievski, Proust and Thomas Mann also played a role in the way she wrote.

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