Vergílio Ferreira (1916-1996) is considered as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest writers in the Portuguese language, as well as Fernando Pessoa and José Saramago. When his work was first translated into French by Gallimard and Métailié, reviewers compared him to Herman Hesse. His literary production is generally divided in two periods: Neorealism and Existentialism. As a teenager, he studied in a seminary and later he studied at the University of Coimbra. His experiences in the seminary are related in his most famous work Manhã Submersa (Misty Morning), published in 1953 and made into a film in 1980 (which was also shown at the Barbican’s ‘Second UK Portuguese Film Festival’ in 2011). He worked most of his life as a teacher in several places around Portugal and received various prestigious awards such as the Femina Prize in France (1990), the Europália Prize (1991), and the Camões Prize (1992).
Winner of Prix Femina 1990 I Winner of Prix Camões 1992
- Aparição (Apparition) Publisher: Quetzal I Year: 2009 (first published 1959) I Pages: 276 I Original: Portuguese I Rights: World ex Brazil I SOLD TO: France (Métailié), Italy (Besa), Spain (Cátedra), Russia, Poland
Apparition was first published in Portugal in 1959, marking the beginning of Vergílio Ferreira’s fame in his country.
The story is set in a small town south of Lisbon, in the plains stretching over the Tagus river. The story’s rhythm is set by the school year and the seasons. A young teacher arrives in Évora, Alentejo, on his first assignment at the local high school. Évora is the place where the writer lived for 15 years at the beginning of his teaching career.
The protagonist, young professor Alberto Soares slowly comes into contact with the rigid society of the province by meeting the family of Dr.Moura, an old friend of his father.
From this moment Ferreira builds a story that can hardly be forgotten, and confirms the success on the international scene of a book that is considered, together with OsMais by Eça de Queirós and Memorial do Convento by José Saramago, to be one of the 10 most important Portuguese novels.
- Promessa (Promise) Publisher: Quetzal I Year: 2010 I Pages: 276 I Original: Portuguese
Promise is the only completed novel (1947) that Vergílio Ferreira had left unpublished. Its importance derives from being the first novel of ideas, written between Vagão J and Mudança. Similiar to Ferreira’s later novel, Mudança, this is a novel with a Hegelian theme (even the title is a phrase from Hegel), where the author stretches to the limit the conflict between the passive intellectual, Sergio, who is not compromised by the social transformation of the world, and Flavio, the son of a political activist who wants to change society. The two oppose each other throughout the novel, even though Sergio hosted Flavio in his home and helped him get an education, after Flavio’s father flew the country.
The figure of the absent father replaced by Sergio, who loves Flavio but at the same time cannot completely agree with his ideals, is the anticipation of the ‘existentialist hero’ in Ferreira’s next novel.
- Manhã Submersa (Misty morning) Publisher: Quetzal I Year: 2011 I Pages: 192 I Original: Portuguese I Rights: World ex Brazil and Spain I SOLD TO: France (La Différence)
This is the autobiographical tale of a young man studying to become a priest, who goes through a process of self-awakening that eventually will question his faith and lead him to go out of the seminary and into the world. Set between the austerities of the house of Ms. Estefania, the temptations lying in his native village in the mountains of Portugal, and the silence of the walls of the seminary, the story unfolds around the experiences and feelings that the young seminarist is going through during his journey. Amid the darkness, sadness and hardness of the seminary, the protagonist discovers the world around him: the repressive education, the poverty of the land, social inequalities, physical desire, the camaraderie, friendship and, finally, love.
- Em nome da terra (In the name of the Earth) Publisher: Quetzal I Year: 2012 I Pages: 272 I Original: Portuguese I Rights: World ex Brazil and Spain I SOLD TO: Spain (Acantilado) and France (Gallimard)
The book, originally published in 1991 by Bertrand, is one of Ferreira’s last and most accomplished novels, where he explores
themes of love, loss, and old age. Written as a letter to his dead wife, Mónica, its main character is a retired judge living at a rest home. Despite the atmosphere of decrepitude surrounding him, the old judge clings on to life; he writes to his dead wife, interspersing passionate memories of their life together with present reflections on his failing body and episodes at the rest home where his children have left him to ‘slowly rot’.
Pour toujours,1988, La différence
Apparition, 1990 Métaillé
Matin perdu, 1989 (Prix Femina 1990) La différence
Alegríabreve, 1990, Gallimard
Jusqu’à la fin 1991, La différence
Au nom de la terre, Gallimard
Ton visage, 1996, Gallimard
Lettres à Sandra, 2000, Gallimard
Rêve d’ombre, Le Passeur
Nítidonulo, 1972, SeixBarral
Alegría breve, 1973, Seix Barral
Aparición, 1984, Cátedra
En nombre de la tierra, 2003, Acantilado
Invocación a mi cuerpo, 2003, Acantilado
Para Siempre, 2005, Acantilado
Para sempre, 1996,Kastaniotis Editions
Para sempre, 1996, De Prom
Addio e altri racconti,1998, Besa Editrice
Apparizione, 1992, Besa Editrice
Para Sempre, 2000, Mladá Fronta
Atéaofim, 1990, AmmannVerlag
Rápida, a sombra, 1980