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The Maias (1888)

by Eca de Queiros

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7992419,044 (4.17)59
The Maias depicts the declining fortunes of a landowning family over three generations as they are gradually undermined by hypocrisy, complacency and sexual licence.



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» See also 59 mentions

This magnificent 19th century novel has been called, 'The greatest book by Portugal's greatest novelist,' by Jose Saramago. Harold Bloom called it, 'one of the most impressive European novels of the nineteenth century, fully comparable to the most inspired novels of the great Russian, French, Italian and English masters of prose fiction.' I had never heard of this book or its author before I picked it up to read as the 'Q' author for my Alphabet Challenge. I am so glad I did, and I will be reading more of de Queiros.

The book reminds me of Buddenbrooks, so for anyone who has read and loved Buddenbrooks that might be recommendation enough. The family in The Maias is much smaller than that in Buddenbrooks. After his mother runs away with her lover, and his father's tragic death, Carlos da Maia is raised by his wealthy grandfather. He studies at medical school, and as a young man becomes a dilettante in Lisbon society. Ultimately, he faces a tragedy that will form his character for the rest of his life.

What I loved about this book are the characters. The love Carlos's grandfather has for Carlos permeates the story. He is there behind the scenes, not intrusive, but his love is boundless. It takes Carlos a long time to realize this. The story of Carlos's friendship with Ega, another happy-go-lucky man-about the town is also beautifully portrayed. We should all be so lucky as to have such a friendship in our lives. ( )
1 vote arubabookwoman | Apr 22, 2017 |

Fond memories... ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
Impresionante e imprescindible novela, no le sobra ni falta nada y la lees sin sentir. Maravillosa ( )
  naturaworld | Aug 12, 2016 |
The book is about the life of Carlos da Maia (rich, handsome, generous and intelligent) in 1870s Portugal, when along with his best friend and partner in crime João da Ega he spends his time making witticisms about society and having affairs. Carlos desires to be a doctor, but once he has lavishly furnished his practice he loses interest in it. Instead, he spends his time with his friends, joking and making plans that never come to fruition. Carlos spends a lot of time talking about success, but little time actually pursuing it. ( )
  Haidji | Sep 24, 2015 |
The story of the fortunes and misfortunes of three generations of men in the wealthy Maia family in the 1870s. The Maias is a Naturalist novel, but instead of concentrating on the seamier part of life, his protagonists are of the higher echelons in Portuguese society and are subjects of as well as collaborators in the author's observations of society and its continuing physical and moral decline. It's definitely not as gritty most other Naturalist works, but it has at its core the pessimism that is truly Naturalist - very few of the characters are allowed to be happy and those who are for a while tend to pay for it many times over before the story ends.

But it's not all doom and gloom; wealthy Portuguese society is quite a charming and amusing place to be, with the illicit affairs, languid trips to the countryside, fashionable visits to the opera, and the preposterous swagger of the upper classes. Eça de Queirós is remarkably good at writing characters who are quite pretentious, decadent, and quite silly without making then into caricatures - there is a huge amount of affection for each of them and although there were a few I should have intensely disliked, they are all presented with such a healthy dose of irony that you can't but be fond of their idiosyncrasies and lunatic ideas.

My only complaint is that I haven't heard of this author sooner - he's one of Portugal's most esteemed authors, but why he isn't mentioned any time Flaubert, Eliot, Balzac, or Tolstoy comes up, is a mystery to me. His greatest crime seem to have been that he wrote in one of the "smaller" languages, which has been rectified by the excellent, and award-winning, translation by Margaret Jull Costa – highly recommended for anyone with a liking for 19th century literature. ( )
3 vote -Eva- | Mar 13, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (96 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Queiros, Eca deprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carvalho, J. Rentes deAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jull Costa, MargaretAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jull Costa, MargaretTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lemmens, HarrieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinheiro, Patricia McGowanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevens, AnnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Het huis in Lissabon dat de Maia's in de herfst van het jaar 1875 betrokken, stond in de straten rond de Rua de São Francisco de Paula en de hele verdere wijk Janelas Verdes bekend als Huize Boeket, of gewoon het Boeket.
The Lisbon house into which the Maias moved in the autumn of 1875 was known in the neighbourhood of Rua de Sao Francisco de Paula, and throughout the district of Janelas Verdes as Ramalhete -  the House of the Bouquet.
"A casa que os Maias vieram habitar em Lisboa, no Outono de 1875, era conhecida na vizinhança da rua de S. Francisco de Paula, e em todo o bairro das Janellas Verdes, pela casa do Ramalhete ou simplesmente o Ramalhete. Apesar deste fresco nome de vivenda campestre, o Ramalhete, sombrio casarão de paredes severas, com um renque de estreitas varandas de ferro no primeiro andar, e por cima uma timida fila de janellinhas abrigadas à beira do telhado, tinha o aspecto tristonho de Residência Eclesiástica que competia a uma edificação do reinado da sr.ª D. Maria I: com uma sineta e com uma cruz no topo assimilhar-se-ia a um Collegio de Jesuitas. O nome de Ramalhete provinha de certo d'um revestimento quadrado de azulejos fazendo painel no lugar heraldico do Escudo d'Armas, que nunca chegara a ser colocado, e representando um grande ramo de girassóis atado por uma fita onde se distinguiam letras e números d'uma data. Longos anos o Ramalhete permanecera desabitado, com teias d'aranha pelas grades dos postigos terreos, e cobrindo-se de tons de ruina. Em 1858 Monsenhor Buccarini, Nuncio de S. Santidade, visitara-o com ideia de instalar lá a Nunciatura,(...)"
-We've failed in life my friend.
-I believe so...But so do most people. That is, they fail in so far as they never attain the life they planned in the imagination. They say 'I'm going to be like this, because it's beautiful to be like this'. But it never turns out like this, but invariably like that: occasionally better, but always different.
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