Poet, essayist and literary critic Eugénio Lisboa dies at 93

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The poet, essayist and literary critic Eugénio Lisboa, a specialist in the work of the writer José Régio (1901-1969), died this morning in Lisbon at the age of 93, a source from the publishing house Guerra & Paz confirmed to the Lusa news agency.

According to the same source, the author was hospitalized at Curry Cabral Hospital, where he died of cancer.

Eugénio Lisboa was born on May 25, 1930 in what was then Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique, and left behind a vast body of work, including more than twenty titles of essays and literary criticism, poetry, diaries and memoirs, as well as anthologies of Portuguese authors published in the United Kingdom.

He dedicated himself to the study of Portuguese literature, particularly Neorealism, releasing his first work in 1957, “José Régio. Antologia, Nota Bibliográfica e Estudo” (Anthology, Bibliographical Note and Study), an author to whom he dedicated much of his work, followed by, among others, “O Segundo Modernismo em Portugal” (1977) and “Poesia Portuguesa: do “Orpheu” ao Neorrealismo” (Portuguese Poetry: from Orpheu to Neorealism) (1980).

Guerra & Paz has released four works by Eugénio Lisboa in recent years: “Poemas em Tempo de Peste” (Poems in a Time of Plague) (2020), “Vamos Ler! A canon for the reluctant reader” (2021), an essay on reading, “Poemas em tempo de guerra suja” (Poems in a time of dirty war) (2022), and “Soneto – Modo de usar”, published in April.

In 1947, Eugénio Lisboa left Mozambique for Lisbon to study electrotechnical engineering at the Instituto Superior Técnico. He returned to Mozambique in 1955, where he developed an intense cultural activity, in the press, at the Cineclub and at the Radio Club, having co-directed, with his friend Rui Knopfli, the literary supplements of newspapers that were disaffected by the colonial regime, such as A Tribuna and A Voz de Moçambique.

Due to the censorship of the Estado Novo, he used the literary pseudonyms Armando Vieira de Sá, John Land and Lapiro da Fonseca.

Eugénio Lisboa, for whom reading was “a pleasure, an education and a therapy”, owes the origin of his passion for books to authors such as Júlio Dinis, Voltaire, Stendhal, Mark Twain, Roger Martin du Gard, Hemingway or Steinbeck, among many others, and also thanks “the now-defunct PIDE, with its boorish and brutal surveillance, for having whetted and spiced [in him] the taste for forbidden reading”, he said in an interview with the Lusa news agency in 2021.

It was at this time that he launched the essay “Let’s Read”, a work that was not only an invitation to infrequent readers, or new readers, to open doors to reading 35 works by 50 Portuguese authors that are worth starting to read, but also a canon to overthrow “the cult, of a provincial snobbery, of the ‘difficulty’, the ‘boring’, the ‘opaque’, the ‘circumlocution’, the ‘fuzzy’, the ‘complicated’, which they confuse with the ‘complex'” that prevails in Portuguese society”.

“Our literary milieu, unlike the scientific milieu, is a bit artificial, inauthentic, made up of appearances and poses that have always seemed a bit comical and pretentious to me. Good scientists think that when a thought can’t be formulated in a very simple way, it’s probably because it’s not going in the right direction, but not a few literary writers favor the tortuous and the opaque as signs of depth: these are tastes, but in my opinion they are very dubious,” said the essayist at the time.

As well as being a writer throughout his life, Eugénio Lisboa was also an oil company manager and a professor of literature. He left Mozambique in 1976, when he went to France to take up the position of director-general of the Compagnie Française des Pétroles, his main professional activity for twenty years (1958-78), in addition to teaching Portuguese literature at the universities of Lourenço Marques, Pretoria (1974-75) and Stockholm (1977-78).

From May 1978 he held diplomatic posts, for 17 consecutive years as cultural counsellor at the Portuguese Embassy in London (1978-1995), and later chaired the UNESCO National Commission (1996-1998) and was a visiting professor at the University of Aveiro (1995-2000).

In Portugal, Eugénio Lisboa collaborated widely in Jornal de Letras, LER, A Capital, Diário Popular, O Tempo e o Modo, Colóquio-Letras, Nova Renascença, Oceanos and others, directed the publication of the complete works of José Régio at the Imprensa Nacional, and signed dozens of introductions, prefaces, postscripts and critical reviews.

Between 1976 and 2016, he published “José Régio. The Work and the Man”, “José Régio. A Living Word”, “José Régio. A Reluctant Confession”, “José Régio. Uma Literatura Viva”, “O Essencial sobre José Régio”, “No Eça nem com uma flor se toca: Eça visto por Régio”, “Ler Régio” and “Correspondência com José Régio”.

A member of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences, in the Class of Letters, Eugénio Lisboa was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom (1988) and the University of Aveiro (2002), and in 2018 he received the Tribute of Consecration Award from the Quinta das Lágrimas Foundation in Coimbra.

He was awarded the degrees of Officer of the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator (1980), Commander of the Order of Merit (1993) and Commander of the Military Order of Sant’Iago da Espada, of Scientific, Literary and Artistic Merit (2019).

Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert is a 55-year-old writer and journalist based in Porto, Portugal. Born in France, he brings a unique blend of French and Portuguese perspectives to his work. Education Hervé studied Journalism and Literature at the University of Lyon in France. After completing his studies, he gained valuable experience working with various French media outlets (Portugal France also). Career He worked for several years as a journalist in France before making the move to Portugal. In Porto, he joined the Portugal Pulse team as a staff writer. Skills Hervé specializes in storytelling, investigative journalism, and cultural commentary. He has a flair for capturing complex issues in a relatable way. Personal Life He currently resides in Porto and enjoys the city's rich culture, from Fado music to Francesinha cuisine. Hervé continues to maintain strong ties to his French heritage, often traveling back to France for family visits and cultural exploration. With his unique background and diverse skill set, Hervé Hubert adds a layered, multicultural lens to every story he covers.

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