Portugal's First Queer Novel: Rediscovering Visconde de Vila-Moura's Nova Safo (1912)

  • Anna M. Klobucka University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
Keywords: Decadence, modernism, affect, scrapbook, reparative reading


This study seeks to recover the novel Nova Safo (1912) by Visconde de Vila-Moura from the marginal status to which it has been consigned in Portuguese literary history by arguing for its momentous cultural relevance as Portugal’s first queer novel. Given the extremely limited number and scope of existing critical approaches to the text, my reading is oriented by a reparative strategy that aims, first and foremost, to remedy its precarious status as an archival object. I describe the novel's inchoate and cluttered collection of references, images, and storylines as a countercultural scrapbook of queer feeling, ruled by an antiquarian sensibility, whose structures of cohesion belong less to the realm of formal aesthetics than to the sphere of homophilic affective epistemology. Further, I chart Nova Safo's intersecting gestures of transitive embodiment—transnational, transgender, and transracial—by discussing the novel’s mournful evocation of three recently departed icons of fin-de-siècle literary culture: Oscar Wilde, Renée Vivien, and João da Cruz e Sousa.

Author Biography

Anna M. Klobucka, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

 Anna M. Klobucka is the author of The Portuguese Nun: Formation of a National Myth (2000), O formato mulher: a emergência da autoria feminina na poesia portuguesa (2009), and O mundo gay de António Botto (2018). She also coedited After the Revolution: Twenty Years of Portuguese Literature 1974-1994 (1997), Embodying Pessoa: Corporeality, Gender, Sexuality (2007), and Gender, Empire and Postcolony: Luso-Afro-Brazilian Intersections (2014).