“An East, east of the East” Eça de Queirós’ A Relíquia, Álvaro de Campos’ “Opiary” and the Postimperial Scope of Portuguese Literary Orientalism

  • Pedro Schacht Pereira The Ohio State University
Keywords: Parody, Portugal, Semiperiphery


Coming to terms with the increasing peripherality of Portugal at the height of Europe’s “Scramble for Africa” and in its immediate wake, both Eça de Queirós and Fernando Pessoa’s Álvaro de Campos engage with orientalism reactively, setting the stage for a prescient critique of European representations of the Orient. Through the parody of nineteenth-century religious and scientific discourses (Eça), and of symbolist poetics (Álvaro de Campos), as well as the recontextualization of early-modern Portuguese travel writing tropes, these two writers propose two alternative understandings of Portugal’s specific position in the modern geopolitics of empire. This article argues that the prescience of Eça’s and Pessoa’s critiques of orientalism forecloses, rather than authorizes, future essentialist views of Portugal’s historical specificity as evidence of exceptionalism.