The City and the Mountains [1901/2008] – ★★★★★
“…and in life, only the soul matters” [Eça de Queiroz/Costa, Dedalus, 1901/2008: 174].
Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa, The City and the Mountains is de Queiroz’s much later novel about the life of Portuguese nobleman Jacinto de Tormes, as told from the perspective of his best friend Zé Fernandes. The novel starts in Paris, France (the City) and ends in Tormes, Portugal (the Mountains), presenting a vivid contrast between the busy, money and technology-driven Parisian lifestyle, on the one hand, and the quiet, simple, filled with natural beauty, mode of life in the countryside, on the other. As important as this duality is also the psychology of Jacinto de Tormes, a man of great means and even bigger opportunities. However, it turns out that it is not so easy to figure out the purpose of a thing called Life and the quest for ultimate knowledge may not lie in the most obvious of places. Thus, this charming book on duality and human transformation is many things: a delicate city satire, a study of fin de siècle societal eccentricities, a heart-warming presentation of lifelong friendship, and, finally, a lyrical tribute to the beauty of Portuguese countryside.Continue reading “Review: The City and the Mountains by Eça de Queiróz”