PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
First published in 1900, the year of Eça de Queiroz’s death, the book portrays Gonçalo Mendes Ramires, the latest member of an aristocratic family that predates even the kings of Portugal. In the isolation of the gloomy ancient tower of Santa Ireneia, Gonçalo rehearses the feats of derring-do of an uninterrupted line of ancestors whose most recent contribution is himself, ‘a graduate who had failed his third year examinations at university’. Hoping to win some small scholarly reputation and thus secure a political future in the capital, Gonçalo sets out to portray, à la Walter Scott, the adventures of one such ancestor. Eça de Queiroz’s luxurious prose lends itself well to both the subtle irony of his morality play and the beauty of a decrepit Portuguese estate with its autumn sun, wilting flowers, faded portraits and other reminders of a bloody and powerful past.