The Proust of Portugal

José Maria de Eça de Queirós’s numerous fictions have a central place in Portuguese and Brazilian literature, but they don’t seem much read elsewhere—at least not these days. It’s tempting to single out the fine quality of description, brilliant dialogue, rich cast of secondary characters, and unusual irony, which combines biting misanthropy with a broad and flexible attention to human pain. But another aspect of Eça’s writing has to be mentioned: how time unfolds with a sublime, almost arboreal leisure.

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