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José Cardoso Pires

José Cardoso Pires
Born (1925)
São João do Peso
Died (1998)
Occupation novelist, short story writer, journalist, satirist
Nationality Portugal
Period 1949 - 1997
Literary movement Neo-Realism, moving towards Postmodernism

José Cardoso Pires, ComL, GCM was a Portuguese author of short stories, novels, plays, and political satire.

Origins and formative influences

Born in the village of São João do Peso, municipality of Vila de Rei, Castelo Branco district. Many of the memories Cardoso Pires recounts are interesting in regard of the themes of his writing and his style as a novelist.

Although he was born in the interior, Cardoso Pires was very much a man of Lisbon, the speech patterns and urban spaces of which can be felt in both his novels and short stories. His father was in the merchant navy and his mother was a homemaker.

Some of his paternal family had emigrated to Massachusetts, and this vague American connection seems to have been one of the early reasons for Cardoso Pires' receptiveness to American literary styles at a time when Portugal looked to France (and to extent Brazilian regionalism of the North East) for its narrative models.

In a documentary produced for Portuguese television, Cardoso Pires describes seeking refuge in cinemas as a youth, and the effect that had on his notion of story-telling. He explains how, after seeing a film, he would have to recount it to his peers at school - a common practice at the time. He also mentions the formative role of cinceclubes, or film societies. The generally left-leaning associations, in Cardoso Pires's words, "contributed to the political and social education of many people"[1] Cardoso Pires studied mathematics at the University of Lisbon, where he published his first short narratives, but left school to join the merchant marine, from which he was discharged for disciplinary problems.

The writing years

After his short stint in the Portuguese Navy, Cardoso Pires started working as a journalist and devoted himself to writing. As an author, he has been perceived as being able to reconcile popularity with critical acclaim. This can be partly explained by his adoption of some of the narrative formulae of detective fiction and his controlled use of the Portuguese language, which Cardoso Pires described as "pared down to the bone, written with the edge of a knife". Cardoso Pires's fiction has often been described as cinematic. This is often a nebulous term, but in Cardoso Pires's case it has been justified by Luso-Brazilian critic Maria Lúcia Lepecki as an attempt to allow the reader to see and hear through words.

He taught Portuguese and Brazilian literature at King's College, London.

In 1995, he suffered a stroke, the experience of which formed the background for his final novel De Profundis, Valsa Lenta. He died of another stroke in 1998.


His works include:

  • Os Caminheiros e Outros Contos 1949
  • Histórias de Amor 1952
  • O Anjo Ancorado 1958
  • O Render dos Heróis 1960
  • A Cartilha do Marialva 1960
  • Jogos de Azar 1963
  • O Hóspede de Job 1963
  • O Delfim (The Dauphin; 1968)
  • Gente (with Eduardo Gageiro)
  • O Dinosauro Excelentíssimo 1972
  • E Agora José 1977
  • O Burro em Pé 1979
  • O Corpo-Delito na Sala de Espelhos 1980
  • A Balada de Praia dos Cães (1982; Ballad of Dogs’ Beach : Dossier of a Crime, translated by Mary Fitton. New York : Beaufort Books, 1987. ISBN 0-8253-0416-4, 181 p.)
  • Alexandra Alpha 1987; tr. Alexandra Alpha
  • A República dos Corvos (Republic of Ravens; 1988)
  • A Cavalo no Diabo 1984
  • De Profundis, Valsa Lenta 1997
  • Lisboa Livro de Bordo 1997

Film adaptations of his work

  • Balada da praia dos cães. dir. José Fonseca e Costa
  • Casino Oceano. Adaptation of the short story "Week-End". dir. Lauro António
  • O Delfim. dir. Fernando Lopes
  • A Rapariga dos Fósforos. adaptation of the story "Dom Quixote, as Velhas Viúvas e a Rapariga dos Fósforos". dir. Luís Galvão Teles
  • Ritual dos Pequenos Vampiros. Adaptation of the short story of the same name "Jogos de Azar". dir. Eduardo Geada


Prizes attributed to the author

  • Prémio Internacional União Latina, Roma, 1991
  • Astrolábio de Ouro do Prémio Internacional Ultimo Novecento, Pisa, 1992
  • Prémio Bordalo de Literatura da Casa da Imprensa, 1994
  • Prémio Bordalo de Literatura da Casa da Imprensa, 1997
  • Pessoa Prize, 1997
  • Grande Prémio Vida Literária da Associação Portuguesa de Escritores, 1998

Prizes attributed to individual works

  • Prémio Camilo Castelo Branco, pela Sociedade Portuguesa de Escritores, 1964 (O Hóspede de Job)
  • Grande Prémio de Romance e Novela, pela Associação Portuguesa de Escritores, 1982 (Balada da Praia dos Cães)
  • Prémio Especial da Associação dos Críticos do Brasil, São Paulo, 1988 (Alexandra Alpha)
  • Prémio D. Diniz, da Fundação Casa de Mateus, 1997 (De Profundis, Valsa Lenta)
  • Prémio da Crítica do Centro Português da Associação Internacional de Críticos Literários, 1997 (De Profundis, Valsa Lenta)


  1. ^ José Cardoso Pires

External links

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