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Poet

Florbela Espanca

Florbela Espanca

Florbela Espanca

(Portugal, 1894 - 1930)
Biography
Florbela Espanca has always had her fans. But for many years her poetry – deemed too emotive, with too many exclamation marks, too feminine! – was not given due recognition by the literature departments of Portuguese universities. Nowadays, however, her work is the object of critical study in Portugal and in other countries. The contemporary of Fernando Pessoa, she is somewhat his opposite. Instead of dividing herself into multiple poetic personalities that cast doubt on the validity of a coherent, unified self, she wrote an exalted poetry that relentlessly proclaimed “I am!”
Born in the provincial town of Vila Viçosa, not far from Portugal’s eastern border with Spain, Espanca was an unusually emancipated woman for her time and place. She studied at the University of Lisbon’s School of Law, where only a handful of the students were female, and though divorce was socially frowned upon, she divorced twice and married three times – all in the space of a rather brief life. The poet, who suffered from depression and mental disequilibrium, ended it by ingesting an overdose of barbiturates on her 36th birthday.

Espanca began writing poetry – mostly sonnets – at a young age and was a frequent contributor of poems and prose pieces to periodicals. Although her sonnets were not formally innovative or technically remarkable, they impressed contemporary readers – and still impress us today – because of the unusual intensity of feeling they express. Thematically they were somewhat daring, insofar as the poet was insistently self-affirmative. Though not explicitly feminist, Espanca demanded to be taken as seriously as any man. And in her poem TO LOVE! she freely admitted that the Catholic ideal of a single lifelong love was inimical to her passionate nature.
© Richard Zenith
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Livro de Mágoas (poetry), 1919
Livro de Soror Saudade (poetry), 1923
As máscaras do destino (short stories) 1931; 1989
Cartas de Florbela Espanca... (letters), 1931
Charneca em flor (poetry), 1931
Juvenilia (poetry), 1931
Sonetos completos (poetry), 1934; 2003
Diário do último ano seguido de um poema sem título (diary), 1981; 1998
O dominó preto (short stories), 1982; 1998
Obras completas de Florbela Espanca (anthology), 1985; 1986
Trocando olhares (poetry), 1985; 1994
Poesia completa (poetry), 1994; 2002

TRANSLATIONS
Bulgarian
Anthology. Sofia:  Karina-Mariana Todorova, 2000

Croatian
Anthology. Zagreb: Biakova, 2014
[As máscaras do destino]. Zagreb: Hrvatsko filolosko drustvo, 2007

Czech
Kniha sestry Saudade. Votobia Olomoc, 1997
Masky Osudu. Praga:  One Woman Press, 2004

English
Antigone's Daughters Hilary Owen & Cláudia Pazos Alonso
Bucknell UP, Lewisburg PA, 2011
28 Portuguese Poets: a Bilingual Anthology Richard Zenith & Alexis Levitin
Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2015

German
Der Rest ist Parfum. Freiburgo:  Beck & Glückler, 1994

French
Châtelaine de la Tristesse (anthology). Bordéus:  L'Escampette, 1994

Italian
C'e in me una sete di Infinito (anthology). Nápoles:  L'Ateneo Due de Salvatore Pironte, 1996
Versi di Florbela Espanca. Porto:  Imprensa Moderna, 1934

Spanish
Las espinas de la Rosa (anthology). Saragoça:  Ed. Olifante, 2002
Las Mascaras del Destino. Madrid:  Ediciones Torremozas, 2002
Quimera y Saudade (anthology) Madrid:  Ediciones Torremozas, 1991
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère