Synopses & Reviews
Eça de Queiróss novel The Crime of Father Amaro is a lurid satire of clerical corruption in a town in Portugal (Leira) during the period before and after the 1871 Paris Commune. At the start, a priest physically explodes after a fish supper while guests at a birthday celebration are "wildly dancing a polka." Young Father Amaro (whose name means "bitter" in Portuguese) arrives in Leira and soon lusts after--and is lusted after by--budding Amelia, dewy-lipped, devout daughter of Sao Joaneira who has taken in Father Amaro as a lodger. What ensues is a secret love affair amidst a host of compelling minor characters: Canon Dias, glutton and Sao Joaneira's lover; Dona Maria da Assuncao, a wealthy widow with a roomful of religious images, agog at any hint of sex; Joao Eduardo, repressed atheist, free-thinker and suitor to Amelia; Father Brito, "the strongest and most stupid priest in the diocese;" the administrator of the municipal council who spies at a neighbor's wife through binoculars for hours every day. Eça's incisive critique flies like a shattering mirror, jabbing everything from the hypocrisy of a rich and powerful Church, to the provincialism of men and women in Portuguese society of the time, to the ineptness of politics or science as antidotes to the town's ills. What lurks within Eça's narrative is a religion of tolerance, wisdom, and equality nearly forgotten. Margaret Jull Costa has rendered an exquisite translation and provides an informative introduction to a story that truly spans all ages.
Among the darkest and most biting of religious satires. (Austin Chronicle, Barbara Strickland, 6 June 2003)
Mordantly funny, tragic, and, above all, humane....Costa's brilliant translation preserves Eca's sharp, ironic prose....not to be missed. (Historical Novels Review, Adelaida Lower, August 2003)
In this blackest of comedies, de Quieros depicts the destructive effects of celibacy on a priest lacking any true vocation. (Translation Review, 1 June 2003)
The zeal...of Zola, the narrative command of Balzac, and the elegance of Flaubert...[a] slyly witty and engrossing novel. (Trenton Times, Nagle Jackson, 31 August 2003)
A terrific novel....a work of mesmerizing literary power....We should be grateful for such blessings. (Washington Post Book World, Michael Dirda, 1 June 2003)
Ea de Queirs's novel is a lurid satire of clerical corruption in a town in Portugal during a period before and after the 1871 Paris Commune.
An unflinching portrait of a priest who seduces his landlady's daughter, made into an acclaimed and controversial motion picture.
About the Author
One of the leading intellectuals of the "Generation of 1870," José Maria de Eça de Queirós (1845-1900) wrote twenty books, founded literary reviews, and for most of his life also worked as a diplomat, in Havana, London, and Paris.Margaret Jull Costa won both the 2008 PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize and the 2008 Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize for Eca de Queiros's The Maias. She is also the translator of the work of Fernando Pessoa, José Saramago, António Lobo Antunes, and Javier Marías.