Notes on The Illustrious House of Ramires

Quarter done with The Illustrious House of Ramires, another great Eca de Queiros novel, this one published in 1900 the year he died (not sure if it is posthumous or not.)

  • Decay is again front and center, decay and rot of a family called Ramires that has been in Portugal since the 12th century. Eca opens with a brief but lively retelling of our modern hero Goncalo Ramires’ ancestors, all of whom are comic heroes or fools or villains.
  • Goncalo is a young man with literary ambitions; his friends publish journals, all of which seek to raise Portugal’s profile in the world, all with pompous titles. There’s a sense of insignificance of place; Portugal is itself annexed and overshadowed by Spain and the rest of Europe, sort of a western outpost easily ignored. This maddens the drunk young students.
  • Goncalo has land that he must lease to stay afloat. This is another spin on fading empire, the turning over of land to lesser men in order to support a decadent lifestyle. ¬†Goncalo is idle and simple minded and takes to transcribing a dead relative’s epic poem into a new story for publication. Of course, he is distracted by gluttonous drunk friends and his own laziness.
  • The politics and political allusions aren’t known to me in 2014, but the bluster and rancor is familiar to anyone who has ever read a political discussion on the Internet. Lots of hot air and phony outrage.