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Jorge de Sena's correspondence: Another space of his oeuvre

Jose F Costa, University of Massachusetts Amherst


One of the most prolific writers in contemporary Portuguese literature, Jorge de Sena is the author of extensive epistolographic writings. Seven books of correspondence have been published, while ten others are in press. This dissertation focuses on the place of epistolography in Jorge de Sena's literary corpus. The author believes that no literary form is less important than another. Every single text plays a role in the author's creative universe. The letters, as products of Sena's creativity as a writer, might be thought of as representing leitmotivs of his poetry and fiction. The act of writing resonates with the poet's mission of actively witnessing the pilgrimage of humankind. A prominent modern humanist among contemporary writers, Jorge de Sena authored an epistolographic oeuvre whose classic structure and form connote the ultimate purpose of the written text—one that signifies the struggle of humanity in its metamorphic journey towards a “paradise” lost and regained in and by each and every human being. The first chapter of the dissertation describes and explains the main topics of the correspondence of Jorge de Sena. This introductory part of the study constitutes a justification and explanation of the maps and charts contained in the appendices. The second chapter constitutes a critical approach to the aesthetics of the letters written by the author. The issues herein discussed bring us to the conclusion that Jorge de Sena, following the traditional model of letter writing, draws from its classic meanings into a contemporary significance of epistolography: the letter serves as a vehicle to a more in-depth reading of a writer's other literary works. The third chapter studies the letter as an important element of the author's humanistic poetics. A letter is primarily a carrier of a specific message to an individualized reader. In a broader literary context, however, the letter expands its meaning, and becomes a component, with the other written works, of the very own purpose of poetry, that is, to be an active witness of the human journey in this earthly reality. The chapter concludes with the analysis of the letters between Jorge de Sena and his wife, Mécia de Sena. This particular book of correspondence, bearing the meaningful subtitle “(Cartas de Amor)”, illustrates the author's fundamental beliefs that love and happiness are the utmost goals of humankind; and that art—and more specifically poetry (in verse and prose)—is a testament to our struggle to reach those goals. The fourth chapter discusses the role played by the correspondence in the emergence of the theme of exile in most of the author's works of fiction and poetry. The letters of Jorge de Sena, who considers himself to be an emigrant in a “voluntary exile”, are to be considered a key element of the metaphor of exile inherent in the very act of writing. The correspondence of Jorge de Sena belongs by nature to his literary corpus for it amplifies the meaning and the message of his other works. By expanding meaning and message, the epistolography becomes one more privileged space constantly “infected” by the humanistic nature of Jorge de Sena's poetics.

Subject Area

Literature|Romance literature

Recommended Citation

Costa, Jose F, "Jorge de Sena's correspondence: Another space of his oeuvre" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056213.