Camilo Ferreira Botelho Castelo-Branco
,1st Viscount de Correia Botelho
(kɐˈmilu kɐʃˈtɛlu ˈbɾɐ̃ku; March 16, 1825 – June 1, 1890), was a prolific Portuguese
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...
writer of the 19th century, having authored over 260 books (mainly novels, plays
A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference whether their plays were performed...
and essays). His writing is, overall, considered original in that it combines the dramatic and sentimental spirit of Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...
with a highly personal combination of sarcasm
Sarcasm is “a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter jibe or taunt.” Though irony and understatement is usually the immediate context, most authorities distinguish sarcasm from irony; however, others argue that sarcasm may or often does involve irony or employs...
, bitterness and dark humour. He is also celebrated for his peculiar wit
Wit is a form of intellectual humour, and a wit is someone skilled in making witty remarks. Forms of wit include the quip and repartee.-Forms of wit:...
and anecdotal character, as well as for his turbulent (and ultimately tragical) life.
His writing, which is centered in the local and the picturesque and is in a general sense affiliated with the Romantic tradition, is often regarded in contrast to that of Eça de Queiroz - a cosmopolitan dandy
A dandy is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance in a cult of Self...
and a fervorous proponent of Realism
Realism in the visual arts and literature refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person objective reality, without embellishment or interpretation...
, who was Camilo's literary contemporary in spite of being 20 years younger. In this tension between Camilo and Eça - often dubbed by critics the literary guerrilla - many have interpreted a synthesis of the two great tendencies present in the Portuguese literature of the 19th century.
Camilo was born out of wedlock and orphaned in infancy. He spent his early years in a village in Trás-os-Montes
Trás-os-Montes was one of the 13 regions of continental Portugal identified by geographer Amorim Girão, in a study published between 1927 and 1930.Together with Alto Douro it formed Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro Province.- See also :...
, where he was educated at home by three unmarried aunts. At the age of 13, he enrolled at the catholic seminary of nearby Vila Real
Vila Real is a city in Vila Real Municipality, Trás-os-Montes, northern Portugal.According to the 2001 census, the city had a total of 24,481 inhabitants.- History :...
, where he was educated by catholic priests. During his teenage years, he fell in love with the poetry of Luís de Camões
Luís Vaz de Camões is considered Portugal's and the Portuguese language's greatest poet. His mastery of verse has been compared to that of Shakespeare, Vondel, Homer, Virgil and Dante. He wrote a considerable amount of lyrical poetry and drama but is best remembered for his epic work Os Lusíadas...
and Manuel Maria Barbosa de Bocage, while Fernão Mendes Pinto
Fernão Mendes Pinto was a Portuguese explorer and writer. His exploits are known through the posthumous publication of his memoir Pilgrimage in 1614, an autobiographical work whose truthfulness is nearly impossible to assess...
gave him a lust for adventure. In spite of this interest in literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...
, and of his remarkable abilities in Greek
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...
, Camilo was a distracted student and grew up to be undisciplined and proud.
From the age of 17 to his early 20's, he intermittently studied medicine and theology in Oporto and Coimbra
Coimbra is a city in the municipality of Coimbra in Portugal. Although it served as the nation's capital during the High Middle Ages, it is better-known for its university, the University of Coimbra, which is one of the oldest in Europe and the oldest academic institution in the...
and eventually chose to become a writer. After a spell of journalistic work in Oporto and Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...
he proceeded to the episcopal
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...
seminary in Oporto in order to study for the priesthood. During this period Camilo wrote a number of religious works and translated the work of François-René de Chateaubriand
François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand was a French writer, politician, diplomat and historian. He is considered the founder of Romanticism in French literature.-Early life and exile:...
. Camilo actually took minor holy orders, but his restless nature drew him away from the priesthood and he devoted himself to literature for the rest of his life. He was arrested twice; the first time for having unearthed the remains of his first wife (whom he had married at the age of 16, and who had died at 24) and the second due to his adulterous affair with Ana Plácido, who was married at the time.
His first period of incarceration was short, apparently thanks to the intervention of Teixeira de Queiroz, an influential judge and, coincidentally, father of the renowned José Maria de Eça de Queiroz. During his second and longer incarceration he wrote what most consider to be his best and most characteristic work Amor de Perdição. Later this phase of his life would also inspire him to write his Memórias do Cárcere (literally "Memories of Prison"), in which he describes the meanders of the then miserable and overcrowded prison of Relação, at the center of Oporto, intertwined with intimate ramblings of the imagination and biographical fragments.
Camilo was made a viscount (Visconde de Correia Botelho
) in 1885 in recognition of his contributions to literature, and when his health deteriorated and he could no longer write, parliament gave him a pension
In general, a pension is an arrangement to provide people with an income when they are no longer earning a regular income from employment. Pensions should not be confused with severance pay; the former is paid in regular installments, while the latter is paid in one lump sum.The terms retirement...
for life. In 1886 he wrote "Esboço de crítica: Otelo, o Mouro de Veneza". Going blind (because of syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; however, it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis...
) and suffering from chronic nervous disease, Castelo Branco committed suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...
with a revolver in 1890, while sitting in his now-famous wooden rocking chair
A rocking chair or rocker is a type of chair with two curved bands of wood attached to the bottom of the legs . The chair contacts with the floor at only two points, giving the occupant the ability to rock back and forth by shifting his/her weight or pushing lightly with his/her feet...
Camilo Castelo Branco is probably the most prolific of all Portuguese writers, his work including novels, plays, verse, and essays. In addition, Camilo was the first Portuguese writer able to support himself financially from his writing alone. In all, his publications number about five hundred and sixty, but he is best known for his romances. Even though Camilo churned out a lot of work to pay the bills, he never lost his individuality. His familiarity with personalities allowed him to enliven his writing with a succession of memorable characters and Portuguese types, such as the "brasileiro" (a returned Portuguese emigrant who had made his fortune in Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...
), the old "Fidalgo" (nobleman) of the north of Portugal, and the Minho priest.
Camilo's novels may be divided into three periods. The first period comprises his romances of the imagination, of which Os Mistérios de Lisboa, in the style of Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....
, is a fair example.
The second period includes his novels of manners, a style he developed and remained the chief exponent of until the appearance of O Crime de Padre Amaro by Eça de Queiroz. In these novels he combines realism and idealism, and perfectly captures the domestic and social life of Portugal in the early part of the 19th century.
The third period embraces his writings in the realms of history, biography and literary criticism. Among these may be cited Noites de Lamego, Cousas leves e pesadas, Cavar em ruínas, Memórias do Bispo do Grão Pará and Boémia do Espírito.
Among the most notable of his romances are O Romance de um Homem Rico, his favorite, Retrato de Ricardina, Amor de Perdição, the collection of novellas Novelas do Minho and A Brasileira de Prazins. Many of his novels are autobiographical, like Onde está a felicidade? and Memórias do Cárcere and Vinganca. Castelo Branco is an admirable story-teller, largely because he was a brilliant improvisatore, but he does not attempt character study. He has a richness of vocabulary probably unmatched in all Portuguese literature, often using obscure words. At the same time, few Portuguese authors have demonstrated so profound a knowledge of the vernacular tongue. Though nature had endowed Camilo with a poetic temperament, his verses are considered to be mediocre, while his best plays are cast in bold lines and contain powerfully dramatic situations, and his comedies are a triumph of the grotesque, with a mordant tone reminiscent of the work of Gil Vicente
Gil Vicente , called the Trobadour, was a Portuguese playwright and poet who acted in and directed his own plays. Considered the chief dramatist of Portugal he is sometimes called the "Portuguese Plautus," often referred to as the "Father of Portuguese drama" and as one of Western literature's...
- Anátema (1851)
- Os Mistérios de Lisboa (1854)
- A Filha do Arcediago (1854)
- Livro Negro de Padre Dinis (1855)
- A Neta do Arcediago (1856)
- Onde Está a Felicidade? (1856) (English title: Where Is Happiness?)
- Um Homem de Brios (1856)
- Lágrimas Abençoadas (1857)
- Cenas da Foz (1857)
- Carlota Ângela (1858)
- Vingança (1858)
- O Que Fazem Mulheres (1858) (English title: What Women Do)
- Doze Casamentos Felizes (1861)
- O Romance de um Homem Rico (1861)
- As Três Irmãs
- Amor de Perdição (1862) (ISBN 0-85051-509-2) (English title: Love of Perdition (2000) - ISBN 0-943722-27-6)
- Coisas Espantosas (1862)
- O Irônico (1862)
- Coração, Cabeça e Estômago (1862)
- Estrelas Funestas (1862)
- Anos de Prosa (1858)
- Aventuras de Basílio Fernandes Enxertado (1863)
- O Bem e o Mal (1863)
- Estrelas Propícias (1863)
- Memórias de Guilherme do Amaral (1863)
- Agulha em Palheiro (1863)
- Amor de Salvação (1864)
- A Filha do Doutor Negro (1864)
- Vinte Horas de Liteira (1864)
- O Esqueleto (1865)
- A Sereia (1865)
- A Enjeitada (1866)
- O Judeu (1866)
- O Olho de Vidro (1866)
- A Queda dum Anjo (1866)
- O Santo da Montanha (1866)
- A Bruxa do Monte Córdova (1867)
- Os Mistérios de Fafe (1868)
- A Caveira da Mártir (1876)
- Novelas do Minho (1875–1877)
- Eusébio Macário (1879)
- A Corja (1880)
- Luiz de Camões: Notas Biographicas (1880)
- A Brasileira de Prazins (1882) (English title: The Brazilian Girl from Prazens)
- D. Luiz de Portugal: Neto do Prior do Crato 1601-1660 (1883)
- Esboço de Crítica - Otelo, o Mouro de Veneza (1886)