José Maria Eça de Queirós (1845-1900) was a Portuguese author in the realist style, whose work has been translated into 20 languages. T he Count of Abranhos was published posthumously, and this is the first time it has been translated into English.
Alípio Severo Abranhos, born to poor parents in a small town in the north of Portugal, goes off to spend his boyhood and adolescence with an aunt whose material well-being constitutes, for him, the lap of luxury. And he likes and becomes accustomed to luxury. As he follows a course of study for his bacharel at the University of Coimbra, certain negative character traits come to the fore, and upon completion of his degree he leaves behind a pregnant maid to take up residence in Lisbon. In the capital, he calculates—as a young man with neither position, nor fortune, nor social standing—how to get ahead in life. And the path is through marriage to a young woman of social status and promise of a sizable dowry, both of which can facilitate his rise in politics and government. Alípio’s weapons, his means, are various modes of hypocrisy—social hypocrisy, religious hypocrisy, filial hypocrisy, and political hypocrisy, with dishonesty, cowardice, and a farcical duel thrown in for good measure. Eça, like all accomplished novelists, does not tell us what Alípio becomes, rather he lets us see what he becomes, for with his unerring sense of satire, of character portrayal, and plot movement he lets the Count of Abranhos, with his steps and missteps, inform us himself of what he becomes. And with his actions, Alípio Severo Abranhos emerges as the personification, the very epitome, of the grim state of politics in nineteenth-century Portugal, a state engendered by the dogged pursuit of power. And through the obsequious eyes of Alípio’s biographer and the sycophantic hangers-on who wish to glory in his orbit, readers have a clear picture of the "great" man—a type who exhibits universal characteristics not confined to Eça de Queirós’s native country, nor to his time.
"This is a fine translation, one that captures Eca's sharp wit and that flows really well. Seeing how other major works by Eca have been published, I apprlaud the idea of now publishing The Count of Abranhos, which has always been very popular with the Portugese-reading general public."~Monica Leal da Silva, Michigan State University, Hispania
"A hilarious, merciless, and timeless satire of the political class by the comedic genius of Portuguese literature, Eça de Queirós."~Frank Sousa, University of Massachusetts Lowell
"The appearance, in English translation, of a novel by Portugal’s great Eça de Queirós, the most neglected of the European realists, is always cause for celebration. And that is the case here, with Robert Fedorchek’s supple, tone-perfect version of The Count of Abranhos. Dealing with a social type only too well known to us all, the venal, self-serving politician who is slavishly supported by a host of equally repugnant sycophants, Eça’s lacerating tale speaks to our time as few other texts can."~Earl E. Fritz, Vanderbilt University
"For the first time in English translation, The Count of Abranhos by Eça de Queirós is an ironic and humorous tale of a self-serving politician viewed through the biographical memoir of his private secretary and devout servant. English-speaking readers will finally have access to one of Eça de Queirós’s most pungently critical works of Portugal’s late nineteenth-century society and mores, beautifully rendered in Robert Fedorchek’s elegant and colorful prose. Although written in 1879, The Count of Abranhos was left unfinished during the author’s lifetime and distinguishes itself among Eça’s other texts written in a more traditional Naturalist mode. This English translation maintains the core of Eça’s playful, clever, and intriguing nineteenth-century narrative that is bound to delight the discerning contemporary reader."~Kathryn Bishop-Sanchez, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"Robert Fedorchek's translation masterfully transmits the Portuguese author’s biting satire of the upper class and politics in nineteenth-century Portugal. As is the case with the original novel, Fedorchek’s English rendition of this timeless satire is "a journey well worth undertaking""~Hispania