The great nineteenth-century Portuguese author José Maria Eça de Queirós (1845-1900) has long been known for his novels, especially The Crime of Father Amaro (1880) and The Maias (1888). However, he also wrote short stories, and a number of them, having stood the test of time, are now regarded as masterpieces. Although there is no question that Eça owes the lion’s share of his reputation to his long fiction, the tales in this collection tell us that we are reading the work of a writer in full control of both genres.
The eleven selections range widely in theme and length and, except for "The Catastrophe"(which was published posthumously), are arranged in order of the year of publication. "The Falling Snow" and "Master Devil" contain elements of both the fantastic and realistic, a number of which call to mind Edgar Allan Poe, a writer whom Eça read and greatly admired. The power of love becomes the obsession of love in "The Peculiarities of a Blonde Girl" and "José Matias," two of the stories that stand at the pinnacle of Eça’s reputation as a short story writer. "Civilization" will speak to nostalgia for a rustic life, while "Perfection" searches, through Ulysses and a special goddess, into a different kind of life, one without blemish. Other tales explore the nature of sacrifice ("The Wet Nurse"), greed and betrayal ("The Treasure"), jealousy and vengeance ("The Dead Man"), and faith in a young rabbi named Jesus ("The Gentle Miracle"). No one knows why Eça withheld publication of "The Catastrophe," but this powerful story engages us with its naked intensity, its aroused passion, and its blunt honesty, for it amounts to a ringing endorsement of the exalted meaning of patriotism.
"The translation of works by such a fundamental author in the Lusophone world tailored for the American public is an important contribution to the areas of Portuguese Literature, Lusophone Literature, European Literature, History and Sociology of the Lusophone and Iberian worlds. Scholars and students not familiar with Portuguese or only not at an appropriate advanced level of the language can benefit from having the chance to read this book and discover a different facet of works by Eça as a short story writer."~Nathalia Henrich, Director and Curator, The Oliveira Lima Library at The Catholic University of America
"The difficulty of translating the writings of an author such as José Maria Eça de Queirós (largely unrecognized, as Maria Filomena Mónica rightly claims, ‘not for lack of merit but because he wrote in a language that no one read[s]’) cannot be overstated. Robert Fedorchek’s The Falling Snow and Other Stories, an English translation of eleven of Eça’s short texts, carefully brings the Portuguese author’s words to life without domesticating them. Fedorchek’s transparent and artful prose preserves the feeling of the nineteenth century and allows the style, irony, and humor of the original texts to shine through, granting the contemporary English-language reader full access to the works of arguably the greatest European writer of the nineteenth century."~Anna-Lisa Halling, Brigham Young University
"Eça de Queirós enchants readers with his wry depictions and elegantly descriptive writing. Enter the fascinating world of late nineteenth-century Portugal in eleven of his most translated and popular stories."~K. David Jackson, Yale University