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Books (pdf)

Please note that all books are in Portuguese. Titles in English are mere literal translations


A Cidade sem Espaço (The City without Space) – 1961

Alice Sampaio’s first book is an impressive depiction of the coming of age of a restless, unconventional young woman and her friends who want to live life to the full in a closed world  that continually tries to stifle them.

Vou-me embora pra Pasárgada

Lá sou amigo do rei

Lá tenho a mulher que eu quero

Na cama que escolherei


[I’m going away to Pasargadae
There I am friend of the king
There I’ll have the woman I want
On the bed that I will choose]

Manuel Bandeira [Brazilian poet]


L’essentiel, par ces temps de misère morale, c’est de créer de l’enthousiasme. Combien de personnes ont lu Homère? Cependant tout le monde en parle. On a créé ainsi la superstition homérique. Une superstition dans ce sens provoque une excitation précieuse. C’est d’enthousiasme que nous avons le plus besoin, nous et les jeunes.


Pablo Picasso

The City without Space

O Aquário (The Aquarium) - 1963

Extract from the inside cover:


Alice Sampaio succeeded in writing a profoundly original book, thanks to a powerful movement through time and space that enables her to strip the problem of human destiny of its contingent or secondary aspects, and get right to its core. (...)
With an extremely colourful and expressive writing, bordering on the visionary, the author builds a world of inconceivable landscapes and beings, full of throbbing mineral cities and underground lives, evoked in a kind of poem of the strange, which is deeply disturbing. 



Sans le Mouvement, tout serait une seule et même chose.



The Aquarium

O Dom de Estar Vivo (The Gift of Being Alive) - 1967

A truly remarkable book, with bigger than life characters (women and men, but mostly women) far ahead of their time, in a claustrophobic country crystallized in the past. It is also a kind of subversive mirror of Portugal under the dictatorship, before the 1960’s wave of emigration, the Carnation Revolution (25 April 1974), the return of the Portuguese from the former colonies and its move towards Europe and the world radically changed it. And it is an extraordinary tribute to the role of education as a liberating force for every human being, women in particular.


The Gift of Being Alive


Chapter 1 - Summer smiles


Chapter 2 - Garlic and saphires in the mud

Chapter 3 - The fire and the rose

Where is the summer, the unimaginable Zero Summer?

T. S. Eliot

Garlic and sapphires in the mud

T. S. Eliot

Is all the ash the burnt roses leave

T. S. Eliot


D. Leonor, Rainha Maravilhosamente (Leonor, Wonderfully Queen) - 1968

An extraordinary play about the fierce Leonor Telles de Menezes (1350 – 1386) who was married to king Ferdinand I (1345-1383) and ruled as queen consort from 1372 to 1383. After the death of the king in 1383, she was regent until 1385, ruling with her Galician lover João Fernandes, the Count of Andeiro. She was hated by the people who called her The Treacherous. In 1385, noblemen led by John, Master of Avis and half-brother of Ferdinand I, fearing that Portugal might be annexed by Castile, killed Andeiro and sent Leonor to exile.



Ladies and Gentlemen,

(for once) I have so much to say that I’m afraid I’ll stutter, and hell is full of such stutterers. Of course, hell would be the last thing to scare either the wonderful Queen Leonor of Alice Sampaio or the Alice Sampaio of Queen Leonor. (...) Those who are able to see-read this “theater”, will find in Leonor, Wonderfully Queen, the vertigo, something in my view extremely good, and therefore extremely rare, and not only within Portuguese literature.


Jorge Listopad 

Leonor, Wonderfully Queen

A Rua da Ronda  (Tarde Branca do Mês de Janeiro) (The Round Street - White January Afternoon) - 1969

Back cover:

A village in Beira Alta - before emigration - steeped in hunger and cold. The “round street” is a sort of Via Crucis of the people, the street where the procession of the Lord of Agony draws the closed curve of a boundless despair. How to overcome it? How to break the cycle? “The Round Street” is the first part of a trilogy “For a Theatre of the Poor”: the village, hungry and cold; the village during emigration (breaking the chain?); and the village later, much later...


yo soy Merlín, aquel que las historias dicen

que tuve por mi padre al diablo


A ti digo ¡oh varón, como se debe 
por jamás alabado!, a ti, valiente 
juntamente y discreto don Quijote, 
de la Mancha esplendor, de España estrella, 
que para recobrar su estado primo 
la sin par Dulcinea del Toboso, 
es menester que Sancho, tu escudero, 
se dé tres mil azotes y trecientos 
en ambas sus valientes posaderas, 
al aire descubiertas, y de modo 
que le escuezan, le amarguen y le enfaden. 
Y en esto se resuelven todos cuantos 
de su desgracia han sido los autores, 
y a esto es mi venida, mis señores. 

Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote de la Mancha

The Round Street - White January Afternoon

Penélope (Penelope) - 1977

First volume of a novel that was left unfinished and should have had twelve volumes, an ambitious replica to Joyce and Proust, it represents the most innovative and profound side of Alice Sampaio’s work. Written in a difficult language with a narrative that does not unfold in a linear fashion, perhaps it requires several readings. 


Quote in back cover:

The most interesting and creative art of our time is not open to the generally educated; it demands special effort, it speaks a specialized language. The music of Milton Babbitt and Morton Feldman, the painting of Mark Rothko and Frank Stella, the dance of Merce Cunningham and James Waring demand an education of sensibility whose difficulties and length of apprenticeship are at least comparable to the difficulties of mastering physics or engineering. 


Susan Sontag 

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