Authors writing in French

Despite not having been published in book form, there are eight novels, translated from French and published as serials in national newspapers, O Seculo and Diario de Nottcias, that cannot be overlooked.

National newspapers and other periodicals played a relevant role in the dissemination of foreign books about the Great War. Such translations used to reach the Portuguese readers shortly after the French texts, signed by well-known authors, were published in France.

A very interesting phenomenon accompanied these serials (“folhetins” in Portuguese) published in the daily press. In the 1920s, many of these novels were adapted to the cinema. The films too were released in episodes in theatres, very often one day after the publication of the text in the newspaper. A new designation appeared then: “romance cinematografico” or “cine-romance” [cinematographic novel]. Both the newspaper “folhetins” and the cinema episodes were very popular. For example, on the 25th December 1922, Diario de Noticias reprinted the first episode of a novel by Gaston Leroux (the author of the famous Phantom of the Opera) because the previous edition of the newspaper had sold out. Cinema exhibitions were attended by large numbers of people, who were also attracted by “marketing” initiatives, such as several types of contests in which people could win money or valuable items.

On the 4th May 1923, for example, the same newspaper advertises the publication of another novel in “folhetins” and gives evidence of the large importance and popularity of this kind of novels, by stating that the cinematographic literature was very popular in France and that “all the newspapers publish cinematographic novels which, despite all the enormous sacrifices, encouraged Diario de Noticias to buy ‘The King of Paris’” [“Todos os jornais publicam cine-romances e isto levou o Diario de Noticias, embora a custa de enormes sacrificios, a adquirir ‘O Rei de Paris’”].

Outside the commercial distribution, the film O soldado desconhecido [The unknown soldier],“the only official film of the Ministry of War”, was produced by Companhia Cinematografica de Portugal and is described as “an interesting film that features a brilliant page in our contemporary history” [“a unica fita oficial do Ministerio da Guerra, produzida pela Companhia Cinematografica de Portugal que marca uma pagina brilhante da nossa historia contemporanea”] (Diario de Noticias, 20th April 1921).

A special reference is also due to a series of seventy texts by French authors, originally published in the French newspapers Le Journal and Le Temps, translated by Antonio Arroio (1856-1934)[1] and published between 1917 and 1921 in A Aguia, a relevant Portuguese literary magazine. These texts consist of short narratives and essays, selected by the translator with the declared intention of gathering a series of documents to illustrate the state of mind of all the populations involved in the conflict.

French authors translated into Portuguese and published in book form were, for example, Paul Chack (1876-1945) and Claude Farrere (1876-1957) - Combats et batailles sur mer; Charles Lucieto (pseudonym of Daniel Busson, ?-?) - Lespion du Kaiser; Martial Lekeux (1884-1962) - Mes cloitres dans la tempete; Roland

Dorgeles (1886-1973) - Les croix de bois; Andre Maurois (pseudonym of Emile Salomon W Herzog, 1885-1967) - Les silences du Colonel Bramble; Maurice Leblanc (1864-1941) - Leclat dobus; Charles Foley (1861-1956) - Sylvette et son blesse and Alain Boursin (?-?) - Poste 85. Le boucher de Verdun by Louis Dumur (1860-1933), a Swiss author, is also to be referred.

  • [1] Arroio was an engineer, a teacher and an art reviewer, whose name was given to a schoolof Applied Arts.
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