Tea and literature…Portuguese style

12th November 2013

News, Student news, Alumni news

It is said the custom of drinking tea became fashionable in Britain in the seventeenth century, after it was introduced in court by the Portuguese wife of Charles II, Catarina de Bragança. A new book, co-edited by Wadham’s Cláudia Pazos Alonso, highlights the benefits that can be derived from reading literature, preferably over a cup of tea.

  • Cláudia Pazos Alonso

    Cláudia Pazos Alonso

Reading Literature in Portuguese - Commentaries in Honour of Tom Earle (Legenda, 2013) began life as a tribute to Tom Earle. “Tom was a Wadham alumnus, who came up in 1964, and recently retired from the Chair of Portuguese at Oxford, after a long and distinguished career in Portuguese studies”, said Cláudia.

The book, co-edited by Cláudia and Stephen Parkinson (Linacre College), brings together thirty commentaries of representative works of literature written in Portuguese — either complete poems or extracts from longer works, covering all periods and main genres. English translations were added, with the intention of making the texts more accessible to a wider audience. Each commentary, penned by a leading specialist, aims to develop the art of reading.

So what is the significance of the teapot on the book’s cover? Cláudia and her co-editor explain: “The study of Modern Languages at Oxford has always combined seriousness with sociability.  And Tom Earle will be fondly remembered by successive generations of undergraduates for, among other things, offering them cups of tea in the course of tutorials.  After all, reading, not unlike a good cup of tea, requires fine ingredients and time to brew…”

The collection showcases the work of Luís de Camões, Fernando Pessoa, Eça de Queirós, José Saramago and Clarice Lispector, alongside many other major Brazilian and Portuguese poets, dramatists and novelists. The intention is to give an authentic taste of two diverse countries and their ever evolving cultures.