Four hundred years have passed since the first edition of Peregrinação (Pilgrimage), a majestic account of an extended journey to the Orient thatearned Fernão Mendes Pinto, “a hero made of human flesh”, his immortality(1510-1583).The course of history would eventually distinguish this extraordinary autobiographical book as a masterpiece of universal literature, written by a great Portuguese traveller of the 16th century who was an adventurer, a merchant, an ambassador, a mercenary, a beggar, a sailor and a pirate. And was also “held captive thirteen times and sold seventeen times(…)”.
Throughout 266 emotion-filled and adventure-packed chapters, the author describes in a fresh, spontaneous and colloquial tone the impressions of a European in contact with Asian civilisation, its peoples, traditions, cults and landscapes. At the same time, he reveals the impact of the Portuguese in the Orient, often providing the reader with critiques and satirical notes.Earliest title of the “travel literature” genre, Peregrinação stands out for its picaresque spirit that runs through the entire work, evidenced as a clear inversion of the heroic style. Some call it an anti-epic. Showing “what miseries make up a man”, the characters lay bare all their weaknesses and fears.This vast and complex narrative also has the merit, remarkable for that period, of gathering the two sides of Portuguese exploits in the Far East, giving an account, with realism and vivacity, of the sunny side and the dark side of voyages.For all of these reasons, most recent scholars point out its collective meaning and its remarkable humanist value, emphasising its major importance in the raising of awareness of the Other.
The voyage of Fernão Mendes Pinto lasted for 21 years. Born into a poor family from Montemor-o-Velho, he went to Lisbon to work as a servant in 1521. Later he moved to Setúbal, from where he set off to Diu, in India, in 1537.
He visited several places in the Orient, namely India, Malacca, Sumatra, Java, China, Macau and Japan, and had the most incredible experiences, “occupations and life-threatening situations”. He returned in 1558 and settled on a farm in Pragal, in Almada, where he spent a decade writing the work that would immortalise him. He was almost 70 years old when he completed it.Having been written years after the facts took place explains the mixture of truth and fiction, some flaws or alterations of reference, marks that led to a prolonged debate on the authenticity of the account. However, the artistic grandeur of Peregrinação eventually transcended that discussion.Its publication only took place posthumously, in 1614, due to unknown reasons. In other words, 34 years after the manuscript had been completed. Nonetheless, there are bibliographic references to its contents as far back as 1582, proving that it was already known at that time.The work has had great success, having been republished several times in Spain, France, England, Germany and Holland. It was, for a long time, the most read and translated Portuguese book, second only to Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads), the epic poem of Luiz de Camões.
Issue Date: 24.02.2014
Designer: AF Atelier
Colours: 4 Colours
Size: 80 x 30.6 mm