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Yellow Sofa Paperback – Nov 1 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
In a letter cited by the author's son in his introductory note, E a de Queiros (1846-1900) writes of a planned series of short novels "which would be a reflection of contemporary life in Portugal." He adds, "the attraction of these tales is that there are no digressions, no rhetoric, no philosophizing: everything is interesting and dramatic, and quickly narrated." Whether or not The Yellow Sofa was intended as one of these novels, the description fits. Godofredo da Concei ao Alves has a comfortable life: a beautiful wife, Lulu, and a good steady business in partnership with the handsome young gallant, Machado. Alves gets some vicarious pleasure from Machado's romantic escapades until he comes home to find his wife and partner entwined on his yellow sofa. Filled with what he supposes to be righteous outrage, he throws Lulu out and challenges Machado. But reality is an inconvenient intercessor. A duel seems honorable until one of his seconds urges him to make his will. He believes his wife's exile will redeem his home but now his morning shaving water is cold; his breakfast eggs are unpredictable; the cut-glass fruit bowl has a broken handle; and his linen is dirty. Alves is a romantic who likes his comforts and a man who is motivated by an almost interchangeable mix of generosity and cowardice. Most of all, in E a de Queiros's hands, he is a wonderful, gently mocking exemplar of bourgeois morality. (Nov.) FYI: Last year New Directions published E a de Queiros's The Illustrious House of Ramires, which was one of PW's Best Books for 1995.
Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
His excellent prose glides through real experience and private dream in a manner that is leading on toward the achievements of Proust. — V. S. Pritchett
Eça de Queirós is far greater than my own dear master, Flaubert. — Émile Zola
A wonderful, gently mocking exemplar of bourgeois morality. — Publishers Weekly
Portugal’s greatest novelist. — José Saramago --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The story itself is far away near to the quality of "O Primo Basilio" or "O Crime do Padre Amaro". OK, they (and this story too) are likely to be a Mexican novel, but by that time Eça work was representing the movement against the Romantic literature. This latter work is much more Romantic rathar than Realism (the literary movement of Eça), since it does not have the traditional irony on the characters readers of Romantic novels, there are no reference to the culture of Portugal, etc., so present on Eça ORIGINAL work.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In THE YELLOW SOFA, respectable Lisbon businessman Godofredo da Conceiçao Alves (I don't know Portuguese, but a name like that surely would not be given to a tragic hero) returns to the office to be told by the clerk that his business partner and close friend Senhor Machado left to attend the theater. Alves goes about his work until he suddenly realizes that it is his fourth wedding anniversary. He quickly leaves to make arrangements for a special dinner and on his way home he buys his wife Lulu a bracelet -- a golden serpent with two rubies for eyes, biting its own tail, symbolizing lasting continuity. When he gets home, he silently proceeds to Lulu's boudoir to surprise her with his early arrival and the gewgaw, he draws the curtain, and there, on a yellow damask sofa, is Lulu in a white negligee gazing languorously at a man whose arm is around her waist . . . and the man is Machado.
Alves's life is turned akilter. His rage knows no bounds. Lulu clearly cannot live in his house any longer. He summons her father to collect his daughter. His father-in-law, however, claims that he cannot afford to take her back; furthermore, Alves, gentleman that he is, surely would not throw her out on the streets. It appears that the only option is for Alves to pay the father-in-law a monthly stipend to take back Lulu, plus an extra sum for the next few months so that the father-in-law can spirit her away from Lisbon to a seaside resort to minimize the potential for nasty gossip. As for Machado, well there must be a duel. But what kind of duel? "A duel with swords, two shirt-sleeved business men aiming clumsy and futile thrusts at each other until one was wounded in the arm -- that seemed to him ridiculous; nor was it fitting that they should exchange a couple of pistol shots, miss each other, and then each of them, flanked by seconds, turn and climb ceremoniously into hired carriages." And so goes the novel, posing one quandary after another, with Alves continually having to reconcile his impulses to the social world around him.
To tell the truth, THE YELLOW SOFA is something of a literary bonbon. It certainly is not on the order of "Madame Bovary", or "Lost Illusions", or "Anna Karenina". But its 112 pages make good fare for an evening's reading.