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Eca's English Letters
Translated by Alison Aiken and Ann Stevens
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (128 pages)
(Pub. Oct 2000)
Solemn, grand, vulnerable - and a little absurd: England in the 1880s. The gentry endures tedious country-bound winter weeks (fashion forbids them from showing their faces in London). Lord Beaconsfield is mourned, and a national legend buried. The Times remains the gruff voice of a postprandial Establishment which has just made a meal of the whole world and put its feet on the fender, warming its gout. Abroad, John Bull is sweet reason; Irish rebels must not incommode English land-lords; Egyptian rebels must learn to respect their established rulers...
Meanwhile, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a young consul, Eca de Queiros, writes regular letters to his Brazilian readers, giving a dry, amused, not wholly impartial account of these and other English activities. His facts can get a shade garbled, his irony verges on the cruel: he describes people, places and events in a vigorous, lively way, blowing stylish raspberries at venerable institutions. The Times is especially comic. A corrective to the British propaganda of the period and to the rhetoric of Great Britain Plc, Eca's English Letters provides timeless amusement from its vantage-point in history, a vision of Victorian Britain less eminently civilised than it thought itself to be.
To Ann Stevens' celebrated translations of the Letters, this edition adds further letters, passages from the Cronicas de Londres and Notas Contemporaneas not previously translated.
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
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