«Il ne faut pas mettre du vinaigre dans ses écrits; il faut y mettre du sel.»
(One shouldn't put vinegar into his writings; one should add salt to them.
Não convém avinagrar o que se escreve; deve‑se‑lhe, outrossim, pôr sal.)
I can confidently say, no exaggeration to be feared, that the presence of this man on the Portuguese literature's stage can easily be compared with an oasis in the middle of the Sahara. Let me just say he's the only Portuguese gay writer ever.
There are other gays writing, no doubt about that, but none has come out of the closet/of his study yet, and definitely not in such grandeur as Frederico Lourenço has. No pseudonyms needed, no hidings along the writing path. With some wit, I can say «what you see/read is what you get».
I believe we Portuguese have to be thankful to an incident in his life: while his father was working on his doctoral thesis, Frederico spent part of his childhood – in Oxford. I'm sure this must account for some steps he's taken in his life course. And what steps those have been…
He's doubtlessly a forerunner as far as best quality Portuguese gay literature is concerned. His writing is in large measure autobiographical, or fictional in that sense, a most common feature in Western literature nowadays. Instead of focusing on trivia (so‑called light literature) or on sexual adventures (of erotic or pornographic kind), Frederico Lourenço has been conveying through his novels an image of «normalness» of – and a message to – a part of the Portuguese gay community ever since the 80's, which so many of us can easily identify with, and are most willing to do so.
He was born in Lisbon in 1963. In the 80's Frederico Lourenço changed the course of his life by abandoning a possible career as a pianist and embracing the studying of Classical Philology – Latin and Greek languages and literatures. In the beginning of the 90's he is an assistant teacher in the Classical Department of Lisbon University, and some years later, after concluding his doctoral thesis on Euripides's lyrical chants, he becomes a professor.
As a translator he has already done much more than many all their lives long: he's marvellously put into Portuguese the Homeric poems The Iliad and The Odyssey, published an anthology of Greek poetry, and a version for children of the Homeric poems.
To finish in beauty this «presentation» and close it with a «golden key», I make hereby public to the English speaking world that Frederico Lourenço was awarded for the first time ever the newly created «Europa - David Mourão‑Ferreira Prize» by the University of Bari, Italy, in the category of «promise», only last June. This will enable his work's translation into Italian and three other languages of the European Union (French, English and German, I presume).
Here is the list of his published novels:
Pode Um Imenso Desejo (Can an immense wish)
O Curso das Estrelas (The course of the stars)
À Beira do Mundo (On the edge of the world)
Amar não Acaba (Loving doesn't end)
A Formosa Pintura do Mundo (The fair painting of the world)
A Máquina do Arcanjo (The archangel's machine)
(These English titles are to be taken only as a «decoding» of the original ones.)
I am most proud of this post of mine today, perhaps the only one that has really made me truly happy up till now.
How I wish many more like Frederico Lourenço were among us…