“Besides doing justice to the topic announced in the title, this book represents a novelty as far as the scope of its subject matter. For the first time, as far as I know, a scholar deals with Azorean literature, i.e., the literature written by Azorean writers who did not emigrate, and “Azorean” literature in the diaspora, i.e., written by Azoreans, or descendants of Azoreans, living in North America. Moreover, a number of authors and texts that might have been excluded due to their non-canonicity, are here included. These are only some of the reasons why I recommend this volume”.
Francisco Cota Fagundes
This book explores the theme of emigration within the different genres of Azorean literature. The central argument is that the authors examined portray a regional, cultural and literary uniqueness that is distinct from, but part of Portuguese literature. It is argued that this is a reflection of the historical and social phenomenon of emigration in this archipelago. There is careful exploration of the relationship between island writers and their emigrant counterparts, arguing that it illustrates the symbiosis between island writers and those of the diaspora, a dialogue that contributes to the evolution of the concept of “Azorean literature.”
The depiction and importance of island life and emigration are shown as underlying preoccupations in the works included examined, whether they are set within or outside the archipelago. This introduces the idea of many types of journey, the most important of which is the idea of a twofold journey where the characters travel mentally as well as physically. This positions the islander, whether s/he emigrates or remains in the island, as constantly seeking to reach an utopian end where myth confronts reality and is replaced by another construction of a myth. Part of this myth construction is the islander’s concept of himself and his position within the world, consciously negotiating between two cultures; Azorean and Portuguese, or Azorean and American. This negotiation between cultures is a way in which the writers create a metaphorical island that congregates myth and reality, past and present, whether the work is set in the islands or in the Azorean diaspora.
The book argues that this metaphorical “tenth island” is synonymous with the position of Azorean literature, as it negotiates a position between being part of a Portuguese literary tradition and American literature. Azorean literature, thus, becomes Bhabha’s third space, or Canclini’s space in-between, negotiating between belonging and identifying with differing interpretations and representations of identity, appropriating elements of history and literature to create a fluid self that is part of, but distinct from, either Portugal or America.
The theoretical framework of the book uses postcolonial theory as a tool. In particular, I am interested in the relationship of the emigrant with postcolonial theory, especially its examination of identity formation. I argue, however, that although the emigrant is in many ways similar to the postcolonial subject, by definition he or she is neither colonised not coloniser and, thus, a new of examining and defining him needs to be established.
Table of Contents
Preface by Hilary Owen
1. Emigration as a Theme in Portuguese Literature: The Azores as a Case Study
2. Travelling, the Traveller and the Journey Theme in the Azorean Novel
3. Emigration, Religion and the Azorean Novel
4. Poetry Anthologies, Emigration, The Azores, Identity
5. Poetry as Emigration and Emigration as Poetry
6. Emigration and the Short Story
7. The Journey Within a Journey of Azorean Emigrant (Auto)biographies
“…By opening these literary inscriptions of migrant experience to psychological and linguistic readings, Dr. Ramos Villar also suggests some important directions that Azorean scholarship might take in the future, drawing on the insights of postcolonial theory and Portuguese histories of empire, decolonization and population displacement … [the author] has performed a valuable service not only for newcomers to the Azorean field, but also for experienced Azoreanist scholars, and researchers in the growing academic fields of migration and diaspora studies…”- Professor Hilary Owen, University of Manchester (from the Preface)
“… Dr. Ramos Villar provides the reader with a comprehensive evaluation of the historical roots of emigration and the manner in which this is explored within the Azorean imaginary … this is an excellent work that provides a comprehensive account of an increasingly important area of study and should be of interest to both scholars and more general readers …” – Professor John M. Kinsella, National University of Ireland
” … [the author] undertakes a sensitive, thoughtful analysis of Azorean novels which naturally group together because of their commonality of theme, arriving at a new understanding of the texts in the light of her extensive readings in the field of literary theory.” – Professor Patricia Anne Odber de Baubeta, University of Birmingham
Carmen Ramos Villar is a graduate of the University of Bristol, England where she completed her undergraduate degree in Hispanic Studies, and has an MA and PhD in Portuguese literature by the same university. She is a lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the University of Sheffield, England. Her research interests lie in literature, particularly that of the Azores, and migration in the Lusophone world. She is currently working on a project that examines autobiographies written by Portuguese emigrants in North America.