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Lives And Mores Of Goa Portuguesa*

Cielo G. Festino

Translated by Paul Melo e Castro
Golden Heart Emporium, Goa, 2015, pp. viii 192, Rs. 260.00


Lengthening Shadows, an anthology of short stories in the Portuguese-language from Goa, a former Portuguese colony, which covers a period of more than a century, from 1860 to 1980, was edited and translated into the English language by Paul Melo e Castro, an English scholar on Goan literature based at Leeds University. With the exception of ‘The Africa Boat’ by Laxmanrao Sardessai, the stories in this collection were painstakingly compiled by Melo e Castro from Goan newspapers, the Bulletin from the Institute Menezes Bragança (IMB), and private libraries. Therefore, while they are a novelty for the lay reader, they are a real treasure for literary scholars. In the ‘Afterword’ to Lengthening Shadows, Augusto Pinto, a Goan critic and translator, praises the book both for the quality of the translations, ‘the stories feel like originals’ (p. 184), and the fact that though the stories have been written by different authors ‘…the anthology is more than the sum of the individual pieces. It reads like a compendium of the lives and mores of Goa Portuguesa in the last century or so of its existence’ (p. 184). Melo e Castro’s thorough research also comes through the rich footnotes that explain terms in Konkani, one of the languages from Goa, local adaptations of Portuguese-language words, cultural references, and the names of real Goans which appear in the stories. What also contributes to the reading of the anthology as a compendium is the critical ‘Introduction’ to Lengthening Shadows in which Melo e Castro weaves together all the stories anthologized in terms of their historical, political and cultural context, their form of publication in Goa’s newspapers and literary journals, as well as their themes and literary quality. In so doing, he sets out the evolution of Goan literary tradition in the Portuguese language in the making. In the ‘Afterword’ Pinto poses a very interesting question: ‘So how did Portuguese become a better mirror of society than other Indian languages or even English?’ (p. 185). The reason could be that it was Goa’s official language. With the support of the Portuguese colonial regime, the Portuguese language imposed itself upon the other two languages from Goa, Konkani, whose literary tradition was delayed by almost a century, and Marathi, the literary language of the Hindu community, as Pinto observes in the ‘Afterword’ (p. 185). In the ‘Introduction’, Melo e Castro explains that the name of the book, Lengthening Shadows, signifies at ...

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