EMIGRANTS by Ferreira de Castro


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Manuel de Bouca, a Portuguese country peasant, succumbs to the lure of emigration to fulfill his life's ambition of acquiring the land bordering his small farm and suitably providing for his wife and daughter. The legend of wealth touted by the town's acquisitive travel agent provokes Manuel to mortgage his land, leave his family and birthplace, and go to a country where the poor can get rich--Brazil. The story of his journey from dream to disillusion takes the simple, illiterate laborer across the sea with a load of other emigrants, as bewildered and expectant as he, in search of work and its promised rewards. But Manuel finds only hard work, with little pay, and no chance to save towards the villa in the homeland he longingly remembers and the wife he misses so much. Still hopeful after ten years, he hears only that he has lost his precious strips of land to the usurer, that his daughter has married a man he thinks unworthy of her, and finally, that his wife has died. A failure, without a remnant of his dream, he returns home. Unable to perpetrate the lie of success, he leaves again for Lisbon, aware now that the poor always stay poor and that his search for wealth had only broken him and all that was good in his life. The translation by Dorothy Ball sustains a sense of the original, making no concessions to the American market. The story is pertinent; the emigration plight sympathetically, but honestly, stated; and the reading easy and enjoyable, with especially good descriptions of the Portuguese and Brazilian countryside and flavor.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1962
Publisher: Macmillan