​Manuel da Fonseca

Biography for ​Manuel da Fonseca

He was born Manuel Lopes Fonseca on October 15, 1911 in the southern Portuguese coastal town of Santiago do Cacém. He is known in particular as one of the most important writers of the "neo-realism" style which depicted everyday scenes from life.

After completing his elementary education in Santiago, da Fonseca continued his studies in Lisbon. He attended secondary schools at the Colégio Vasco da Gama, Liceu Camões, and Escola Lusitânia. Da Fonseca enrolled at the Fine Arts Academy, but left without completing a degree.

Da Fonseca supported himself with a variety of odd jobs while writing poetry. His first collection, Rosa dos ventos (Rose of the Winds), was published in 1940. A second volume, Planície, appeared the following year.

A first collection of short stories, Aldeia Nova, was published in 1942. It narrated tales of the lower working classes and was highly successsful, establishing his literary reputation. It was soon followed by da Fonseca's best-known novel, Cerromaior (1943; The Biggest Hill), which was adapted as an award-winning movie directed by Luís Filipe Rocha in 1980.

After a long hiatus, da Fonseca's next major work, O fogo e as cinzas (The Fire and the Ashes), appeared in 1952. It was another short story volume that later became required reading in Portuguese public schools.

Later works include the novel Seara de vento (1958; Harvest of Wind), as well as the short stories Um anjo no trapézio (1968; An Angel on the Trapeze) and Tempo de solidão (1969; Time of Solitude).

He wrote the poetry collections Poema completas (1963) and Obra poética (1984).

Da Fonseca died of cancer in Lisbon on March 11, 1993. He was eighty-one.


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