The Maias is a very satisfying juxtaposition of the beautiful, lyrical landscape and the vile actions of the family.

Edmund White
cover image of the book The Illustrious House of Ramires (New)

The Illustrious House of Ramires (New)

The Illustrious House of Ramires, presented here in a sparkling new translation by Margaret Jull Costa, is the favorite novel of many Eça de Queirós aficionados. This late masterpiece, wickedly funny and yet tender, centers on Gonçalo Ramires, heir to a family so aristocratic that it predates the kings of Portugal. Ramires—charming but disastrously effete, idealistic but hopelessly weak—muddles through his pampered life, burdened by a grand ambition. In part to further his political aspirations, he is determined to write a great historical novel based on the heroic deeds of his fierce medieval ancestors. But “the record of their valor,” as the London Spectator remarked, “is ironically counterpointed by his own chicanery. A combination of Don Quixote and Walter Mitty, Ramires is continually humiliated but at the same time kindhearted. Ironic comedy is the keynote of the novel. Eça de Queirós has justly been compared with Flaubert and Stendhal.”

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cover image of the book The Yellow Sofa

The Yellow Sofa

José Maria Eça de Queirós, the first great modern Portuguese novelist, wrote The Yellow Sofa with, as he said, “no digressions, no rhetoric,” where “everything is interesting and dramatic and quickly narrated.” The story, a terse and seamless spoof of Victorian bourgeois morals, concerns Godofredo Alves, a successful, buoyant businessman who returns home to find his wife “on the yellow damask sofa… leaning in abandon on the shoulder of a man…” The man is none other than Machado, his best friend and business partner. Godofredo struggles with the public need to defend his honor, and a stronger inner desire for forgiveness and domestic tranquillity. The Babel Guide to Portuguese Fiction notes, “The genius of this book is how Eça captures all the emotional fluctuations… and with such accuracy. The result is an enjoyable humorous novella that is simultaneously breathtakingly ironic.” The Yellow Sofa firmly establishes Eça de Queirós in the literary pantheon that includes Dickens, Flaubert, Balzac and Tolstoy.

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cover image of the book The City and the Mountains

The City and the Mountains

Born in a mansion on the Champs-Elysees, Jacinto is the heir to a vast estate in Portugal which he has never visited. He mixes with the crème de la crème of Paris society, but is monumentally bored. And then he receives a letter from his estate manager saying that they plan to move the bones of his ancestors to the newly renovated chapel–would he like to be there? With great trepidation, he sets off with his best friend, the narrator, on the mammoth train journey through France and Spain to Portugal. What they discover in the simple country life will upend their own lives deliciously.

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cover image of the book The Maias

The Maias

Set in Lisbon at the close of the nineteenth century, The Maias is both a coming-of-age novel and a passionate romance. Our hero, Carlos Maia, heir to one of the greatest fortunes in Portugal, is rich, handsome, generous and intelligent: he means to do something for his country, something useful, something that will make his beloved grandfather proud. However, Carlos is also a bit of a dilettante. He drifts along, becoming a doctor and pottering about in his laboratory, but spends more and more time riding his splendid horses or visiting the theater, having affairs or reading novels. His best friend and chief partner in crime, Ega, is likewise engaged in a long summertime of witticisms and pleasure. Carlos, however, is set on a dead reckoning course with fate—with the love of his life and with a terrible, terrible secret… Newly translated by the acclaimed translator Margaret Jull Costa (translator of Jose Saramago’s Blindness), New Directions is proud to bring Eca de Queiros’ brilliant prose to life for American readers for the first time.

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cover image of the book The Crime of Father Amaro

The Crime of Father Amaro

A priest explodes after a fish supper while guests at a neighbor’s birthday party are wildly dancing a polka. So begins José Maria Eça de Queirós’s The Crime of Father Amaro––a sparkling, lucid satire of clerical corruption set in Leira, a small city in Portugal, during the 1870s. Young, virile Father Amaro (whose name means “bitter” in Portuguese) arrives in Leira and is taken in as a lodger by São Joaneira. Her budding, devout, dewy-lipped daughter Amelia is soon lusted after by the young priest. What ensues is a secret love affair amidst a host of compelling minor characters: Canon Dias, a priest, glutton, and São Joaneira’s lover; Dona Maria da Assunção, a wealthy widow with a roomful of religious relics, agog at any hint of sex; João Eduardo, repressed atheist, free-thinker, and suitor to Amelia. Eça’s incisive critique flies like a shattering mirror, jabbing everything from the hypocrisy of a rich and powerful Church, to the provincialism of Portuguese society of the tinte. Haunting The Crime of Father Amaro is the ghost of a forgotten religion of tolerance, wisdom, and equality. Margaret Jull Costa has rendered an exquisite translation and provides an informative Introduction to a story that truly spans all ages. The Crime of Father Amaro inspired a series of magnificent paintings by the Portuguese artist Paula Rego, one of which graces the cover of this edition. The novel was also made into a controversial film, El Crimen del Padre Amaro, by Mexican director Carlos Carrera in 2002.

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The Maias is a very satisfying juxtaposition of the beautiful, lyrical landscape and the vile actions of the family.

Edmund White

What does Eça’s Portugal feel like? It is dominated by hot sunny days, white trousers, dust, theater tickets and evening strolls in Sintra, roses in buttonholes and glimpses of gowned women getting in and out of coaches, gorgeous landscapes and trees and flowers, hale farmers and country maids, long conversations, cats and singing birds and orchards, pumpkins drying on a station roof, baked sweet rice, and cheese pastries.

James Guida, The New York Review of Books

“Elegantly poetic prose… Fans of Vargas Llosa and Saramago will find a kindred spirit in these pages.”


José Maria de Eça de Queirós, where have you been all my life?

Lorin Stein, The Paris Review

Eça de Queirós ought to be up there with Balzac, Dickens, and Tolstoy as one of the talismanic names of the nineteenth century.

London Observer

A writer of mesmerizing literary power. We should be grateful for such blessings.

Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World

Portugal’s greatest novelist.

Jose Saramago

He is far greater than my own dear master, Flaubert.


His excellent prose glides through real experience and private dream in a manner that is leading on toward the achievements of Proust.

V.S. Pritchett

The Maias is one of the most impressive European novels of the nineteenth century, fully comparable to the most inspired novels of the great Russian, French, Italian and English masters of prose fiction. A family chronicle of intense historical insight and narrative power, The Maias reveals the decadence of Portugal in its long decline that was to culminate in the Salazar Fascist regime of the twentieth century. More than that, The Maias is a vision also of the general European malaise that eventually brought on the two World Wars and their aftermaths.

Harold Bloom

A writer of genius.

Harold Bloom
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