"José Matias," the tale of a man of leisure who is going to his grave accompanied by a very brief procession of carriages, highlights, perhaps more than any other tale of his, the gentle irony—equal parts affection and sarcasm—that makes the work of the great nineteenth-century Portuguese writer José Maria de Eça de Queirós so delightful to the contemporary reader.
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"José Matias," the tale of a madly romantic man of leisure who is going to his grave accompanied by a very brief procession of carriages, highlights the gentle irony—equal parts affection and sarcasm—that makes the work of the great nineteenth-century Portuguese writer José Maria de Eça de Queirós seem much closer to contemporary readers than it might appear from a glance at the dates of Eça's birth (1845) and death (1900).
Genre: short story
Date of English translation: 2011
From _La tentación del fracaso_, 2 November 1976:
"Last night I woke up dreaming about Eça de Queirós and lay awake for an hour remembering his novels. I think I remembered them all, even though I read them when I was between fifteen and eighteen. I remembered odd details: for example, that two of them, _The Relic_ and _The Illustrious House of Ramires_ contain in turn other novels, written by the protagonists of the main novels. I remembered the similarities between many of his works and those of Flaubert, whom he admired so much. I remembered his excellent journalistic reports, mainly those from London and from Paris, and the letters of Fadrique Mendes. And his stories, many of them unforgettable, such as 'A Blonde Girl's Eccentricities,' 'The Treasure,' and 'The Deceased Man,' which my father once read to us. And also his lives of the saints, his least good work even though it was his last. This confirms for me the indelible nature of the readings of adolescence and their influence on you. I would have to reread his work now to see if it is as good as it is in my memory. In any case, for me he is still a great novelist, unfairly forgotten. I don't think I've ever seen his name or one of his books mentioned in a magazine or a literary article in France, and I haven't seen translations of his books into French, either. Temptation to write a short, remonstrative article about him."
-Julio Ramón Ribeyro