Portuguese Literary Icon Eça de Queiroz: A Controversial Journey to the National Pantheon
A Unanimous Decision of Honor
On January 15, 2021, the Portuguese Republic Assembly unanimously voted to transfer the remains of the esteemed author Eça de Queiroz to the National Pantheon, a gesture of recognition and tribute to his exceptional contributions to Portuguese literature. The Eça de Queiroz Foundation, which initiated the move, followed the law that governs the honoring of the National Pantheon, a prestigious institution that perpetuates the memory of distinguished Portuguese citizens who have made significant contributions to public office, military services, Portuguese culture, and literary, scientific, and artistic creation.
Family Disagreement and Legal Contestation
Despite the unanimous decision of the Republic Assembly, the author’s descendants exhibited a divide in their views about the move. Out of the 22 grandchildren, 13 consented to the transfer to the National Pantheon, three abstained, and six contested the decision by filing a precautionary measure in the Supreme Administrative Court to prevent the transfer. The court admitted the plea, sought the opinion of the Republic Assembly, and is currently deliberating on the request, with no definitive decision announced yet.
Local Protest and Emotional Attachment
Adding to the complexity, a group of local people from Santa Cruz do Douro, the current resting place of the author’s remains, staged a protest expressing their disapproval of the process. They gathered near the Eça de Queiroz Foundation to express their gratitude to the author and demonstrate their displeasure with the proposed move. António Fonseca, the leader of the protest and a former local community leader, argued that Eça’s rightful place should be under the shadow of Tormes. He believes that the majority of the local population agrees with this sentiment, with only a few dissenting due to political motivations.
A Move to Attract More Readers
The President of the Eça de Queiroz Foundation, Afonso Reis Cabral, expressed hope that the relocation would attract more readers to Eça’s work. He emphasized the importance of contributing to the life and legacy of Eça de Queiroz, suggesting that inaction would lead to a less tranquil conscience. As the debate continues, the literary community and the Portuguese public eagerly await the Supreme Administrative Court’s decision, which will ultimately determine the final resting place of one of Portugal’s most revered literary figures.
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