A singular and long flight

'There – all that is great, strong, proud:
The Eagle lands, the cloud stops,
The air is pure and crisp
The Sky is deeper and the light clearer!'
(Jaime Cortesão, A morte da águia, Poema heróico)


Spanning the whole of the First Republic, A Águia made and publicized the cultural and civic atmosphere of the second and third decades of the Portuguese 20th century.

Reading through its four hundred and twenty-three published authors transports us directly into the doctrinarian confrontations, the expressions of sensibility, and the cultural references of their time.

From January 1912, the monthly magazine of literature, art, science, philosophy, and social critique presented itself as the Renascença Portuguesa organ, becoming the mouthpiece for one of the most significant and successful intellectual movements of Portuguese history, due to its uncommon ambition, along with an ability to bring together different wills, and, most of all, the creative, editorial, and educational activities it developed.

Even the above-mentioned subtitle bears witness to the broad gesture of intent that sought to encompass distinct authors and varied subjects, united by the imperative of culturally reforming the national community. The attention given to the arts, with the regular inclusion of original drawings, later collected in a dedicated album, is a particular example of this general aspiration.

The hope of national resurgence, reliant on uplifting all fellow citizens, was widely well-received. However, the approach to neo-romantic ideals and the saudosista programme announced by Teixeira de Pascoaes in the opening editorial text of the second series met with a more subdued response. Álvaro Pinto, the executive soul of the periodical, went so far as to declare that saudosismo was not part of the magazine’s official doctrine, António Sérgio contested it in a lively polemic, and Pascoaes himself eventually retracted when confronted with the reservations to his revealed poetic illumination.

Along with the richness, the variety, and the contradictions of contemporary literati, mostly when clashing with the positivity of scientific rationality, A Águia stands out for revealing the republic’s polycentric intellectual life.

Never abandoning its national vocation – that was, in fact, successful from the beginning – the magazine’s centre remained in Porto, even when Álvaro Pinto transferred production to his Anuário do Brasil, in Rio de Janeiro.

On this matter, it should be noted that the publication’s connection to Porto was reinforced from the third series, directed by Leonardo Coimbra. On one hand, the seareiro project, conjured by renascentistas from the Lisbon group who were joined by Jaime Cortesão, gained strength and projected the theses that had opposed Proença and Sérgio to Pascoaes. On the other hand, the foundation of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Porto, by initiative of Leonardo Coimbra himself, led to a very close relationship between the magazine’s directors and the teaching activity of the new and irreverent school.

These introductory notes are obviously not meant to provide a thorough reading of A Águia, with all its voices, tonalities, convergences, contradictions, paths, and cycles – rather, their aim is to highlight the important role played by the publication in recent intellectual history.

The reader now has the option of returning to the source – an unabridged version of the source, containing two hundred and five issues over five series. The editorial content provided is actually even more complete than what was available at the time of publication, since issue 10-11 of the fourth series never reached distribution due to censorship restrictions.

Relevant and extensive documentation for understanding the content and meaning of the magazine and the movement of which it was the organ is also presented, both on the conceptual and contextual planes.

While making no claim to a systematic archive, around three hundred and fifty collected documents are now presented.

For the Renascença Portuguesa, we reproduce the letters originated in the simultaneously Franciscan and masonic reverie of June 1911 experienced by republican Cortesão; also provided are the association’s main documents, its programmatic projects, statutes, managing bodies, and associates; the inventory of works published under the group’s name; and a notably informed and complete study.

On A Águia itself, also featured are the offprints, the Álbum Artístico, several dozen letters, and numerous testimonials penned by some of the periodical’s most important names. The contemporary reception enjoyed by the magazine can be observed in the Inquérito Literário, by Boavida Portugal, while some of the interpretations it was subjected to are included in a short dedicated studies anthology.

From an analytical perspective, it’s worth mentioning that the one thousand nine-hundred and three pieces published in the magazine can now be accessed by the appropriate descriptors and a total of eight indexes. This represents not only an unusual entryway to the published material, but also, and more importantly, a systematic and stimulating mapping of information.

The qualitative analysis of a database containing more than ten thousand individual entries, and a much higher number of occurrences, is an invitation for the reader to remember that knowledge is, foremost, an exercise of imagination, since the universe of questionable content and the scope of viable answers are both meticulously expanded. A simple example of this qualitative analysis carried out by a Seminário Livre de História das Ideias researcher: when confronted with the frequency of Teixeira de Pascoaes’ participation in the magazine, the distribution of articles containing the concept of saudade leads to two mostly parallel lines, with coinciding frequencies, peaks, and depressions.

The opportunity for each reader to reconstruct the path of A Águia, following the cartography of curiosity, of one’s own interests and insights, is thus guaranteed.

Luís Andrade