comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un paraplui
The day I met Eduardo Lourenço, then. I didn't really expect it. It was a surprise he came to our meeting at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, just because one of the project was to study & translate his Labirinto da Saudade.
At the first moment, I was just looking, not sure how to take the case on. I've been having those awful encounters with famous intellectuals, full of pretence and American habits, as it was with Markowski and others. But this one was completely Portuguese, shy and modest, and tiny in his manners, as if nothing. At the end I would say he was a charming person, as an intellectual should be, and clever to recognise his equal, as those Polish ones never are.
I talked to him quite a lot later on, during the lunch, but at the meeting, as I was sitting near him, I was staring with the corner of my eye, calculating silently and making a balance in my head. How much is Eduardo Lourenço? Certainly, as I write my book now, cutting down the footnotes, he is the last to remain, as a scholar. His vision of Portugal has been shaping mine; it's only quite recently that I've started to get rid of the repetitive aspect of this influence. And there is more than this. In the Empire and Nostalgia, he is one of the three heroes, the three dispatriants: it is Sena, Saramago and Lourenço. The tiniest, the shiest, the most localised of them, but necessary to make the balance and the triangulation. My topic would never exist without the three of them; between themselves, they make a country.
I waved the hand that triangulated a country, between empire and nostalgia. Should I rather have kissed it?