Herberto Helder

23 November 2020

“Innocence is a clandestine state in the dictatorship of the world.”

90 years ago, #inthisday, the writer Herberto Helder was born in Funchal. He moved to the continent at a young age, having attended the courses of Letters and Romance Philology.

In Lisbon he worked as a journalist, librarian, translator and presenter of radio programs. In 1958 he also became involved in the campaign of Humberto Delgado. Over the years, he collaborated in several newspapers and magazines and was literary director of the editorial “Estampa” in 1969. He traveled to several countries in Europe and, in 1971, worked as a reporter for the Angolan magazine “Notícias”. He also lived in the United States of America and only after April 25th, 1974 was he permanently settled in Portugal.

Recognized as one of the greatest contemporary Portuguese poets and one of the mentors of Portuguese experimental poetry, his work “Apresentação do Rosto” appeared in 1968 at “Editora Ulisseia”. It was seized by PIDE, which destroyed 1,500 copies of the book, claiming “an obvious load of pornography, which could in no way be tolerated.” Only in July of this year, 2020, did “Presentation of the Face” be re-edited. “A text that is intended for the consecration of silence, we have thought so much, we have had hands on so many sides, have slept and woke up – it would be good to imagine the appeased spirit, the reconciliation of thought with the matter of the world,” its author tells us.

In 1994 he was awarded with the Person Prize, which he refused and in 2007 he was proposed by the PEN Club Portuguese to be a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died on March 23, 2015, at the age of 84.


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