The doors and the books are open: the space that will house the Eugénio de Andrade collection is inaugurated today

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A house with books can be much more than a library. This is what “Casa dos livros” intends to demonstrate, the space installed by Faculdade de Letras of Porto University at Palacete Burmester, which opens its doors this afternoon. Dedicated to literature, the “Casa dos Livros” will not be limited to being a depository of books – it is dedicated to the study of authors whose collections are gathered there, among which will be the legacy of the poet Eugénio de Andrade, donated by Porto City Hall.

A smell of new still lingers in the air: the requalification works on Palacete Burmester ended recently, and this afternoon the “Casa dos Livros” will be inaugurated there, a space of Faculdade de Letras of Porto University (FLUP) whose mission is to preserve, treat, enhance, and make available – to researchers and the public – the literary collections deposited there. The Palacete Burmester, at Campo Alegre street, welcomes the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, in a ceremony that will also be attended by the Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, the rector of Porto University, António de Sousa Pereira, and the director of FLUP, Fernanda Ribeiro.

The inauguration takes place a couple of days after the Municipal Executive unanimously approved the transfer of the collection of the poet Eugénio de Andrade, which also provides for the attribution of an annual support of 20 thousand euros, for three years.

The director of FLUP was the guide of Porto. Portal on a visit to “Casa dos Livros” before the doors opened: “We knew that Porto City Hall had the entire collection of Eugénio de Andrade, with its several components: correspondence, manuscripts, objects, paintings, library. So, it fits here very well and allows the creation of a cultural facility open to the city, not only to the academy, which goes beyond research itself, for the public to enjoy”, she praises.

The space limitations at the college motivated the intervention in the building. “We took the opportunity to refurbish it, these works were mainly in the basement, that was completely air-conditioned, refurbished, and equipped with a compact shelving, to give us more capacity”, explains Fernanda Ribeiro, adding that the Eugénio de Andrade collection joins “other collections that we already have here in this center of culture, namely Vasco Graça Moura, Albano Martins, which is in the inventory phase still in the family home, which we hope to transfer here this year, from other intellectuals such as Óscar Lopes, other digital collections such as those of Herberto Helder or Manuel António Pina”.

A complete asset

“Eugénio de Andrade is one of the greatest contemporary poets and has a very important collection in terms of documentary heritage, that he left, as a legacy, to the Municipality of Porto. He is translated into more than 20 languages, has received several awards and distinctions, and, as such, the Municipality of Porto is very proud to have a collection of this nature”, highlights the municipal director of Cultural Heritage Management, Cristina Guimarães.

Eugénio de Andrade’s legacy includes much more than books, she adds: “It consists of the manuscripts, which are in our vault, in Municipal Public Library of Porto, which are about 1400. We also have correspondence, letters, postcards, cards, which are about 7400. And then we have the bibliographic collection itself, which amounts to about 17 thousand copies. In addition, we have other assets such as LPs and CDs which make this a very complete estate”. “It is a virtually complete vision of who Eugénio de Andrade was, and it conveys a lot of who he was. The books are still in his house, and will now know a new destination”, she praises.

“The collection has all these components and that is distinctive in this cultural centre”, confirms the director of FLUP, noting that the authors’ work context provides clues to the understanding of the work: “Understanding creation as the entire context of production: what people wrote, what they read and the interconnection between these diverse aspects.”

Fernanda Ribeiro adds that “the idea is to preserve, in a systematic way, the entire production context of these authors and all their work. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to have correspondence, unpublished work. There is a relation between all these documents, let’s call them that, which take on another meaning when seen in all their complexity.”

“It is our intention that all these collections be treated, cataloged and available online for consultation. This work still requires some effort”, concludes the director of FLUP, recalling that “Casa dos Livros” was the name given to this space, which began as “Centro de Estudos da Cultura em Portugal da Universidade do Porto.” As it was created from the legacy of the library and archive of the central documental collection of Vasco Graça Moura, and in its original work context it was called “Casa dos Livros”, we ended up adopting that name, giving it now a new meaning and sense”.

Eugénio de Andrade, pseudonym of José Fontinhas, is one of the greatest contemporary Portuguese poets, and his work has been translated into more than 20 languages. He was distinguished with several awards, one of the most significant being the Camões award in 2001. In 2023 the centennial of Eugénio de Andrade will be celebrated. The program includes an international colloquium on the poet and a major bibliographic exhibition.

Watch the opening ceremony of “Casa dos Livros” live here.