Pénélope Patrix
Centro de Estudos Comparatistas, Faculdade de Letras, Universidade de Lisboa
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The fado singer as a criminal body. A portrait of the fadista in Ramalho Ortigão‟s “A criminalidade em Lisboa e o fadista” (1878)
Dedalus 22-23 (2018-2019), pp. 33-48. Download PDF

Literature offers rich material for the study of music. Novelists have written about music-making and about listening to music in ways that give us precious indications about musical experiences. 19th century Portuguese literature is especially replete with references to music and song, and in particular to fado, an urban popular genre of significant importance for Portuguese culture at that time, particularly in Lisbon. This paper interrogates how fado is represented in the modern imagination, by focusing on the art of the portrait of the fadista, the prototypical figure of the fado singer, in 19th century Portuguese literature, and the ways the body, the voice and the posture of this figure are depicted. Through the example of Ramalho Ortigão‟s satirical portrait of the Lisbon fadista, in his chronicle “A criminalidade em Lisboa e o fadista,” published in the journal As Farpas in 1878, it explores how fado becomes indexical to criminality and the city margins through a sensual and organic description of the body of the fadista.

fado, fadista, Portuguese literature (19th century), song, body, naturalism, criminality, music and literature

Biographical note
Pénélope Patrix is a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Comparative Studies (CEC) of the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon (Portugal), where she is a member of THELEME – Interarts and Intermedia Studies. She received her PhD in 2014 from the Université Paris Diderot (France) in Comparative Literature and Arts. She has lectured on Comparative Literature , French and Portuguese Literatures and Arts, and Ethnopoetics, in various faculties in France and Portugal. Her research focuses on modern and contemporary song (Argentine tango, Portuguese fado, French chanson), lyrics, repertoires, and the interconnexions between poetry and music, from an intermedia perspective. Since 2009, she has organized various academic activities and published several articles on fado and tango poetics, oral and performative poetry, urban cultures and Intangible Cultural Heritage.