Time displaced: post-colonial experience in António Lobo Antunes
a1 Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa, Alameda da Universidade, P-1600-214 Lisboa, Portugal. E-mail: email@example.com
Leaving and returning are two basic themes that permeate the Portuguese symbolic imagination. I will try to follow this movement in one of António Lobo Antunes' novels, The
Caravels, published in 1988. If there is a contemporary Portuguese novelist for whom the unrest and anxiety of identity and belonging are at the very core of their literary project, this novelist is certainly Lobo Antunes, in all 17 novels he has published since 1979. In each, ‘Portugal’ is much more than just the name of the place where characters live: it is a name for an anxiety about place; of course, this is not exclusive to Portugal, but it is given a distinctively Portuguese tinge through a deep reflection on the meaning of belonging. This can sometimes be quite meaningless, which is just another way of thinking about how man experiences his relationship to the earth and land. This is done, in The
Caravels, by way of questioning the past and present connections of the Discoveries. How the present may endure and live up to the glorious experiences of history is at the heart of the story unfolded here, and will also be at the centre of this paper.