It took me one year to read all the letters António (Lobo Antunes) wrote to his wife Maria José (Xavier da Fonseca e Costa) between January 1971 and January 1973. Too many letters, feelings and information to digest in a couple of weeks. Too much for my taste. So I took my time ... like a mouse eating a big chunk of cheese.
In August 1970 António and Maria José are married. Less than five months later he went to Angola as a drafted soldier (as a doctor and officer) for 27 months. She pregnant with daughter Maria José junior. The couple wrote almost on daily basis a handwritten letter to eachother. In this book only the transcibed and translated, from Portuguese to Dutch, letters from António. (Not all the letters according to the two daughters who took care for the publication.) Not one letter from her!
- Most of the time I felt like a voyeur reading all those intimate letters.
- I felt sorry for both of them because I knew that a few years later they would end their relation.
- I was above all interested in the images being used for love and lust.
- How much he longed for having her close. To smell. To kiss. Her body close. To consume love.
- Boredom, depression, loneliness and despair.
- Weather: rain, too much rain, sun, too much sun, tunder and lightning.
- October 1971. For one month the couple was united in real life in Lisboa. António on November 3rd, 1971: the best month of my life, the most beautiful, most delicious and most exceptional.
- Até ao fim do mundo (English 'until the end of the world')? They wrote so many times the borrowed words of Inês de Castro (1325-1355) and future King Peter I of Portugal. Not really, António left Maria José in 1977. Or a "little"? He took care of her in the last months of her life. She died in 1999 of cancer.
For me this quote is the very heart of this book of love letters (April 1st, 1972; translated from Dutch version):
"You know, I persevere here because I focus my eyes on the future that we get, endlessly, just for us, to devour each other slowly, delightfully and lasciviously, like two octopuses sucking each other with their thousands of tentacles."
A book for voyeurs. To be devoured slowly. Now I can't wait to read António's first book 'Mémoria de Elefante' (1979). A book about their divorce. Why did they?