The Poor (Os Pobres, 1906), by Portuguese author Raul Brandão, is a powerful tribute to the underclasses. Inno- vative thematically and stylistically, the novel consists of loosely connected vignettes on two narrative levels: the lives of prostitutes, where the inexorable need for love is transformed into a means for survival; and the life of Gebo, a seemingly slovenly man, with neither sentiment nor intelligence. Instead, as he searches tirelessly for work—and loves his daughter and wife with tenderness and constancy—he is revealed as a victim of the economic situation in Portugal. With prescience, Brandão emphasizes the interdependence between nature and humankind by intertwining descriptions of physical and human surroundings, while his depictions of desperation, sorrow and violence prefigure the works of contemporary Portuguese writers.
Raul Brandão was a Portuguese writer, journalist, and also a military officer. He was part of the group “Nefelibatas” and the “Geração de 90” of the 19th century and is best known for his realistic fiction that is pervaded throughout by lyricism. He published three novels: A Farsa (1903), Os Pobres (“The Poor,” 1906), and Húmus (1917). He died in 1930.