Friday, 17 January 2014

St. Orberose: 2 Years

Today St. Orberose celebrates its second anniversary. This is the longest time I’ve kept a blog. After many hesitations and trials, I think I’ve finally found what I want to write about, and how and why. It was a fruitful year. As a blogger, I had the pleasure of continuing to be part of a passionate, intelligent, lively community of book lovers who’ve enriched my life and who make blogging easier and more rewarding.

My blogging last year ended up having a symmetry to it that I did not plan beforehand. Like so many things in my blog, it just grew organically. I started the year with a slew of reviews about diverse writers from many nationalities, the way we like it around here. Then in May what started as an informal series of posts about Guimarães Rosa turned into a two-month-long event about Brazilian literature, happily coinciding with Lisbon Book Fair which allowed me to stock up. It was stressful because sometimes only one day elapsed between finishing a book and posting about it online. But I think it was worth the effort because I consider it the highlight of St. Orberose in 2013. But after six months of frantic writing about mostly foreign literature, I needed to slow down. Also, after two months immersed in Brazilian literature, I figured I had neglected Portuguese books for too long and decided to keep writing about them for a while. I don’t know how it happened, but one day I found myself wondering how long I could keep writing about Portuguese literature before I got tired of it. So book after book I kept at it, and before I knew it I was stuck with it for the remainder of the year.

I took the occasion to discover some classics and get better acquainted with others. I knew Eça, of course, but I had never really explored his generation. By chance I happened to read Miguel de Unamuno’s Por Tierras de Portugal Y España, which discussed many of his confreres. Using it as an inspiration and guide, I set out to read more of 19th century Portuguese literature than I ever thought I’d be interested in. It was certainly revelatory. I don’t presume to be an expert on Portuguese literature; many of things I wrote about I was sharing them at the same time I was discovering them. At best, I know many, many things about Eça de Queiroz, Fernando Pessoa and José Saramago, my Holy Trinity. But I’m not particularly crazy about Portuguese literature. In fact after six months reading and writing about it non-stop I was entertaining a temporary ban on it this year. But there are too many books I’m anxious to read so I’ve dropped that idea. But in any event in 2014 I hope to bring the blog back to the cosmopolitan identity that I want for it, with a more balanced mix of foreign and Portuguese books.

Meanwhile I’m thinking about what this year’s theme month will be. After a José Saramago tribute and a Brazilian marathon, I may as well make it a tradition at St. Orberose to devote a whole month to something. I’ve got some ideas already, but nothing concrete. More information soon.

I’d also like to remind people that I’m accepting votes on what to read from my TBR pile. You can choose up to 10 books. Voting ends on January 30. Then I start reading them on February 1 and pledge to post about them. So anyone interested in voting still has a chance.

Finally, I wish to thank everyone who has been following St. Orberose. During 2013 there was a slow but steady rise in visits, with December being the most visited month since the blog was started. I like to believe it was because the blog’s content is improving. I can only say thank you to everyone who has deemed St. Orberose worthy of their interest and company, and who have enriched it with their commentaries. Thank you.


  1. Congrats on a fine sophomore year, Miguel. I look forward in particular to hearing about your next theme month esp. since your two theme events and my own experience over the same two years with the Argentinean Literature of Doom have proven very rewarding (I mean, of course, that the ALoD has been very rewarding for me personally; I clearly can't speak for others since it seems to chase away all but 5 of my most diehard Argentinean lit-loving regular readers or so). In any event, I'm glad you're happy with your blogging and I appreciate your heroic efforts in entertaining and educating me on whatever you choose to write about. Obrigado!

  2. Miguel - Congratulations on a spectacular year and an exemplary blog. It's been a real pleasure reading your posts, which have become an invaluable, go-to source for information on Portuguese-language literature - not to mention the non-Portuguese works you write about. I'm breathless with anticipation to learn what you'll choose for this year's one-month-devotional-focus, and very much looking forward to whatever else you may write about in 2014.

  3. Books generate books, don't they? Thanks for all of the good writing.

  4. Congrats! seems like a lot more than 2 years worth of posts.
    (and glad you've taken to Nabokov)

  5. Just two years and I thought you've accomplished a lot. Portuguese or non-Portuguese, I'll be keen on reading what's in this space.

  6. Happy anniversary Miguel.

    Your blog is one of the most literate and thoughtful blogs around and I love coming over here to read your entries.

    Heres to many more years of good books.

  7. A very happy blogaversary to you, Miguel! A very rich, insightful blog - I look forward to reading your upcoming posts.