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Spanking Florbela: Adilia Lopes and a genealogy of feminist parody in Portuguese poetry.

The poet Adilia Lopes has become an increasingly prominent presence on the Portuguese literary scene since 1985 when her first volume of poetry, Um jogo bastante perigoso, was published. In 1999 her fourteenth collection of verse, Florbela Espanca espanca, appeared. It is hardly surprising that the provocative wordplay of the volume's title should lend itself to paraphrase in critical commentary, as demonstrated by the essay read by Osvaldo Manuel Silvestre at the book launch of Lopes's collection, which was subsequently published in the online journal Ciberkiosk. (1) In his 'Adilia Lopes espanca Florbela Espanca', Silvestre placed the metaphor of flagellation in a variety of figurative arrangements at the centre of the poet's creative practice by, as his title indicates, transferring the punitive and/or sexually perverse agency from Florbela's hands into Adilia's. Without ascribing excessive significance to what some may dismiss as a mere rhetorical flourish, we should note that one of the implications of Silvestre's critical maneuver is to deny or question Florbela's own putative proclivity to spanking, as postulated by Adilia Lopes's title. His gesture mimics thus, mutatis mutandis, a verdict on Florbela's poetry expressed nearly a century earlier by Raul Proenca, a well-established writer and brother of one of Florbela's father's friends, who in 1916 offered an encouraging assessment of the poems by 'Mr Espanca's daughter':
Quanto C filha do Sr. Espanca nao se pode dizer que espanque a poesia.
Pelo contr[sz]rio: tem bastante talento e promete. As composices que me
enviou nao sao s verso, sao tambem poesia na sua maior parte. Creio que
dar[sz] alguma coisa se continuar e se se for purificando dos vicios
inerentes aos principiantes. (2)

In the remaining fifteen years of her life and work, Florbela effectively continued to write, to refine her poetic discourse, and to steer clear of any such textual behaviour as might encourage accusations of 'spanking poetry': on the contrary, she cultivated it with utmost respect and a reverent dedication to what she regarded as its transcendent mission, while never attempting to deviate from the formally conservative mould of neo-Romantic sonnet. Even in the triumphant hour of Charneca em Flor, freed from the complex of derivative inferiority with regard to her male predecessors and contemporaries, which often vexed her imagination and lyric discourse in ways both painful and fruitful, Florbela always viewed the exercise of poetry from a perspective that was at once humble and spiritually elevated. In fact, her worshipful approach only intensified in her last volume of verse, as it became slanted towards the poet's apotheotic self-inclusion in the sacred sphere, with such sonnets as 'Mais alto' and 'Crucificada'. (3)

In an oppositional counterpoint to the two declarations cited above, which, in spite of their distinct contexts, perspectives, and degrees of explicitness, both qualify Florbela as someone who, contrary to the implication of her surname and, more importantly, notwithstanding the acknowledged transgressive thrust of many of her poems of unprecedented female affirmation, does not spank poetry or its readers (which is to say, does not traumatize, violate tender sensibilities, engage in offensive or painful behaviour), Adilia's verse has often been described in terms that emphasize the shock value of her discursive performances, encompassing both the poet's page-bound published verse and her public appearances. The shock effect may be 'mild'--witness Hugo Williams's testimony in the Times Literary Supplement, following an international gathering of poets at the Universidade de Coimbra in 1995 (4)--or in all probability acute, as in the case of the opening poem of Florbela Espanca espanca, with its notorious first lines paraphrasing Florbela's embrace of amorous abandon ('Quero amar | amar perdidamente'): 'Eu quero foder foder | achadamente'. (5) In this article I intend to take this initial contrasting juxtaposition of the two writers, bracket chronologically, as it were, the trajectory of Portuguese women's poetry in the twentieth century, along with Adilia's parodic study of Florbela's lyrical discourse in her 1999 collection, as a point of departure for a re-examination of genealogical (dis)continuity in the emerging historical narrative of female poetic authorship in twentieth-century Portugal.

As already noted, Silvestre's critical exploration of Florbela Espanca espanca focuses on the textual strategy of spanking ('espancamento') as a defining quality of the mode of poetic communication privileged by Adilia Lopes. 'Spanking', in this context, may be paraphrased as symbolic shock treatment, punitive and physically concrete, that collides with aesthetic expectations and value judgements habitually espoused by readers of poetry in contemporary Portugal. In Silvestre's words, Adilia's work performs 'um espancamento sistematico e desapiedado de todas as concepcoes disponiveis do poetico e dos regimes do seu agenciamento'; her writing and her ever more visible public persona have flown in the face of so many conventions, aesthetic as well as broadly cultural, social and psychological, that she has achieved a degree of popular notoriety few would consider accessible to a contemporary poet (of any gender), even in Portugal. (6)

Silvestre's comments cast Adilia in the role of a literary dominatrix who subjects the established models of poetic language, her reading public and, finally, the Muse herself to a verbal lashing: 'a musa, neste livro espancada por interposta Florbela Espanca'. For the critic, the function of Florbela in Florbela Espanca espanca is thus reduced to an essentially subsidiary purpose: besides the transfer or inversion, and therefore effective negation, of her agency (it is no longer Florbela who spanks an unspoken object, becoming herself either an object or an instrument of Adilia's spanking rampage), we also witness her relegation to the status of a rhetorical figure--a synecdoche--or a mere mediating third term in Adilia's confrontation with poetry and the world.

Such equivocal use of Florbela has not been without precedent in literary and critical narratives of the symbolic relationship between various generations of Portuguese women authors. In the revolutionary classic of feminist writing in Portugal, the Novas Cartas Portuguesas by Maria Isabel Barreno, Maria Teresa Horta and Maria Velho da Costa, Florbela is the object of a fleeting reference as a 'reliquia' whose 'grande fotografia [...] se pode por no corredor': an anachronistic presence, in spite of its charismatic weight and visibility; an icon at the same time imposing and marginalized, whose rightful place in the contemporary arrangement of the symbolic household representing the authors' genealogical affinities is deemed to be the ambiguous space of the hallway. (7) An even more striking, elliptical (non-)reference to Florbela may be found, or rather not found, in an essay by Luciana Stegagno Picchio published as a preface to a 1980 Italian authology of Portuguese women's poetry. The title of the preface, 'I nipoti di Mariana' ('Mariana's granddaughters'), refers to Mariana Alcoforado, the Portuguese Nun, as the presumably invented author of the famous Lettres portugaises, and serves to underscore the critic's point that 'for centuries, feminine literature in Portugal was what male writers [...] imagined it would be like if Portuguese women of letters were not women and therefore, by constitution and definition, incapable of literature'. (8) A related argument developed by Stegagno Picchio with regard to the difficulties inherent in the task of tracing a symbolic genealogy of Portuguese women's writing has to do with the absence of artistic foremothers worthy of modern recognition and esteem. Her ultimate verdict is that, given the unreliability of both historical and mythical or symbolic foundations that an autonomous tradition of women's writing in Portugal might claim as its own, attempting to establish a 'rigorously feminine genealogy' in Portuguese letters presents itself as an absurd task ('rendendo assurda una loro genealogia rigorosamente femminile'). (9) 'Mariana's granddaughters', contemporary Portuguese women writers, remain therefore motherless, as it were, even as they reclaim their rightful place in the national literary canon.

It is difficult, however, to resist the conjecture that the absent mother of Stegagno Picchio's genealogical metaphor might actually be Florbela, whose name remains curiously unmentioned in the essay, perhaps as a way of reinforcing the critic's belief in the inconceivability of plotting coherent narratives of literary descendancy in an historical context as disjointed, ambiguous and ironic as that represented in her expose. Reconfigured as an absent mother or a repudiated matrix, Florbela thus assumes a role akin to the place assigned to her in Silvestre's interpretation of Florbela Espanca espanca: a mediating (and then suppressed) 'pessoa interposta'. More precisely, she may be viewed as a (quasi-missing) link between a literary past in which on the horizon of historical recognition there are almost no traces of Portuguese poetry written by women (with occasional centuriesold exceptions of little relevance to poetic modernity) and a literary present replete with writing and publishing female poets whose gender is rarely highlighted in critical commentary, much less brought up as a factor of intellectual or artistic inferiority with regard to male authors, as has traditionally been the case until quite recently. It may be worth recalling that as late as 1961 E. M. de Melo e Castro, in an extensive and thoughtful essay describing 'quatro caminhos na moderna poesia portuguesa feminina' and their historical antecedents, would still express the following belief: 'E certo que a propria natureza da mulher implica factores restritivos para a livre realizacao do ser criador e para que os produtos dessa criacao atinjam muitas vezes o grau de universalidade que os imporia como valor permanente.' (10) Within a few short decades of the twentieth century, the dominant critical perception of literature, and especially poetry, written by women was transformed from one of ghettoizing disdain or, at best, friendly condescension, legitimized by arguments drawn from the ancient repertoire of Western misogyny, to that of an unquestioning egalitarian inclusiveness and recognition. While this radical mental and ideological shift can only be applauded, it is important to note that for the most part little attention has been paid to tracing its gradual development, and in particular to the role played in it by such 'intermediate' figures as Florbela Espanca.

The putative genealogical dimension of Adilia Lopes's intertextual revisitation of Florbela is considered in the afterword to Florbela Espanca espanca, also by Osvaldo Silvestre. In this essay, Silvestre defines Florbela's ambiguous role with regard to Adilia's poetry in more explicit terms, which confirm, however, his previously cited diagnosis of its mediating and elliptical nature. In the present context, the critic's initial declaration is particularly worth quoting:
Mas o que significa esta convocacao de Florbela para o limiar e
horizonte sementico de um livro? Como parece evidente a uma leitura
atenta, significa muito pouco, se intentarmos le-la como recuperacao,
mais ou menos aur[sz]tica, de uma personagem exemplar na debil narrativa
feminina ou feminista das letras portuguesas. (11)

In effect, a close reading of Florbela Espanca espanca can only confirm that after the initial impact attributable to the volume's title and to its opening poem, which profanely parodies the opening verses of the sonnet 'Amar!' (Charneca em flor), Florbela's poetry does not retain an explicit status of the collection's guiding intertext. By contrast, such intertextual indebtedness remains consistently obvious in the two volumes of poetry by Adilia Lopes that draw on the epistolary passion of Soror Mariana Alcoforado, Marques de Chamilly (Kabale und Liebe) and O Regresso de Chamilly. As Silvestre's comment implies, Adilia's reference to Florbela cannot therefore be interpreted as a relatively straightforward example of literary revisionism, or 're-vision', to use the term coined by Adrienne Rich in her influential 1971 essay, that arose initially with the 'second-wave' feminist movements of the 1960s and 70s. (12) At the heart of feminist revisionism is what Rich described as 'the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction', an activist interpretive agenda that encompasses both a recovery and/or reclaiming of literary, historical and mythical models of female agency and a deconstructive critique of dominant paradigms of symbolic production, which purport to be gender-neutral, but are often revealed as male-identified and related symbiotically to the structures of patriarchal authority. (13)

As Elfriede Engelmeyer has claimed in her postscript to Lopes's Obra, the poet's choice of epigraphs for her collected volume, quotations from Agustina Bessa-Luis and Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, the two grandes dames of Portuguese letters to whom the book is also dedicated, is a conscious declaration of gendered genealogical affinity: with the two epigraphs, 'Adilia Lopes assume a tradicao da literatura de mulheres em Portugal [...] Como ela propria acentua, o facto de na sua lingua materna existir uma linhagem de textos escritos por mulheres foi determinante para a sua propria producao literaria'. (14) In fact, it could be argued that Adilia's recurrent poetic emphasis on the figure of the Portuguese Nun, an invented but highly inspiring antecedent in what Silvestre rightly qualifies as 'a debil narrativa feminina ou feminista das letras portuguesas' is indicative of her determination to view her own work as part of an historical continuum of female creativity, which in the case of Portugal necessitates moving beyond archaeological recovery toward a proactive forging of plausible, albeit fictional, foremothers. While Adilia's reinvention of Soror Mariana is in many ways distinct from the nun's reappearance as the central figure of Novas Cartas Portuguesas, the younger writer clearly shares with 'the three Marias' a view of Mariana Alcoforado as a defining presence in the gynocritical narrative that can be extrapolated from her poetry at large. (15)

While recognizing the affirmative dimension of her work's immersion in female literary and cultural tradition, I would argue that Adilia's more ambiguous gesture toward Florbela is neither an unqualified embrace of the gynocritical agenda of second-wave feminist revisionism, nor a superficially motivated, not to say arbitrary, postmodern sampling of a popular icon of Portuguese women's poetry. Adilia's evocation of Florbela reenacts one of literary feminism's signature operations from an oblique, displaced perspective, creating in the process a highly original genealogical (dis)continuity that transcends both the equivocal legacy in which Florbela's figure exists as an antecedent at the same time undeniable and unassimilable and the already outdated act of feminist reclamation in the first degree alluded to by Silvestre. Restoring to this paradigmatic phenomenon of Portuguese women's writing the exaggerated, self-centred prominence and rhetorical stridency that have often been downplayed in more recent critical commentary, Adilia demonstrates that she is not afraid of Florbela Espanca, nor, more generally, of the spectre of the ghettoization of so-called feminine poetry. It is worth recalling that the latter menace ('A paixao aflita da ameaca de ser doutra forma o mesmo', to quote again from the always pertinent Novas Cartas Portuguesas) has been occasionally evoked in the Portuguese context as an argument against projects of critical interpretation in which the writer's gender might be an analytically relevant factor. (16) As Engelmeyer points out, by adopting the pseudonym Adilia Lopes, the author Maria Jose da Silva Viana Fidalgo de Oliveira effectively set out to play the role of a woman poet, a choice the critic contrasts with Irene Lisboa's adoption of the masculine nom de plume Joao Falco in the 1930s. (17) In the poem 'Patronymica Romanica' (Sete rios entre campos), this gesture is inverted and completed by the attribution of a literary occupational label to the poet's real-life persona: 'Maria Jose da Silva Viana Fidalgo de Oliveira | freira poetisa barroca'. (18) Of course, the most visible symptom of Adilia's subversive reclamation of the tradition of women's poetry in Portugal is precisely her insistence on calling herself 'poetisa' rather than 'poeta', the central anachronism among many that affect her literary performance and an ostensibly politically incorrect throwback to a less enlightened day and age, which may be compared, toutes les proportions gardees, to oppositional appropriation of racial, ethnic or sexual slurs by members of the abused groups themselves ('nigger', 'queer', etc.).

Thus, even as her poetry inscribes itself within the literary and broadly cultural tradition shared by Portuguese middle-class women, a tradition that encompasses high poetic discourse along with chit-chat over afternoon tea and Comtesse de Segur's tales of moral exemplariness for girls, Adilia engages simultaneously in a critical dialogue with certain premises and consequences of twentieth-century feminist revolution, a dialogue that her parodic revisitation of Florbela incorporates in its generous scope:
 Eu quero foder foder
 se esta revolucao
 nao me deixa
 foder ate morrer
 e porque
 nao e revolucao
 a revolucao
 nao se faz
 nas pracas
 nem nos pal[sz]cios
 (essa e a revolucao
 dos fariseus)
 a revolucao
 faz-se na casa de banho
 da casa
 da escola
 do trabalho
 a relacao entre
 as pessoas
 deve ser uma troca
 hoje e uma relacao
 de poder
 (mesmo no foder)
 a ceifeira ceifa
 ceifa nos tempos livres
 (semana de 24 X 7 horas j[sz]!)
 a gestora avalia
 a empresa
 pela casa de banho
 e canta
 porque h[sz] alegria
 no trabalho
 o choro da bebe
 nao impede a mae
 de se vir
 a galinha brinca
 com a raposa
 eu tenho o direito
 de estar triste

In this poem Adilia resorts to one of her habitual models of composition, the hypertrophic, discontinuous accumulation of cultural citations and allusions. Following the opening evocation of Florbela's sonnet, the reference to 'esta revolucao' brings into play both the 25 de Abril (an inescapable association in the Portuguese context) and (as further development of the poem makes clear) the feminist revolution: after Florbela, the second woman quoted and paraphrased in 'Eu quero foder foder' is the anarchist and first-wave feminist Emma Goldman (1869-1940), whose famous declaration, 'If I can't dance I don't want to be in your revolution' echoes in Adilia's 'se esta revolucao | nao me deixa | foder ate morrer | e porque | nao e revolucao | nenhuma'. The fact that Goldman never actually wrote or pronounced these words is of course irrelevant to the poem's purpose: what matters is that they became a favourite verbal icon of the Anglo-American feminist 'second wave' of the 1970s, reproduced on countless t-shirts, buttons, and bumper stickers, not to mention in articles and books. (19) What matters also is Goldman's contrarian spirit that the quote (however inauthentic) encapsulates and that emerges as a clear match to the poet's own maverick attitude, just as Florbela's expansively self-involved poetic persona is reflected in the distorted mirror of Adilia's twistedly narcissistic discourse of self-revelation that is a recurrent feature of her poetry.

The next intertextual quotation brings into the poem's signifying space Fernando Pessoa's famous singing reaper ('Ela canta, pobre ceifeira'), that exemplary personification of first-degree consciousness, which in Pessoa's writings (pace Alberto Caeiro) tends to be associated indiscriminately with women, children and animals. Adilia's ironic perspective morphs the premodern 'ceifeira' into a liberated and ultra-modern female executive ('gestora') who, like her literary antecedent, also 'canta | contente | porque ha alegria | no trabalho'. The latter phrase extends the historical irony into a larger socio-political realm, as it evokes Estado Novo's Fundacao Nacional para a Alegria no Trabalho (FNAT), refashioned post-25 de Abril into the Instituto Nacional de Aproveitamento dos Tempos Livres dos Trabalhadores (INATEL). (20) In a twist similar to INATEL's nominal shift of emphasis from joyful work to workers' leisure, the executive's objectives reach beyond the contentment circumscribed by labour: she embodies the ideal promoted by contemporary women's magazines in a direct, albeit perverse, derivation from the postulates of the feminist revolution, by combining professional satisfaction, motherhood and, last but not least, sexual fulfilment essentialized in orgasm ('o choro da bebe | nao impede a mae de se vir'). The poem alludes to the leading premise of feminist movements of social transformation--the personal is political and therefore 'a revolucao | faz-se na casa de banho'--in order to follow up with a parodic paraphrase motivated by the distinct priorities of the so-called post-feminist era, in which 'a gestora avalia | a empresa | pela casa de banho'.

Within this generally historicist perspective, what also gradually emerges in the poem is an axis of anachronistic and contrarian solidarity linking Florbela Espanca (contemporary of the reaper) with Adilia Lopes (contemporary of the executive), which constitutes an oblique counterpoint to the notion of progress implicit in the historical continuum that extends from the 'ceifeira' to the 'gestora' through the feminist upheaval signalled by the reference to Goldman. Such a relationship of solidarity may be said to exist on various levels, not all of which are realized within the poem itself, as is, for example, the case of the intertextual dynamics operating between the emblematic figure of Pessoa's reaper, Florbela's poetry (in particular her sonnet 'Alentejano', in which the reaper's role is played by the poet's own lyric 'I') and the parodic dimension of Adilia Lopes's post-feminist, second-degree revisionism. The latter designation refers to a putative reading of the poet's perspective as encompassing both Pessoa's stereotypical and instrumental use of the female reaper's figure (itself a rewriting of Wordsworth's poem 'The Solitary Reaper') and the (unintentional) protofeminist revision of that use by way of role reversal, as performed by Florbela herself in 'Alentejano'. In other words, it is also on this specific intertextual level that Adilia's poem may be claimed to engage in a post-feminist practice that continues the agenda of first-degree feminist revisionism of androcentric texts and viewpoints, while at the same time recognizing and foregrounding in a critical (but not necessarily antagonistic) manner its own distance from the historical legacy of earlier feminist movements.

It should be noted here parenthetically that my application of the controversial term 'post-feminist' to the poetic practice of Adilia Lopes does not rely on the meaning frequently ascribed to it by the media, in Portugal and elsewhere, where it tends to be used to characterize an attitude of hostile reaction to, and/or self-declared definitive surpassing of, feminist ideas and practices of the 1960s and 70s. For a general understanding of 'post-feminism' I follow instead Misha Kavka's definition in her introduction to the important collection of essays, Feminist Consequences: Theory for the New Century. For Kavka, '"post-feminist" work [...] has an ineradicable relationship to previous feminist thinking and remains related to this history without announcing the "end" of feminism'. (21) In this sense,
'Feminist' work cannot be differentiated from 'post-feminist' work
precisely because feminism has provided its adherents with a sense of
political agency. [...] post-feminism [...] refers not to the end of a
politics or a practice but, rather, to a suspension within it that
allows such a politics to remain vital and relevant to contexts of
social change. (22)

Within the more specific parameters of literary agency, Debora Silverton Rosenfelt's discussion of feminist and post-feminist textual politics in North American women's novels of the 1970s and 80s may be usefully extended, albeit with crucial adjustments, to other Western cultural contexts and modes of artistic production. According to Rosenfelt, what both 'feminist' and 'post-feminist' texts 'have in common with one another, and with feminist theory, [is] their concern for the indicators of power--gender, race, class, sexuality--that affect women's lives and their privileging of women's consciousness, women's subjectivity, and, therefore, women's agency'. (23) At the same time, where 'feminist' fiction, as described by the critic, relied on an ideological unanimity of purpose, to which all facets of the narrative were subordinated, 'post-feminist' literature produces a discordant 'reflux of "other" voices--including the other voices of feminists ourselves'. (24) Their often conflicting and even contradictory multiplicity does not, as some have claimed, obliterate their feminist relevance and political efficacy; indeed, by incorporating and negotiating dissent within their own textual fabric they may be argued to have made progressive action more, not less, viable.

As I have already attempted to show, 'other' voices, feminist, prefeminist, and post-feminist, are teeming within the spare and compressed textual space of Adilia Lopes's poem. The two first-person discourses that stand out, however, are clearly those of Florbela's borrowed verses and of Adilia's own lyric persona, merged in the polyphonic, albeit first-person, enunciation that jump-starts the poem. It could be argued as well that the merging of the two poets' voices is already realized in the volume's laconic avis au lecteur that follows an epigraph from Lucy Ellmann's 1988 novel Sweet Desserts ('there are men who fuck you tenderly in the dark'): 'Este livro |foi escrito| por mim.' (25) This prefatory notice, with its innocently redundant affirmation of authorship that appears designed to provoke, yet again, the kind of half-knowing, half-incredulous amusement to which Adilia Lopes's public has apparently become accustomed ('Is she serious?'), evokes also, in a fairly literal manner, Florbela's own framing of her first volume of poetry, Livro de Magoas, which opens with the sonnet 'Este livro ...'. More crucially, by virtue of its insistence on the seemingly superfluous act of claiming authorship, the notice helps recall the fact that for Florbela and her female contemporaries autonomous, equal-rights agency in the realm of literature and literary publication was hardly something to be taken for granted. Through this and other textual gestures Adilia recovers and re-enacts, albeit from a slanted, ironic perspective, the historical vicissitudes of Portuguese women's literary and intellectual emancipation, all too often forgotten or repressed in today's egalitarian marketplace of cultural production.

Is the merged authorial persona, the composite of Florbela's and Adilia's voices that may be discerned in the hors-texte of Florbela Espanca espanca and in the first lines of the volume's inaugural poem, also the speaker of its final verses (which, incidentally, illustrate rather well what Silvestre characterizes as the poet's 'superior dominio de anti-climax'), 'eu tenho o direito de estar triste?'. (26) This conclusive return of the sentimentally uninhibited confessional 'I', whose brutal and scandalizing eruption launches the poem, and the book, is, among other things, pure and assertively claimed Florbelian heritage. The verses that Adilia 'writes to get married' ('escrevo para me casar'), from the poem 'Op-art', which was originally published in Clube da poetisa morta in 1997, constitute a precise parodic summation of the sonnets in which Florbela repeatedly inscribes the problematics of intertextual communication within the semantic space of amorous relationship. (27) I have argued elsewhere that the poetic/erotic contamination embraced by Florbela's lyric persona functioned as a strategy of qualitative levelling between the poet and the various male authors to whom she compared herself almost obsessively at the beginning of her literary career, in her correspondence as well as in her poetry, a strategy that began to yield significant returns in particular beginning with Livro de Soror Saudade. (28) Adilia's recovery of this legacy is obviously not aimed at reactivating the same strategy with the same objectives in mind; the model of her intertextual communication with Florbela's poetry may be described instead as a transhistoric relation of parodic solidarity, a non-antagonistic form of parody, theorized by J. A. Yunck, in which the parodied text functions as a weapon rather than as a target in the enterprise of ironic revisionism. (29) As Linda Hutcheon has argued, modern and particularly postmodern parody can no longer be circumscribed by the pejoratively coded ethos that has characterized its past descriptions: parody's irony 'can be playful as well as belittling; it can be critically constructive as well as destructive'. (30) Furthermore, the constructive potential of parody may be deployed in such a manner as to postulate or emphasize specifically historical affinities: 'Its appropriating of the past, of history, its questioning of the contemporary by "referencing" it to a different set of codes, is a way of establishing continuity that may, in itself, have ideological implications'. (31) Adilia Lopes's parodic revisitation of Florbela Espanca does precisely that: it establishes a genealogical continuity at the same time as it questions its own contemporary setting by way of referencing it to the codes of the past and highlighting the non-linear, discontinuous historical trajectory that connects the poetess Florbela to the poetess Adilia in the context of Portuguese women's social and cultural experience in the twentieth century.

If, in this specific context, Florbela's text functions primarily as a parodic weapon, what can be posited as the target or targets of Adilia Lopes's poetic exercise? While the poet's cultivation of an exacerbated variety of confessional and even exhibitionist discourse, both in her lyric and, particularly, in her overtly autobiographical texts such as the 'Nota da Autora', appended to the volume O Regresso de Chamilly, may be linked to her avowed persona of the 'poetisa pop' and to such properly pop-cultural references as all-revealing TV talk shows and the Big Brother brand of voyeuristic entertainment, I would claim also that it constitutes an oppositional counterpoint to the generally more decorous and subdued kind of public image adopted by post-Florbelian generations of Portuguese women authors. Incidentally or not, their historical upgrade from the status of a poetess to that of a poet, and from 'feminine' to 'universal' poetry, appeared to be accompanied by an ideological validation of a certain style of well-mannered and personally reserved discursive behaviour. To illustrate, let us recall that in 1960 David Mourao-Ferreira related the elevated position by then occupied by the poetry of Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen in the realm of Portuguese letters to the fact that her lyric was 'completamente isenta de biografismo [...] e de toda aquela imediatez interjectiva, tao frequente na poesia feminina'. (32)

Such qualities as 'biografismo' and exclamatory immediacy can of course be found on prominent display in the poetic repertoire of Adilia Lopes, although the formal distinctiveness of her lyric discourse may disguise their historical pedigree. Other discursive and subjective sins, traditionally denounced as characteristic of Florbela-style feminine lyric, are narcissism, masochistic self-flagellation, faulty logic, lack of formal precision and complexity; all of these are exuberantly recovered and integrated, generally by way of ironic re-accentuation or transcontextualized citation, that is, deliberately or 'achadamente', within Adilia's poetic universe. Most particularly, the 'o direito de estar triste', claimed by the subject of 'Eu quero foder foder' at the poem's closure, is a prerogative Florbela possessed, as it were, by default, given the multiple antecedents of female sadness in the (male-authored) masterpieces of Portuguese literature. Adilia Lopes has insisted on re-appropriating this 'historic right' from the very beginning of her literary career, as demonstrated by the epigraph to her first collection of poems, Um jogo bastante perigoso, which is derived from Bernardim Ribeiro's Menina e moca: 'e mais, pois e conto de mulher, nao pode leixar de ser triste'. (33) In a similarly self-conscious and assertive vein, she has also reclaimed the outdated label of 'poetess', along with other displaced and reterritorialized elements of the problematic cultural and literary heritage of Portuguese women. Through her anachronistic boldness of imagination Adilia Lopes not only resuscitates Florbela Espanca's transgressive appeal, but in effect stages a scene of textual 'espancamento' in which Florbela gets to wield the whip along with Adilia. The title of Florbela Espanca espanca proves not to be a misnomer after all.

To conclude, and to follow up on Luciana Stegagno Picchio's genealogical metaphor quoted earlier, if the women poets writing in Portugal from the 1950s to the 1970s were to be viewed as 'granddaughters' of Mariana Alcoforado, perhaps it would not be entirely off the mark to point to Adilia Lopes as a literary granddaughter, at the same time attentive and irreverent, of the greatest poetess of Portuguese literature, who (notwithstanding Teixeira de Pascoaes's notorious quip) was not Antonio Nobre but rather, gloriously, Florbela Espanca.

(1) Osvaldo Manuel Silvestre, 'Adilia Lopes espanca Florbela Espanca', Ciberkiosk, 8 (2000),

(2) Florbela Espanca, Obras Completas de Florbela Espanca, Cartas 1906-1922, 6 vols (Lisbon: Dom Quixote, 1986), v, 164.

(3) On the subject of Florbela's negotiation of intertextual influence and of her own status as a woman author aspiring to affirm herself with regard to the male-identified canon of Portuguese poetry, see in particular Claudia Pazos Alonso, Imagens do Eu na Poesia de Florbela Espanca (Lisbon: IN-CM, 1997); Emma Brech, '"Amo-te mais, quando estou so": Fantasy and Femininity in the Poetry of Antonio Nobre and Florbela Espanca', Portuguese Studies, 15 (1999), 130-39; Maria Lucia Dal Farra, 'A Interlocucao de Florbela com a Poetica de Americo Durao', Coloquio/Letras, 132-33 (1994), 99-110; and Anna Klobucka, 'On ne nait pas poetesse: a aprendizagem literaria de Florbela Espanca', Luso-Brazilian Review, 29 (1992), 51-61. On the significance of Florbela's lyric expression in the context of twentieth-century Portuguese poetry see the provocative essay by Joaquim Manuel Magalhaes, 'Demasiado poucas palavras sobre Florbela', in Rima pobre. Poesia portuguesa de agora (Lisbon: Presenca, 1999), pp. 18-30. Florbela's equivocal status vis-a-vis the literary and critical canon of Portuguese modernity is corroborated by her absence from the recently published Ur-anthology of twentieth-century poetry in Portugal, O Seculo de Ouro, ed. by Pedro Serra and Osvaldo Manuel Silvestre (Lisbon: Cotovia, 2002).

(4) As Williams wrote, commenting on the staging of Adilia's reading: 'Is she serious? Are we to take her black, housewifely skirt, neat short hair and embroidered blouse at face value? She reads her poems in a prim, schoolgirlish way, but there is something going on here which leaves her straight-faced crowd smiling in mild shock and me re-evaluating my reading wardrobe. This is what I call Performance Poetry' (my emphasis). 'Freelance', Times Literary Supplement, 30 June 1995.

(5) Adilia Lopes, Obra (Lisbon: Mariposa Azual, 2000), p. 401.

(6) Silvestre, 'Adilia Lopes espanca Florbela Espanca', [n.p.]. See also the comprehensive and insightful comments by Silvestre and Antonio Americo Lindeza Diog in the following: Silvestre, 'As lenga-lengas da menina Adilia', in Lopes, Florbela Espanca espanca (Lisbon: Black Sun, 1999), pp. 37-77; Antonio Americo Lindeza Diogo, 'Poemas com Pessoa', in Lopes, O Poeta de Pondichery seguido de Maria Cristina Martins (Braga-Coimbra: Angelus Novus, 1998), pp. 67-88, and 'Posfacio' in Lopes, Obra, pp. 475-94. An extended section of Maria Irene Ramalho de Sousa Santos's discussion on contemporary Portuguese women's poetry is dedicated to Adilia Lopes: 'Re-inventing Orpheus: Women and Poetry Today', Portuguese Studies, 14 (1998), 122-37.

(7) Maria Isabel Barreno, Maria Teresa Horta and Maria Velho da Costa, Novas Cartas Portuguesas (Lisbon: Moraes, 1980), p. 336.

(8) Luciana Stegagno Picchio, 'Le nipoti di Mariana. Note sulla letteratura femminile in Portogallo', in Gli abbracci feriti: poetesse portoghese di oggi, a cura di Adelina Aletti (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1980), pp. 6-7 (my translation).

(9) Stegagno Picchio, p. 7.

(10) E. M. de Melo e Castro, 'Quatro Caminhos na Moderna Poesia Portuguesa Feminina', Bandarra, 2 (1961), 4. It has to be stressed that overall Melo e Castro's essay is considerably more interesting and appealing than the passage quoted here might lead one to believe, and that its explicitly affirmed ideological perspective is that of unconditional support for the 'luta pela libertacao social da mulher' (p. 5), which, however, coexists somewhat awkwardly with an apparently undigested set of beliefs about innate characteristics of female creativity.

(11) Silvestre, 'As lenga-lengas da menina Adilia', p. 67.

(12) Adrienne Rich, 'When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision', in On Lies, Secrets, and Silence, Selected Prose 1966-1978 (New York: Norton, 1979), pp. 33-49.

(13) Rich, p. 35.

(14) Elfriede Engelmeyer, 'Posfacio', in Lopes, Obra, p. 470.

(15) The term 'gynocriticism', coined by Elaine Showalter in 'Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness' (1978), 'describes a feminist critical practice which studies women's writing with the aim of tracing a specifically female literary tradition': The Routledge Critical Dictionary of Feminism and Postfeminism, ed. by Sarah Gamble (New York: Routledge, 2000), p. 244. I have discussed the process of gynocritical recovery and reinterpretation of the figure of Mariana Alcoforado in twentieth-century Portugal in 'Gendering Mariana' in The Portuguese Nun: Formation of a National Myth (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2000).

(16) Barreno, p. 127.

(17) Engelmeyer, p. 470.

(18) Lopes, Obra, p. 339.

(19) Alix Kate Shulman tells the story of her inadvertent contribution to the invention of the slogan by extrapolation from a passage in Goldman's autobiography in 'Dances with Feminists', Women's Review of Books, 9 (1991).

(20) My thanks to Ana Paula Ferreira and Helder Macedo for bringing to my attention the name and historical role of the Fundacao Nacional para a Alegria no Trabalho.

(21) Misha Kavka, 'Introduction', in Feminist Consequences: Theory for the New Century, ed. by Elizabeth Bronfen and Misha Kavka (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), p. xx.

(22) Kavka, p. xxi.

(23) Deborah Silverton Rosenfelt, 'Feminism, "Postfeminism", and Contemporary Women's Fiction', in Tradition and the Talents of Women, ed. by Florence Howe (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1991), p. 269.

(24) Rosenfelt, p. 287.

(25) Given that my comments have focused on the genealogical dimension of feminist legacy informing Adilia Lopes's work, it is relevant to identify the novelist Lucy Ellmann as the daughter of Mary Ellmann, the author of one of the early, and most enduring, classics of second-wave feminist literary revisionism, Thinking about Women (London: Macmillan, 1968).

(26) Silvestre, 'Adilia Lopes espanca Florbela Espanca', [n.p.].

(27) Lopes, Obra, p. 311.

(28) Anna Klobucka, 'O Formato Mulher. As Poeticas do Feminino na Obra de Florbela Espanca, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Maria Teresa Horta e Luiza Neto Jorge' (unpublished doctoral thesis, Harvard University, 1993).

(29) J. A. Yunck, 'The Two Faces of Parody', Iow a English Yearbook, 8 (1963), 29-37. The term 'parodic solidarity' is my own.

(30) Linda Hutcheon, A Theory of Parody: The Teachings of Twentieth-Century Art Forms (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2000), p. 32.

(31) Hutcheon, p. 110.

(32) David Mourao-Ferreira, 'Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen. Na publicacao de No tempo dividido', in Vinte Poetas Contemporaneos (Lisbon: Atica, 1960), pp. 131-35. Although the scope of this article does not allow for a comprehensive discussion of this connection, the poetry of Maria Teresa Horta, in particular her banned 1971 volume, Minha Senhora de Mim, presented an especially impudent and direct challenge to the implicit injunction against the overtly gendered and excessively self-expressive discourse on female affirmation that may be extrapolated from David Mourao-Ferreira's comment. In a gesture of genealogical (dis)continuity, akin to Adilia Lopes's postfeminist intertextual investigations, the title of Ana Luisa Amaral's first volume, Minha Senhora de Que (1990), signalled (in the words of Maria Irene Ramalho de Sousa Santos) that 'what seemed so simple and yet so bold to Maria Teresa Horta [...] now appears far more complex and perhaps not quite so bold, after all' (Santos, p. 134). See also Santos, 'O sexo dos poetas. A proposito de uma nova voz na poesia portuguesa', Via Latina (1989/90), 122-24.

(33) Lopes, Obra, p. 14.

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