Augusto Abelaira

A man of letters that stood out in journalism for his chronicles. In O Século  he signed, from 1974, "Entrelinhas", in O Jornal, between 1978 and 1992, the chronicle had the title of "Escrever na Água" and in Jornal de Letras, his texts were published in the chronicle "Ao Pé das letras», from 1981 to 1996

Abelaira of several talents

Augusto Abelaira was born on the 18th of March, 1926, in Ançã, Cantanhede, and graduated in Historic and Philosophical Sciences from Universidade de Lisboa.

Abelaira also held the positions of director of the magazines Vida Mundial(1974-1975) and Seara Nova (1968-69). He was also director of programs at RTP (1977-1978) and president of the Portuguese Writers’ Association (1978-79).



In the 50s, 60s and 70s, the golden age of debating groups and evenings of Lisbon’s cafés such as Café Chiado, Martinho do Rossio, Café Bocage or Monte Carlo, Augusto Abelaira was a common presence in many of these encouters.

Baptista-Bastos even said: “Uncommonly educated, he never imposed the formidable knowledges he possessed, from literature to physics, from painting to music, from philosophy to cinema or theatre. He was, besides that, a distinguished music-lover, of accurate hearing, fine taste and extraordinary critical sense. To hear him was an unmatched pleasure, even more so as he didn’t show his immense culture, on the contrary: he hid in an impressive modesty”.

The journalist writer

Such knowledges and experiences, which spread across the most diverse areas were undoubtedly visible in his chronicles, being even seen the confluence between art, literature and philosophy.

An example of that was “Escrever na água”, the weekly chronicle in Jornal de Letras, dedicated to Carlos Oliveira, a writer and a friend, on July 3rd of 1981: “Carlos de Oliveira was one of the three people with whom I got used to talk to in their own absence. The interlocutor of certain moments when I was alone. Whenever I wrote a book (what will Carlos de Oliveira think of it?). Whenever I saw a good movie (him, who didn’t go to the cinema). Whenever I read a good book. Even when I loved. Yes, what will Carlos de Oliveira think? And despite seeing him every day, I talked with him the most when I wasn’t with him. To whom will I speak to whenever I’m alone, now that one of the three people I spoked to in silence has already died and another of them did so some time ago? And I think of all the things I told him in silence, but I didn’t dare to tell him in reality”.


Still about literature and the importance of the reader, Augusto Abelaira wrote, in the space: “A romance is not only what the writer has placed there but it is also what the readers have put there, that imaginary reader that is a very special reader: it is a reader that feels the lack of a certain book yet to be written. And the writer tries to correspond to that desire, offering the desired book”.

Abelaira wanted to transmit the newspaper’s reader that a writer writes for a reader and that the latter becomes his accomplice and even co-author.

“Sincerity and lack of convictions in the Work of Fernando Pessoa” was the title that Augusto Abelaira, with only 21 years old, wrote for Mundo Literário magazine.

The title and the theme precociously manifested the interests and the critic of this journalist and writer. The need of an attentive, critical and enlightened critic was a subject patent in almost all Abelaira’s texts and works.

In the period between 1981 and 1996, Augusto Abelaira published chronicles in the section “Ao pé das letras” in Jornal de Letras in which, once more, was confirmed the interest for the interpretation of the literary world and of its intervenient.

In December of 1992, he published a text titled “A propósito do diário de Samuel Pepys”, stating not being a diary read but that, with the reading of this English writer’s work, found a series of curiosities about the relationship of the writer with literature: the reason of writing, the publishing motives, the reader’s profile.



In another article published by Jornal de Letras, title “Saber Ler”, Augusto Abelaira asked the following questions:

“Is it that the Portuguese (the majority of Portuguese) don’t like to read because, even though alphabetized, don’t know how to read? Has the school that taught them how to spell, but no how to understand, beyond every sentence, considered one by one, a sequences of sentences that constitute a whole? (…) Some high school teachers tell me: many students reach the last grades without understanding what they read, without knowing how to resume a text, if it is not a simple news in the paper. So: what were the students doing in the first years? Or: what were the teachers doing? Or: what kind of education is ours? I mean: how to classify an education that didn’t taught the students the pleasure of literature, if doesn’t matter if the novel literature or the physics literature? Without teaching the pleasure of literature there will be no reading, and without reading we will never surpass Greece”.

The alphabetization and the degradation of the relations of the generations with literature were other themes that Augusto Abelaira approached in his chronicles.


The fight for freedom

Abelaira was also involved in the fight against the Old Regime. He handled pamphlets, signed documents in favor of freedom.

Brave and firm and of a full-proof loyalty, Augusto Abelaira was arrested by PIDE, for having given, as member of a jury, the Prémio Novelística from the Portuguese Writers’ Society, to “Luuanda”, of Luandino Vieira, at the time arrested at the concentration camp of Tarrafal.


Augusto Abelaira died on the 4th of July, 2003, victim of a prolonged disease. Besides of the chronicles disperse through the several newspapers where he were, Augusto Abelaira also left a great number of literary works such as “A Cidades das Flores”; “Sem Tecto entre Ruínas” and “Outrora Agora”.