First Arabic translations of two classic Portuguese poems to launch at Expo 2020 Dubai

'The Lusiads' by Luis de Camoes and 'Message' by Fernando Pessoa are being released at the Portugal Pavilion on Thursday

One of the oldest bookstores in Portugal, Livraria Lello is marking its 116th anniversary on January 13. Photo: Livraria Lello
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Livraria Lello, one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal, is launching the first Arabic translations of two classic Portuguese poems at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The reputed publisher is releasing the translations to The Lusiads by Luis de Camoes and Message by Fernando Pessoa at the Portugal Pavilion on Thursday to coincide with the bookstore’s 116th anniversary. Both works were translated by Abdeljelil Larbi, professor of Arabic Literature at the University Institute of Lisbon.

“I feel joy and satisfaction for being the first to fill this great gap in translating into Arabic for the first time, two iconic works in the Portuguese language and literature: Os Lusíadas and Mensagem,” Larbi said.

“The Arabic language and Arab readers will benefit from the presence of these two works in their respective countries, and this is, in fact, a great cultural gain that strengthens the ties between the two cultures.”

The event, taking place at 1pm, is promoted in partnership with aicep Portugal Global – the Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade of Portugal. The ceremony is being broadcast live on a giant screen in front of Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal.

"As exporters and promoters of Portuguese literature and culture, it is with great satisfaction we contribute these translated works – that portray the country and its people in such a special way – to the Arab world,” Livraria Lello administrator Aurora Pedro Pinto said.

First published in 1572, The Lusiads is a landmark work in Portuguese literature and is often hailed as the country’s national epic. The poem tells the history of Portugal since its foundation, with great emphasis on the Age of Discovery. It is divided into 10 cantos and focuses on the discovery of a sea route to India by Vasco da Gama.

Message, on the other hand, was released in 1934 and was the only Portuguese work that Pessoa, widely regarded as one of the country’s greatest literary figures, published during his lifetime. A kaleidoscopic vision of Portugal’s history, the epic is made of 44 short poems, which are divided into three parts. Just as Camoes had done 400 years before, Pessoa looks at the greatness of sea voyages as an incitement to dream and action: “It's the Hour!”, he writes in the last verse.

The Lusiad and Message, Pinto said, “are stories of courage and audacity that today, as in the 16th and 20th centuries, recall the boldness of the past to inspire a future of overcoming difficulties. This is what happens every day at Livraria Lello and, at this very particular moment in history, we would like to inspire society to do this, too.”

The two books are part of the classic collection of Livraria Lello – simply known as "The Collection". Both are available to purchase via Livrario Lello’s online store after the ceremony.

Updated: January 13, 2022, 11:22 AM