The Poor (Os Pobres, 1906), by Portuguese author Raul Brandao is a powerful tribute to the underclasses. Innovative 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, Brandao emphasizes the interdependence between nature and humankind by intertwining descriptions of the physical and human surroundings, while his depictions of desperation, sorrow and violence prefigure the works of contemporary Portuguese writers."
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