|João Pina de Morais
Writer, journalist, politician and military
João Pina de Morais was born on 6 January 1889 in the parish of Valdigem, council of Lamego, district of Viseu. As a young student, he attended the Lamego College and then enrolled in the Polytechnic Academy of Porto where he completed the Preparatory Course, in 1911, to attend Military School, in Infantry.
Still in 1911, he attended the Army War College, and later enlisted in Vila Real, in the 13th Infantry Regiment. Some years later, in 1917, he was incorporated in the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps and participated in World War I. When he returned home in 1919, he was transferred from Vila Real to the Guards Machine Gun Regiment in Porto, where he fought actively against the monarchy attacks led by Paiva Couceiro.
In that same year, his friendship with Leonardo Coimbra urged him to enrol as a volunteer in the newly formed Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto, where he attended the Philosophical Sciences course.
He was elected Parliament member in 1922, after a failed attempt in the previous year. His political life was marked by his contestations on behalf of the disadvantaged. He joined the Portuguese Republican Party in 1924, but was eventually expelled as he was incompatible with the political ideals of the party.
In 1926, after the military coup led by General Gomes da Costa, he participated actively in the counter-revolutionary process, which is why he had to go into exile between 1927 and 1932. Due to the dictatorship in force, after he returned to Portugal after this episode he did not produce any literary work for about 20 years.
The life of Pina de Morais was also marked by his literary works. From 1917 on, he collaborated actively with the newspaper A Democracia; the chronicles he wrote for this paper were compiled as a book, his first one, Ânfora Partida [The Broken Amphora] (1917). Later, in 1919, having returned from the war, he published his second book entitled Ao Parapeito [On the Window-sill], in which he described the events of the war experienced by normal men who were frail, who felt fears typical of human nature. Following Ao Parapeito, he also published O Soldado-Saudade na Grande Guerra [The Nostalgic Soldier in World War I], in 1921.
One year later, in the book A Paixão do Maestro [The Passion of the Maestro] (1922), he introduced, for the first time, the regional theme of his Douro homeland; this book marked a change in the author’s ideology, as he abandoned the nostalgic aesthetics and adopted a naturalist style in his writings. The early 1920s marked also the literary contribution of Pina de Morais among cultural groups such as Seara Nova and Renascença Portuguesa.
After a 20 year gap, in 1942 Pina de Morais published his most remarkable book, Sangue Plebeu [Commoner Blood]. It is a collection of short stories characterized by realism and truth, mixed with a deep sense of pictorial humanity and richness. In 1949, he published his last book, Vidas e Sombras [Lives and Shadows], which narrates the vicissitudes of human nature in a rich and illustrative language.
In the early 1950s, he suffered a stroke that left him physically and intellectually disabled. In the years that followed, his health deteriorated. He died on 29 January 1953, victim of yet another heart failure.
(Texto de Tiago Santos Reigada, 2008)