5 tips to understand saudade

Some words just don’t really translate into another language. Like the Dutch ‘gezellig’, the German ‘Fernweh’ and the Inuit ‘iktsuarpok’. Or the Portuguese ‘saudade’.

For the Portuguese, this feeling of longing, melancholy and nostalgia is ingrained in their culture. How to understand this concept as a foreigner? Enjoy the Algarve gives five tips. Bonus tip 6: check out page 11 of this magazine.


See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine November 2017


1. Watch a movie

When wanting to see saudade on screen, look no further than the late Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal’s most prolific film director. His partly autobiographical 1997 movie Voyage to the Beginning of the World (Viagem ao Princípio do Mundo, see the trailer on page 11 of our magazine) is about two men on a cultural journey through the north of Portugal to find their family roots. It’s full of nostalgia and longing for things that no longer exist.

Want to see something more contemporary? Watch this short film, made in May 2017 by Vanessa Martins Brito Gonçalves and Vijay Patel. In just over 4 minutes you’ll get an understanding of saudade:


2. Read a book

The late Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa, commonly known as Fernando Pessoa, is considered one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language. His famous collection of writings ‘The Book of Disquiet’, which is published posthumously and made up of hundreds of short texts, is written almost entirely in a tone of saudade. It deals with themes like melancholy and alienation.

More reading? Try some poems from Padre Jorge de Barros Duarte, Conceição Lima, Vasco Cabral or Alda Lara.

Picture below by by Círculo de Leitores, Fernando Pessoa – Obra Poética, Vol. I


3. Listen to fado

The easiest way to understand saudade is probably by listening to fado. Almost any fado song will transmit a feeling of saudade. Especially recommended is the late Amália Rodrigues, the queen of fado, singing ‘O fado da saudade’, a poem about a lost love and the fate of longing. Or listen to fado live, by visiting a concert of Mariza, Ana Moura (her song Desfado explains it perfectly) or Carminho.

Other, non-Portuguese, songs about saudade include: ‘Un canto a Galicia’ by Julio Iglesias, ‘Nancy Spain’ by Christy Moore (originally by Barney Rush) and ‘Sodade’ by Cesária Évora


4. Look at a painting

The feeling of saudade has influenced many painters, with results varying from seascapes to portraits. Perhaps the most famous one is the oil painting ‘Saudade (Longing)’ (pictured below). It was finished by the late José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior in 1899 and is currently displayed in the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (Brazil). Almeida Júnior, as he’s commonly known, was one of Brazil’s most famous realism painters. According to art critics, the meaning of the word saudade is clearly written on the subject’s face.

Prefer art that’s made in the Algarve? Check out Steph Hayman’s paintings. The Aljezur-based artist paints people from an era that’s sadly coming to an end. Also Miguel de Almeida Santos‘ paintings have a touch of saudade; this self-taught artist depicts the rustic, traditional and honest Algarve.


5. Ask a Portuguese person

Who better to ask than the Portuguese themselves? Next time you strike up a conversation with a Portuguese person, show an interest in their culture and ask them about the meaning of saudade, instead of the way to the nearest post office.

Other people who could tell you all about saudade are Brazilians and Galicians (people from the north-western part of Spain).


See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine November 2017


Posted in 5 algarvy things and tagged , .