Luandino Vieira’s Prison Papers gathered in a new digital archive

Created with the support of the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Digital Archive collects unpublished material to be presented in the presence of the writer and the team responsible for the project.
16 may 2023

Most of José Luandino Vieira’s fictional work was written during the 12 years in which he was imprisoned following his political activity in pursuit of Angolan independence. From 1961 to 1964, Vieira served time in several jails in Luanda and, in 1964, was sent to the Labour Camp of Chão Bom, Tarrafal, Cape Verde, where he stayed until 1972 before being transferred to Lisbon as a permanent resident until 1974.

During his imprisonment, Luandino Vieira produced 17 notebooks composed of diary entries, correspondence, postcards, drawings, popular songs, literary sketches, translation exercises, sayings, texts in Kimbundu, news clippings and notes. This material corresponds to a total of 2000 handwritten pages that remained unpublished for 50 years.

With funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the pages of these notebooks have been brought together in a book entitled Papéis da Prisão: apontamentos, diário, correspondência (1962-1971) [Prison Papers: notes, diary, correspondence (1962-1971)] published in 2015 by Leya-Caminho.

Now, after exhaustive work by Margarida Calafate Ribeiro, Roberto Vecchi, Mónica V. Silva, Helena Rebelo and Nuno Simão Gonçalves at the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra, this entire collection will be accessible for public consultation in a Digital Archive to be launched on 29 March at the Gulbenkian Foundation. The project also received funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

The session will be opened by the trustee of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Guilherme d’Oliveira Martins and followed by a presentation of the project by its main participants. The programme also includes a conversation between the writer José Luandino Vieira and Roberto Vecchi, professor at the University of Bologna, and the presentation of an excerpt of a documentary about the Angolan writer directed by Sandra Inês Cruz, a journalist and researcher from the Social Studies Centre of the University of Coimbra, who will present the film.

The event will conclude with a book signing for Papéis da Prisão, which will be on sale at the event by Editora Leya-Caminho.

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