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This is a novel that chronicles the journey of a country man, Antunes, from a wealthy family, when he is taken to Lisbon at the bidding of his uncle, a powerful man in their village, so he can be initiated in "being a man". D. Jorge, his uncle's friend who has the task of taking him into a nightclub and thrust him into the arms of a woman, sees his hopes thwarted after watching Antunes do nothing when with a naked woman in his arms, and gives up on him. However, this episode sets into motion a transformation in Antunes' life, as he decides to go after the woman, "war name" Judite, that circumstances had forced into his life.
I liked the writing and the story, the insights that were interwoven into the narrative, and the evocative descriptions. However, I had the same problem which I seem to have with every Portuguese classic I read: they always seem to focus on protagonists who don’t really have anything bad going on, and yet they can’t see their life as anything other than meaningless, and just have to contemplate the futility of it all in near inaction, hoping that in the end they will find themselves.
Annoying characters notwithstanding, there was a hint of redemption and true growth here, and overall, I liked the book.