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Jorge de Sena at 100: A Symposium in Celebration of His Life and Work. November 13-14, 2019, Brigham Young University: Chronology of Jorge de Sena's Life

A guide for those interested in the life and works of Portuguese poet, playwright, novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and scholar, Jorge de Sena, to accompany the symposium held at BYU November 13-14, 2019.


1919: Jorge de Sena is born in Lisbon on November 2.

1936: At the age of 16 he writes his first known poem, “Desengano.”

1938: He begins his literary career in earnest, writing 256 poems, a short story, a one-act comedy, beginning a novel, and composing a piano piece based on a poem by Fernando Pessoa.

1939: Sena composes another 168 poems and publishes his first literary works: a poem, “Nevoeiro,” and an essay, “Em prol da poesia chamada de moderna,” both under the pseudonym Teles de Abreu in the magazine Movimento.

1940: He continues to publish his work and becomes one of the founding members and collaborators of the literary review Cadernos de Poesia.  In December, he meets his future wife, Maria Mécia de Freitas Lopes, called Mécia.  The beginning of many health problems that would afflict him throughout his life.  He begins studying Civil Engineering in Porto.

1941: He publishes under his own name for the first time and gives his first conference speech, “Rimbaud ou o dogma da Trindade poética,” at the Universidade Católica in Lisbon.

1942: He publishes his first work of literary criticism in the review Aventura, and his first book of poetry, Perseguição.

1944: His father and maternal grandmother die.  He publishes his first literary translations in the magazines Primeiro de Janeiro and O Globo.  He garners international attention by being included in Cecilia Meireles’ anthology Poetas Novos de Portugal, published in Rio de Janeiro.

1945: While fulfilling his compulsory military service, Sena signs a petition demanding free elections in Portugal.  He avoids being deported only through a direct appeal to Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar by the Brazilian poet and diplomat, Rui Esteves Ribeiro de Almeida Couto (Ribeiro Couto).

1947: He graduates with his degree in Civil Engineering and finds work in the government as an engineer, where he will work for the next twelve years.  He continues to write, publish, and participate in literary endeavors.

1949: He marries Mécia Lopes on March 12 in Porto.  Their first child, a daughter, is born in December.  Over the next thirteen years they will have nine children together.

1952: Sena travels to England for the first time and works with an engineering firm there.

1954: He travels to Galicia.

1955: In January he publishes the collection of poetry As Evidências, which is confiscated by the dictatorship’s political police for being “subversive” and “pornographic,” though it is later released in February.  He travels through southern Spain.

1956: He is a co-founder of the Society of Portuguese Writers.

1957: He travels again to England to receive engineering training.  He travels to France and Belgium.

1959: Sena is involved in a failed coup—the “Golpe de Sé”—to overthrow the dictatorship of Salazar, on March 11.  He leaves for a self-imposed exile in Brazil, arriving on August 7.  He begins teaching literature in the School of Philosophy, Science, and Letters at the Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), Assis campus, in São Paulo, while continuing his literary work, conference presentations, and collaborations with newspapers, magazines, and academic journals.  His wife and children arrive in Brazil in October.

1960: He publishes in Lisbon his first collection of short stories, Andanças do Demónio

1961: He moves to Araraquara (state of São Paulo) and joins the faculty of the School of Philosophy, Science, and Letters at the UNESP, Araraquara campus.

1963: Sena becomes a naturalized citizen of Brazil in March.

1964: He receives his doctorate from UNESP Arararquara in Portuguese Literature in October.  His dissertation is titled “Os sonetos de Camões e o soneto quinhentista.”  The military dictatorship in Brazil takes power through a coup on April 1.  He loses his job as a professor at the UNESP, Ibilce campus, as a result.

1965: He leaves Brazil for the United States to take a position as a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  He is heavily involved in academic work in the United States.

1967: He is named a full professor of Portuguese and Brazilian Literature in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Madison, Wisconsin.

1968: He returns to Europe for the first time since 1959, traveling extensively throughout the continent.  During his time in Portugal, he is harassed by the government of Salazar.

1969: While in Portugal, he undergoes surgery on his gall bladder.  He returns to the United States in February.

1970: Sena moves to Santa Barbara, California to join the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).  The dictator Salazar dies in Portugal in July.

1972: He becomes the director of the Comparative Literature program at UCSB.  He travels extensively through Europe, the United States, as well as visiting Angola, giving conferences commemorating the 400th anniversary of the publication of Os Lusíadas.

1974: The fall of the Portuguese dictatorship following the Carnation Revolution.  Sena returns to a free Portugal in July, then travels through Spain and France.

1975: He becomes the chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the director of the interdepartmental Comparative Literature program at UCSB.

1976: He suffers a heart attack in March.  Later that year he travels through the United States and Europe giving conferences, all while continuing his prolific literary work.

1978: Jorge de Sena dies on June 4 as a result of his continuing health issues and is buried in Santa Barbara, California.  Prior to his death, he continues to write and publish his literary and critical work.  Exactly one month before his death he is interviewed by Dr. Frederick G. Williams, then at UCSB, and gives a reading of some of his poetry, which is recorded as Jorge de Sena Reads His Poetry.


Extracted from:

Jorge de Sena. Obras Completas: Antologia Poética.  Ed. Jorge Fazenda Lourenço.  Lisbon: Guimarães, 2010.