Sunday, 22 September 2013

Aleixo Manuel da Costa. Dicionario de Literatura Goesa (A-Z). Volume IV.

Aleixo Manuel da Costa. Dicionario de Literatura Goesa (A-Z). Volume IV. Fundacao Oriente / Broadway, 2013. Pp 162. Hb. Rs 350. ISBN 978-93-80837-56-7

From Frederick Noronha, [Goanet-News] Goanet Reader: The printed page from the Goa of another era (FN). Email of 22 Sep 2013.

          Three volumes of this book have come out earlier.
          In our times, the work is likely to be
          under-appreciated.  Mainly that is, because it is
          in a language most of us do not understand, and
          deals with a point in time almost all have forgotten.

Yet, this is a useful book. Published posthumously, its
author passed away in April 2000.  Only when one checks it
out closely, does its worth becomes apparent.

First some figures:

*  The author has made an impressive collection of some
   11,000 publications by Goans, written in a total of 14

* He has compiled the bibliographical and biographical data
  of over 2000 Goan writers, representing the period from
  1702 to 1961.

          Penha da Franca-born Aleixo da Costa joined the old
          Biblioteca Nacional Vasco da Gama (later the
          Central Library, and presently the Kishnadas Shama
          Central Library) in 1930.  He became the Curator in
          1949 and retired in 1967 at the age of 58.  His
          earlier three volumes were published back in 1997.
          Now, the fourth volume of his work has just reached
          the stands.  It's available at Broadway's and other

In the earlier volume, Costa covers the period of 1702 to
1950.  In this work, he touches on the years 1951 to 1961.
From A to X (even if Y and Z are absent, there being no
entries under these alphabets).  The work, I understand, was
put together by his son Amilcar Da Costa, based in Europe.

In this volume, Costa covers from ALA (the magazine of the
Liceu Nacional Afonso de Albuquerque) till Xavier, Camilo
(the maestro in Gregorian chant and composition of sacred
music, from Macasana in Salcete).  In between there are a
whole lot of others.

Costa's book meticulously collates the background details (in
a thumbnail, word sketch) of each writer from Goa.  It lists
his or her writings, whether books or major articles.  It
also lists details of some journals and periodicals of the

Being closer to our times, it's easier to appreciate the work
of more names in this fourth volume.  This is not to suggest
that the earlier volumes can be ignored; though, the problem
there is that these were published by Fundacao Oriente in
collaboration with a Macau-based institute.  So the books are
either difficult to come by in Goa, or costly.  Or both.

          There is an old-world charm about this book. It
          lists Jose Conceicao de Almeida, whom one realises
          is Dr.  J.C.  Almeida, the senior official whose
          tenure spanned both pre-1961 and post regimes.  We
          learn about Belmira de Batista Almeida, a teacher
          from Britona, who after Liberation left for
          Portugal.  In between the Seminary publications, we
          also find featured Joseph Barros, the Uganda-born
          poet and litterateur Alfredo F Braganca, and
          Caxinata G Sinai Cacodcar (using the old style
          Portuguese-influenced spellings).

One comes across the work of Dr Fernando Jorge Colaco, and a
souvenir of the Corjuem Union (published in Bombay) dating
back to 1955 when the Corjuem Union Building was inaugurated
there.  It was incidentally printed at the Cordailbail Press
in Mangalore -- sometimes one has to go far to access technology.

          One always wanted to know more about Antonio (or
          Anthony) da Costa, the Jesuit author of the earlier
          much quoted 'The Christianisation of the Goa
          Islands 1510-1567'.  Costa partly solves the puzzle
          by talking about his Siolim links, his studies at
          Shembaganur and the University of Madras, studies
          in Spain, Rome, Poona, and his being the Director
          of the Heras Institute from 1967 to 1973.  So we
          have some context about the author.  Of course, one
          still needs to know more, and there's scope for a
          history of the book and the authors of Goa.

Covering times when the priests were usually the most
educated persons around, one comes across references to a
number of them.  But then there are radicals too, like the
Lourenco Marques (Maputo)-born Orlando da Costa, whose works
on Goa are yet to be appreciated in Goa itself.

The work of authors such as Janardana Upendra Naique Counto
of Priol (b 1903) gets remembered, as does the contribution
by prominent presses of those days -- such as Tipografia
Rangel in Bastora.  This listing made me want to read some of
the texts which we now forget.  For instance Filinto Cristo
Dias' 'A Short History of Indo-Portuguese Literature' (1984)
and another on Portuguese vocables of Konkani origin (1976).

One didn't realise that the 1932-born Agostinho Fernandes
(author of the inadequately discussed Portuguese novel
'Bodki') was actually a cardiologist with a link to Quepem.
Or that Jess Menino Fernandes' Nirmonn Part I and Part II
were published so far back!

          Authors like J.A. Fernandes of Chorao remind us of
          the times and their different linguistic
          influences, through the title of their work,
          rendered by Costa as 'Album Xembor Tiss Cantarancho
          Livro amcheam Podano.  Ugdass dovortam Ghoddnarancho'.

Definitely names like Antonio Furtunato de Figueiredo
(Maestro, and director of the earlier influential Academia de
Musica) are well remembered by old timers and some of the
younger generation, but others with a less known recall-value
also have long lists of publications behind them too.

Without books like these, we are likely to all but forget
'Free Goa', the fortnightly edited for awhile by Tristao
Braganca Cunha, and published from 172, Camp, Belgaum.  Or
the noted poet Joseph Vernon Furtado (son of Philip Furtado),
who was getting published by Macmillan & Co, Calcutta in the

There are other names worth noting, people who deserve a
tribute, titles which offer the unexpected, and works which
should not lie unread.

Doctor-freedom fighter Pundalica Gaitonde gets listed for his
work, as does Narana Sinai Coissoro, advocate and deputy in
the Portuguese national assembly.  One wonders if copies of
the Azad Gomantak Dal booklet on the 'Goan Freedom Struggle
at a Glance' published in 1957 are still available anywhere
at all to refer to today, and ditto for the 1955 souvenir of
the Goan Institute, Nairobi, released on its 50th anniversary.

(Talking about the rarity of local print material, a friend
just mentioned he might need to get a Goa-authored book all
the way from a library in London!)

Francisco Xavier Filomeno da Conceicao Gomes Catao --
everyone had longer names then -- gets noted for his
contributions in history, while Dr Esmina Gomes (wife of the
late Dr JF Martins) comes in with a technical paper.

          Jacome Gonsalves (a tribute from Divar); In
          Memoriam: Dada Vaidya; the Loiola Furtados (Leonor
          and Raul); Marcha da Fontainhas; Marcha da Santa
          Cruz; maestro Micael Martins, are names which would
          surely ring a bell to many who have not forgotten
          our past.  We learn about Antonio Estanislau de
          Melo, originally from Saligao, who played a giant
          role in the world of Indian sports in the 20th
          century (including in building the Brabourne Stadium).

Paulo Miranda, the scientist, is listed. So are the noted
editor Frank (Robert) Morais and his son Dom(nic Francis)
Morais.  Dr Pacheco de Figueiredo of the Escola Medica, and
others like the scholar whose art evoked protests Dr Jose
Pereira are prolific with their output as reflected in this

Given the hit-or-miss nature of such work, it's a thankless
job.  One can never be sure that all the works you intended
to have been covered.

For instance, one can find only three publications in the
name of the prominent archivist Panduronga Sacaram Sinai
(PSS) Pissurlencar, which seems too few.  But then the
tiatr-linked Lucasinho Ribeiro (described as a 'dramaturgo'
in Portuguese) also features here.  So do others like the
1894-born Rajaram Pundolica Sinai Quelcar (a doctor from
Priol), Mons.  Altino Ribeiro de Santana, and that prolific
Prof Lucio Rodrigues (whose talk on Konkani song at a US
university is available on the online archive).

          One also gets a chance to encounter the titans of
          another generation, such as Leopoldo Francisco de
          Rocha, whose study on the confrarias of Goa keeps
          getting cited.  Take a look at the work of Vassanta
          Porobo Tamba, Manohar Sinai Usgaoncar and Mons.
          Furtunato Viega Coutinho, though for the period
          under review.

There's Carmo da Silva, Judite Beatriz Lobo de Sousa, and
even Francisco Newton de Sousa (or, FN Souza, as we would
know him).  In words, the famed artist's contributions
include 'Nirvana of a Maggot', 'Words and Lines' and 'The
White Flag Revolution'.

Given the Goan reality, and our tendency to put down each
other, it's quite possible that this tome could be criticised
at a view 'of the past, from the past, and by the past'.
That too, in a language we've quickly forgotten or virtually
lost, and focussing on a time when the best educated were
priests, who then also dominated the process of creating
ideas.  Be that as it may, such a text is valuable, because
it goes against the current tendency of dismissing the past
as irrelevant to our present, which is a rather ahistorical
position to say the least.  Likewise, it makes up to some
small extent for decades of neglect of the Goan written word
in Portuguese.

All in all, a useful peep into the past. Definitely worth
picking up a copy at Rs 350 (in Goa).

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