The Religious Mantle
First published by Contexto/De Prosa in Lisbon, 1982 as
A Manta Religiosa
“The work of Nuno Júdice is like a spell,” Millicent Borges Accardi once wrote in the Portuguese-American Journal. “A reverie. A dark dream with quiet overtones and hidden meanings.” She was speaking of his poetry, but the same could be said for The Religious Mantle, Júdice’s novella, which came out in 1982 as A Manta Religiosa, and is published here for the first time in an English translation by David Swartz.
"Translator David Swartz has done a great job, enjoying his writer like the gourmet meal Júdice has prepared here."
— Andrei Codrescu, author of No Time Like Now: New Poems
"As if playing Virgil to his own Dante, the narrator of The Religious Mantle spins a labyrinthine inner dialogue, which at times approaches an ars poetica, a meditation on the poetic novel. In fact, the entire novella is written in the form of a dialogue between two male characters who are projections of the 'I.' Together, they are 'somewhat like the heteronyms of Pessoa,' as Júdice explained to me in an email."
— Scott Edward Anderson
"A poet’s novel, without a doubt, The Religious Mantle enthralls us with its chiseled prose and its glimpses into the silent monologue of the poet-author. Life and poetry are equally scrutinized, the first as a void and the second as a spiritual journey. An undulating discourse whose composed rhythm and introspective quality remind us, now and then, of the mesmeric writing of Virginia Woolf's The Waves."
— Mercedes Roffé, author of the poetry collections Floating Lanterns and Ghost Opera
About the Author and Translator
Nuno Júdice is an essayist, poet, writer, novelist, and professor. His first poetry book was published in 1972. He graduated in Romance Philology from the University of Lisbon and obtained a Doctorate from the New University of Lisbon (Universidade Nova), where he was a professor until 2015. He received Spain's Queen Sofia Ibero-American Poetry Prize in 2013, awarded by the Spanish National Heritage and the University of Salamanca. He was the commissioner for the area of literature with "Portugal as a country-theme" at the 49th Frankfurt Book Fair. In 1996, he released the poetry magazine Tabacaria, edited by "Casa Fernando Pessoa" until 1998. In 1997, he was appointed Cultural Counselor of the Embassy of Portugal and Director of the Camões Institute in Paris. In 2009, he assumed the direction of Colóquio/Letras, the literary magazine of the Gulbenkian Foundation. He has works translated in Spain, Italy, Mexico, France, where he published Un chant dans l’épaisseur du temps in the Collection Poésie chez Éditions Gallimard. He has translated the poetry and plays of such authors as Emily Dickinson, Pablo Neruda, Molière, and Shakespeare. He is curator for the cultural area of the José Saramago Foundation, created in 2008.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, David Swartz has resided in Lisbon, Portugal since 2013, where he teaches English at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Some of David´s recent translations include Nuno Júdice's “An essay on inspiration” (Berkeley Poetry Review, Issue 46, 2016), And Painting: Questioning Contemporary Painting (CIEBA-FBAUL, 2016), and Matteo Lost His Job by Gonçalo M. Tavares (Absinthe 21: 2015). In collaboration with New Meridian Arts, David is preparing a translation of Orpheu - Triannual Literary Journal, Volumes 1 and 2 (1915).