Mário de Sá-Carneiro

Mário de Sá-Carneiro
Mário de Sá-Carneiro
Born May 16, 1890(1890-05-16)
Lisbon, Portugal
Died April 26, 1916(1916-04-26) (aged 25)
Paris, France
Occupation Poet and writer
Language Portuguese
Nationality Portuguese

Mário de Sá-Carneiro (Lisbon, May 19, 1890 — Paris, April 26, 1916) was a Portuguese poet and writer. He is one of the most well known of the "Geração D'Orpheu".



Sá-Carneiro was born to a wealthy family with a strong military tradition. His mother died in 1892 when he was two years-old, and he was subsequently raised by his grandparents. He lived on a farm near Lisbon where he would spend most of his life. Sá-Carneiro started writing poems at the age of 12. By the age of 15, he had already translated several works by Victor Hugo. By 16, he had translated some works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. He began to write fiction in high school, partly due to his work as an actor. In 1911, he left for Coimbra, where he was admitted to law school, although he never progressed beyond his first year. However, he met a man who would soon become his closest friend, Fernando Pessoa, and who introduced him to the group of modernists of Lisbon.

After leaving the city of students, as Coimbra is known, Sá-Carneiro went to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. Although his father continued to pay for his studies, Sá-Carneiro stopped attending classes very soon after arriving in Paris. He lived a bohemian lifestyle, roaming around the theatres and bars. His troubled life led him to fall in love with a prostitute, which caused him a great deal of personal torment.

It was in Paris where he met Guilherme de Santa-Rita (Santa-Rita Pintor), the legendary Portuguese painter.

Orpheu magazine

Along with Fernando Pessoa and Almada Negreiros, he wrote for Orpheu, a magazine of poetry and artistic prose influenced by cosmopolitanism and the European Avant-Garde. The magazine caused a scandal in Portuguese society because of its futuristic idealism. Only two issues of the magazine were published. A third one was written but was never published due to the controversy surrounding the magazine and a lack of money. Today, Orpheu is known for being one of the finest and most important examples of Portuguese literature, and for introducing modernism in Portugal.


On July, 1915, Sá-Carneiro returned to Paris by train. He planned with Fernando Pessoa to publish issue nr. 3 of Orpheu, but his father and sponsor of the magazine, living in Mozambique at the time, dropped the sponsorship. While World War I was in progress in the north of France, he quit the university and started a relationship with a prostitute. A few months later, with growing financial problems and suffering from depression, Sá-Carneiro wrote a dramatic letter to Fernando Pessoa on March 31, 1916:

«Unless a miracle, next Monday, March (or even the day before), your friend Mário de Sá-Carneiro will take a strong dose of strychnine and disappear from this world.»

Extremely unhappy with his life, he still delayed the suicide almost one month. But, as he had proclaimed, at the age of 25 he killed himself swallowing a large dose of strychnine on April 26, 1916, at Hôtel de Nice in the Montmartre district of Paris.[1] Orpheu nr.3 was never published.


In 1912, he wrote his first play, Amizade, (the title means friendship) in partnership with Tomás Cabreira Júnior. In the same year, he published Príncipio, a collection of novels.

In 1913, he published A Confissão de Lúcio, one of his most famous works. This novel has a story where the fantastic reigns and it's a mirror to this age of Avant-garde.

In 1915, the work Céu Em Fogo, that gathered twelve novels was published. This book reveals the obsessions and disturbances that Sá-Carneiro was living with at the time.

Sá-Carneiro's first publication of poetry was Dispersão, published in 1913, which included twelve poems. He wrote another book, Indícios De Oiro, but it was not published until over twenty years after his death, in the magazine Presença. In 1946 these two books were published along with some of Sá-Carneiro's poems in the Orpheu magazine as a unique book.

His literary influences include Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Cesário Verde and António Nobre.


  1. ^ "Mário de Sá-Carneiro". Encyclopedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/514777/Mario-de-Sa-Carneiro. Retrieved 30 April 2009. 

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