Papers of Giovanni Pontiero

Scope and Content

This collection contains the papers of Dr Giovanni Pontiero, relating specifically to José Saramago. The collection contains numerous newspaper and journal articles relating to various book reviews and items about Saramago himself. Added to the above, there are copies of the translation work being undertaken by Dr Pontiero including hand written notes with annotations as well as typewritten versions and proof copies. Also included are Dr Pontiero's lecture notes relating to José Saramago and reviews by Dr Pontiero relating to the various books written by Saramago. The books referred to in the collection are: Maual de Pintura e Caligrafia, 1976 (Manual of Painting and Calligraphy), Memorial do convento, 1982 (Baltasar and Blimunda), O ano da morte de Ricardo Reis, 1984 (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis), A jangada de pedra, 1986 (The Stone Raft), Histrria do Cerco de Lisboa, 1989 (The History of the Siege of Lisbon), O Evangelho segundo Jesus Cristo, 1991 (The Gospel According to Jesus Christ), Blindness, 1995.

This collecton is a valuable research resource for those interested in the writings of José Saramago and interpretations of his works by his translator.

Administrative / Biographical History

Giovanni Pontiero (1932-1996) was born in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, Scotland. He was the son of Frederico (a restaurateur) and Concetta Pontiero. Educated at the University of Glasgow he received an M.A. (with honours) in 1960, followed by a Ph.D in 1962. He was a member of many associations and societies including: the International Association of Hispanists, The International Association of Ibero-American Literature and was a founder member of the Society for Latin American Studies. In addition he was also a member of the National Association of Hispanists, the Society of Authors, the Hispanic Council, the Luso-Brazilian Council and was an honorary member of the Latin American Society at the University of Manchester.

His career was wide and varied. In 1960-1961 he was the Head of Department of English Studies and Director of Studies at the Institute of English Culture at the University of Paraiba. From 1962-1964 he was an assistant lecturer at the University of Manchester, before progressing to the position of lecturer in Latin American Literature (1964-1966) and finally senior lecturer in Latin American Literature (1970-1986). From 1966-1970 he lectured at the University of Liverpool and was also a visiting lecturer at Middlebury College in 1974 and 1975. From 1986 until his death Dr Pontiero was reader in Latin American Literature in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at the University of Manchester.

In addition to a successful academic career, Dr Pontiero acheived international recognition as a translator of Portuguese, and in particular of the novels of José Saramago, a Portuguese novelist. In addition he also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester and was the guest of honour at a reception given by the Vice-Chancellor. Dr Pontiero also won various prizes for his work. He was awarded the Leverhulme Award for research in Brazil in 1967; Camoens Prize for Translation in 1968; Rio Branco essay award in 1970; Independent Foreign Fiction Award in 1993. He was also nominated for various awards including the 'Aristeion Translation Prize' in 1994 for The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis a novel by José Saramago plus various travel awards for research in Latin America from the Brazilian Embassy, Anglo-Brazilian Society (London), Carnegie Foundation (Edinburgh) and Parry Funds (Universities of Liverpool and Manchester). In addition Dr Pontiero translated numerous stories and poems as well as writing works of his own. He also contributed many articles and reviews in English and Spanish to professional journals in Europe and the Americas.

The papers in this collection are related to Dr Pontiero's translations of the works of José Saramago (1922-2010). Born into a farming community in 1922 in Azinhaga, Portugal, he was a lifelong atheist and a member of the Communist Party. During his secondary education in Lisbon, he was forced to abandon his studies because of financial difficulties and held various manual jobs prior to becoming a journalist and writer. By the 1960s and early 1970s he had published several books of poetry and essays and by the late 1970s was beginning to draft plays and to write his early novels. In the 1980s he published four major novels which would bring him the international recognition of being Portugal's most eminent, distinguished and influential contemporary writer and won many awards including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.


The collection was received by the library in seven labelled folders. However, because some of the material has been collected after the death of Dr Pontiero, it is unclear whether or not it was he who actually arranged the folders or possibly Dr Juan Sager who donated the papers. In preparing this updated list, the collection has been arranged to reflect the order in which it was received. The papers relating to each book have been kept separate as have the papers relating more generally to José Saramago.

The collection has been arranged into two series and are arranged as follows.

  • GPA/1 Files Relating to the Books of José Saramago.
  • GPA/2 Files Relating to the Life of José Saramago.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection may be closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated to the Library by Dr Juan C. Sager, a friend and executor of Dr Pontiero, in 1998.

Separated Material

Pontiero's papers re: Eleanora Duse: In Life and Art can be found in the Special Collections Department at Glasgow University Ref: Ms GEN 1659

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

Little is known of the custodial history of the collection following the death of Dr Pontiero. It is assumed that the collection was held by Dr Juan Sager who subsequently donated it to the Library.


It is anticipated that further donations of Dr Pontiero's papers relating to the translations of the Brazillian authoress, Clarice Lispector will be added at a later date.


Works by Giovanni Pontiero

The Poetry of Manuel Bandiero(Rio de Janeiro: Josi Olympio)Eleonora Duse: In Life and Art(Frankfurt: P. Lang, 1986).Os Personae: Poemas de Carlos Nejar (Mercado Aberto, 1986).The Translator's Dialogue (J.Benjamins, 1998).

Translations by Giovanni Pontiero

Lispector, Clarice, Family Ties (Carcanet Press, 1985). Saramago, José,Baltasar and Blimunda (Harcourt, 1987). Moyano, Daniel, The Devil's Trill (Serpant's Tail, 1988). Lispector, Clarice, Near to the Wild Heart (Carcanet Press, 1990). Miranda, Ana, Mouth of Hell (Viking, 1991). Nunes, Bojunga Lygia, My Friend the Painter (Harcourt, 1991). Lispector, Clarice, Discovering the World (Carcanet Press, 1991, revised edition, Harvard University Press, 1994). Saramago, José, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (Harcourt, 1993). Luft, Lya, The Red House (Carcanet Press, 1993). Saramago, José, Manual of Painting and Calligraphy (Carcanet Press, 1994). Lispector, Clarice, The Besieged City (Carcanet Press, 1994). Saramago, José, The Stone Raft (Harcourt, 1995). Saramago, José, The History of the Seige of Lisbon (Harcourt, 1996). Saramago, José, Blindness (Thorndyke, 1999).

Works Edited and with Introductions by Giovanni Pontiero

Sanchez, Florencio, La Gringa and Barranca Abajo (Las Americas, 1969).An Anthology of Brazilian Modernist Poetry (Pergamon, 1969). Noccioli, Guido, Duse on Tour: Guido Noccioli's Diaries, 1906-1907 (University of Massachusetts Press, 1982).

Geographical Names