A Tale of Two Cities
Author: Steve Harrison
Design: Pedro E. Santos
Format: 26 x 20 cm
Softcover with flaps
This book was inspired by a photograph taken in Povoa de Varzim in 1956 by the great film director, Agnes Varda. And it goes back to the 1950s to tell the tale of Povoa’s two cities: the Bairro Sul which eked a perilous living from the unforgiving Atlantic, and the flourishing tourist town which made its money from the beach.
In these pages, you’ll explore both places, and get a glimpse of a Portugal that has now all but disappeared, and an insight into daily life under the dictatorial rule of Dr Antonio de Oliveira Salazar.
In the fishing community, you’ll go to sea with the brave men who fished the wild waters of Newfoundland’s Grand Banks. Then, back on dry land, you’ll see the remarkably dominant role played by the women, and how they ran every aspect of life in the Bairro Sul. You’ll find out how that life was regulated by a unique culture that set these people apart from the rest of Portuguese society. And you’ll discover how that culture – its values and mores – was idealised by Dr. Salazar, and seen as the social model for the Portugal he was trying to create.
Then you’ll be taken to a very different place, to meet the people whose lives were transformed by the ever-growing influx of holidaymakers, and the money they brought with them. You’ll also see how the economic, social and inevitably political aspirations of these people were a disruptive force for change in Dr. Salazar’s ordered world; how his regime used its secret police and informers to maintain that status quo; and how those tensions finally erupted in violence on the streets of Povoa de Varzim during the climactic visit of General Humberto Delgado.
It is an eye-witness account, based on countless hours of interviews with those who lived lives that are totally alien to us today. For they withstood poverty and hardship beyond our imagining. And they lived under the kind of dictatorship that, for the time being at least, has disappeared from modern Europe.