A operária submissa e a ilha distópica em Os Famintos, de João Grave

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

542 Downloads (Pure)


In 1903, a year of huge conflicts in the textile industry between the working-class and the factory owners, the journalist João Grave made his debut in the Portuguese literature with The Hungry Ones (Os Famintos), a novel where the action is set in a working-class patio and a weaving factory, in the city of Oporto. This novel, where ultra-romantic sensibility coexists with naturalistic sordidness, may be interpreted as a modern epic that tells the story of a young woman who lives in this patio and becomes a plaything of destiny.
In addition to symbolizing the lack of political awareness among female workers, the greatest victims of industrial capitalism and non-regulated labor, Luísa, the main character in this novel, hangs a solitary fight for her livelihood, and tries to overcome successive setbacks, such as life in a patio, her father’s untimely death, the hard work in the textile factory, strike, deprivation, begging, prostitution or alcohol addiction. In the end, the strikers stay in the patio, continuing to live under the same poor conditions; Luísa, who estranged herself from her colleagues' struggle, obeyed to power and dedicated herself to work, starts a better life outside the town.
Throughout four editions (1903, 1915, 1920 and 1927), the dystopia exposed in this novel survives the implantation of the Portuguese Republic and prefigures the “Estado Novo” status quo, a political regime in which Salazar will also diminish workers' associative activism, in order to maintain a more orderly and subservient proletariat. In short, the singular heroine in The Hungry Ones conveys an idyllic message: all working-class members can be happy should they respect power and fulfill all duties. In politically and socially unstable days, this is a feudal perspective of the polis, perpetually divided into rich and poor.
Original languagePortuguese
Title of host publicationHistória do Movimento Operário e Conflitos Sociais em Portugal
Subtitle of host publicationAtas do III Congresso de História do Movimento Operário e dos Conflitos Sociais em Portugal
EditorsPamela Cabreira, Raquel Varela
Place of PublicationLisbon
PublisherIHC-Instituto de História Contemporânea
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-989-8956-20-0
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventIV Congresso de História do Trabalho, do Movimento Operário e dos Movimentos Sociais em Portugal e III Congresso do Observatório para as Condições de Trabalho e Vida: “Tempos Modernos, Jornadas Antigas“ - FCSH/UNL -ISCTE/IUL, Lisboa, Portugal
Duration: 15 Nov 201916 Nov 2019
Conference number: IV & III

Publication series



OtherIV Congresso de História do Trabalho, do Movimento Operário e dos Movimentos Sociais em Portugal e III Congresso do Observatório para as Condições de Trabalho e Vida
Internet address


  • Working class history
  • João Grave
  • Os Famintos

Cite this