The intellectual and activist Vitor Ramos

Image: Gareth Nyandoro


Considerations on the trajectory of the Portuguese intellectual

At the beginning of last February, I had the opportunity to see, at the National Library of Portugal, Lisbon, the exhibition “Vitor Ramos: a trajectory in exile”, which was available from December 12, 2022 to February 17, 2023.

I confess that I knew little about Vitor de Almeida Ramos (1920-1974). To be honest, I went to see the exhibition because of the friendship I have with two of his sons, Fernão and Guiomar Ramos, who, together with me, work at the Brazilian Society of Cinema Studies (SOCINE), in Brazil, and at the Associação de Investigadores da Moving Image (AIM), in Portugal, we are researchers of cinematographic history and theory.

Born in Ervedal da Beira on April 25, 1920, he was registered in Lisbon. As a child, his father abandoned the family, being raised by his mother, who was a midwife. From a young age, he became involved in the anti-fascist struggle against the Salazar dictatorship, militating in the Youth Democratic Unity Movement and in the Portuguese Communist Party, “where he developed clandestine activities, together with his friends and university colleagues, the historian Joaquim Barradas de Carvalho, the artist José Dias Coelho, the latter shot dead by the fascist regime” (Guiomar Ramos, p. 1).

In the 1940s, he graduated in Literature at the University of Lisbon, having been a journalist and correspondent for France Press. A few years later he went into self-exile in Paris, studying French literature at the Sorbonne.

He made friends with Maria Lamas, Adolfo Casais Monteiro and Jorge de Sena who, together with Barradas de Carvalho, were companions in exile in Brazil. “In 1953, on a trip to the World Festival of Youth and Students, based in Bucharest, he met Dulce Helena Álvares Pessoa, a young Brazilian woman and history student. They fell in love and got married in 1955 in Brazil, having three children. From a traditional left-wing family (…), Dulce Helena was his companion in life and professional/political activities in Brazilian exile, which ended up extending until her death in 1974” (Guiomar Ramos, p.1).

Vitor de Almeida Ramos had his arrest decreed in Portugal. In Brazil, months after his arrival, in 1956, he worked at Editora Difel (European Book Diffusion), translating relevant works from French: the guest (Simone de Beauvoir) Dangerous affairs (Choderlos de Laclos), O silence of the sea (by Jean Bruller, clandestinely published in 1942, under the pseudonym Vercors), in addition to translating into Portuguese volumes from the collection modern history contemporary.

In the fight against the Salazarist dictatorship, he founded, with Manuel Ferreira Maria, the newspaper Portugal Democratic. “This important publication of almost two decades of existence, with its last edition on March 4, 1975, was the means that gave substance to the resistance of exiles in Brazil. In addition to Vitor Ramos, the newspaper had Portuguese collaborators such as Miguel Urbano Rodrigues, Jorge de Sena, Adolfo Casais Monteiro, Fernando Lemos, Barradas de Carvalho, Paulo Castro, João Alves das Neves, Fernando Correia da Silva and Carlos Maria de Araújo”.

Guiomar Ramos adds that the publication also had the participation of relevant names in Brazilian culture and politics, such as Raquel de Queiroz, Florestan Fernandes, Manuel Bandeira, Rubem Braga, Fernando Sabino, Lygia Fagundes Telles, Sérgio Milliet, Ricardo Severo, Álvaro Lins , Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes, Antonio Candido, Paulo Duarte, Octavio Ianni, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Caio Prado Jr., Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, Carlos Guilherme Mota, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Graciliano Ramos, Vinícius de Moraes, José Lins do Rego, Cláudio Abramo and Ênio Silveira.

Vitor Ramos began his academic career in 1959, as a professor of French literature in the first group of professors on the course at the Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters of Assis, currently the Unesp campus. Five years later, in 1964, he was hired by the Department of French Language and Literature at the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences at the University of São Paulo. At USP, he defended his Habilitation thesis and then became a full professor.

Vitor de Almeida Ramos deepened his research on seventeenth-century French literature, having published, among others, Cyrano auteur tragique, Rotrou: an equivocal universe e Studies in three planes. In the domains of Portuguese Literature, his essays dedicated to Camilo Castelo Branco and Cavaleiro de Oliveira can be recalled, as well as a commented edition of The Lusiads.

In 1969 he was invited to teach French literature at the University of California, Davis campus, staying there with his family for two years. “In the United States he met several Portuguese exiles and writers who lived there. In 1968 and 1973, he received the Order of the Academic Palms, decoration of the French Republic for services rendered to the culture of that country. On April 25, 1974, on its 54tho.

and last birthday commented that the revolution was the best gift he could have received. A few days later, at a meeting at his home with his exiled family and friends, celebrating and discussing his return to his homeland, Vitor de Almeida Ramos suffered a massive aneurysm that left him in a deep coma. He died the next day, on May 3, 1974”.

The trajectory of Vitor Ramos, between Portugal, France and Brazil, can be followed through the film by father (2016), directed by Guiomar Ramos, documentary winner of the II Contest DocTv – CPLP (Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries) Audiovisual.

Afrânio Catani, retired professor at the Faculty of Education at USP, is currently a senior professor at the same institution and visiting professor at the Faculty of Education at UERJ, Duque de Caxias campus.


Guiomar Ramos. Vitor Ramos: a trajectory in exile, flyer. Portuguese Republic – Culture/National Library of Portugal (BNP), 2022, 2 pages.

by father (Brazil; Direction: Guiomar Ramos; Production: Doctela; Co-Production: Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), 2016, 86 min.

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