On Friday, 14 November 2008 I had the privilege of being invited to witness
the ‘soutenance de thèse’ (doctoral viva) of the Brazilian scholar Everton
Machado, at the Maison de la Recherche (attached to the Université de Paris
IV – Sorbonne), in the heart of the Latin Quarter.
Everton Machado’s thesis concerns the novel Os Brahmanes (The Brahmans) by
Francisco Luís Gomes (1829-1869). Published in 1866, it is the only novel by
its Goa-born author, who was also a deputy representing Goa in the
Portuguese parliament. The book is currently in print in Portugal and
translations into English and French exist. Set in Lucknow at the time of
the Indian Mutiny, it offers a critique of both British (though, according
to Everton Machado, not Portuguese) colonialism in India and of brahminical
attitudes and the caste system.
The viva was conducted in French, the language of the thesis. The examining
board was chaired by Prof. Pierre Brunel (Paris IV-Sorbonne), the other
members present being Prof. Sandra Margarida Nitrini (São Paulo), Prof.
Nalini Balbir (Paris III), Prof. Daniel-Henri Pageaux (Paris III) and Prof.
Maria Cecília Queiroz de Moraes Pinto (São Paulo).
The intellectual level of the three-and-a-half-hour debate was extremely
high and the candidate justified his positions with all confidence and
aplomb. After the debate, the board withdrew for five minutes and then
returned to congratulate the new doctor.
It is now to be hoped that the award of this doctorate will increase the
visibility of a hitherto neglected area of literature, namely Goan literature
or Indian Literature in Portuguese, which reveals itself to be at least as
old as the much better-known Indian Literature in English. I extend my
thanks and appreciation to Dr Everton Machado for kindly inviting me to this
LINK: For an on-line text (in Portuguese) on Francisco Luis Gomes, by Everton Machado himself, see:
Note added 3 March 2010:
The full text of this thesis (in French) is now available on-line at: