“We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes…”  Madeleine L’Engle

This quotation from L’Engle brings to mind the concept – or philosophy – of ‘saudade’ – a Portuguese word that some feel defies translation.  This state of emotional longing, quite similar to nostalgia or yearning – though different – in that the longing is for a thing, a place, a person that is absent, a lost loved one – and it may carry a repressed knowledge that the person or thing may never return.   A Portuguese dictionary has defined saudade as a melancholic feeling of incompleteness. Noted in an essay by George Monteiro, the scholar A. Bell’s 1912 definition was offered: “The famous saudade of the Portuguese is a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future, not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.”

  As I am writing on this concept – with all the varied interpretations possible – I would enjoy hearing of your thoughts – AND your experiences of what this has felt like to you, or what has evoked this sense of saudade in you.  Send your responses through WordPress or through my email: 

Thank you.

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Saudade in literature and music « expatsincebirth

  2. Pingback: Is saudade really untranslatable? « expatsincebirth

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