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Portuguese melancholy?
finding the origin of the expression
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Anastasia Shiyan
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I’m reading a novel called “Villa triste” by  Patrick Modiano. There’s a phrase in it i got curious about: when the main character sees his friend’s Great Dane — walking slowly, melancholic, looking tired — he says that it has a “portuguese melancholy”. Then he describes this phrase as a synonym to the depression some of royal family members had, precisely those ones born after incest.  
My question is: is it a real expression or just the author’s invention? And if it really exists — why is it called like that exactly?
Fort Worth, TX
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There is a Portugese word, saudade, which is not translatable but it includes melancholy along with other sad feelings. It seems to be so much a part of Portugese identity that Brazil has a “day of saudade” every year on January 30. Google “saudade” to learn more. Especially read Wikipedia’s article. However, it doesn’t exactly fit the definition you gave.

Anastasia Shiyan
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Yeah, i know about saudade. This word appears almost in every article about “Portuguese melancholy” google can find but i’m still not satisfied with it. Maybe there’s something else? I think, it might be a French expression, especially taking into account that Modiano is a French-speaking writer. It’s also possible that the translator who worked on my book changed the original phrase to this, well, in this case, there’s nothing to talk about 🙂

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