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Portuguese Poster Exhibition: Fernao, Are You Lying?
Date: 24 May-16 Jun 2010 

The School of Modern Languages and Cultures' Portuguese Programme is organizing a poster exhibition on the life and work of the 16th century Portuguese explorer Fernao Mendes Pinto.

Portuguese Poster Exhibition: "Fernao, Are You Lying?"

Date: May 24 to June 16, 2010
Venue: Main Library Foyer

In the course of his travels, Pinto visited China, where he claimed, among other extraordinary things, to have been a forced laborer on the Great Wall. His exploits are known through the posthumous publication of his memoir "Peregrination" in 1614, one of the most widely read travel books in early modern Europe. The exhibition is sponsored by Instituto Camoes, a branch of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and is supported by the University of Hong Kong Libraries.

All are welcome.

For enquiries, please contact Ms. Dora Almeida,


"Fernao Mentes? Minto" (Fernao, are you lying? I am lying). It was this witty play on the Portuguese words (Mendes, mentes, Pinto, minto) that caused the name of the author of the Travels to pass down the generations. Even before it was published, this work aroused a great deal of curiosity and controversy about the veracity of the adventures it narrated. From the information contained in his account, we know that Fernao Mendes Pinto was born and lived in Montemor-o-Velho (Portugal) until the age of ten or twelve, in "the wretched poverty of his father's hovel", leaving for Lisbon at the end of 1521, taken there by an uncle who wished to set him on the path to a better future. Trouble and misfortune continued to dog his footsteps until, after a first frustrated departure, he set sail for India on the 11th of March 1537 with the firm intention of making his fortune. During the twenty-one or so years that he remained in the Orient, he travelled tirelessly between India and China, describing himself as one of the first westerners to reach Japan. He was a merchant, soldier, ambassador, man of God, but also a brigand, healer, and, more often than not, a prisoner. He returned to Lisbon on the 22nd of September 1558, bearing as his greatest wealth letters of recommendation for services rendered to his native land. After four years of fruitless petitions to the Crown, he retired to the Palenca estate, in the locality of Pragal in Almada (Portugal), where he compiled the reminiscences contained in the Travels.

A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY BESTSELLER THAT HAS STOOD THE TEST OF TIME Since its first publication in Lisbon in 1614, the Travels has never gone out of print and more than 100 new editions have been listed up to the present day, more than 200 if we count the many reprints. In Portugal, following the publication of the 1829 edition, the work has regained its rightful place in Portuguese Literature. Different episodes are often singled out and included in collections ranging from spiritual literature to tales of adventure and fantastic journeys, revealing the many ways in which this text can be read. Fernao Mendes Pinto and his work continue to inspire artists from fields as diverse as literature, the visual arts, theatre and music.

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