BARROS BASTO, THE MARRANO MIRAGE, by Alexandre Teixeira Mendes


Official book launch, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2007, 18.30 at Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue, Rua Guerra Junqueiro, 340, Porto, Portugal

Alexandre Teixeira Mendes, Ladina Books, Porto 2007

Book Synopsis on Back Cover by Pedro Sinde, philosopher

This book reveals Barros Basto and the Marrano question. Written in a hide
and seek style, it seems to play with the reader, leading him or her to
gradually begin to understand for themselves the author’s thinking. It is not an objective book, in that it is a book with a soul, a passionate book, and impassioned. Only those without a soul are capable of transforming the subject of their study into the object. Alexandre Teixeira Mendes, on the contrary transforms the object of his study into the subject; it is thus that Barros Basto, the Apostle of the Marranos, seems alive, contradictory, honest, a hero that struggled to rescue the Marranos, that is, those Jews who during four centuries concealed themselves, passing and re-creating, from generation to generation, a tradition that could not be expressed in the light of day; night was their day!
We see Barros Basto in the horizon, standing in a struggle against two giants, the Catholic Church and the Jewish “Church”, a David against two Goliaths. We see him give the signal to gather the dispersed ones.
Alexandre Teixeira Mendes does not examine Barros Basto from the outside; he accompanies him in his youth, in his conversion, during the war, in the organization of the mysterious Orymita Institute, in the work of rescue. And we, his readers, accompany him in an unforgettable journey to one of the most important places of the soul of the Portuguese being that only Sampaio Bruno and Antonio Telmo have studied with the same audacity and freedom that we now encounter in the author of this book.

Pedro Sinde


It was here, in Lands End, Sefarad, that were mixed some of the most important elements of human knowledge and understanding. We remember the Zohar (The Book of Splendour), the birth of Kabbala, Marrano cryptic poetry and the pastoral novel, the mercantile spirit, popular capitalism, medical research, maritime navigation, and many other cultural and artistic works expressed through such names as Maimonides, Abraão Zacuto, Bernardim Ribeiro, Luís de Camões, Leão Hebreu, Uriel da Costa, Dona Gracia Mendes, Samuel Usque, rabbi Menasseh ben Israel, Espinosa, Amato Lusitano, Pedro Nunes, Garcia de Orta, Michel de Montaigne, Manuel Fernandes Vila Real, António José da Silva, Guerra Junqueiro, Sampaio Bruno, Fernando Pessoa, and more recently Captain Barros Basto.

Ladina, founded in 2004, seeks to promote and divulge our cultural and religious heritage. It aspires to be an instrument of diffusion of Sephardic culture, for it has always been through this that tolerance and “saudades” expressed themselves in a peaceful co-existence with the rest of the people of the peninsula. We named it Ladina with the double intent of remembering a common language of the Sephardic Jews (Ladino) and keeping its semantic significance, a genuine person, pure, and at the same time sagacious, agile and astute. In this way, our objective of dynamization and agglutination of all those who feel themselves to be Jewish, subjected for over 500 years to Inquisitions, forced conversions and other anti-Semitic practices-who yearn to affirm freely, with an inalienable right to practice their religion and freedom of expression of their religious and cultural heritage, free of any restriction or oppression whatsoever.


Alexandre Teixeira Mendes (Refojos, Cabeceiras de Basto, 1959)
Poet and Essayist.

Works: Dourada A Têmpera (Lisboa, edições tema, 2000); Do Verbo Escuro ou da pronunciação que não cessa (Lisboa, edições fluviais, 2002); Despre uorbirea oculta sal despre pronuntia care nu inceteaza, Editura NEREAIA NAPOCAE, Cluj-Napoca, 2003; Cegueira do Propício (Lisboa, edições do buraco, 2005); Nom Omnis Confundar (Porto, incomunidade, 2006); Até quando o incêndio em Sepharad (Porto, incomunidade, 2007).

Anthologies: Os Outros, Antologia de Poesia Portuguesa Anos 80 e depois, coordenação, prefácio e notas de Leopoldino Serrão, Editora Ausência, 2004.

Jornalist, “O Primeiro de Janeiro” and “Jornal de Notícias”.

Board member of Ladina - Association of Sephardic Culture Culture, and of AJHLP (Association of Journalists and Men of Letters of Porto).

Edited the book, “Cartas a um jovem pensador “ de Kostas Axelos (Estratégias Criativas, Porto, 1991).

Collaborated in various literary publications, such as “Artes e Letras (Primeiro de Janeiro), “Letras & Letras” , “O Tripeiro” e “Agália” (Santiago de Compostela).

Writes regularly for the following blogs: http://incomunidade.blogspot.com e ainda http://ladina.blogspot.com (Portugal).

Panellist in various Portuguese and Galego-Portuguese conferences. Dedicates himself to the study of Portuguese poetry and philosophy.