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Taking science to the countryside: fictionalizing the country through novels for young people in early twentieth-century Portugal

  • ISABEL ZILHÃO (a1)
Abstract

This article addresses and discusses one of the first literary attempts to extend the communication of science to young people – agriculture being the case in point – through moralizing and educational novels in early twentieth-century Portugal. In this study, I show that a set of popular books on agriculture addressing horticulture, poultry farming, beekeeping, dairy farming, silkworm breeding, orchard culture and fish farming written for young people by the agricultural engineer João Coelho da Motta Prego – coupled with popularizing articles about agricultural policy and agronomy written by him in the daily press – clearly served the purpose of re-educating the Portuguese rural inhabitant and reviving the country's agriculture-based economy. The article showcases how locality drives the way science and technology are addressed, what is communicated, who writes for whom, and the purpose of the writing itself. It highlights how science popularization/popular science, in its various formats (i.e. science, technology and medicine), can be more than a way to teach science to a lay audience.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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This article was financially supported by FCT SFRH/BPD/71036/2010 and UID/HIS/00286/2013. I am grateful to the anonymous referees for their comments, as well as to Melanie and Kristian and all my CIUHCT colleagues who commented on previous versions. I am deeply thankful to Bernardo and Paulo Pinto Leite for their warm welcome in Guimarães. And also for their promptness in answering all my questions about their family's past, as well as clearing access to Prego's correspondence. I would like to extend my gratitude to Ana Jorge from Escola Superior Agrária de Santarém. I am grateful to Adriano for his text editing.

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1 Andrade, A., Portugal económico, Lisbon: Manuel Gomes Editor, Livreiro de Suas Majestades Altezas, 1902, p. 314. The book addresses Portuguese agriculture. Andrade, an economist by training and an important agriculturalist and landowner, served many times as Member of Parliament and was minister of finance twice between 1900 and 1910.

2 Reis, Jaime, ‘O trabalho’, in Lains, Pedro and da Silva, Álvaro Ferreira (eds.), História económica de Portugal 1700–2000, vol. 2, Lisbon: ICS, 2005, pp. 119151, 123; Conceição Andrade Martins, ‘A agricultura’, in ibid., pp. 219–255, 254–255; Pedro Lains, ‘A indústria’, in ibid., pp. 259–281, 272.

3 Gavroglu, Kostas, ‘The STEP (Science and Technology in the European Periphery) initiative: attempting to historicize the notion of European science’, Centaurus (2012) 54, pp. 311327.

4 For further discussion see Pickstone, J.V., ‘Sketching together the modern histories of science, technology and medicine’, Isis (2011) 102, pp. 123133.

5 Andersen, Casper and Hjermitslev, Hans H., ‘Directing public interest: Danish newspaper science 1900–1903’, Centaurus, (2009) 51, pp. 143167; Gonzalez-Silva, Matiana and Herran, Nestor, ‘Ideology, elitism and social commitment: alternative images of science in two fin de siècle Barcelona newspapers’, Centaurus (2009) 51, pp. 97115; Papanelopoulou, Faidra and Kjærgaard, Peter C., ‘Making the paper: science and technology in Spanish, Greek and Danish newspapers around 1900’, Centaurus (2009) 51, pp. 8996; Simões, A., Zilhão, I., Diogo, A. and Carneiro, A., ‘Halley turns republican: how the Portuguese press presented the 1910 return of Halley's comet’, History of Science (2013) 51, pp. 199219.

6 Secord, James A., ‘Knowledge in transit’, Isis (2004) 95, pp. 654672; Papanelopoulou, Faidra, Nieto-Galan, Agustí and Perdiguero, Enrique (eds.), Popularizing Science and Technology in the European Periphery, 1800–2000, Farnham: Ashgate, 2009; Topham, J.R. (ed.), ‘Focus: historicizing “popular science”’, Isis (2009) 100, pp. 310318; Keene, Melanie, ‘Familial science in nineteenth-century Britain’, History of Science (2014) 52, pp. 5371; Nieto-Galan, Agustí, Science in the Public Sphere: A History of Lay Knowledge and Expertise, New York: Routledge, 2016.

7 Fyfe, Aileen, ‘Young readers and the sciences’, in Frasca-Spada, Marina and Jardine, Nick (eds.), Books and the Sciences in History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp. 276290; Noakes, Richard, ‘The Boy's Own paper and late Victorian juvenile magazines’, in Cantor, Geoffrey, Dawson, Gowan, Gooday, Graeme, Noakes, Richard, Shuttleworth, Sally and Topham, Jonathan R. (eds.), Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 151171; Keene, Melanie, Science in Wonderland: The Scientific Fairy Tales of Victorian Britain, Oxford: Oxford University press, 2015.

8 Kohlstedt, Sally Gregory, Teaching Children Science: A Hands-On Nature Study in North America, 1890–1930, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010.

9 Schirrmacher, Arne (ed.), ‘Popular science between news and education: a European perspective’, Science and Education (2012) 21, pp. 289401; Zilhão, Isabel, ‘The rise and fall of science for all: science for children voiced by a Portuguese daily newspaper (1924–1933)’, History of Science (2014) 52, pp. 454488.

10 On Portuguese literature for children see Junior, H.M., Algumas achegas para uma bibliografia infantil, Lisbon: Oficinas gráficas da Biblioteca Nacional, 1928; Rocha, Natércia, Breve história da literatura para crianças em Portugal, Lisbon: Biblioteca Breve, 1984; Bastos, Glória, A escrita para crianças em Portugal no século XIX, Lisbon: Editora Caminho, 1997; Barreto, Garcia, Literatura para crianças e jovens em Portugal, Porto: Campo das letras, 1998.

11 Pintassilgo, Joaquim and Serrazina, Lurdes, A escola normal de Lisboa e a formação de professores, Lisbon: Edições Colibri, 2009, pp. 4144.

12 Quatro palavras’, Recreio infantil (1876) 1, editor's foreword: ‘Familiarisar as crianças desde os primeiros passos da sua vida intelectual com as verdades scientificas e moraes’; ‘occupando-se apenas em propagar os conhecimentos uteis, e exaltar a moral, base fecunda e invariavel de todos os systemas e civilizações’.

13 The agricultural journals O Lavrador, Portugal Agrícola, A Granja. The national dailies O Jornal do Commercio, O Comércio do Porto and Novidades, and the local Correio da Extremadura from Santarém, and the Diário do Comércio from Ponta Delgada, in the Azores Islands.

14 For a summary of Prego's ideas see the two final paragraphs of João da Motta Prego, ‘Revista agricola’, Commercio do Porto, 9 September 1906, p. 1.

15 On civil engineering see de Matos, Ana Cardoso and Diogo, Maria Paula, ‘Bringing it all back home: Portuguese engineers and their travels of learning (1850–1900)’, HOST: Journal of History of Science and Technology (2007) 1, pp. 155182.

16 See João da Motta Prego, ‘Revista agricola’, Commercio do Porto, 13 November 1903, p. 1.

17 See João da Motta Prego, ‘Chronica agricola’, Jornal do Commercio, 29 January 1897, pp. 1–2.

18 de Castro, Luiz, ‘Um agrónomo de segunda classe’, Agros (1919) 2, 3, 4, 5, pp. 3035, 33.

19 da Motta Prego, João, A horta do Tomé, Lisbon: Livraria Clássica Editora de A.M. Teixeira, 1909.

20 da Motta Prego, João, A quinta do Diabo, Lisbon: Livraria Clássica Editora de A.M. Teixeira, 1909.

21 da Motta Prego, João, O padre Roque, Lisbon: Livraria Clássica Editora de A.M. Teixeira, 1911.

22 da Motta Prego, João, A leitaria da Rosalina, Lisbon: Livraria Aillaud, Alves, & Cia, 1911.

23 da Motta Prego, João, Os netos do Nicolau, Lisbon: Livraria Clássica Editora do A.M. Teixeira, 1912.

24 da Motta Prego, João, O pomar de Adrião, Lisbon: Livraria Aillaud, Alves, & Cia, 1913.

25 da Motta Prego, João, A lagoa de Donim, Lisbon: Lisbon: Aillaud, Alves & Cia, 1913.

26 Decreto 26 December 1905, Direcção Geral da Agricultura in Reformas do ensino em Portugal 1900–1910, vol. 1, Lisbon: Ministério da Educação, 1996, p. 386402; Direcção Geral de Agricultura, 19 November 1887, Collecção Official de legislação portugueza, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1888, pp. 585589.

27 Direcção Geral da Instrucção Pública, 18 October 1902, Collecção Official de legislação portugueza, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1903, p. 1037.

28 da Motta Prego, João, Lições elementares de agricultura, Lisbon: Livraria Ferreira, 1918.

29 A fact announced on the book's cover.

30 For an example see João da Motta Prego, ‘Revista Agricola’, Jornal do Commercio, 4 February 1902, p. 1; and Prego, ‘Revista agricola’, Jornal do Commercio, 23 March 1904, p. 1.

31 ‘Notas biographicas’, Agros (1919) 2, 3, 4, 5, pp. 49–53, 50.

32 See João da Motta Prego, ‘Revista agricola’, Jornal do Commercio, 10 February 1905, p. 1.

33 See da Motta Prego, João, A quinta do Diabo, 8th edn, Lisbon: Livraria Ferrin, 1932, pp. 109, 265.

34 Coutinho, Francisco Pereira, Rearborisação das nossas serras, Lisbon: Imprensa de Manuel Lucas Torres, 1911.

35 See da Motta Prego, João, O padre Roque, 2nd edn, Lisbon: Livraria Clássica Editora, 1942, p. 76.

36 See Macedo, Marta, Projectar e construir a nação, engenheiros, ciência e território em Portugal no século XIX, Lisbon: ICS, 2012.

37 Prego, op. cit. (23), p. 189: ‘Já se vê que isto [uma sirgaria] não é uma indústria para os ricos. Mas é uma indústria que pode ser muito proveitosa para os pobres’.

38 Decreto, 19 September 1902 Direcção Geral de Instrucção Pública, in Reformas do ensino em Portugal 1900–1910, vol. 1, Lisbon: Ministério da Educação, 1996, p. 128156, 132.

39 Direcção Geral de Agricultura, 27 October 1898, Collecção Official de legislação portugueza, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1899, p. 758.

40 Pimentel, J.I.T.M., ‘La sériciculture’, in da Costa, B.B. Cincinnato and de Castro, Luiz (eds.), Le Portugal au point de vue agricole, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1900, pp. 737762.

41 Direcção Geral de Agricultura, 22 November, Collecção Official de legislação portugueza, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1901, p. 935.

42 ‘A festa da árvore’, Século Agrícola, 21 December 1912, p. 5.

43 ‘Condições de revivescência da industria sericícola em Portugal’, Século agrícola, 28 December 1912, p. 2, interview with the director of the north-east agronomic station, previously a silkworm breeding station.

44 Prego, op. cit. (23), p. 225.

45 On Portuguese history between 1800 and 1930 see Luis Torgal, Reis and Roque, João Lourenço (ed.), O liberalismo (1807–1890), vol. 5, Lisbon: Editorial Estampa, 1998; Teixeira, Nuno Severiano (ed.), A construção nacional 1834–1890, vol. 2, Lisbon: Editora Objectiva, 2013; Ramos, Rui, A segunda fundação (1890–1926), vol. 6, Lisbon: Editorial Estampa, 2001; de Almeida, Pedro Tavares (ed.), A crise do liberalismo 1890–1930, vol. 3, Lisbon: Editora Objectiva, 2014.

46 For a detailed analysis of the influence of Saint-Simonian ideology on Portuguese engineers and the Regeneração see Macedo, op. cit. (36), pp. 116, 121–131, 145–164.

47 Álvaro Ferreira da Silva, ‘O processo económico’, in Tavares de Almeida, op. cit. (45), pp. 117–157, 126.

48 Fernandes, Paulo Jorge, ‘Política económica’, in Lains, Pedro and da Silva, Álvaro Ferreira (eds.), História económica de Portugal 1700–2000, vol. 2, Lisbon: ICS, 2005, pp. 393419, 413–418.

49 João to José da Motta Prego, 3 January 1891, CasaComum.org, at http://hdl.handle.net/11002/fms_dc_101070, accessed 12 March 2015; José da Motta Prego to Bernardino Machado, 6 February 1891, CasaComum.org, at http://hdl.handle.net/11002/fms_dc_101064, accessed 12 March 2015; da Motta Prego, João, Guia prático para o emprego dos adubos em Portugal, Lisbon, Typ. Universal, 1898, pp. ivi; Direcção Geral de Agricultura, 19 September 1888, Collecção Official de legislação portugueza, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1889, p. 378.

50 See João da Motta Prego, ‘Revista agricola’, Commercio do Porto, 21 December 1903, p. 1.

51 Direcção Geral de Agricultura, 2 December 1886, Collecção Official de legislação portugueza, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1887, p. 837; Direcção Geral de Agricultura, 9 December 1886, Collecção Official de legislação portugueza, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1887, p. 877.

52 Direcção Geral de Agricultura, 29 October 1891, Collecção Official de legislação portugueza, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1892, p. 646.

53 Estação agronómica de Lisboa’, Boletim da direcção geral da agricultura (1909) 9(3), pp. 13.

54 Ramires, Adolpho Baptista, ‘A lacticultura e seus produtos em Portugal’, Boletim da direcção geral da agricultura (1911) 11, pp. 132; Eduardo Alberto Lima Bastos, ‘O ensino agrícola em Portugal’, Separata da Revista da Educação, Lisbon: Tipografia da Casa Portuguesa, n.d., p. 4. At a conference delivered in 1914. Bastos was a professor at the School of Agriculture (Instituto Superior de Agronomia).

55 Direcção Geral de Agricultura, 8 October 1891, Collecção Official de legislação portugueza, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1892, p. 581593, 590–591.

56 Direcção Geral de Agricultura, 17 October 1899, Collecção Official de legislação portugueza, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1900, pp. 519529, 521.

57 Coutinho, C.C., ‘Ensino agrícola popular’, Boletim da Associação Central de Agricultores de Portugal (1916) 2, pp. 5862, 61. Coutinho was a professor at the School of Agriculture (Instituto Superior de Agronomia).

58 João da Motta Prego, ‘Questões agrícolas’, Novidades, 15 June 1903, p. 1.

59 Library of the Escola Superior Agrária de Santarém, ‘João Coelho da Motta Prego’, Primeiro livro de cadastro de funcionários (1899), pp. 1–2.

60 See João da Motta Prego, ‘Chronica agricola’, Jornal do Commercio, 7 October 1891, p. 1.

61 Direcção Geral de Agricultura, 3 November 1887, Collecção Official de legislação portugueza, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1888, p. 538.

62 João da Motta Prego, ‘Questões agrícolas’, Novidades, 15 May 1903, p. 1; Prego, ‘Questões agricolas’, Novidades, 4 September 1903, p. 1.

63 Prego contributed to both publications. João da Motta Prego, ‘Revista agricola’, Jornal do Commercio, 2 August 1901, p. 1. The article is entirely devoted to mobile schools and announces Commercio do Porto's initiative.

64 Ramires, op. cit. (54), p. 15.

65 Candeias, António (coord.), Alfabetização e escola em Portugal nos séculos XIX e XX: Os censos e as estatísticas, Lisbon: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2007, p. 120.

66 da Motta Prego, João, Os netos do Nicolau, 2nd edn, Lisbon: Livraria Cássica Editora, 1942.

67 da Motta Prego, João, A leitaria da Rosalina, 2nd edn, Lisbon: Livraria Clássica Ediotora, 1945, p. 301.

68 Graça, L.L., ‘O sindicato agrícola: primeiros passos (1893–1910), in Temas de economia e sociologia agrários, Lisbon: Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária, 1992, pp. 121155; Benedita Câmara, ‘Relações económicas com o exterior’, in Lains and da Silva, op. cit. (2), pp. 337–356.

69 See João da Motta Prego, ‘Chronica agricola’, Jornal do Commercio, 1 April 1893, p. 1; Prego, ‘Questões agricolas’, Novidades, 26 July 1903, p. 1.

70 See João da Motta Prego, ‘Revista agricola’, Commercio do Porto, 26 July 1905, p. 1.

71 Luiz de Castro, ‘Le mouvement associatif rural’, in da Costa and de Castro, op. cit. (40), pp. 857–911, 889; Ramires, op. cit. (54), p. 6.

72 Estatutos do Syndicato Agrícola de Santa Cita aprovados por alvará de 26 de Outubro de 1897, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1897.

73 Nogueira, J.V.P., ‘Uma cooperativa de laticínios em Guimarães’, Boletim da Associação Central da Agricultura Portuguesa (1915) 5, pp. 161173.

74 The sales continued into the twentieth-century. Ministry of Finances, Diário do Governo (26 January 1911) 21, p. 1.

75 For a characterization of the Portuguese people see ‘Povo’, in Serrão, Joel (ed.), Dicionário de história de Portugal, Porto: Livraria Figueirinhas, 1992, pp. 155166.

76 This is true from 1895 until 1911. For further discussion see Ramos, Rui, ‘Para uma história política da cidadania em Portugal’, Análise social (2004) 172, pp. 547569; de Almeida, Pedro Tavares (ed.), Legislação Eleitoral Portuguesa, 1820–1926, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional – Casa da Moeda, 1998, pp. 723731.

77 See João da Motta Prego, ‘Revista agricola’, Commercio do Porto, 15 June 1907, p. 1.

78 Azevedo, B., ‘Algumas palavras a respeito do engenheiro-agrónomo Motta Prego proferidas no acto de inauguração do seu busto, no I.S.A.’, Anais do Instituto Superior de Agronomia (1931) 4, pp. 153163, 161.

79 Azevedo, op. cit. (78).

80 This information was given to me by his relatives Bernardo and Paulo Pinto Leite.

81 Silva, A.M., Anuário da Nobreza de Portugal, vol. 3, Parts 3–4, Lisbon and Coimbra: Dislivro Histórica, 2006, pp. 11741185.

82 Relação dos sócios da Sociedade Martins Sarmento, Revista de Guimarães (1884) 1 (4), p. 223.

83 da Motta Prego, João, A lagoa de Donim, 2nd edn, Lisbon: Livraria Cássica Editora, 1947, p. 264: ‘Quem manda hoje é quem trabalha honradamente, é quem tem braços e inteligência para se erguer sozinho da terra’.

84 João da Motta Prego, ‘Revista agrícola’, Jornal do Commercio, 31 January 1902, p. 1.

85 See João da Motta Prego, ‘Questões agricolas’, Correio da Extremadura, 22 March 1902, p. 1; Prego, ‘Questões agricolas’, Correio da Extremadura, 12 April 1902, p. 1.

86 Ferro, Túlio Ramires, Raul Brandão, Os operários, Lisbon: Biblioteca Nacional, 1984, pp. 74121.

87 Livros, conferências e comunicações’, Portugal agrícola (1911) 24, p. 374.

88 Henriques, J.A., ‘Padre Bernardino Barros Gomes’, Portugal agrícola (1911) 16, pp. 242245; Henriques, J.A., ‘Padre Bernardino Barros Gomes’, Portugal agrícola (1911) 17–18, pp. 260264.

89 Candeias, op. cit. (65), p. 120. The numbers only concern those aged ten or over.

90 Prego, op. cit. (35), p. 81: ‘Equilibrar assim os casais, dando à mulher mais importância, desoprimindo-a da sua escravidão de ignorância e da sua condição exclusiva de serva’.

91 Rossiter, Margaret W., ‘Women in the physical sciences’, in Nye, Mary Joe (ed.), The Cambridge History of Science, vol. 5, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 5471, 62–63.

92 de Castro e Almeida, Virgínia, Em pleno azul, Lisbon: Livraria Clássica de A.M. Teixiera, 1907.

93 Direcção Geral da Instrucção Pública, 31 January 1906, Collecção Official de legislação portugueza, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1907, p. 114.

94 Fiadeiro, J.B.S. and Braz, M.B., Ensino da medicina veterinária em Portugal: Primeiras instalações, Lisbon: Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, 1989, p. 97.

95 In ‘Notas biographicas’, op. cit. (31), p. 49.

96 Torre do Tombo National Archive, Ministério das Obras Públicas, Comércio e Indústria mç 975, ofício 91, and mç 483, processo 17; da Motta Prego, João, Analysee de alguns typos de vinhos portuguezes que concorreram à ultima exposição de Paris, Oporto: Typographia Portuense, 1895.

97 For instance, da Motta Prego, João, ‘Fabrico do vinho pelas leveduras puras’, Portugal Agrícola (1894) 1–2, pp. 1619.

98 Liste générale des membres de la Société mycologique de France’, Bulletin de la Société mycologique de France (1894) 10, p. 6.

99 Academia das Ciências de Lisboa, Processo de eleição de Motta Prego a sócio correspondente, 1904.

100 Melo, Daniel, Leitura pública na I República, Lisbon: Edições Húmus, 2010, pp. 5060. The remaining books can be found at the National Library.

101 ‘Notas biographicas’, op. cit. (31), p. 52.

102 Azevedo, op. cit. (78), p. 160.

103 A agricultura’, Boletim informativo, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (1961) 2, p. 56.

104 Boletim informativo, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (1960) 1, pp. 2327.

105 Melo, M., ‘As bibliotecas da Fundação Gulbenkian e a leitura pública em Portugal (1957–1987)’, Análise social (2005) 174, pp. 6586, 70–71.

107 L'Etat doit faire tout le bien que l'initiative privée n'est pas encore capable de faire; et il doit constamment travailler à se rendre inutile en éclairant et fortifiant l'initiative privée.’ da Motta Prego, João, Manteiga e queijos (Italia, Suissa, Dinamarca, Hollanda, Belgica, França), Lisbon: Livraria Ferrin, 1906, title page.

108 Gonçalves, Eduardo C. Cordeiro, ‘Mutualismo ou tentativa de sindicalismo católico? A propósito do movimento dos círculos católicos de operários (1898–1910)’, História (2007) 3(8), pp. 261272.

109 Mitra, Sugata, Beyond the Hole in the Wall: Discover the Power of Self-Organized Learning, New York: TED books, 2012.

110 See, for instance, Book Reviews, Journal of Education and Work (2003) 16, pp. 205210.

111 Wolf, Alison, Does Education Matter? Myths about Education and Economic Growth, London: Penguin, 2002.

112 Prego, op. cit. (67), p. 208.

This article was financially supported by FCT SFRH/BPD/71036/2010 and UID/HIS/00286/2013. I am grateful to the anonymous referees for their comments, as well as to Melanie and Kristian and all my CIUHCT colleagues who commented on previous versions. I am deeply thankful to Bernardo and Paulo Pinto Leite for their warm welcome in Guimarães. And also for their promptness in answering all my questions about their family's past, as well as clearing access to Prego's correspondence. I would like to extend my gratitude to Ana Jorge from Escola Superior Agrária de Santarém. I am grateful to Adriano for his text editing.

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