Almeida Garrett’s plan for publishing the Romanceiro went through many different stages. Adozinda, the first work he dedicated to this poetic genre, is a good example of the process. In it the author starts to concomitantly publish re-created ballads of his own invention with the corresponding “folk traditional” sources; in 1843, in a book in which Garrett re-publishes Adozinda, and which he called Romanceiro e Cancioneiro Geral, only his reconstructed romances are included; later, in the two volumes of Romanceiro, II and III (1851), the author does not publish romances of his reconstruction or invention (the so called Romantic ballads) but rather prints a good portion of ‘romances’ which, for the most part evince a closer and unmistakable relation with the oral tradition.
Notwithstanding, only in 1851 in the “Introduction” to Romanceiro II (p. XLV) does Garrett present an editorial plan for his balladry work. If this plan, presented as a table of contents, offers a global perspective on the future work project, it also reviews the previously published texts. Thus:
- Book I: Renaissance Romances, imitations, reconstructions, and studies of mine about the ancient
- Book II: Old knighthood adventure Romances either with or without reference to History (or with an unknown reference)
- Book III: Legends and prophecies
- Book IV: Historical Romances composed upon facts or myths of the Portuguese or Histories
- Book V: Diverse Romances comprising all the non-epic or non-narrative
Why has Garrett not introduced this editorial plan in the first volume, as it should be expected? The answer might be in the fact that he has acquired a solid concept of the work only belatedly. The plan he engendered goes back to Book I, printed in 1843, although it had a different title then (namely, Romanceiro e Cancioneiro Geral. Adozinda e Outros; in fact, only the reprint of this 1853 volume is granted the title Romanceiro — the project to include the songbook was seemingly discarded — and the proposed subtitle was Renaissance Romances). It thus seems evident that the Romanceiro e Cancioneiro Geral book obeyed a publication principle meanwhile abandoned and, for that reason, the Viscount felt the need to update his project in the 1851 plan, incorporating changes in the title of Book I, which would be reprinted two years afterwards.
Almeida Garrett never finished this editorial plan. In short, after Book II, published in two volumes in 1851, there was only the reprint of Book I (in 1853) under his supervision. The poet died the following year, and no evidence is even left that he was preparing Books III, IV, or V.
In the beginning of the twenty first century, the unexpected appearance of a set of autograph documents among Garrett’s estate altered this scenario. The Futscher Pereira Collection, identified in 2004 and officially classified as Heritage of the Portuguese State, is deposited in the General Library of Coimbra University. It comprises draft manuscripts of Almeida Garrett which help to pursue and to clarify topics related to his last extant editorial plan. It reveals, as an example, that Books III and IV were in an advanced stage of preparation. It allows to perceive that in what would become Book IV —the one reserved to Portuguese historical ballads, a theme section to which the contemporary Spanish editor Agustín Durán had dedicated an independent section—, and for lack of alternative sources, many of Garrett’s romances would be inspired in Spanish works and suffer a constant version into Portuguese. It also gives an account of the extremely curious fact that the ballads about topics related to the period of the dual monarchy (from 1580 to 1640) always echo the Portuguese political perspective. It also testifies to the existence of an unusual section of Moorish romances that went unmentioned in the above explained plan, and which can be added to the set of humorous and burlesque themes for a hypothetical incorporation in Book V. Ultimately, this conception of Almeida Garrett’s Romanceiro obeys organizational principles close to those enhanced Agustín Durán in his Romancero general (1849-1851), a work known to the Portuguese poet.
(Further details on the editorial evolution of Garrett’s Romanceiro can be found in this study.)