The first tale in this classic collection evokes, not Portugal, but turn-of-century Amsterdam, a city bound up in its wealth and its moral paradoxes. These are the paradoxes of Manuel Teixeira-Gomes' characters, too, the gap between seeming and being, between desire and its various objects.
A young man boasts of his sexual exploits; but the voice that tells the Erotic Stories belongs to a man reduced (if not diminished) by years and responsibilities. The teller of 'Dead Woman's Grotto' embodies all that the author despises: lack of moral fibre, abuse of position. Sardonic and even amused at the self-infatuation of the youthful lover, the author looks on.
It is the laissez-faire attitude to affairs that fascinates and disturbs us: circumstances control the protagonists who, under a libidinal spell, have no will of their own. Their actions and inactions equally reveal immorality. Teixeira-Gomes's women, on the other hand, often strive to give direction to their lives.