Libertas! Libertas!

The nonconformist spirit that Leonardo Coimbra, Jaime Cortesão, Cláudio Basto, and Álvaro Pinto decided to make public by publishing Nova Silva is expressed in the chosen title – both quaint and provocative – and highlighted by their reminding us that 'silva' also meant literary miscellany or, simply, magazine.

The meeting of these twenty-year-old young men, destined to live on as a foundational moment, took place under the motto 'libertas', inscribed in the publication's opening text title and included in the caption of the broken-shackles promethean figure featured in the third issue, dated March 1907, and the following.

The sole principle followed by the creators of the monthly publication was the authority inherent to an incoercible and indomitable reason, 'absolutely free of prejudice'. The same can be said of those that joined the group, such as João Campos Lima, Cristiano de Carvalho, and Heliodoro Salgado, among other free thought and anarchism sympathizers. The inspirational signs and the constellation of universal references could be found in frequently evoked authors such as Victor Hugo, Lev Tolstoi, Pyotr Kropotkin, and Friedrich Engels.

From this perspective, it's no surprise that Nova Silva's five issues accentuate the radicality of libertarian critique to large, oppressive, and fallacious institutions such as the Church, the State, the army, and monogamous marriage, underlined by scathing sarcasm aimed at the customs and conventions that molded the pettiness of everyday life.

As a counterpoint, many of the tacit assumptions underlying the enthusiasm behind this spirit of rebellion can be identified, insomuch as they greatly exceed a simple exercise of pointed arguments or the vitalist belief in the beauty of life and the perfect immutability of its laws. The intimate certainties of revolutionary culture, which make up most of the magazine's interest, can be observed in the short introductory text, specifically in the generic approximation between freedom, good, and justice.

Also of great importance is the fact that an emancipatory state of mind and revolutionary circumstances never abandoned their joint reciprocity throughout Nova Silva's brief existence.

The political atmosphere created by republican insurrectional propaganda can be found in the portraits of António José de Almeida and João Chagas printed on the first two issues' covers.

While the struggle for non-authoritarian education and democratic access to integral culture led the editorial staff to hold a fundraiser destined to create a Free School (to be built in Coimbra), the egregious persecution conducted against libertarian pedagogue Francisco Ferrer and José Nakens originated a movement of 'revolt against reaction' that was brought to the cover of the periodical by Cristiano Carvalho's illustration, and discussed by Leonardo Coimbra, one of its foremost proponents.

However, it was the events that took place in the university and that led to the academic strike, and eventually João Franco's dictatorship, which rose to the forefront of the magazine's short history, since both directors and editors soon joined the ranks of the so-called 'intransigentes'.

Right at the onset of the crisis, the university of Coimbra is presented as the 'Bastille of the brains', and cradle of 'a kind of fado singers of science, unconscionable and unashamed', justifying the call for not only setting it on fire and knocking it down, but also dancing on any smouldering remains. A few days later, Guerra Junqueiro would return to the subject with a message sent in support of a student rally, in which Leonardo and Cortesão gave speeches, saying 'our sad university will bring us light only when we burn it'.

By Álvaro Pinto's hand, the revista ilustrada directly encouraged participating in the strike. This took place in the final issue, since – according to A Águia's future director – it was the academic strike, or rather the commitment to it by the students who directed and wrote Nova Silva, that 'undid' this miscellany of the new times (letter to Jaime Cortesão, 9th of November 1951).

Luís Andrade