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Volume 64 / Humanities

LITERATURE: BRAZIL: Novels


REGINA IGEL, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Maryland, College Park

IN COMPARISON WITH PAST LITERARY PRODUCTION, as indicated in previous introductory essays, the last several years have seen many innovations in the scenarios comprised by Brazilian novels and literary criticism. There has been an infusion of detective novels, a novelty in terms of literary creativity among Brazilians. Representative of the novelists recently dedicated to crime solving are García-Roza (items #bi2007001896# and #bi2007002066#), Melo (item #bi2007002083#), Prandi (item #bi2007002087#), and Vargas (item #bi2007001897#).

Returning to a well-established tradition, there is a recurrence of themes related to political situations in Brazil. Medina's A faca e o mandarim refers to a political episode involving the assassination of an important personality soon after the advent of the Republic (1889) (item #bi2007001879#); Da Silva's Getúlio is the dictator's semifictional biography conveying historical events (item #bi2007002090#), while Lara relies on allegory to describe episodes occurring after the latest return to democracy (1985) in Em nome do bem: uma alegoria da política brasileira (item #bi2007002076#). Hatoum's Cinzas do Norte creates a rich environment by placing the plot within the dictatorship period (1964–85) and by spinning a web of intrigue, conflict, and friction among members of two families in Manaus, Amazonas (item #bi2007002050#). Equally rich in political and ideological innuendos is Scliar's Os vendilhões do templo, covering three different eras, 33 b.C., 1635, and 1997, in three geographical areas, Jerusalem, south of Brazil, and a large Brazilian city (item #bi2007001888#).

Social issues are the object of concern for some authors as conveyed in novels such as Campos' Os cassacos (item #bi2007001650#), about the predicaments suffered by sugar-cane planters in the Pernambuco area, and Trigueiro's O livro dos desmandamentos: profecias de um excluído (item #bi2007002088#), focused on Ceará and the abuses of landowners against peasants during military rule. Narratives focusing on racial disturbances are part of the newest literary harvest, as represented by Oscar's A saga de um herói negro (item #bi2007001898#), about Carukango, a slave of Mozambican origin who founded a quilombo (haven for fugitive slaves) in Rio de Janeiro at the beginning of the 19th century. Molica examines the difficulties faced by blacks in contemporary Brazil in Bandeira negra, amor (item #bi2007001647#), which portrays a black boy whose mother wants him to pass as white. He nonetheless grows up to be a lawyer for blacks, mainly for those victimized in the slums of Rio de Janeiro.

Experimental novels are represented by Ferreira's Zaratempô!, a somewhat far-fetched attempt to create something new in literature (item #bi2007002053#). On the other hand, Prado's Quero minha mãe restricts the plot to the same subjects and style of her previous novels, that is, a mystical approach locked in hope for humankind (item #bi2007002052#).

Critical essays are well represented by Kothe's iconoclastic O cânone republicano I, covering literary works between 1889 and 1930 (item #bi2007001894#), Mendes' As ruínas da homossexualidade; o gótico em (Bom Crioulo) de A. Caminha (item #bi2005003044#), Junqueira's (org.) Escolas Literárias no Brasil (item #bi2007002054#), and the article by Rick Santos "Cassandra Rios e o surgimento da literatura gay e lésbica no Brasil" (item #bi2005003035#).

Re-editions are part of the literary scene, including Veríssimo's Homens e cousas estrangeiras (item #bi2007002063#), with a rich and enlightening preface by the late João Alexandre Barbosa (1937–2006), Amazonas' Simá: romance histórico do Alto Amazonas that, if not for this re-edition (item #bi2007002067#), might have been neglected for another generation; and the Obra completa of Lopes Neto, gathered by Bentancur (item #bi2007002073#).

The contemporary Brazilian literary scene, in novels and literary criticism, is represented by the novelists and critics indicated above. They enrich the literary field with their creativity and research, including plots and themes that are interesting not only for specialists, but also for readers at large because of the diversity of treatment and topics covered.


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