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Volume 50 / Humanities


Literary Criticism and History

WILSON MARTINS, Professor of Portuguese, New York University

MODEST BUT HONEST would be a fairly accurate evaluation of Brazilian literary criticism during the period covered in this volume. Merciless quarrels among theoreticians have subsided and the debate seems over for now. One hears the names of great masters less frequently.

The bulk of today's production derives from the more fruitful fields of regional literary history (see items bi 89005085, bi 89005093, and bi 89005104) and biography (see items bi 89005090, bi 89005095, bi 89005102, and bi 89005109). A natural counterpart of the cooling off is interest in critics of the past, like Afrânio Coutinho (see item bi 89005098) and Augusto Meyer (see item bi 89005097), together with Alvaro Lins (see item bi 89005087) and Alceu Amoroso Lima (see item bi 89005109) - the latter three practitioners of the "impressionismo" which Coutinho deplored throughout his entire career.

As for prose fiction, the outstanding book is Cristóvão's on Graciliano Ramos (see item bi 89005138). Paulo Tavares' dictionary of Jorge Amado's fictional characters is a good reference (see item bi 89005145). Finally, on poetry we see two extremes: a useful, if not indispensable, biography of Antônio Sales (see item bi 89005184) and an ambitious and somewhat imaginative study of Cobra Norato, the most comprehensive to date (see item bi 89005182). [WM]

Attention may be drawn to three works of more than usual interest: the anthology devoted to the Brazilian counter-culture of the 1960s and 1970s (item bi 89005499); the reissue of Maurício Nabuco's delightful - and at times highly revealing - reflections on his career as a diplomat (item bi 89005199); and vol. 1 of Miguel Reale's memoirs (item bi 89005200), a work of unquestioned importance for scholars concerned with the development of political thought in Brazil during the second quarter of the 20th century. [R.E. Dimmick]

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