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Volume 64 / Humanities


M. ANGÉLICA GUIMARÃES LOPES, Professor Emerita of Literature, University of South Carolina, Columbia

AMONG THE 40 COLLECTIONS examined for HLAS 64, there are several by newer authors; however, more than one third (14 collections) are by writers who first started publishing in the 1960s or earlier (such as Freyre—though not a fiction writer—, Maranhão, and Pólvora). Abreu, Almeida, Moreira da Costa, Coutinho, Frei Betto, Leminski, Nei Lopes, Paiva, Pellegrini, Santiago, van Steen, and Vilela were in their twenties or early thirties in 1964 when a military coup deposed President João Goulart for his alleged Communist leanings and imposed a general as president. Four years later, the Institutional Act No. 5 established press and artistic censorship. Several writers, actors, artists, musicians and other performers were imprisoned or went into exile. Journalists resorted to writing metaphorically, a device that allowed their work to escape censorship and be published. In 1984, democracy was reestablished with the direct election of a nonmilitary president.

Among those who have been writing fiction and receiving prizes for the past 40 years, several have reissued or republished their stories in the last five years. Several writers have experimented with or reworked their previously published short fiction (items #bi2007002376# and #bi2007002295#). It is worth noting that in the intervening 40 years, the stories have lost none of their vigor. Some of the writers have found a place in the Brazilian critical pantheon, for example, Vilela, one of the greatest writers in Brazilian literature, and van Steen (see items #bi2007002385# and #bi2007002297#). The former's 1986 collection was recently reissued, and the latter has been honored with a substantial volume by her publishing house to celebrate her birthday and the anniversary of her first book. An emblematic figure of his generation, Abreu suffered imprisonment and exile, and ultimately died of AIDS at age 48. The publications issued this biennium include a collection of his essential works (item #bi2007002360#).

Other collections have an explicit or implicit thematic thrust. Costa's 22 contistas em campo, for example, offers tales of Brazil's national sport (item #bi2007002386#). Both Cunha Junior and Lopes examine Afro-Brazilian life and traditions in their stories (items #bi2007002368# and #bi2007002359#). Cagiano's anthology of uneven literary merit presents a mix of more than 80 authors connected with Brasília through residence or interest (item #bi2007002370#). Coutinho's take on the older woman in the metropolis seems logical after her previous collections on the young and middle-aged (item #bi2007002375#). By calling all his protagonists Pedro, Figueiredo establishes a varied fictional universe (item #bi2007002380#), and Freitas uses a card-playing metaphor to create tales of betrayal connected with hazard (item #bi2007002374#). Garcia-Roza and Bonassi each provide a story based on the same illustration in their work entitled Filhos e cenas (item #bi2007002383#). Macedo writes tales about eight female characters (item #bi2007002356#). In his two "rejuvenated stories on a string" Vieira takes up a medieval Iberian/Portuguese format, the cordel, for a balance between tradition (prosody, syntax, format) and novelty (contemporary issues and topics) (item #bi2008003772#).

The majority of these collections are impressive for their scope, dramatic and/or emotional charge, and their powerful and imaginative use of language. Some of them illustrate Mário de Andrade's modernist "dictum": "A story is anything its author calls a story," such as Brasiliense's delightful Adeus conto de fadas (item #bi2007002355#). Many of the newer authors have received prestigious literary prizes such as the Jabuti, the Casa de las Américas, the state of Paraná, and the Nestlé. A more recent state of Pará prize was awarded to both Leal and Leite, authors who are not regional in a strict sense but who provide Amazonian insights (items #bi2007002364# and #bi2007002379#).

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