Study analyzes ambiguities in the works of Aluísio Azevedo

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2013-08-18 21:01Z by Steven

Study analyzes ambiguities in the works of Aluísio Azevedo

Agência FAPESP: News Agency of the Sao Paulo Research Foundation

Karina Toledo

Agência FAPESP —The Mulatto, by Aluísio Azevedo, is a title that refers to the collective human state. It does not mention a character or a specific situation, but rather a human category that is very important for understanding the process of Brazil’s formation.

This analysis is presented by sociologist Rodrigo Estramanho de Almeida in the book A realidade da ficção. Ambiguidades literárias e sociais em ‘O Mulato’ de Aluísio Azevedo (The reality of fiction. Literary and social ambiguities in “The Mulatto” by Aluísio Azevedo), released by Alameda Casa Editorial on March 15. 

The starting point for this analysis is the second book published by Aluísio Azevedo, The Mulatto. The researcher analyzes the contradictions found in this book, as these contradictions marked the entire literary trajectory of the Maranhão author. Critics normally divide Azevedo’s work into two categories: engaged (or activist) romance, filled with social criticism, and feuilletonesque novels. 

“This ambiguity remains throughout the career of Aluísio. The writer himself made it clear in correspondence and newspaper texts that he was conscious of it and struggled with it. But I try to show that there is continuity in his works,” commented Estramanho de Almeida in an interview with Agência FAPESP…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

A Realidade da Ficção: Ambiguidades Literárias e Sociais em ‘O Mulato’ de Aluísio Azevedo (The Reality of Fiction: Literary and social ambiguities in “The Mulatto” by Aluísio Azevedo)

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science on 2013-08-18 19:51Z by Steven

A Realidade da Ficção: Ambiguidades Literárias e Sociais em ‘O Mulato’ de Aluísio Azevedo (The Reality of Fiction: Literary and social ambiguities in “The Mulatto” by Aluísio Azevedo)

Alameda Casa Editorial
201 pages
ISBN: 978-85-7939-169-9
Format: 21.0 x 14.0 cm
In Portuguese

Rodrigo Estramanho de Almeida, Professor of Sociology
Fundação Escola de Sociologia e Política de São Paulo (FESPSP)

Neste livro fica provado que ainda é possível produzir dissertações nos padrões de outros tempos, quando o trabalho acadêmico exigia o domínio da língua, ampla leitura, revisão inteligente do conjunto da obra do autor, enquadramento histórico-social.

Ressalta-se: nem a Literatura, nem a Sociologia foram ofendidas – o texto literário foi trabalhado como texto literário, a Sociologia de acordo com a sua própria especificidade. Mais ainda, o entrelaçamento da Sociologia com o sociopolítico, com a abordagem compreensiva das Ciências Sociais e com as Ciências Humanas (Literatura e Sociedade). Nesse ponto e vista cada vez mais abrangente, ocorre a relação entre pensamento social e a estrutura da sociedade brasileira do século XIX, quando analisa os seus “ismos” (naturalismo, positivismo, republicanismo, anticlericalismo, abolicionismo).

A esta síntese do trabalho de Rodrigo Estramanho de Almeida deve-se agregar a feliz escolha (como convém) de epígrafe retirada da obra de Dercy Ribeiro: “Posto entre os dois mundos conflitantes – o do negro, que ele rechaça, e o do branco, que o rejeita – o mulato se humaniza no drama de ser dois, que é o ser ninguém”.

Trata-se, enfim, de uma bem feita e oportuna contribuição para o estudo da literatura e sociedade no Brasil.

In this book it is proved that it is still possible to produce dissertations standards of other times, when the academic work required mastery of the language, wide reading, smart revision of the whole work of the author, historical and social framework.

We emphasize: neither literature nor sociology were offended – the literary text was worked as a literary text, Sociology according to its own specificity. Moreover, the intertwining of Sociology with the sociopolitical, with the comprehensive approach of the Social Sciences and the Humanities (Literature and Society). At this point and looking increasingly comprehensive, is the relationship between thought and social structure of the Brazilian society of the nineteenth century, when considering their “isms” (naturalism, positivism, republicanism, anticlericalism, abolitionism).

The synthesis of this work Estramanho Rodrigo de Almeida should be added the happy choice (as it should be) an epigraph taken from the work of Dercy Ribeiro: “Tour between the two conflicting worlds – that of the black, which he rejects, and white, the rejects – the mulatto humanizes the drama to be two, which is to be one.”

It is, in short, a well made and timely contribution to the study of literature and society in Brazil.

Tags: , ,

The Slum [O Cortiço]

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Novels on 2013-03-19 21:30Z by Steven

The Slum [O Cortiço]

Oxford University Press
March 2000 (First published in 1890)
240 pages
Paperback ISBN 13: 9780195121872; ISBN 10: 0195121872

Aluísio Azevedo

Edited and Translated by David H. Rosenthal

Features an informative introduction by translator David H. Rosenthal

First published in 1890, and undoubtedly Azevedo’s masterpiece, The Slum is one of the most widely read and critically acclaimed novels ever written about Brazil. Indeed, its great popularity, realistic descriptions, archetypal situations, detailed local coloring, and overall race-consciousness may well evoke Huckleberry Finn as the novel’s North American equivalent. Yet Azevedo also exhibits the naturalism of Zola and the ironic distance of Balzac; while tragic, beautiful, and imaginative as a work of fiction, The Slum is universally regarded as one of the best, or truest, portraits of Brazilian society ever rendered.

This is a vivid and complex tale of passion and greed, a story with many different strands touching on the different economic tiers of society. Mainly, however, The Slum thrives on two intersecting story lines. In one narrative, a penny-pinching immigrant landlord strives to become a rich investor and then discards his black lover for a wealthy white woman. In the other, we witness the innocent yet dangerous love affair between a strong, pragmatic, “gentle giant” sort of immigrant and a vivacious mulatto woman who both live in a tenement owned by said landlord. The two immigrant heroes are originally Portuguese, and thus personify two alternate outsider responses to Brazil. As translator David H. Rosenthal points out in his useful Introduction: one is the capitalist drawn to new markets, quick prestige, and untapped resources; the other, the prudent European drawn moth-like to “the light and sexual heat of the tropics.”

A deftly told, deeply moving, and hardscrabble novel that features several stirring passages about life in the streets, the melting-pot realities of the modern city, and the oft-unstable mind of the crowd, The Slum will captivate anyone who might appreciate a more poetic, less political take on the nineteenth-century naturalism of Crane or Dreiser.

Tags: , , ,

(Miscege)nación en O Cortiço

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2013-03-19 20:47Z by Steven

(Miscege)nación en O Cortiço

Trans: Revue de Littérature Générale et Comparée
Issue 5 (2008)
10 pages (24 paragraphs)

Brian L. Price, Assistant Professor of Spanish
Wake Forest University

Written a year after the proclamation of Brazilian independence, O Cortiço by Aluisio Azevedo depicts the demographic composition of the country with a naturalistic sense of detail and examines the possible dangers of miscegenation in the new republic. Influenced by racist European theories, Azevedo and his contemporaries feared that the mixing of races would eventually result in diluting the European ancestries which had to be the base of the new society. In the novel, the cortiço—a kind of small proletarian town which abounded in the 19th century—works as a laboratory where the different racial elements converge, entangle and destroy each other. The present essay examines the historical context during which that novel was written and its critical eye focuses on the two main love affairs. In both, a European man marries (has a love relationship with) a woman of inferior race and pays a high moral price for that. In both, the man loses the purity which the author expects from the new nation. Eventually contrary to what Azevedo expected, mixed-race Brazil triumphs over the European colony and turns into a cortiço.

Read the entire article (in Spanish) in HTML or PDF format.

Tags: , , , ,

Blacks, the white elite, and the politics of nation building: Inter and intraracial relationships in “Cecilia Valdes” and “O Mulato”

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science on 2011-08-30 06:00Z by Steven

Blacks, the white elite, and the politics of nation building: Inter and intraracial relationships in “Cecilia Valdes” and “O Mulato”

Tulane University
May 2006
274 pages
Publication Number: AAT 3275113
ISBN: 9780549253327

Geoffrey Scott Mitchell

A Dissertation Submitted on the Twenty-Sixth day of May 2006 to the Department of Spanish and Portugues in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirments of the Graduate School of Tulate University for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

This project is an examination of the novels O Mulato (Aluísio Azevedo, 1889) and Cecilia Valdés (Cirilo Villaverde, 1882) and their call for social reform and a re-examination of the place of blacks in the emerging republics of Brazil and Cuba. Both novels question and criticize social constructs of race while pressing for an improved treatment of both free and enslaved blacks.

This project provides an intellectual history of eighteenth and nineteenth century rac(ial)ist theories that exerted a pronounced influence on Azevedo and Villaverde. Specifically, this section examines physiognomy, phrenology, and craniometry in addition to sociological and anthropological approaches to racial hybridism, the evolutionary theories of Darwin and Spencer, and the geographical determinism of Buckle. Finally, the chapter provides a close reading of Comte’s positivism and its reception by the intelligentsia in Cuba and Brazil.

Azevedo’s O Mulato purports to discredit racial discrimination by white society and the destructive influence of the Catholic clergy in Brazil’s northern province of Maranhão during the 1870s by deploying the metaphor of an unsuccessful, interracial relationship involving a wealthy and educated mulatto and his white, aristocratic cousin. Although Azevedo endeavored to illustrate the problematic nature of racial discrimination and the social compartmentalization of blacks in Brazil—both relics of Portuguese colonialism—he nevertheless succumbed to the racialist ideologies of the nineteenth century and imbued his protagonist with stereotypical characteristics. Although blacks were rising socially via education and the military, Azevedo nevertheless envisioned a future, positivistic republic necessarily led by a white elite.

In Cecilia Valdés, Villaverde deploys an unsuccessful, interracial relationship involving a poor but beautiful, nearly-white mulatta and her aristocratic, half-brother as agents of the policy of whitening. As in O Mulato, the metaphor of an unsuccessful, interracial relationship reveals the difficulty in crossing racial and social castes and thus uniting different socio-economic sectors of the imagined community. Only one intraracial romance involving whites proves to be successful in the novel. This relationship serves as a metaphor indicating that only enlightened whites are capable of leading Cuba out of colonialism and into independence.



Purchase the dissertation here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Neither Black Nor White Yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature

Posted in Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2009-10-15 17:58Z by Steven

Neither Black Nor White Yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature

Oxford University Press
March 1997
592 pages
Hardback ISBN13: 9780195052824; ISBN10: 019505282X

Werner Sollors, Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Afro American Studies; Director of the History of American Civilization Program
Harvard University

Why can a “white” woman give birth to a “black” baby, while a “black” woman can never give birth to a “white” baby in the United States? What makes racial “passing” so different from social mobility? Why are interracial and incestuous relations often confused or conflated in literature, making “miscegenation” appear as if it were incest? When did the myth that one can tell a person’s race by the moon on their fingernails originate? How did blackness get associated with “the curse of Ham” when the Biblical text makes no reference to skin color at all?

Werner Sollors examines these questions and others in Neither Black Nor White Yet Both, a new and exhaustively researched exploration of “interracial literature.” In the past, interracial texts have been read more for a black-white contrast of “either-or” than for an interracial realm of “neither, nor, both, and in-between.” Intermarriage prohibitions have been legislated throughout the modern period and were still in the law books in the 1980s. Stories of black-white sexual and family relations have thus run against powerful social taboos. Yet much interracial literature has been written, and this book suggests its pervasiveness and offers new comparative and historical contexts for understanding it.

Looking at authors from Heliodorus, John Stedman, Buffon, Thomas Jefferson, Heinrich von Kleist, Victor Hugo, Aleksandr Sergeevic Puskin, and Hans Christian Andersen, to Lydia Maria Child, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Wells Brown, Mark Twain, Charles Chesnutt, Kate Chopin, Cirilo Villaverde, Aluisio Azevedo, and Pauline Hopkins, and on to modern writers such as Langston Hughes, Jessie Fauset, Boris Vian, and William Faulkner, Sollors ranges across time, space, and cultures, analyzing scientific and legal works as well as poetry, fiction, and the visual arts, to explore the many themes and motifs interwoven throughout interracial literature. From the etymological origins of the term “race” to the cultural sources of the “Tragic Mulatto,” Sollors examines the recurrent images and ideas in this literature of love, family, and other relations between blacks, whites, and those of “mixed race.”

Sollors’ interdisciplinary explorations of literary themes yield many insights into the history and politics of “race,” and illuminate a new understanding of the relations between cultures through the focus on interracial exchanges. Neither Black Nor White Yet Both is vital reading for anyone who seeks to understand what has been written and said about “race,” and where interracial relations can go from here.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Introduction:
  • Black—White—Both—Neither—In-Between xv
  • 1. Origins; or, Paradise Dawning 31
  • 2. Natus Æthiopus/Natus Albus 48
  • 3. The Curse of Ham; or, from “Generation” to “Race” 78
  • 4. The Calculus of Color 112
  • 5. The Bluish Tinge in the Halfmoon; or, Fingernails as a Racial Sign 142
  • 6. Code Noir and Literature 162
  • 7. Retellings: Mercenaries and Abolitionists 188
  • 8. Excursus on the “Tragic Mulatto”; or, the Fate of a Stereotype 220
  • 9. Passing; or, Sacrificing a Parvenu 246
  • 10. Incest and Miscegenation 285
  • Endings 336
  • Appendix A: A Chronology of Interracial Literature 361
  • Appendix B: Prohibitions of Interracial Marriage and Cohabitation 395
  • Notes 411
  • Selected Bibliography 523
  • Index 561
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,