the secret tare

Charles Sheeler (1883–1965), Doylestown House - downstairs, 1917.
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By RUBENS FIGUEIREDO*

About the exclusion of the novel “Almas mortas”, from the collection of the Palmares Foundation.

Recently, the Palmares Foundation, a federal agency located in Brasília and destined to combat racism, excluded more than five thousand books from its library. Among them is a work entitled dead souls, translated by me. I thought it appropriate to present a brief question about the reasons for this rejection.

The romance dead souls, written by Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852), was published in 1842 in Russia. In a comic, critical and realistic way, it deals with the servitude regime, which prevailed in tsarist Russia and in several countries of the world, at that time, and which, in part, resembles the slavery regime of African blacks, which prevailed, for example , in Brazil and the United States. Due to its theme, the book would be of particular interest to an institution that bears a name consecrated to the struggle and resistance of enslaved peoples: Quilombo dos Palmares.

It should also be noted that the novel dead souls it is translated and published, perhaps, all over the planet. It is a consecrated classic of world literature and constitutes a historical and cultural heritage of humanity. To keep ourselves within the strictly protocol sphere.

Therefore, how to understand the exclusion of this work from the Palmares Foundation library? I can only speculate that it stems from the fact that it is a Russian book. For, in the time of the military and civil dictatorship, prior to the current one, things of this type were common. No arguments were needed. However, now, there is an aggravating factor: in our time, against Russians, in general, there is a prejudice largely similar to that which existed against Jews, at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. of the “Protocols of Zion”, among others. To me, it looks like “Russian hackers” and the endless series of conspiracies and poisonings, never proven.

However, I can think of another reason. We tend to associate slavery and serfdom with an archaic social order, with feudal characteristics, alien to our modern and democratic era. However, when we observe the “modernization” of labor laws implemented in Brazil and in many countries, uberization, temporary contracts, etc., we might even think that slavery and servitude, with a new look and modern vocabulary (preferably in English ), constitute a kind of repressed desire, a kind of secret defect, of the capitalist, democratic, liberal order. After all, even dead, souls can be sold and mortgaged, with a good profit rate. As Nikolai Gogol shows us.

* Rubens Figueiredo, writer and translator, he is the author of the book of wolves (Company of Letters).

 

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