Jorge Furtado and the Serra Gaúcha



When artistic works and the immediate real world coincide, it is a shock

Some great literary works, when Minerva's Owl casts its gaze to understand the past, blow away the mists of ideology and open the curtains of mystical “jeans” that prevent us from seeing the present serenely. Few works, however, come to light at the exact moment of a time that was made transparent by real life, before the artist unveiled it. When artistic works and the immediate real world coincide, it is a shock. It is the moment of merging life with art, art with immediate emotion, everyday life with “civil discourse”. And from prose to poetry (however bitter it may be) which, if it doesn't help to change the world immediately, it immediately changes our position before the world. I say this in connection with the edition of the supposedly fictional and supposedly fictional historical news book by Jorge Furtado, whose name is The adventures of Lucas Camacho Fernandez.

I am writing at the moment when the discovery of work analogous to slavery explodes in the Serra Gaúcha, with a mixture of social medievalism and atavistic fascism, defended through the lens of appalling ignorance. Certainly, this is a position taken by a minority of those people in the richest region of the state, but it is not surprising who observes it as a region that gave 70% of its votes to a protector of deadly viruses and defender of torture. The reaction cannot surprise the least sensible people when facts come to light that are never clandestine to the community that lives there. And amazingly: this has nothing to do with the sensible spirit of the working people of the region, as Nazism had nothing to do with the German people, the most cultured in Europe before it massively adhered to Nazism. But why were the Serra's first spokesmen not contested by their own conservative elites?

When Serra is “accused” of having been sensitive to the appeals of a coup and having massively supported Bolsonarism, it does not mean that its people are devoted to evil, nor that its population has become a horde of insensitive bandits. as your preferred president. Far from that, what is said is more problematic, but no less serious: it is that the values ​​adopted by Serra, with its self-promotion of the cult of work and its propaganda – originating from the majority of its “upper” classes – rise up on the scaffolding of a false community project. A project that wants to deceive that there reigns an idea of ​​social harmony, respect for human rights and a lot of solidarity with the disinherited and excluded, rule number one of any Christian religion.

Jorge Furtado (The adventures of Lucas Camacho Fernandez”) tells us about Lucas, a former slave, who at the end of his epic journey – for which he sought on a distant island some chests of jewels hidden by the English corsair Francis Drake – defined his life in a decisive hour, in search of his redemption when he saw – on the back of his probable murderer also a former slave – the mark of an L (from Lucy, his mother). It's the outcome: the murderer with the Yoruba name Puxi, there he is already a slave hunter and is also the uncle that Lucas has been looking for in his saga, which comes from Dante's fifth circle of hell and reaches Shakespeare, in a brothel that sheltered him. on a stormy night on the Isle of England. The novel by Jorge Furtado, one of the country's most important intellectuals, as a film director, writer, screenwriter, who always refused to be a "good intellectual", in that sense embraced by Olavo de Carvalho's disciples, nails his great work literary.

I have always been fascinated by Hegel's conception of the “spirit of the age” or the “spirit of the times”. All cultural products within a given historical period integrate, for Hegel, an arsenal of common ideas that mark an era, but do not necessarily project beyond its time. They thus constitute – not the final definition of the time – but a kind of adjustment of subjectivity, to carry out a specific phase of what would later be the “spirit of the world”. For him, the “phases” improve in History and mark it with their “concepts”.

The political effect of these concepts, on each human being, social group, class (or even civilization) was not – however – Hegel's central concern. The entire outcome of his interpretation of the world of History – lived in a contradictory way by humans – would rest on the foundation of the Modern State. For him, the erection of this State would be the constitution of freedom, which would be expressed in the recognition – by the subjects – of its legitimate sovereignty. This recognition would be in everyday life, in the struggle for survival, in the affections gained and frustrated, in trade relations, in the integrity of the family and in the search for both wealth and survival.

in your monumental Aesthetics, György Lukács argues that every great work of art “obeys and extends, at the same time, the laws of its own genre”. The great artist, wanting to satisfy the demands of the moment, with his creative process, overcomes the spirit of the time crystallized in art and universalizes the understanding, both of the barbarities committed by the protagonists involved in the present events - as occurred in the centuries of foundation of the Modern State –, as well as the human greatness and heroism reviewed there, in their succession, to forge the “spirit of the world”. The Chronicle of the Microcosm of street of lost illusions by John Steinbeck (or his “macro” chronicle in the not-so-subtle Grapes of Wrath), the epic and grandiose the leopard by Giuseppe Lampedusa and the historical the march by EL Doctorow, are some of these great literary works that “obey and extend the laws of their own genre”. This is what Jorge Furtado does in this axial work.

Here, both the sense of the chronicle of oppressive everyday life in Steinbeck is expanded; the historical vision of cycles, in Lampedusa (with the emergence of Italian unification and its Modern State); as well as the powerful ambiguities of the American Revolution in Doctorow. They are just a few, among the thousands of great works that surpassed their time and forged the ideas that moved the “spirit of the age”. With this book by Jorge Furtado we already have in our Rio Grande, Serra, do Mar and Campo, one of them that polish History. And they place the Gaucho literature of this decade at the center of the great Latin American literature, because Jorge's novel overcomes, obeys and expands the laws of its own genre.

*Tarsus in law he was governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, mayor of Porto Alegre, Minister of Justice, Minister of Education and Minister of Institutional Relations in Brazil. Author, among other books, of possible utopia (Arts & Crafts).


Jorge Furtado. The adventures of Lucas Camacho Fernandez. São Paulo, Companhia das Letras, 2022,180 pages.

The A Terra é Redonda website exists thanks to our readers and supporters.
Help us keep this idea going.
Click here and find how

See this link for all articles