Brazil then and now



Newly Released Book Introduction

Crisis or drastic change? Analysis of a case

In the 1930s, Brazilian literature experienced the emergence of the northeastern novel, interpreted by some as a reaction to the modernist manifestation, by others as its embodiment. While São Paulo Modernism oscillated ambiguously between the experimentalism of Oswald de Andrade and the search for the roots of nationality, stimulated by its most influential leader, Mário de Andrade, the Northeastern novel could be taken both as a modernist realization and as a reaction. The historical perspective leads us to the appropriate answer: the importance that the regionalism encouraged by Gilberto Freyre will have for José Lins do Rego leads to the correct solution: the regionalist novel came before Southern Modernism.

Linked to the perverse forms of land exploitation, by the immense social inequality that the large estates, the sugar mill and, later, the mill feed, regionalism came to be known, in the histories of national literature, as having a clearly neorealist character.

It included authors who, in some cases, remained known only for their debut works. This is what happens with José América de Almeida, with the bagaceira (1928); Rachel de Queiroz, with the fifteen (1930); and Amando Fontes, with The corumbas (1933). To these were added names that continued to publish throughout their lives – José Lins do Rego and Jorge Amado, debutants in 1932, respectively with ingenuity boy e Carnival country.

The cycle will be completed by Graciliano Ramos, with a numerically modest production – to his strictly novelistic work (Caetes [1933], St. Bernard [1934], Anguish [1935], Dried lives [1938]), the book of stories would be added Insomnia (1947); your first memories, Childhood (1945); and the terrible memories of his imprisonment as a communist – which he was not then –, during the Vargas Novo State, in the prison memories (four volumes, 1953). Even if the collection of chronicles is added, with emphasis on the posthumous Living in Alagoas (1962), and children's stories (Alexander and other heroes, 1962), Graciliano's work differs from the production of the most prolific novelists of his generation, José Lins and Jorge Amado, either by not being progressively diluted, or by not giving in to market taste. In any case, such criteria are still too low to establish its immense singularity.

One could not deny the northeastern ties of both his fictional prose and his first memories. His northeastern base will only extend to other regions following the macabre experience in the hold of the ship that transports him, along with other political prisoners, to Rio de Janeiro, and the consequent years of imprisonment he suffers, without the right to a judicial process. The prison on Ilha Grande only ended due to the interference of influential friends, such as José Lins, and the disinterested help of a human figure of the greatness of lawyer Sobral Pinto.

If one does not intend to deny the indisputable, it is important to think about whether his work focuses on the “realistic radius” of his fellow region members. To do so, it is first necessary to establish what is meant by a realistic radius. It is then worth remembering the distinction that György Lukács established, starting from the XNUMXth century French novel and extending it to contemporary prose, between Realism and Naturalism. Realism corresponded to the exemplary novel, having its classic in Balzac, because it would present the socioeconomic structure of the historical situation represented in the plot, while Naturalism, first typified by Émile Zola, was content with its surface features.

In their own terms: (Realism and Naturalism suppose) “the presence or absence of a hierarchy between the traits specific to the characters represented and the situations in which these characters find themselves placed. […] It is secondary that the common principle of all Naturalism, that is, the absence of selection, the refusal of hierarchization, presents itself as submission to the environment (early Naturalism), as atmosphere (late Naturalism, Impressionism, also Symbolism) , as an assembly of fragments of effective reality, in a raw state (Neorealism), as an associative current (Surrealism), etc.” (Lukács, 1960, p.61).

Despite the enormous temporal extension given to the antagonistic pair, neither term belongs univocally to Graciliano Ramos. What is the reason for the denial? Wasn't it by the name of realist that he has been known among his fellow generations and how he continues to be taught? And isn't the name “realism” still considered by many critics today as complimentary, as it is appropriate to the conception they have of literature itself?

In favor of argumentative agility, let us remember the capital scene of his debut novel. As its title implies, the protagonist, João Valério, sets out to compose a historical novel, which would be based on the Caetés Indians, the original inhabitants of the current state of Alagoas. But the distance between the ways of life of a modest employee from a small country town and what would have been typical of the indigenous people, already decimated at that time, leads the proposal for a historical novel to fail. In my debut book, Why literature (1966), interpreted the character's failure as the ironic-mocking staging by Graciliano Ramos of what had been done, among us, with Gonçalves Dias and José de Alencar: the literary formulation of an indigenous fantasy.

Although the hypothesis was not absurd, another quite different one came to mind when I reread, a few years ago, prison memories. Describing the atrocities he saw being committed or told about, Graciliano Ramos observed that, unfortunately for him, he was a writer in a country where “these things – the scenes exposed in novels – were seen with attention by a small minority of subjects, more or less less educated “who looked for only the document in works of art” (Ramos, 1953b, p.132-3).[1]

In absolute dissonance with what was customary among us, both before and after and up to the present moment, Graciliano gave space for theoretical reflection. By explaining Realism as one of the misfortunes that plague the country, in which its minimum audience confuses literature with “document”, the novelist from Alagoas disagreed with his colleagues and implied that the outcome of Caetes culminated the ironic purpose that had presided over it. (Which does not mean that this purpose was more than a reading a posteriori.)

The interpretation he then gave to Caetes was completely reversed: what misery could be worse than that of this country in which the few, more or less educated, only see in the work of art the document, the trace of what endures? And what would have been The Timbiras, The Guarani e Iracema if not attempts to document, certainly imaginatively, the life of the country's primitive populations and/or their rapprochement with the white conqueror? Therefore, already in his first novel, certainly still far from the quality of his completed fiction, Graciliano sensed that there was something quite wrong in the current literary appreciation in his country. But, against this second reading, it was not precisely the document What appeared, for a famous contemporary critic like Lukács, as a characteristic of realist work?

It should be noted, however, that this was Lukács already integrated into Stalinist Marxism – no longer that of The soul and the forms and romance theory –, which only conceived of literature as a portrait of a certain socio-historical situation. And how would the valuation of the document differ from the more recent criterion that praises the work as a “testimony” of a disastrous social situation?[2] It would be irrelevant if it were added that the difference would be in the fact that the praise of the document presupposes the support of a theorization with a Marxist color, which, given the influence of the media, no longer happens in highlighting the testimony or, at its extreme, in identitarianism. Now, as Graciliano Ramos was recognized as a realistic writer, from the point of view of literary history, the correct reading would be the first of Caetes. It was still like a document that one should continue reading St. Bernard.

Luckily for Graciliano Ramos' readers, the crude interpretation was overcome by Abel Barros Baptista's reading of St. Bernard. From his exemplary study, I highlight two key passages. In the first, the excellence of chapter 19 is highlighted. Paulo Honório and Madalena had recently gotten married. As the Portuguese critic points out, the small interval between the wedding scene and the highlighted chapter, as well as the book being written a posteriori, is an indication that happiness was short-lived. Paulo Honório felt not only attacked by the progressive dispositions assumed by Madalena, but also overcome with jealousy of those who approached her.

The composition of the chapter does not, however, allow the novel to take the form of a memory, which, according to realistic standards, should happen. A careful reading of the opening reveals his disagreement: “I knew that Madalena was very good, but I didn't know everything at once. She revealed herself little by little, and never revealed herself completely. It was my fault, or rather, it was the fault of this harsh life, which gave me a harsh soul. – And, saying that, I understand that I waste time. Indeed, if the moral portrait of my wife escapes me, what is this narrative for? For nothing, but I am forced to write.” (Ramos, 2012 [1934], chapter XIX, p.117).

The continuous fights, Madalena's suicide, the painful separation, all of this had already happened. However, the second paragraph appears with verbs in the present tense, ending with the clause “I am forced to write”. “Forced by what? What is the force that drives or compels you to write? […] Forced to write even though he knows in advance that he will never reach the moral portrait of Madalena, or forced to write to search for it, without viable criteria to assess the success of the search?”, asks the brilliant critic (Baptista, 2005, p.111-2). And the chapter continues with the observation of the alternation of verbal tenses: “Outside the frogs harangued, the wind moaned, the trees in the orchard became black masses. – Casimiro!” (Ramos, 2012 [1934], p.118).

With the entry of Casimiro Lopes, the verbs change to the present tense. But does the narrated action take place in the present or the past? […] Everything becomes clear, then: the verbs in the present give an account of the presence of the past in the present (Baptista, 2005, p.113).

The simple and incisive sentence, the change in verbal tenses, are enough to highlight the insufficiency of the characterization of the report as Realism. What testifies to the replacement of verbal time, the present taking the place of the past, if not that remembrance is not confused with the time of memory, since the time that actually prevails here is another, the time of narrative? The narrative then admits the apprehension of nuances that escape memory. Memory is tied to perception, while the narrative is influenced by the imagination. Therefore, its status as fiction means that literature does not fit into the memory of what has been experienced.

The second passage I highlight completes the dismantling of Realism. Until now, we could still understand jealousy as a result of the difference in the couple's cultural levels. More precisely, the “feeling of ownership” of her husband, the country male. Without referring to a specific moment in the story but to its entirety, the critic writes: “Jealousy is not a variant of distrust or the feeling of property attributable to the profession, but a passion that does not depend on them, that even contradicts them, and that radically linked to the feeling of love, which had already led Paulo Honório to do something different from what he had planned…” (Ibid., p.125).

Which is to say: jealousy does not fit into a causal chain that would transport what had already happened in society to the level of language; If this is the raw material of the novel, its perception is not enough at the level of language. Jealousy takes us to another plane, which cannot be confused with the mere transmission of reality. That's why St. Bernard, like all quality fiction, is not restricted to being a document or testimony of something that already existed before it. Literature is not repetition, reiteration, imitation, which the centuries have not tired of repeating, but rather fiction, from whose understanding it is customary to escape.

Up to this point, we have implied that Abel Barros Baptista's essay has established a healthy barrier against Graciliano Ramos' usual interpretation. Next, I try to show that, although correct, this is still a partial understanding. To show it, I use a few passages that Antonio Candido had already dedicated to Dried lives.

The first highlights the uniqueness of the writer from Alagoas among his fellow “regionalists”. To do so, Antonio Candido recalls Aurélio Buarque de Holanda's formulation: “Each of Graciliano Ramos's works (is) a different type of novel” (apud Candido, 1992 [1956], p.102). (It's not much, but it's something.) And then we start to reflect on Dried lives. Now taking advantage of an observation by Lúcia Miguel Pereira, Antonio Candido highlighted “Graciliano’s strength in constructing a powerful speech from characters almost incapable of speaking, given their extreme rusticity, for which the narrator creates a virtual language out of silence” (ibid., p.104-5).

In fact, in the summary nature of the entire very short narrative, the lack of words is the absolute rule. The treatment of the absence, however, presents a basic difference: if the owner of the abandoned farm, where the refugees arrive, Fabiano, his family and the little dog Baleia, has nothing to complain about, that doesn't mean he stops shouting and giving orders . What he has to say is nothing, because Fabiano is an exemplary cowboy. But insults are the proper language of the landowner. In the same way, if the Little Yellow Soldier and the garrison to which he belongs have few words in reaction to the “contempt of authority” of which they accuse Fabiano, in exchange the blows with which they beat his back and the prison to which they place him constitute the language of authority. Therefore, even if his words are few, the landowner and the police authorities do not need many. The brutal semiology of command replaces them.

In return, what words does Fabiano have to respond to Miss Vitória's request for a reasonably decent bed? Or what words does the woman have for the questions from her two young children? How could the oldest express his admiration for his father in his full cowboy attire if not by trying to ride the old goat? Fabiano's family, in short, is reduced to a few words, from which there are no signs of command. The language of the owner and the migrants does not necessarily differ in terms of quantity, as the owner can also use a few words, but the intonation and volume with which they are said are enough to distinguish their use.

The silence that inhabits the human without possessions extends to the little dog Whale and reaches its peak there. The absence of words in the scene of his death is one of the greatest chapters in Brazilian literature. Because he fears that the signs of the disease that appear in her indicate that she is hydrophobic, Fabiano, to prevent his children from being infected, chases her until he kills her.

But the shot he fires is not immediately deadly; Between surprise and amazement, the puppy crawls away. The chapter “Whale” is formed almost entirely by the animal’s slow agony. Whale seeks to flee, hide or escape the signs of approaching death; in all cases, its language is that of silence.

We can even establish, from the point of view of language availability, a hierarchy between the characters. For the farmer and the police, few words are enough, as in the form of shouts and blows, the signals of command are numerous. For Fabiano and his family, spoliation, lack, escape (from the drought and, whenever possible, from other men) give way to the distressed or angry mumble, with which silence speaks. For Baleia, while she was healthy, silence had the scent of cavies – which, when hunted by her, reduced the hunger of the refugees – or was expressed in the games she played with the children. As her death approached, the silence became confused with the growing blackness around her, with the fantasy that grew within her, before the vultures came to peck out her dead eyes. Silence continues to be her talk, even when she can no longer speak: “Whale wanted to sleep. She would wake up happy, in a world full of cavies” (Ramos, 1953a [1938], p.109).

In short, if there was a time when critics considered the presence of Realism in Graciliano Ramos to be unquestionable, Abel Barros Baptista's approach allowed us to see that even before, in Antonio Candido and those he cites, the possible way out of what was imposed was denoted. to our novelist. It was then possible to look back and see that, instead of a massive block, previous criticism already showed paths contrary to what tradition postulated. Just considering St. Bernard e Dried lives, the understanding of the meaning of Paulo Honório's jealousy and the silence that accompanies Baleia's life and death are the poles within which the supposed uniqueness of Graciliano's Realism is eaten away; in return, we are able to appreciate the uniqueness of his work.

The paradigm in question

Whether we like it or not, assessments change and often cause antagonistic assessments. Say it the Baroque. Underrated for centuries, its appreciation only began to take place in the first decades of the XNUMXth century.

There is no question that something similar is happening with Graciliano Ramos or any other Brazilian author. Our intellectual system is extremely refractory to any changes, as if they would compromise the dignity of its representatives. Despite the alleged resistance, however, as the examination previously undertaken shows, Graciliano Ramos' work “runs the risk” of being estimated in a way contrary to that which, fixed during his lifetime, remains certainly dominant. Change based on what? In appreciating what is meant by Realism. Let us therefore ask ourselves about the history and foundations of the criterion. The appreciation will be intentionally quite down to earth.

The first nominal record of the term is from 1826 and appears in the newspaper Parisian Le Mercure Français. For the journalist who uses it, Realism is understood as a “literary doctrine that would lead to the imitation not of masterpieces of art, but of the originals that nature offers us” (apud Hemmings, 1978, p.5). The proposed definition allows us to recognize as a result of its practice what the XNUMXth century English novel offered.

The term “imitation” should be highlighted in the definition, which contains the touchstone of the concept. But let us not think that the author had found the key to the treasure on his own. It is true that the term itself is not used by the famous Dr. Johnson. If he is indeed lacking in his characterization of 1750, the ingredients of his formula are already quite explicit: “The fictional works with which the present generation seems most particularly to delight are those which exhibit life in its true state. , only diversified by the accidents that occur daily in the world and influenced by the passions and qualities actually found in contact with nature” (ibid., p.11-2).

It takes no effort to understand that the contributor to the French newspaper had the privilege of meeting le mot juste what was thought to exist in the relationship between what life shows in its true state and what the pictorial or literary work exposes.

Therefore, the fortunes of Realism in art were already established in England in the XNUMXth century, although its indisputable definition fell in the first half of the XNUMXth century, finding its maximum expression throughout the century. Focusing initially on England and France, and on the genre that has since been the pinnacle of literary form, the novel, Realism's prestige is contemporary with the first expansion of industrial capitalism and the means of communication (the railway and wireless telegram).

No strangeness that spread from the two most developed European nations at the time and from there its prestige extended to Russia, Germany, Italy, the Iberian countries and, from there, to its former South American colonies. It should only be noted that the reaction to Realism will come from writers of the quality of Henry James, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce.

There will be no need to delay in cataloging names and details that have long been published in manuals like Hemmings'. To verify this, it will be enough to consult an erudite lover of banalities such as René Wellek. Still in his moment of glory, he formulated as the goal of the 1963th century realistic novel “the objective representation of contemporary reality” (Wellek, 240, p.1-241). René Wellek feels the obligation to go beyond what he should have already read on numerous occasions and to add that the “objective representation of reality” implied, on the part of the novelist, the rejection of the “fantastic, the fanciful, the allegorical, the symbolic, extremely stylized, abstract thinking and decorative” (ibid., p.XNUMX).

In short, all these refusals mean “that we don’t want myths, fantastic stories (Story), the world of dreams” (ibid.). In other words, the standard to be followed should be strictly the imitation of nature and the mechanics of society. Thus, and only then, would literature be serious and recommended entertainment. (Reading the eight volumes of his History of Modern Criticism may be tedious, without losing its usefulness, among others, of showing the variants with which the Latin concept of “imitative” has been maintained).

The description of what would be understood by Realism was so unanimous that its historical characterization could not differ in recent encyclopedias, whose refinement is revealed either through the observation of details that went unnoticed, or through the highlighting of discrepancies that manifested themselves over time. Thus, in the entry realism da Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, we read that the term “designates an artistically created ('fictional' or 'fictional') world […] based on the implicit agreement between reader and writer […] that reality is constituted by the objective factuality of natural laws” ( Greene et al., 2012, p.1148).

Emphasizing the agreement between readers and authors and the affirmation that reality arises from the factuality of natural laws, the conditions of what was understood as “imitation” and “objective representation” are explained and that both were taken as indisputable, even because they would be naturally given.

Edited a little earlier, not least Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory It has the advantage of adding some small nuances. In the entry classical realism, it is observed that the designation is used mainly by Marxist and post-structuralist critics. Disagreements matter because they have contemporary repercussions. In a Marxist orientation, the author, Christopher Norris, distinguishes between the Lukacsian direction, for which the realistic work is dictated by “an emancipatory critical potential”, which would make it politically recommendable, that is, ideologically accepted, from the temporally later aspect represented by Pierre Macherey and Terry Eagleton, who previously emphasize the fact that Realism exposes a mode of “false consciousness”, an attenuation of conflicts, only capable of being noticed through a “symptomatic” reading. For the post-structuralism of Roland Barthes, the designation is “a mere artifice, a cunning by which the novel seeks to hide or repudiate the signs of its cultural production and, thus, mask the reality it exposes” (Payne; Barbera, 2010, p.136).

Differences are decisive for our purpose. Firstly, in the most recent Marxist line, the potentially propagandistic euphoria of the Stalinist era is removed, and the critic frees himself from the solidarity, in force throughout the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries with the ideas of realist authors, in favor of a potentially critical vision , founded on the assertion that the imitation of life “as it is” is nothing more than naivety or deception, at best, self-deception. This critical potential is evident in the Barthesian line.

When, therefore, we point out that the characterization of Realism remains generically still dominant, we do not declare that its adherents maintain the belief that the basic quality of literary work is to offer a “portrait” of society. In other words, the term “imitation” is no longer among the defining tools of Realism. But the fact that we no longer talk about “imitation” does not mean that the implicit meaning is no longer present, albeit in a veiled way, among the proponents of Realism. And this is because the assumption remains that the fictional work, albeit in a more refined way, reveals what social reality is like. It only happens that such pretension comes to be seen indirectly – “symptomatic”, as Norris uses Althusser's term to define the Marxism of authors after the fall of the Soviet empire.

Such would be the radical distinction opened by Barthes' position. If one does not derive any other literary property from his work other than the emphasis on the construction of the form itself; If, therefore, the literary moves away from the realistic standard, the failure to completely disconnect from the same paradigm results in the denial of the realistic profile – “imitation”, apprehension of what reality is – not being followed by something more definitive. (In itself, not combined with other vectors, the emphasis on form is characterized negatively: the literary form is distinguished from the communicative formulation, from the scientific or pragmatic statement; its potential for negation is accentuated because it is restricted to saying what it not.) With this I intend to declare: the denial of Realism by Barthes, even though it is evident, is still not enough for us to count on an acceptable character of what is understood by literature.

Although summary, the above exposition highlights what characterized the realist paradigm in relation to literary work and how, sometimes in a veiled way, sometimes explicitly, it underwent a turnaround from the 1960s onwards. This turnaround, however, does not affect the basic approach to which the literary work has been subject. That is, whether in the traditional sense in which the term Realism was used, coming from Dr. Johnson, going through Wellek to Lukács and his followers, or even his vehement deniers, such as Roland Barthes, the basis of reflection in literature has focused on variants, explicit or sophisticated, of Aristotelian verisimilitude. In the traditional sense and, among us, still mostly among critics and literature teachers, the realistic work is considered credible because it portrays reality as it is, either by duplicating it, or by giving it an organization that, as such, society itself is not able to reveal. The “symptomatic” proposal opts for a non-explicit orientation, but if the work is a symptom of something, it is because this something was already present in social reality. That's why it remains believable.

The Barthesian line would best be defined as zero step of verisimilitude. We say that it remains at degree zero because zero, in itself, is a neutral point, prior to the beginning of a scale. And, similar to this line, the various and distinct attempts to characterize literary fiction are defined. Speaking very roughly, I would add that Barthes is symptomatic of a period in which one paradigm, having entered the sunset, still lacks another. What comes closest to a different axial position is Wolfgang Iser's aesthetics of effect, by whose principle the literary fictional work is characterized by being a structure with voids, to be supplemented by the reader. (It is no coincidence that commentators on Aristotle, such as Reinhart Koselleck, note that Aristotelian metaphysics denied the existence of voids.)

The finding of the main thing that founds the history of concepts is in itself relevant. The work is not an expression of whoever made it because, between the subject and the text, there is language. Unlike the fields that participate in scientific discourse, the literary work, fictional par excellence, has as its constitutive clause the “as if”, as Hans Vaihinger established at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, and Wolfgang Iser had the merit of, disentangling it from scientism that embarrassed him, move him forward. In this way, through a work that was only harmed by its author dying relatively young, the path to a new paradigm was established. Much more than in its French form, through the work of Wolfgang Iser this new perspective was opened up.

The statement that a new paradigm can only be created through the complementation of several different approaches should give us the courage to continue our journey. His literature is in need due to the delay in which his reflection remained during the XNUMXth century. I could then conclude that we have, on the one hand, the stragglers of an outdated paradigm and, on the other, a swarm of proposals that cover small circles. Bearing in mind the idea of ​​complementation stated above, another trait is added.

We had characterized the realist paradigm and its sequels as founded on verisimilitude. It is then worth remembering the formulation of the Poetics: “Events are possible depending on what is credible or necessary” (Aristotle, 2015, 1451b). To the domain of eikos (the believable), why not seriously think about the opposite, ananke? The reasons to the contrary were given by the first German Romanticism: credible and necessary were the provisions by which mimesis Aristotle was updated. Now, since Rome converted Greece into a colony and absorbed its intellectual legacy, mimesis was translated by imitation. And it has remained that way for centuries.

The Romantics then taught European scholars that this was blasphemy to the expressiveness of the subject. Thus, the already potentially self-centered subject was met with contempt for the supposed correspondent of the mimesis, imitation. Romantic expressiveness moved away from imitation by considering it arising from the privilege of nature. With independence from Romanticism, the realistic mold re-updated the imitation, taking art as an “affirmation of the natural laws of reality”. The romantic legacy maintained the privilege of the ego, considering that its expression has a double face: it highlights the uniqueness of the author and, through him, the presence of society.

Without resorting to the names of the responsible thinkers, because that would require a space that we do not grant ourselves, the imitation Modern science has as its source the domain of the scientific and not the formal configuration on which its Greek origins were based. Anankè, what was necessary, remained banned, because it was unknown, even when the supposed non-questioning of natural or social reality lost its credibility.

Now, when Abel Baptista writes that, in St. Bernard, Paulo Honório's memory of Madalena takes place with the “verbs in the present (which) account for the past in the present”, what does he do other than achieve the decisive formal configuration to declare what was imposed on the owner who was homesick and guilty of the death of the misunderstood companion? The longing and guilt were credible, but the use of verbs in the present tense to talk about a past scene is part of a necessity that is impossible to deny by the character Paulo Honório. Language then corrects memory. Aristotle is re-updated, with the exclusion of his metaphysical arsenal.

By this I mean: in order to go beyond square one or incomplete solutions, it is necessary to rethink the category of mimesis. Certainly not in an attempt to reestablish Aristotelian thought, if anything because Greek cosmology could not be remade in times of such different dimensions, but because of its ability to serve as a spearhead in such a different environment. Anankè then it becomes a real starting point for a Work in progress.

There is no doubt that the difficulties in carrying it out are obvious. First of all, because the bases of Western thought have been developed in Europe, and, at least until now, the scholar European is not convinced that he should put into discussion what his most brilliant Romanticism had discarded, the very question of mimesis, considering it replaceable by the expression of the creative subject. Secondly, because of the disastrous synonymy between mimesis e imitation is added to imitation motivated by industrial capitalism, in more recent decades, provoking media dominance, and, even worse, by its adoption by the sadly remembered Socialist Realism.

Thirdly, because the development that the principle of mimesis will need to receive depends on a reflection that operates within language, and this has become the object of a science, linguistics, which, due to its scientific nature, seems ill-suited to an inquiry that would previously require both a philosophical and transdisciplinary format. Therefore, it seems unlikely to consider linguistics as its privileged place of inquiry. (It is not appropriate here to transpose this difficulty to the Mimesis: The representation of reality in Western literature [1945], by Auerbach. This is the great work that, in modern terms, operationalized the Greek term, although its philological basis, still distinct from the linguistic approach, did not impose on its author an approach to philosophical and transdisciplinary reflection.) In this way, he remained affiliated with the conception of literature as imitation.

These are the difficulties that, as foreseen, will continue to be worked on.

* Luiz Costa Lima Professor Emeritus at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC/RJ) and literary critic. Author, among other books, of The ground of the mind: the question for fiction (Unesp). []


Luiz Costa Lima. Brazil then and now. São Paulo, Unesp, 2023, 314 pages. []


[1] The annotation contained in the Memoirs is still problematic. Judging by it, the statement made by Graciliano's biographer would not be correct: “Graciliano extracts his fictional material from memory, rescuing both his existential roots and a set of traditions and mystical heritages from the Northeast” (Moraes, 2013, p.214) . However, what the biographer says fits with the most frequent statements by the novelist himself. Without being able to prove it, I believe that the discrepancy in the passage that I highlight in the prison memories it was a reaction to the rigid norms of socialist Realism practiced by the Party, to which Graciliano already belonged.

[2] Although the source does not clearly state the date of the statement, Rachel de Queiroz's phrase confirms the synonymy: “What we were doing was a novel-document, a novel-testimony” (apud Moraes, 2013, p.75).

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  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario