Pastiche, collage, remix

John Wells, Painting, 1956


Considerations about Valentim Biazotti’s book

The most accepted definition of the term “pastiche” is that which considers a literary or artistic work to be a blatant imitation of the style of other writers, painters, musicians, architects, choreographers, etc., without the intention of parody.

The above paragraph is a Google pastiche. From the Wikipedia, mainly, with the exception of the word “brazen”, which its editors would never (I think) use. There are many more nuances to be detailed, if someone ventures to investigate the aesthetic, ethical or existential reasons that motivate an artist to copy someone else's style, that is, to execute a pastiche.

In the digital information vortex in which we live, the constant addition of information on a planetary scale means that we all, consciously or not, practice a certain form of collage of the information with which we are bombarded. And we make a remix of it, before passing on a zap to that friend.

Collage is a term that refers to plastic arts. Remix, to the song. Pastiche still protects the literary matrix, to a certain extent. It is somewhat surprising, in this century of melting borders, that the three nouns have not merged.

They all refer to a method that consists of aesthetically reworking existing works (not shapes!), that is, copying models and inserting new information that ends up transforming the object into a new work.

This simplistic reasoning can be consciously sabotaged, if the author of the feat does not lack ingenuity and art. This is the case with the book Brasilis Singulas (Fantastic), by Valentim Biazotti. Finalist for the prestigious Jabuti award in 2023, the author also adds an ambitious “volume 1” on the cover.

The title Singulas takes us back to Latin, singularities, that which is singular, although this word does not originally exist in Horace's language. In Valentim Biazotti's narratives they become mottos, and each story has a single as an epigraph.

The book brings together 15 long and well-crafted short stories, with different languages, which oscillate between pastiche and emulation, often narrated in the first person. The author claims “the schizophrenic motives of Deleuze and Guattari” at the back of the book. He is disgusted by conservatives, curious by newcomers. The last 65 pages are poems, which in principle do not dialogue with the short stories, although they continue to clash with other authors, mainly Drummond. Something unusual in editorial terms. I comment here only on the first part of the work.

Valentim Biazotti is a literary Ripley, a talented faker capable of assuming several people. Emulates Guimarães Rosa admirably (the short story Country Child Fantasy is exemplary), writes in archaic Portuguese, Spanish, English and Italian – and mixes this in several short stories – he sometimes sounds like Borges, sometimes like Cortázar, sometimes like Baroque authors (and there must be other references that my limited culture doesn't understand) , travels through various Brazilian rural settings and is not afraid to invest in the fantastic, in its best moments.

Irritating, often, due to its pedantic exhibitionism. Captivating, in other places, for its ability to create surprising amalgams. For classic readers, a waste. For visionaries, a bet.

Brasilis Singulas Finally, it falls into the risky category of fiction books that seek to renew the Brazilian literary landscape. The author has a degree from PUC and a master's degree from USP, that is, he creates a work outside the mold but far removed from bar literature. Maybe it's a symptom of new times. Or an applied style exercise of “the avant-garde of yesterday, today and tomorrow”, as he himself says. Let’s wait for “volume 2”.

* Daniel Brazil is a writer, author of the novel suit of kings (Penalux), screenwriter and TV director, music and literary critic.


Valentim Biazotti. Brasilis Singulas (Fantastic). São Paulo, Editora Penalux, 2022, 242 pages. []

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