Brazil Imagined: 1500 To the Present

Brazil Imagined: 1500 To the Present

Brazil Imagined: 1500 To the Present

Brazil Imagined: 1500 To the Present

Synopsis

The first comprehensive cultural history of Brazil to be written in English,Brazil Imagined: 1500 to the Presentcaptures the role of the artistic imaginary in shaping Brazil's national identity. Analyzing representations of Brazil throughout the world, this ambitious survey demonstrates the ways in which life in one of the world's largest nations has been conceived and revised in visual arts, literature, film, and a variety of other media.

Beginning with the first explorations of Brazil by the Portuguese, Darlene J. Sadlier incorporates extensive source material, including paintings, historiographies, letters, poetry, novels, architecture, and mass media to trace the nation's shifting sense of its own history. Topics include the oscillating themes of Edenic and cannibal encounters, Dutch representations of Brazil, regal constructs, the literary imaginary, Modernist utopias, "good neighbor" protocols, and filmmakers' revolutionary and dystopian images of Brazil. A magnificent panoramic study of race, imperialism, natural resources, and other themes in the Brazilian experience, this landmark work is a boon to the field.

Excerpt

This book originated in a plan to write a large-scale history of Brazilian literature, showing how difFerent authors have contributed to ideas of Brazilian national identity. Had I followed through with my initial aims, the result might have vaguely resembled Peter Conrad's Imagining America (1980), which describes how certain nineteenth-century English writers who visited the United States imagined the country for their respective readerships. (Niagara Falls, for example, was a mandatory stop for Oscar Wilde, H. G. Wells, and others, and it assumed iconic status in their works.) My plan changed, however, when in the course of researching in the Lilly Library and Newberry Library's Brasiliana collections I began to realize the importance of early cartographic iconography to the formation of the Brazilian colonial imaginary. From cartography, it was a short step to studying early woodcuts and copperplate engravings, a topic that I had addressed in an earlier study of Nelson Pereira dos Santos's 1971 Como era gostoso o meu francês (How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman), a tongue-in-cheek fIlm about sixteenth-century European expansionism and indigenous anthropophagy. Before long, my book had grown to include not only literature but also maps, book illustrations, architecture, painting, fIlms, and broadcast media, and my history of the nation ranged from the sixteenth century to the present.

Although my study is broad, even panoramic, I should perhaps make clear at the outset that it is focused on various forms of art or mass communication and takes a particular approach to the question of national identity. By using this last term I mean to designate anything that contributes to the individual subject's sense of belonging to a nation. Does national identity therefore actually exist? Yes, but as I hope to show, it always exists discursively, as a representation or as an idea that is open to contestation and change over time. How does it take shape in Brazil? In many ways— for example, we can observe its workings through a study of law, politics, religion, and even historical linguistics. My own interests, however, are slightly apart from these matters and indeed from the economic relations . . .

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