Academic journal article Chasqui

Chiappini, Ligia, David Treece, and Marcel Vejmelka, Eds. Studies in the Literary Achievement of Joao Guimaraes Rosa, the Foremost Brazilian Writer of the Twentieth Century

Academic journal article Chasqui

Chiappini, Ligia, David Treece, and Marcel Vejmelka, Eds. Studies in the Literary Achievement of Joao Guimaraes Rosa, the Foremost Brazilian Writer of the Twentieth Century

Article excerpt

Chiappini, Ligia, David Treece, and Marcel Vejmelka, eds. Studies in the Literary Achievement of Joao Guimaraes Rosa, the Foremost Brazilian Writer of the Twentieth Century. Lewiston NY: The Edwin-Mellen P, 2012. 440 pp. ISBN: 978-0-7734-3953-5.

This is an English language collection of 24 works by (European and Brazilian) authors who presented papers at a 2008 symposium in Berlin. Its purpose is to introduce "Rosa's work and thought [...] to an international readership [... and] to address and interest scholars and students from neighboring disciplines" (2-3). The collection is divided into 4 parts: 1) Legacy, Reception, Translation; 2) Rosa's Short Stories; 3) Rosa as Novelist; and 4) Memory--i.e. Rosa's daughter's memorial of the author's remarkable life and accomplishments. It also includes a short introduction by Alfredo Bossi. The contents' quality ranges from solid contributions, to dull academic papers, and, regrettably, to counterproductive, pretentious, jumbled nonsense.

Part 1) In rather humdrum contributions Galvao and Duarte inform us that there exists a host of Rosian criticism, authorial archives, as well as cultural spin-offs of Rosa's fiction: film, television, music, local festivals, tourism, and regular symposia. Examples of Rosian spin-offs appear in Part 3. They include Costa's enjoyable and well translated essay. It is a solid contribution and explains the rationale she and Kogut used in making their film Mutum, which, is "more a conversation with" (383) the novella Miguelim than it is a screen version of the story. She insightfully equates the protagonist's myopia with "childhood itself [... i.e.] a world [...] of small dimensions, circumscribed" (393) within a child's reach. Bolle's chapter describes how be and a group of his students adapted and staged a scene from Grande Sertao: Veredas (hereinafter GVS) to demonstrate Brazilian (and world-wide) violence. Bolle points out that GVS is an anomaly: i.e. a 3 day non-stop monologue in which a backwoodsman addresses a learned individual. Bolle fails to point out this monologue's irony--Brazil's ruling class has traditionally employed "learned individuals" to sermonize to Brazil's great unwashed. Hermanns purports to "analyse the role of children in Guimaraes Rosa's" fiction and in the films based on his writing (368). She provides scant analysis, but an abundance of non sequiturs.

Concerning Rosa's reception abroad, in a solid contribution Vejmelka shows that Rosa's language and plots moved 2 African writers, Jose Luandino Vieira and Mia Couto, to make similar innovations in their fiction. Whereas Vejmelka sees Rosa's endeavor as poetic, Vieira and Couto used his tactics to reflect (and foster) literary identities in their newly decolonized nations. Penjon's contribution is also solid. Up until the 1980s the French were indifferent to translated Brazilian fiction in general (save perhaps that of Jorge Amado) and inimical to Rosa's fiction in particular. With France's heightened interest in Brazil and better translations of Rosa's work, he enjoys "a privileged position among the more educated reading public" (123). Gomez Bedate's otherwise counterproductive piece does tell us that Brazilian authors are not "exactly 'popular'" (140) in contemporary Spain, but novelists and poets credit Rosa's (and other Brazilians') peculiar takes on their language to be inspirational.

Treece's solid piece does not address translation's mechanics. Instead, he offers samples of his rendering of Rosa's characters' voice registers--ingenuous, hyper-rational, folksy, decadent, forlorn. Certainly, someone else's translation would have been different, but not necessarily more adequate, save, perhaps, if prevenir had been translated as "prevent" rather than "anticipate" (38-39). The remaining deliberations on translation are counterproductive. A translator or judicious editor might have turned Nitschack's essay, which purports to address the "untranslatability of the world" and its relationship to translation from one language to another (43), into a coherent text. …

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