So there is no literature that resists

Every now and then the subject of the fall of literature appears. I tend to believe that the problem is not the fall of literature itself, but the fall of interest in literature. If Camões resurrected among us and was inspired, he would be useless, because there would be no one to pay attention. The lack of attention is such that the group in charge of the lyrics would look first at the writer’s gender, then at color, then at sexual orientation. “Do you burn the donut?” would be the question to the author of “Ao discoconcerto do mundo” – showing that the world is really in great confusion. If there is a negative answer, color and sex speak for themselves, so that Camões would be a mere white cis straight male. Just like Cervantes, Shakespeare, Dante… In art it is like in science and in education: if you decided that the priority of the school is to form “critical citizens” (that is, with the ideology of the teacher), you have decided that the priority of the school it is not imparting knowledge; if you’ve decided that the university’s priority is to give degrees to blacks, you’ve decided that the university’s purpose is not to produce knowledge. And if you’ve decided that “representativeness” (ie, individual characteristics of the artist) should be the end in the art world, you’ve decided that the work is not the end. Put a fat lesbian over there writing something, which is fine. So we wouldn’t even look at what Camões resurrected wrote.

To the good writers out there – and there certainly are –, here’s the poem about the world’s bewilderment: “I was bad, but I was punished. / So that, just for me, / The world is fixed.”

In the years 70

In the 70 years, the trendy novel in Brazil was the Romance d’A Pedra do Reino e o Sangue do Vai-e-Volta, by Ariano Suassuna. It takes place in the hinterland of Paraíba during the Estado Novo and was published in 71, that is, during the Medici government. It prefaces the work Rachel de Queiroz, to whose house the former president Castello Branco went by plane during his fatal accident.

I make these notes that mix chronology and politics because the novel is marked by experience. of political tribulations that inflicted its author. Isn’t the capital of Paraíba called João Pessoa? Now, the city has existed since the century 16, while the man called João Pessoa was born in 1878. He died in 1930 in the midst of the turmoil of the Revolution led by Vargas. With the figure of João Pessoa, Paraíba became an ally of Rio Grande do Sul in the implosion of the Old Republic. The phrase “Nego”, by João Pessoa, was put on the flag of the state of Paraíba. Murdered, the man became a martyr to the victorious revolutionaries. Who had killed him? As was believed – and that was enough – João Suassuna, Ariano’s father. The man ended up, too, murdered. João Suassuna left a widow and a mountain of children, all children.

The tribulations in the state of Paraíba included a true civil war, the so-called Princess War, when opponents of João Pessoa revolted against the Republic based in Rio de Janeiro and created the Free Territory of Princess, an area of ​​the semiarid region on the border between Paraíba and Pernambuco. The territory did not limit the monarchist air to the name, and, as the reader can see from the illustration in this text, the rebels from Paraíba had a flag full of heraldry, something with a very medieval look. well: Ariano Suassuna is a great apologist for the medieval facet of the Northeast (I believe that in the art of the century there are two; he and the musician Elomar). The book features a lot of woodcuts by Ariano himself, who created several coats of arms to attest to the nobility of the characters – but coats of arms that do not fail to put a jaguar here or there, because European medievalisms are intertwined with Brazilianness.

Political side?

The main character is the narrator, Quaderna. Like Quixote, he has two realities. Due to the stark reality, Quaderna is nothing more than a well-off bachelor from the backlands of Paraíba who has a small inheritance from which he does not extract income (namely: two houses in which he lets his two masters live for free – a philosopher and a an artist) and a job at the municipal library. Quaderna is taken to the police for subversion. In the other reality, Quaderna is the legitimate King of Brazil: a brown man from the hinterland, descendant of great cangaceiros and men who were by Dom Sebastião’s side in the battle of Alcácer Quibir before coming to Brazil. The house of Bragança would be a foreign and imposter kingdom. Furthermore, as a sign of his nobility, Quaderna intended to become the Genius of the Brazilian Race with a novel that would be the greatest work of Universal Literature, surpassing Homer and all other geniuses of the human race, mixing all literary genres. But Quaderna, thanks to his Jewish heritage, had a stump (we learn in the novel that Paraíba was accused by Pernambuco of having too many Jews, and Jews would have a devil’s tail over the coccyx – the stump). The fidgety stump wouldn’t let Quaderna sit down to write, so his police statement would be his big opportunity to dictate it to the clerk (a pretty, blond young woman), so the novel could be written while he walked to one side. and for the other. That’s why Quaderna tells everything, bit by bit, without worrying about the accusations of subversion.

These appeared because of his two masters. Clemente was a proud “Negro-Tapuia” with a degree in Law. Challenged by Quaderna, he was sure that he himself would write the greatest work of genius of the human race: the philosophy of penetration. The work would be in prose, because poetry is something for effeminate people; genius is prose, it’s philosophy. Clemente despised the European element in the Brazilian formation and was a communist – that’s why he was a subversive. In the Estado Novo, the other persecuted group was the Integralists – and that was the poet Samuel Wandernes. This was an integralist Catholic who despised the “Kafers” and the sertanejos, was proud of his Flemish-Iberian blood and saw in Brazil a New Lusitania. He denied any positive aspect of black and indigenous contributions to the formation of Brazil. Also challenged by Quaderna, he was sure that he would compose the work of the genius of the human race, which would be a poem.

Quaderna was always accompanied by his two masters. The trio was always fighting over literary issues, without any intention of concrete action. Quaderna intended to synthesize and absorb the influences of both to overcome them. He considered himself a left-wing monarchist and intended that his work of genius of the race mixed verse and prose, in addition to having a more insoluble mystery than any other: how his uncle, D. Pedro Sebastião, was murdered in the tower of a hermetically closed country fortress, with the door locked from the inside?


Unlike Quixote, Quaderna socializes the your madness. If Vögelin could place Quixote as a kind of totalitarian avant la lettre, because he lives according to a second reality that denies the first (you can find Quixote’s bravery very beautiful when he doesn’t own of windmills), Quaderna projects his madness into the future and invites the rest of the world – the teachers, the people of the village, the relatives, the delegate, the clerk – to participate in it.

Quaderna has a rival in the aspiration to the throne: the son of D. Pedro Sebastião, who is Sinésio the Alumioso. It is understood, in plain truth, that he was a good boy, the son of a mill owner, who had been murdered due to an inheritance dispute, but his body had not appeared and his father had disowned his older brother. Thus, the property is waiting for the boy loved by everyone, who still has a fiancée.

The boy, of course, is nobody but Dom Sebastião. Who, according to the novel, has lived forever, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s São Sebastião or Dom Sebastião, Dom Sebastião or Sinésio the Alumioso. One day he will arrive and renew this sertão, or this world – whatever.

In the end (which I won’t tell you), the book is about the importance of mystery. It has value the fact that we do not see everything and project things that we know are impossible to grasp right now.

Impossible today

To record the change in the intellectual climate, let’s see: 1) It was possible to live through the so-called years of lead without writing a party book; 2) It was possible to make a book very marked by politics without being a partisan book; 3) It was possible to write a book with integralist and communist characters at the same time without demonizing either one; 4) It was possible to love the mysterious.

Today, people speak badly about sebastianism. I do not speak. Today I read texts idolizing Zelensky and I think about the lack of mystery. Zelensky presents himself transparently on social media, and there is the hero. We cannot hope for anything better than that; the good is a given.

On the other hand, D. Sebastião will always be, consciously, beyond the imagination of mere mortals. It’s a mystery. If the good is a mystery and not a given, we are always invited to imagine the best.

This fixed world of one-dimensional people, of bad guys and good guys, of heroes and villains, is a world of unimaginative people. It is no wonder that literature lacks a qualified audience.

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