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Chronicle of the Murdered House Paperback – December 13, 2016
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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"A real revolution in Brazilian Literature."―Benjamin Moser
"From its mysterious opening, which is actually the end of one character's story, to the exploration of morality, the novel is a near-total manifestation of [Cardoso's] talents"―The A.V. Club
"Chronicle of the Murdered House earns pride of place as a classic of world literature"―Full Stop
"Cardoso's novel is complex, gorgeous, and heartbreaking, well justifying its place in Brazil's literary canon"―Foreward Reviews
About the Author
Lúcio Cardoso (1912-1968) is one of the leading Brazilian writers of the period between 1930 and 1960. As well as authoring dozens of novels and short stories, he was also active as a playwright, poet, journalist, filmmaker, and painter. Within the history of Brazilian literature, his oeuvre pioneered subjective scrutiny of the modern self, bringing to the fore the personal dramas and dilemmas that underlie perceptions of collective existence.
Margaret Jull Costahas translated dozens of works from both Spanish and Portuguese, including books by Javier Marías and José Saramago. Her translations have received numerous awards, including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 2014 she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
Robin Patterson was mentored by Margaret Jull Costa, and has translated Our Musseque by José Luandino Vieira.
Top customer reviews
Incest is but one of the sins we encounter in the villa of the Meneses family, fading aristocrats in rural Brazil in the early 1900's. At first, I kept reading to see if Cardosa could make incest plausible. He did, and piled on so many other transgressions that the entire book became a weirdly enjoyable read.
Context is important. Cardosa, a gay man in an intolerant society, wrote plays and poetry as well as novels, all with a desire to upend Brazilian culture. His avant-garde plays all failed, but they starred the most popular actors in Rio de Janeiro. When first published in 1959, his "Chronicle" also failed to gain the acclaim and readers that arrived after his death in 1968.
Cardosa structures his Chronicle as a lengthy case study, supposedly assembled from the diaries of Andre and Betty, the family maid; Nina's letters to her husband, Valdo, and to a doting older Colonel in Rio; reports from the local doctor, pharmacist and priest; excerpts from the memoirs of Timoteo, Valdo's cross-dressing, reclusive younger brother; the confessions of Nina's sister-in-law Ana and Valdo's "statements" - to whom we never know.
The result is both fascinating and infuriating. The fragments provide varied and often contradictory glimpses into the warped lives of wild and beautiful Nina and the inhibited and cruel Meneses family she married into as a young woman. We see events through several lenses and can never be certain what did happen and who is to blame. Father Justino, the priest called upon to hear confessions and discuss subjects like heaven, hell and the nature of sin, is even more perplexed.
My main criticism, however, is that the fragments of diaries, memoirs and recollections are all written in the same highly literate voice. Young Andre's vocabulary is as rich as his father's and Betty the maid uses the word 'ineluctable' at least twice. Although everyone else describes the dress-wearing Timoreo as insane, his memoirs are strangely rationale.
In his introduction, the writer Benjamin Moser says that "Chronicle of the Murdered House" has no precedent in Brazilian literature. I've been an avid reader all my life and I've never encountered anything so compelling - and so bizarre.