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Grande Sertão: Veredas (Portuguese Brazilian) Pamphlet
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Top customer reviews
In Guimarães Rosa's book, Riobaldo, a retired and aging jagunço chief with some education, relates his unsettled, violent and anguished life to an unidentified "doutor", a man of education and social standing we can suppose is the author. The book's great triumph is to convince the reader that he is not only seeing the world though Riobaldo's eyes but also accompanying the jagunço's often agonized thought processes. The key to this success is twofold. On the one hand, Rosa uses for Riobaldo's narration a rich dialect of Portuguese purporting to be that spoken by inhabitants of the sertão. (It is not clear to the average Brazilian reader to what extent this dialect is invented or not!) On the other, Rosa's descriptions of people, events and places are so meticulous and idiosyncratic that it is difficult to imagine that they are wholly fictional. One is forced to wonder to what extent the story was made up by the author and to what extent it is a record of actual events related by a participant. The truth, presumably, is that it is a mixture of the two.
Besides dealing with warring factions of jagunços, motivated by support for regional political leaders, exploitation of the sertão's inhabitants, group loyalty and, ultimately, a desire for vengeance, the book is the story of Riobaldo's complex platonic love affair with his childhood friend and comrade-in-arms Reinaldo/Diadorim.
With its idealization of untamed rugged backlands, its portrayal of a rigid, violent anti-authoritarian sub-culture, its central theme of a transgressive love affair, and its obsession with the wiles of the Devil, "Grande Sertão" is Brazilian to the core. Although a reader requires a very good knowledge of Brazilian Portuguese to read it in the original, the book is justifiably a classic.