100 Books You Must Read to Understand Brazil. Or Not.

    Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis

    Dom Casmurro by Machado de AssisBravo! Magazine has compiled a list with one-hundred essential books in Portuguese. Similar lists such as Harold Bloom’s also brings complications, but theoretically should be welcomed for it fosters discussion and study. How can a list with Brazilian authors exclude Adelino Magalhães, Affonso Romano de Sant’Anna, Carlos Nejar, Nélida Piñon and Salim Miguel and instead include Augusto de Campos, Haroldo de Campos, Fernando Gabeira and Visconde de Taunay amongst the one-hundred works most representative of Brazilian literature?

    I am not questioning the authors mentioned but the method. In fact, I am a fan of Visconde de Taunay’s documentary work, important character in the romance “Avante Soldado: Para trás.”

    A handful of times, the unqualified press critiques literary works. If one needs to list the one-hundred most influential works, then choose twenty authors and five of their pieces and consider it done.

    These authors should include: Alberto da Costa e Silva, Ivan Junqueira, Lima Barreto, Geraldo Ferraz, Benito Barreto, Otávio de Faria, Esdras do Nascimento, Mário Chamie, Josué Guimarães, Luiz Antonio de Assis Brasil, Moacyr Scliar e Raimundo Carrero – all of whom were left out of the Bravo!’s list.

    Some of the list’s strengths are including Father Antonio Vieira who came to Brazil from Portugal when he was six years old and Ukraine-born Clarice Lispector who migrated when she was seven.

    It’s worth noting the authors whom I suppose must have been used as bibliographic references. In the last forty years, not one of them has written a piece that has added to our literature. It’s as if, during the Paraguayan War, a similar list were compiled exclusively with authors from the 18th century.

    Pity the literature which depends on a book such as “O Que é Isso Companheiro?” by Fernando Gabeira, documentary born out of political praxis urgency, which by no means should replace an established work. 

    If the criteria leads to works other than romance, short stories and narratives such as juvenile literature (another omission), then we must remember Gylberto Freyre, Carlos Guilherme Mota and Augusto Meyer.

    I suspect that is what caused the insertion of Euclides who is neither a poet nor romance or short story writer, but whose “Os Sertões” could not have been excluded.

    The list gets some authors right but not their works. “Seminário dos Ratos” is not Lygia Fagundes Telles’ best piece. The haste with which the list was elaborated did not go unnoticed. Paulo Leminski’s romance “Catatau” is cited as a reference when he should have been mentioned in the poetry section.

    Other books by Rubem Fonseca are better than his inaugural work “A Coleira do Cão;” as it also happened with João Ubaldo Ribeiro because “Sargento Getúlio” is superior to “Viva o Povo Brasileiro.”

    In sum, the list does not serve as a guide to our literature. Perhaps, it should have been made by genre thus avoiding the habitual mistakes and injustices inherent in such task.

    100 essential Brazilian books, according to Bravo! Magazine

    Title and authors name separated by comma.

    Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas, Machado de Assis

    Dom Casmurro, Machado de Assis

    Vidas Secas, Graciliano Ramos

    Os Sertões, Euclides da Cunha

    Grande Sertão: Veredas, Guimarães Rosa

    A Rosa do Povo, Carlos Drummond de Andrade

    Libertinagem, Manuel Bandeira

    Lavoura Arcaica, Raduan Nassar

    A Paixão Segundo G.H., Clarice Lispector

    Macunaíma – o Herói Sem Nenhum Caráter, Mário de Andrade

    Lira Dos Vinte Anos, Álvares de Azevedo

    O Tempo e o Vento, Erico Verissimo

    Morte e Vida Severina, João Cabral de Melo Neto

    Vestido de Noiva, Nelson Rodrigues

    Serafim Ponte Grande, Oswald de Andrade

    Crônica da Casa Assassinada, Lúcio Cardoso

    Os Escravos, Castro Alves

    O Guarani, José de Alencar

    Romanceiro da Inconfidência, Cecília Meireles

    Triste Fim de Policarpo Quaresma, Lima Barreto

    São Bernardo, Graciliano Ramos

    Laços de Família, Clarice Lispector

    Sermões, Padre Vieira

    As Meninas, Lygia Fagundes Telles

    Sagarana, Guimarães Rosa

    Nova Antologia Poética, Mário Quintana

    Navalha Na Carne, Plínio Marcos

    A Obscena Senhora D, Hilda Hilst

    Nova Antologia Poética, Vinícius de Moraes

    Brás, Bexiga e Barra Funda, Antônio de Alcântara Machado

    Paulicéia Desvairada, Mário de Andrade

    I-Juca Pirama, Gonçalves Dias

    Baú de Ossos, Pedro Nava

    A Vida Como Ela É, Nelson Rodrigues

    A Alma Encantadora Das Ruas, João do Rio

    Estrela da Manhã, Manuel Bandeira

    Obra Poética, Gregório de Matos

    Gabriela, Cravo e Canela, Jorge Amado

    Marília de Dirceu, Tomás Antônio Gonzaga

    Claro Enigma, Carlos Drummond de Andrade

    Mar Absoluto, Cecília Meireles

    Malagueta, Perus e Bacanaço, João Antônio

    O Pagador de Promessas, Dias Gomes

    Noite Na Taverna, Álvares de Azevedo

    Romance D’A Pedra do Reino e o Príncipe do Sangue do Vai-E-Volta, Ariano Suassuna

    Bagagem, Adélia Prado

    Viva o Povo Brasileiro, João Ubaldo Ribeiro

    Memórias de um Sargento de Milícias, Manuel Antônio de Almeida

    Cartas Chilenas, Tomás Antônio Gonzaga

    Canaã, Graça Aranha

    Memórias Sentimentais de João Miramar, Oswald de Andrade

    A Coleira do Cão, Rubem Fonseca

    Espumas Flutuantes, Castro Alves

    Um Copo de Cólera, Raduan Nassar

    A Estrela Sobe, Marques Rebelo

    Poema Sujo, Ferreira Gullar

    Lucíola, José de Alencar

    O Ateneu, Raul Pompéia

    Fogo Morto, José Lins do Rego

    O Quinze, Rachel de Queiroz

    Seminário Dos Ratos, Lygia Fagundes Telles

    Invenção de Orfeu, Jorge de Lima

    Terras do Sem Fim, Jorge Amado

    Broquéis, Cruz e Souza

    O Encontro Marcado, Fernando Sabino

    A Moreninha, Joaquim Manuel de Macedo

    Morangos Mofados, Caio Fernando Abreu

    O Ex-Mágico, Murilo Rubião

    O Picapau Amarelo, Monteiro Lobato

    As Metamorfoses, Murilo Mendes

    Harmada, João Gilberto Noll

    Ópera Dos Mortos, Autran Dourado

    O Cortiço, Aluísio Azevedo

    A Escrava Isaura, Bernardo Guimarães

    200 Crônicas Escolhidas, Rubem Braga

    O Vampiro de Curitiba, Dalton Trevisan

    O Coronel e o Lobisomem, José Cândido de Carvalho

    Os Ratos, Dyonélio Machado

    O Analista de Bagé, Luis Fernando Verissimo

    Febeapá, Stanislaw Ponte Preta

    O Homem e Sua Hora, Mário Faustino

    Catatau, Paulo Leminski

    Os Cavalinhos de Platiplanto, José J. Veiga

    Avalovara, Osman Lins

    Eu, Augusto Dos Anaw6kx

    O Que É Isso, Companheiro?, Fernando Gabeira

    O Braço Direito, Otto Lara Resende

    Quarup, Antonio Callado

    A Senhorita Simpson, Sérgio Sant’Anna

    Tremor de Terra, Luiz Vilela

    Zero, Ignácio de Loyola Brandão

    Galvez, Imperador do Acre, Márcio Souza

    Viva Vaia, Augusto de Campos

    Galáxias, Haroldo de Campos

    Inocência, Visconde de Taunay

    Poesias, Olavo Bilac

    O Tronco, Bernardo Élis

    O Uraguai, Basílio da Gama

    Juca Mulato, Menotti Del Picchia

    Contos Gauchescos, João Simões Lopes Neto

    Deonísio da Silva, PhD, is a writer and professor of Brazilian literature at Estácio de Sá University. His most recent books include the novel Goethe e Barrabás  and the essay A Língua Nossa de Cada Dia (Our Everyday Language). He writes for Observatório da Imprensa where this article appeared originally.

    Translated from the Portuguese by Aldo Jansel. You may reach him at ajans001@fiu.edu.

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