A man of frightful figure looked at us with a choleric eye. The priest looked directly at him for a moment without moving so much as a muscle, simulating the best feigned indifference I ever saw. He did not forbid me to look at that man—perhaps he thought we would be less suspicious.
And yet my position was already different in the little society I knew. A new lease of life was given to me—a new freedom—more attention was shown to me—I was even placed in a new room! What was all this for? Why wouldn’t D. Antonia, whom I asked with childish idiocy, tell me wherefore? The priest didn’t tell me, but then I wouldn’t have the audacity to ask him.
“Brazil is founded on genius”–so wrote Dr Monteiro in 1853. One of the nation’s geniuses was a young poet named Alvares de Azevedo who wanted to revolutionize his country’s idea of romanticism.
“Virginity is an illusion! What is more virginlike? She who is deflowered while sleeping? Or the nun who, with burning tears, tosses and turns in her bed and breaks her finger through her habit while reading some impure romance?”
“Um homem que, em uma era bárbara e sob uma tirania complicada, demonstrou um espírito de liberdade e independência.”
“It has always seemed impossible to me to write the mysteries of a land that has none, and, invented, nobody believes them. I was wrong. It is because I did not know Lisbon, or not able to calculate the power of a man’s imagination.”
When the Emperor arrived ‘a number of Brazilian residents in London crowded forward to meet them’. Who were these Brazilians resident in Victorian London? Can we know a little bit more about their histories?
Adelina began to live a double life. She remained a slave. But her unique knowledge of the town and its environs, and especially of all the places where it was easy for a person to ‘disappear’, meant that she became valuable resource for abolitionists who were on the run from the police.
Luiz Guerra’s new, and very fine, translation into English of Azevedo’s Shadow of Don Juan [‘Sombra de Don Juan’] is the first English translation of Azevedo’s poem. With great skill, as is usual of Guerra’s translations, he has largely preserved the original rhyme scheme while retaining Azevedo’s meaning.
Manuel Antônio Álvares de Azevedo (1831–52), referred to usually as Álvares de Azevedo, was Brazil’s most famous Romantic poet. Yet because his works have never been translated into English, Azevedo remains unknown to most British and American scholars.
‘Desanimo’ [Dejection] first appeared in Álvares de Azevedo’s posthumous collection of poetry titled Lira dos Vinte Anos (1853).
None of these writings were to be published while Álvares was alive, however, for in true Romantic style, he died young. Having contracted tuberculosis while living in São Paolo, he moved to his family’s country estate to recover. While travelling to his family’s home he fell from his horse and died from his injuries.