Barren Lives

Ramos, Graciliano

Published by University Of Texas Press, 1965
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Austin. 1965. University Of Texas Press. 1st American Edition. Very Good In Slightly Worn Dustjacket. 30. 131 pages. hardcover. Cover art by Charles Umlauf. keywords: October 27. inventory # 15454. FROM THE PUBLISHER - The personages of BARREN LIVES are admirably studied in regard to their surroundings. This is, in fact, of all Ramos’ works the one in which the relation between man and his milieu is most clearly developed. In Caetés the characters are distinctly small-town products, but the town might have been any one of countless others in Brazil rather than Palmeira dos Indios. The action of São Bernardo is set in the district of Viçosa and that of Anguish presumably in Maceió, but the locale is of little importance to the development of personalities and events. BARREN LIVES, however, could take place nowhere save in the drought-ridden interior of northeastern Brazil. (The literal meaning of the Portuguese title, Vidas Sécas, ‘Dry Lives,’ reflects both the parched atmosphere of the region and the desiccating effect it has on the existence of its inhabitants.) It is the work which identifies Ramos with the so-called novel of the Northeast, one of the most fertile veins in Brazilian literature since 1939. Its practitioners have dealt with varying aspects of the region-José Lins do Rêgo with the sugar plantations of coastal Pernambuco and Paraiba, Jorge Amado with the street urchins of Salvador and the cacao wars of southern Bahia, for example. No aspect of the area has attracted greater attention, doubtless by reason of the dramatic effects it offers, than the terrible droughts that periodically visit the backlands. Only a hardy breed could survive such trials, especially when prospects of reward are so few. Fabiano and his family own little more than the clothes on their backs. Their few belongings are easily contained in a tin trunk which Vitória balances on her head when they set off on one of their forced treks. Their pleasures are small ones-an occasional swig of rum for Fabiano, a pair of high-heeled shoes for Vitória, a trip to town for all at the time of the Christmas festivities. Fabiano is a good herdsman, and the ranch prospers under his management as long as the rains come. He gets no thanks from the proprietor, however, whose conversation with his employee usually takes the form of a dressing-down. By a skillful system of advances of money and overcharges for interest, the proprietor sees, moreover, that little or nothing in the form of wages comes into Fabiano’s hands at the end of the year. Tradesmen cheat the ranch hand, townspeople scorn him as a bumpkin, a policeman avenges his ill luck at cards by throwing him into jail. Yet Fabiano accepts all this abuse as his natural lot; so was his father used before him, and he has only vague illusions that his sons may know a better life. The height of his wife’s ambition is ownership of a single piece of furniture, a comfortable bed. Originally published in Portuguese as Vidas secas. Very Good In Slightly Worn Dustjacket. Bookseller Inventory # 15454

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Barren Lives

Publisher: University Of Texas Press

Publication Date: 1965

Binding: hardcover

Edition: 1st Edition.

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