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Synopsis: Brazil is the first work of fiction to depict five centuries of a great nation's remarkable history. With a stunning cast of real and fictional characters, this unforgettable epic unfolds in South America, Africa and Europe.
Lacing the tale together are the shifting fortunes of two dissimilar Brazilian families. The Cavalcantis are among the original Portuguese settlers and carve a gracious plantation out of the Pernambuco wilderness of the north - the classic Brazilian casa grande, vast, powerful, and built with slave labor. The da Silvas of mixed Portuguese and Tupiniquin blood are a spirited family of dreamers, pathfinders, soldiers and entrepreneurs. For generations, they set their eyes on El Dorado, a vision of wealth ultimately achieved in a huge financial empire that makes them power brokers in the new Brazil.
Brazil is an intensely human story, brutal and violent, tender and passionate. Perilous explorations through the Brazilian wilderness...the perpetual clash of pioneer and native, visionary and fortune hunter, master and slave, zealot and exploiter...the thunder of war on land and sea as European powers and South American nations pursue their territorial conquests...the triumphs and tragedies of a people who built a nation covering half the South American continent...all are here in one spellbinding saga.
The principal characters, both real and imaginary, are hard to forget. Among them: the great Indian warrior-chief Aruana; Amador da Silva, a bandeirante 'flag-bearing' pioneer and emerald hunter; Secundus Proot, a Dutch artist-adventurer in the Amazon; Black Peter, a freed African slave who takes murderous revenge on his persecutors; Antonio Paciencia, a brave soldier and humble hero of the landless; Francisco Lopez, doomed and gallant president of Paraguay; Anthony the Counselor of Canudos, visionary rebel of the backlands.
The result is an unsentimentalized historical novel that combines adventure with an impressive level of research and depicts Brazil free from the eternal stereotypes
An Illustrated Guide to the Novel offers a wealth of images and maps and access to the writer's private journal bringing a unique insight into the novel and its creativity.
"Uys has accomplished what no Brazilian author from José de Alencar to Jorge Amado was able to do. He is the first outsider with the total honesty and sympathy to write our national epic in all its decisive episodes. Descriptions like those of the war with Paraguay do not find in our literature any rival capable of surpassing them." - Professor Wilson Martins, Jornal do Brasil
From the Author:
I spent five years in quest of my historical novel, Brazil. I was a literary bandeirante wandering through the past, seeking my own vision of El Dorado, not beyond the next hill or across the river ahead but deep within the soul. Like the Brazilian pathfinders, I knew periods of utter loneliness and fear, times when I felt the thorny caatingas closing in but always I broke through the barrier. I never lost my sense of awe and respect for Brazil's epic history. I never lost the will to understand the Brazilian thing.
I am often asked how I came to write Brazil. What mysterious and complex circumstances allowed a foreigner to overcome obstacles which, given the vastness of the subject, Brazilians themselves have barely managed to confront? Beyond prosaic responses about a lifelong ambition to write, I look first to my own roots and a journey of self-discovery in South Africa.
The Other Side of the Fence
I was adopted by parents of Afrikaner stock: as a child, my mother spent two years in a concentration camp during the Anglo-Boer War; my father came from a family of well-to-do farmers and bureaucrats. In a very Brazilian sense, my parents were paternalistic and simple and good-hearted, and I know they planted the seeds of my doubt about apartheid. A despair that grew over the years, as I witnessed the reality of apartheid as a writer and editor, with a unique view of that wasteland from the other side of the fence white people set up between ourselves and black South Africa.
I was living in the United States, when I came to think of writing a historical novel about Brazil. I knew as little about the country as the next foreigner. I'd once stopped over at Rio de Janeiro for three days on a flight to Africa, an instant course in clichés about Carnival, samba, beach and jungle.
The more I began to think about Brazil, the more reasons I found for wanting to write about the country. My very ignorance prompted question after question, and when I began to look for answers I quickly sensed a tremendous story that hadn't been told to the North American public. As an outsider to both nations, I had a singular vantage point unbridled with innate prejudices and chauvinism.
Another compelling reason for choosing Brazil was my having just spent two years delving into the story of my birthplace as James A. Michener's collaborator on his South African novel, The Covenant. Broadly-speaking, the relations between the races in South Africa and Brazil couldn't have been more different: how, when, why, I wanted to know, did the two nations take such radically different paths?
This wasn't something to include in the novel I envisaged but it gave me a baseline to work from in considering the dynamics of Brazilian society. In Africa, I'd traveled widely in Mozambique and Angola, gaining insights into the Portuguese, their history and way of life, a valuable introduction to the colonizers of Brazil.
20,000 Kilometers in Search of Brazil
I was under no illusion about the scope of my task or my presumptuousness in seeking the past of a people to whom I was a stranger. One consideration above all guided me: I wanted a book that Brazilians themselves could accept critically, not a simplistic or intellectually dishonest work that catered to the outsider's fantasies about their land.
For my basic research I spent a year in the field, haunting libraries, travelling to Portugal and Brazil, where I covered 20,000 kilometers in four months, mostly by bus. I landed at Salvador, Mother City, the best possible start to my journey to discover, "the real Brasil." I went to Porto Seguro and Cabrália, walking along the beaches and the broad bluff, setting for the opening of my novel - the same beach where I pictured the young Tupiniquin, Aruanã, who sees the white clouds that fall to the end of the earth.
From Porto Seguro I traveled to Brasília: a tremendous leap in time and imagination that was to prove fateful, for though I didn't know it then, I was being handed one of the keys to my vision of Brazil, the metaphor of Brasília and El Dorado.
In the interior of Bahia, I visited Uauá and Canudos. Like many stops along my route, my objective was one of brooding over the past rather than talking or sitting in libraries. It's one thing to have studied Euclides da Cunha and other sources, but go alone into the caatingas, walk for hours with the sun blazing down on you, sit on that stony earth, not a little fearful that you are totally lost. It doesn't take much imagination to picture the hell that came to New Jerusalem.
The Professor and the Gangster's Son
At Recife and Olinda, I spent three weeks, mostly under the guidance of the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation. I found my valley of Santo Tomás and my imaginary town of Rosário, the locales for my fictitious family of Cavalcantis. I was privileged to have the guidance of the legendary Gilberto Freyre. I was also lucky to meet 'Black Jimi,' son of a famous Rio gangster, who made me his friend and took me to meet his pals in the favelas of Recife.
At Belém I embarked upon the Amazon, five days along the river sea to Manaus and then down to Porto Velho. I penetrated the wilderness as much in wonder at the glories of Nature as awe for those first to venture there: the bandeirantes. In those vast, lonely tracts of forest I got a sense of their spirit and courage. Amador Flôres da Silva, the first of the Silva clan who represent the second major element in my book, stands as a memorial to those mighty flag-bearers.
From Cuiába, I went to Rio de Janeiro to begin the southern leg of my journey focused on Rio, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Ouro Preto. Along the Rio Tietê, I found Itatinga, the fictional fazenda of my Silva family and the imaginary town of Tiberica.
I placed both family seats beyond the major cities because it was historically correct to have their landed estates as the nucleus of their power, microcosms of the greater society beyond.
When I sat down to write my novel, I had read 500 books. I kept a journal during my trip and filled a pile of notebooks. I studied dozens of maps, paintings, photographs. Ahead lay the most critical task of all: interpreting this mass of information in fictional form.
Seeing the Brazilians at Ground Level
I'm not a historian. I am also not a "frock coat" devoted to the literary salon. I do not write staring above the heads of the mass of people. I am not afraid of getting my hands dirty if it helps me see things at "ground level."
While generations of fictional Cavalcantis and Silvas dominate the book, I take special care to bring to center stage a cast of smaller characters: Affonso Ribeiro, the degredado; Nhungaza of Palmares and his grandson, Black Peter; Secundus Proot, Dutch artist-adventurer; Maria Ramalho, indefatigable Paulista entrepreneur; Ishmael Pinheiro, "New Christian; "Antônio Paciência, the mulatto, slave, voluntário, vaqueiro, so called "fanatic" and, above all, "Antônio Paciência Brasileiro."
My work would not have been accomplished without the help of scores of Brazilians both during my trip and through the four years of writing my novel.
Some gave me days of their time, some only precious moments like the woman standing next to me in a bus queue at Brasília and asking me to buy an orange for her sick child. I realized later that orange was all they had for the 26-hour trip that lay ahead. A midnight stop at a dusty roadside café, I shared a meal with the pair.
The dedication in Brazil is to my wife, Janette, who encouraged and supported my bandeira through five long years. With humility, I would also dedicate my work to the Brazilian people, among whom I no longer feel a stranger having traveled that long road through the past, sharing in a small way a nation's titanic struggle for maturity. It was and will ever remain one of the great journeys of my life.
Book Condition: Collectible-VeryGood
Book Description Silver Spring Books, 2000. Book Condition: Good. First Edition. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP15428963
Book Description Silver Spring Books. Paperback. Book Condition: VERY GOOD. Very Good copy, cover and pages show some wear from reading and storage. Binding may have light creases. Lots of life left in these pages. Bookseller Inventory # 2746826505
Book Description Silver Spring Books. Paperback. Book Condition: GOOD. Gently used may contain ex-library markings, possibly has some minor highlighting, textual notations, and or underlining. Text is still easily readable. Bookseller Inventory # 2793943288
Book Description Silver Spring Books. Paperback. Book Condition: GOOD. book was well loved but cared for. Possible ex-library copy with all the usual markings and stickers. Some light textual notes, highlighting and underling. Bookseller Inventory # 2799557932
Book Description Silver Spring Books. Paperback. Book Condition: Good. Book shows a small amount of wear to cover and binding. Some pages show signs of use. Bookseller Inventory # G0916562514I3N00
Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Good. This item is in good condition. All pages and covers are readable. There are no stains or tears. Dust jacket is present if applicable. May contain small amounts of writing and/or highlighting. Spine and cover may show signs of wear. May not contain supplementary items such as CD's or DVD's. We ship within 1 business day. Bookseller Inventory # 34FCJ80008BU
Book Description Truck Press. Paperback. Book Condition: Fair. Ex-Library Book - will contain Library Markings. Bookseller Inventory # G0916562514I5N10
Book Description Truck Press. Paperback. Book Condition: Fair. Bookseller Inventory # G0916562514I5N00
Book Description Silver Spring Books. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: Good. 0916562514 Meets or exceeds the good condition guidelines. Nice copy. Has a small amount of writing/highlighting. Five star seller - Buy with confidence!. Bookseller Inventory # Z0916562514Z3
Book Description Silver Spring Books. Book Condition: Good. . Bookseller Inventory # G16F-0469