First English translation of “Raízes do Brazil” and other new book releases
Every few months you will find here a list of books in English recently released that are somehow related to Brazil, its culture and people. It includes tourism guides, cooking books, fiction, essays and many other genres. They are followed by little summaries mostly extracted from the publishers’ promotional material.
This time, I would highlight the travelogue by former Monty Python’s actor Michael Palin and a compendium about the biology of the cerrados, the Brazilian savannas. But the big star of the list is the first English translation of the iconic “Raízes do Brasil”, by historian Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda, published 76 years ago and now republished by the University of Notre Dame Press.
Good luck and good reading!
“Roots of Brazil” is one of the essential books to understand how Modern Brazil emerged. “Raízes do Brasil” was written by Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda (father of composer Chico and brother of lexicographer Aurélio) in 1936. Considered one of the country’s main intellectuals of the 20th century, he “focuses on the multiple cultural influences that forged twentieth-century Brazil, especially those of the Portuguese, the Spanish, other European colonists, Native Americans, and Africans. Buarque de Holanda argues that all of these originary influences were transformed into a unique Brazilian culture and society—a “transition zone.” [...] Along with other early twentieth-century works such as The Masters and the Slaves by Gilberto Freyre and The Colonial Background of Modern Brazil by Caio Prado Júnior, Roots of Brazil set the parameters of Brazilian historiography for a generation and continues to offer keys to understanding the complex history of Brazil.” This version is a translation by G. Harvey Summ and has a foreword, “Why Read Roots of Brazil Today?”, by Pedro Meira Monteiro, one of the world’s leading experts on Buarque de Holanda.
“[Brazil is] one of the few countries Michael Palin has never fully travelled. In a new series for BBC1 – his first for five years – he explores in his inimitable way this vast and disparate nation. From the Venezuelan border and the forests of the Lost World where he encounters the Yanomami and their ongoing territorial war with the gold miners, he follows Teddy Roosevelt’s disastrous expedition of 1914. Journeys by river to the headwaters of the Xingu, by plane over huge tracts of forest, by steam train and by road along the Trans-Amazonica allow him to reach a kaleidoscopic mix of peoples: the indigenous hunter-gatherers of the interior, the descendents of African slaves with their vibrant culture of rituals and festivals and music, the large community of German descent who celebrate their patrimony at the biggest beer festival outside Munich, and the wealthy guachas of the Pantanal amongst them. His journey ends at the border with Uruguay and the spectacular Iguacu Falls”.
A must-have, if you are interested in the study of Brazilian savannas. According to scientist Daniel Nepstad, that works for the Woods Hole Research Center, “The Cerrados of Brazil: Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Savanna”, by Paulo S. Oliveira and Robert Marquis, is a “superbly edited volume [that] provides a long overdue synthesis of ecological investigations of the ‘cerrados’ of Brazil…the book is a landmark in savanna ecology”. Oliveira is a professor of ecology at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas and Marquis is associate professor of biology at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, USA.
“The Formation of Souls: Imagery of the Republic in Brazil” is a study by José Murilo de Carvalho, translated by Clifford Lander. Carvalho “examines the birth of the Brazilian Republic in 1889. Given that the majority of the population of Brazil participated very little in the change from an empire to a republic, what allowed the new government to consolidate its power? As a part of the answer to this question, Carvalho analyzes a collection of republican symbols, images, allegories, and myths of the period as attempts by various republican political elites to shape the collective social imagination”.
“Walking the Amazon: 860 days”, by Ed Stafford. “In April 2008, Ed Stafford set off to become the first man ever to walk the entire length of the Amazon. He started on the Pacific coast of Peru, crossed the Andes Mountain range to find the official source of the river. His journey lead on through parts of Colombia and right across Brazil; all while outwitting dangerous animals, machete wielding indigenous people as well as negotiating injuries, weather and his own fears and doubts. Yet, Stafford was undeterred. On his grueling 860-day, 4,000-plus mile journey, Stafford witnessed the devastation of deforestation firsthand, the pressure on tribes due to loss of habitats as well as nature in its true-raw form. Jaw-dropping from start to finish, Walking the Amazon is the unforgettable and gripping story of an unprecedented adventure.”
“Brazil’s Ethanol Industry: Looking Forward”, by Constanza Valdes, “profiles and analyzes Brazil’s ethanol industry, providing information on the policy environment that enabled the development of feedstock and processing sectors, and discusses the various opportunities and challenges to face the industry over the next decade”.
“Remaking Brazil: Contested National Identities in Contemporary Brazilian Cinema”, by Tatiana Signorelli Heise, was published by the University of Wales. “In recent years Brazilian cinema has been drawing growing attention worldwide, with such films as Central Station and City of God receiving international acclaim. Remaking Brazil takes a close look at Brazilian films released between 1995 and 2010, including Elite Squad, Orfeu, The Trespasser, and Almost Brothers, paying special attention to issues of race, ethnicity, and national identity. Despite increased interest in ethnic and racial aspects of Brazilian society, until now there has been very little academic research on how these aspects are articulated in contemporary cinema. Tatiana Signorelli Heise fills that gap.”
Cerrado, History, Literature, New books