Jewish Voices in Brazilian Literature: A Prophetic Discourse of Alterity
"The first major book in English on this fascinating and complex culture. Vieira provides an exciting introduction for all readers interested in contemporary literary culture--Jewish/feminist/South American/post-colonial--it is all here."--Sander L. Gilman, the University of Chicago
"A cogent and highly intelligent discussion of questions of national identity and difference that have long dominated the Brazilian cultural scene. In addition, the work presents new interpretations of three major Brazilian writers. . . . Absolutely original."--Randal Johnson, University of California, Los Angeles
"A pathbreaking contribution to Brazilian studies . . . bringing attention to Jewish voices in Brazilian literature and therefore . . . broadening discussions of ethnicity and ethnic prejudice in Brazil."--David J. Hess, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
In this first book-length study in English of Brazilian-Jewish fiction, Nelson Vieira opens up literature in a predominantly Christian society to an ethnic reading that announces an emerging concern with cultural differences in Brazil. His interpretation of the work of the internationally acclaimed Clarice Lispector, in particular, whose Jewish heritage has been largely overlooked by critics, will be widely cited.
As an exotic paradise for many Jewish immigrants, Brazil represented a haven for survival in both modern and colonial times. While Jews have found a hospitable home in Brazil, enjoying both political and religious freedom, they nevertheless have been viewed as peripheral, not integral, to the national culture. Focusing on three major writers who are "outsiders within" the culture--Lispector, Samuel Rawet, and Moacyr Scliar--Vieira shows how these authors challenge Brazilian and Latin American national myths and predict a democratic change in the country's sociopolitical and cultural ideologies.
Crossing many disciplines, this book draws on a sophisticated knowledge of poststructuralist theory (especially the work of Jacques Derrida), cultural studies, Brazilian literature, and Jewish studies. Vieira demonstrates that the dynamic writing done today by Jewish writers in Brazil is part of a vibrant literature that extends far beyond the Brazilian tradition of naturalism.
Nelson H. Vieira is professor of Portuguese and Brazilian studies and fellow in Judaic studies at Brown University. He is the coeditor of the literary journal Brasil/Brazil and the author or editor of many articles and books, including Roads to Today's Portugal: Essays on Contemporary Portuguese Literature, Art and Culture and Brasil e Portugal, A Imagem Reciproca: O Mito e a Realidade na Expressao Literaria.
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