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BRAZILIAN LITERATURE – The Slum, novel by Aluísio De Azevedo

Aluísio de Azevedo, born in Sao Luiz do Maranhão, was the most important Brazilian naturalistic writer. His career spans a period of seventeen years. He was the author of twelve novels and eleven theater plays. As a journalist, he had gone to places, where he intended to acclimatize his novels, mixing and talking with people, who inspired his characters. Experienced designer, he had sometimes drawn his characters on cardboard, cropping them to put them in action, like in a theater, to see the scenes he should tell. The “cortiço” is a collective home of humble classes, consisting of modest housing with common use of public spaces.

This novel tells the story of Portuguese João Romão, owner of bettola in the district of Botafogo, and of his obstinate anxiety to become rich, for which he does not look into anyone’s face. The Slum is considered to be the masterpiece of the author and the greatest novel, inspired by naturalism. It was published in 1890 in Rio de Janeiro, city, which makes the background of the story. You can witness obssesive love affair between a strong, avaricious landowner Romao, immigrant merchant and a vivacious mulatto woman Rita, who both live in a tenement owned by said landlord. The two immigrant heroes in archetypal situations are originally Portuguese, and thus personify, two alternate outsider responses to Brazil. There is no consensus, there is temporary interruption of the relationship between the two.

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