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Subaltern Writings

Readings on Graciliano Ramos’s Novels


Rocha Fernando de Sousa

Subaltern Writings focuses on one of the most important Brazilian novelists of the first half of the twentieth century, Graciliano Ramos, and critically examines two of his novels, Caetés and Angústia. The analysis is based on the premise that the reader must bring to the forefront the notion of a subject that is close to non-subjectivity and must develop heterodox forms of cultural production as Ramos himself sketches them. Rather than insisting on the protagonists’ assumed mediocrity or derangement, which has been the norm in previous critical readings of the novels, Subaltern Writings reconstructs how their attempts at composing fictional texts constitute examples of subaltern approaches, often standing alongside «high» cultural production. Unable to enter a circuit of literary writing that silences subaltern speakers, the novels’ protagonists create narratives that, instead of becoming finished objects of consumption, end up as fragments or notes. In this sense, Subaltern Writings consists of exercises in reading an object that resists becoming one. This book will be of great interest to researchers and students of Luso-Brazilian and Latin American studies.


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Many people have contributed to the process of elaborating and producing this book. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Professors Roberto Ignacio Díaz of the University of Southern California and Randal Johnson of the University of California at Los Angeles for their unfaltering support in my early readings of Graciliano Ramos’s novels. Professor Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento of Wesleyan University also provided me with much needed support in the initial stages of the process. I am also very greatful to colleagues at the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University of North Florida and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Middlebury College, for their friendship and stimu- lating discussions. This book would not have been possible without the support of both institutions in terms of funds for conference presentations, research at the Biblioteca Nacional in Rio de Janeiro, a sabbatical year and, last but not least, the financial support for this publication. Finally, I very grateful to Dr. Heidi Burns and Jackie Pavlovic at Peter Lang as well as to Dr. Gladys M. Varona-Lacey, Director of the Series “Latin America: Interdisciplinary Studies,” for their help in making this project come true.

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