Readings on Graciliano Ramos’s Novels
Chapter 2: A Few Viventes
C H A P T E R T W O A Few Viventes “Enfim as sovelas furam e a faca pequena corta. São armas insignificantes, mas são armas.” Graciliano Ramos, “Os sapateiros da literatura”1 Cacoethes scribendi. An impulse to write, a necessity, born not out of a humanistic ideal—know thyself and become a better human being—but as a mania, an illness of sorts. Making little to almost no money, wannabe writers had to live in board- inghouses, eat sparingly, and dress modestly, not to say shabbily. An aspiring writer might in fact look more like “um celerado de figura sombria, calças rotas, botas sem saltos e paletó ignobilmente descolorido com remendos nas costas e sonetos inéditos nas algibeiras” (Ramos, Linhas tortas 16; “a criminal with a somber figure, torn pants, heelless boots and a shamefully discolored jacket, patched on the back, and unpublished sonnets in his pockets”). Such was the figure that Ramos jokingly imagined in 1915, when he was still twenty-two years old, trying out his luck as an incipient journalist in Rio de Janeiro, then the federal capital. Sarcasm aside, the depiction does not seem to be that far-fetched in what regards the literary and journalistic environment of early-twentieth-century Brazil. Amadeu Amaral Júnior, one of Ramos’s former companions in a boarding- house, was a case in point. Desperate, Ramos affirms, Amaral Júnior put an ad in the paper, identifying himself as an “[i]ntelectual desempregado” (“[u]nemployed intellectual”) who...
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