I've started reading Jorge Amado's first novel, O País do Carnaval, published in 1931. It's a negative portrayal of the Brazilian intellectual class of the time, desperate to elevate Brazil but unable to concentrate their efforts in anything meaningul. So they loose themselves in cynicism and typical Nieztschean superman stuff. It's a desolate novel, full of characters so eager to be original and Modern that they wholly detach themselves from life and happiness.
The novel follows Paulo Rigger, who returns from Europe where he studied, in his involvement with other young men full of ideas but little strength to accomplish anything. There are many similarities with Eça de Queiroz' novels, which were equally critical of Portugal's intellectuals. Rigger feels European and yet he criticises Brazil for importing all ideas from abroad. He can't connect with Brazilian culture and loathes its lack of civilisation and yet slowly he acquires its habits. He's looking for happiness, which shifts between leading a dissolute life or settling down with a wife. I can't help thinking he suffers from too much philosophy.
I'm very engrossed in the book and anxious to see where it goes. I've got more novels by Amado lined up after this one.
wrote: Jorge Amado is the greatest novelist in Brazil. His works convey the essence and colour of Bahia, with a profound knowledge of the Brazilian soul. Besides Tieta do Agreste, he has created a number of powerful female characters such as Gabriela and Dona Flor, the adaptations of which brought Sonia Braga her first success.
Tieta do Agreste displays his close awareness of the reality of the Bahian interior: people struggling to survive, defending or resisting prejudices while struggling to attain meagre ambitions. The book builds a vivid picture of the provincial conflicts which precede the arrival of signs of progress and its consequences.
Jorge Amado gave his full blessing to the enterprise, even appearing at the beginning of the film reading the book's first paragraph and at the end his voice returns to read the last line. He left director Diegues completely free to adapt the novel as he saw fit, saying "You didn't interfere in my book and I won't interfere in your film."
The most translated contemporary Brazilian author, the list of Jorge Amado's books adapted for the cinema, TV and theatre is long, including Tenda dos Milagres, Jubiaba, Dona Flor e seus dois maridos and Gabriela.