THE SLUM by Aluísio Azevedo


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This enormously popular and influential Brazilian novel, first published n 1890, is a landmark work of accusatory naturalism whose energetic author (1857–1913) at his best deserves comparison with Balzac (a likely influence) and his exact contemporary Zola. The story concerns two obsessive love affairs and their disastrous consequences: that of (the amusingly named) Romao, an avaricious landowner who gives up everything (including his black mistress) to pursue a wealthy white woman, and that of (his tenants) the hulking, well-meaning Jeronimo and the mulatto spitfire Rita Bahiana, for whose sake he destroys several lives, including his own. Azevedo is a passionate, sometimes hortatory writer, who tends to overmanage and needlessly explain, but his portrayals of urban discontent, rampant materialism, and especially of restless souls shaped and driven by their desires have an immediacy and authority that transcend (while not quite eschewing) melodrama, and have aged remarkably well.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-19-512186-4
Page count: 222pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2000