THE VOICES OF THE DEAD by Autran Dourado


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Dona Rosalina is the grand-daughter of a despotic provincial Brazilian landlord, the daughter of his ineffectual son. Now, however, both grandfather and father are dead, and Rosalina is locked up alone but for a voiceless old servant, Quiquina--moldering in the manor, making cloth flowers for sale, reading penny romances, and rehashing a single flirtation in her past. Then, however, her musty spinster world is invaded one day by the arrival of a mulatto vagrant named JosÉ Feliciano (no relation), a.k.a. Joey Bird: he is given a job in the house as a hahdyman, which leads, of course, to nocturnal tasks in Rosalina's bed as well. The Rosalina/JosÉ Feliciano tempest that ensues is brief, fragmentary, resulting in a disastrous pregnancy. And Rosalina uses this as a sort of punishment of her past: she feels perfectly willing to use up JosÉ Feliciano and cast him off, without emotion. Dourado gets this central erotic coal to glow redly, but most of the rest of the book is cold and directionless--as the three characters express their three basic reactions in a series of interior monologues. Originally published in 1967: a representative, if lightweight, example of the Latin-American novel which uses the village as a microcosm of the world.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1981
Publisher: Taplinger