PEN, SWORD, CAMISOLE: A Fable to Kindle a Hope by Jorge Amado

PEN, SWORD, CAMISOLE: A Fable to Kindle a Hope

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KIRKUS REVIEW

When Brazilian lyric poet Antonio Bruno dies of a heart attack in 1940, his chair in the Brazilian Academy of Letters comes open. The Academy, with its 39 immortals drawn from all sectors of national achievement, represents to its members something valuable and special in the political climate of the time. (The ruling regime is the New State: fascist, pro-Axis, regressive, barbaric.) So, when an ambitious New State Army colonel--amateur author and professional torturer S. Pereira--makes his move to present himself as a candidate for the chair, there is an uproar: democratic-minded academicians move to block the colonel's candidacy by putting up an alternative candidate, a harmless (if equally undistinguished) Army general. Then, however, the villainous Pereira dies unexpectedly. . . and the alternate candidate, the now-swollen-headed general, begins to act like a monster. Amado's story is really just a hometown trifle--designed to settle some scores in the Brazilian literary world, with fond tributes and acid attacks; it can also be read as a cautionary tale for Brazilian society today, responding to recent threats of recrudescent New Statism. But though the ""camisole"" part of the title refers to the bohemian poet Bruno's great career as a lover, there's just a tiny bit of Amado's venerable talent for amorous comedy on display here--making this very minor work indeed: a repetitious, flimsy bagatelle from the author of Tieta of Agreste and Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1985
Publisher: Godine