FOGO MORTO (dead fires), the tenth novel by Jose Lins do Rego, marks his return to the themes of his original Sugar Cane Cycle, after four weak experiments in other fields. The author, descendant of an aristocratic planter family settled for years in Northeast Brazil, was educated for the law, but friendship with Brazil’s great sociologist Gilberto Freyre showed him the rich literary inspiration in Brazil’s ingenhos, or sugar centers, and turned him to fiction writing. Beginning with the novel PLANTATION BOY, Lins do Rego went on with DAFFY BOY, BLACK BOY, RICHARD, OLD PLANTATION, and THE SUGAR REFINERY, all dealing with the same characters. In 1943, after four lesser novels based on other themes, came FOGO MORTO, his masterpiece, in which some of the characters from the earlier novels reappear. The novel is marked by improved technique, a greater use of dialogue, less morbidity, and better character portrayal.
Some critics see in Victorino, the penniless, abused lawyer, a Brazilian Don Quixote, sure of what is right, hating bandits, cruel soldiers, and haughty plantation owners alike, and fighting all injustice, regardless of the cost to him. Like the Spanish don, Victorino was an aristocrat, related by blood to many of the important families of the region, but censuring their use of power because of his feeling for the common man. There is also a parallel with Don Quixote in the...
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