Graciliano Ramos (RAH-mohs) was a central figure in Brazil’s Northeast literary movement of 1930’s and 1940’s fiction. Through his writing, Ramos sought to depict accurately that region of Brazil collectively referred to as the Northeast. He and other “1930’s Generation” writers shared several characteristics: leftist political sympathies, expression of political beliefs in their novels, focus on social injustice, and sometimes simplistic composition and language, crafted to avoid interfering with the novel’s message. Ramos’s fiction has often been studied from a political or sociological perspective. Among Brazil’s Northeast writers, Ramos is said to have surpassed the others in technical skill.
Born in a small town in Brazil’s northeast corner, the eldest of numerous siblings, Ramos and his family knew at first hand the potential cruelty of the sertão. A less welcoming section of the Northeast than the more economically and culturally developed littoral (coastal) section, the sertão was a land of frequent disasters. Extended droughts frequently alternated with torrential rains to ravage the land, crops, and dreams of those living there. At age two, Ramos relocated to Pernambuco (Alagoas state) with his family in an ill-fated attempt at ranching, before severe drought drove them back to city life and general-store keeping only a few years later.
Ramos experienced early writing success in publishing sonnets in a Rio de Janeiro magazine at age thirteen....
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