Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

João Guimarães Rosa’s first work, a collection of poems entitled Magma, has never been published, even though it won an important prize in 1937. Grande Sertão: Veredas (1956; The Devil to Pay in the Backlands, 1963), his masterpiece, is considered the most significant Brazilian novel of the twentieth century.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

João Guimarães Rosa’s fiction is generally regarded as the watershed work of the twentieth century Brazilian short story and novel, much as the fiction of Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis in the nineteenth century prompted critics to label every work of fiction as either “before” or “after” that writer. Guimarães Rosa was not only a master teller of tales but also a doctor, an amateur naturalist, and a polyglot. All of his stories reflect his fascination with the physical and natural world and the ways language might be bent to describe that world. His fiction always contains an element of moral or spiritual inquiry, and most of it is set in the interior of Brazil. All of his works are characterized by a highly original and perverse diction, which helps account for the paucity of translations. Guimarães Rosa was also a diplomat, having achieved the rank of ambassador in the Brazilian diplomatic service.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Coutinho, Eduardo F. “João Guimarães Rosa.” In Latin American Writers, edited by Carlos A. Solé and Maria Isabel Abreu. 3 vols. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1989. An excellent introduction to the complete works, including remarks on language, causality, regionalism and universality, the use of myth, the importance of emotion, and the unusual position in Guimarães Rosa’s works of madmen, poets, and children.

Coutinho, Eduardo de Faria. The Synthesis Novel in Latin America: A Study on João Guimarães Rosa’s “Grande Sertão: Veredas.” Chapel Hill: North Carolina University Press, 1991. A critical study.

Daniel, Mary L. “João Guimarães Rosa.” Studies in Short Fiction 8 (Winter, 1971): 209-216. This essay provides a useful discussion of the oral nature of the narrative and linguistic novelty.

Foster, David William, and Virginia Ramos Foster, eds. Modern Latin American Literature. 2 vols. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1975. Contains translations and reproductions of sixteen critical studies, some translated from Portuguese, French, or German, some in the original English, which give a feel for the reception of the works at or near the time of publication.

Hamilton, Russell G., Jr. “The Contemporary Brazilian Short Story.” In To Find Something New:...

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