Most of the story takes place during different time periods in the old neighborhood of Pelourinho, where a type of a free university of Afro-Brazilian culture holds sway, owing to the practices of popular mestizo poets, artists, storytellers, musicians, craftsmen, singers, capoeiristas (dancers of a self-defense sport), black magicians, cult priests, and folk healers. This natural campus, actually situated near the state’s official school of medicine, has as its main building a shop called the Tent of Miracles where Master Lídio Corró runs his printing press and paints miracle pictures for those who wish to acknowledge their gratitude for having had their prayers answered.
The chancellor of this unofficial university is the protagonist, Pedro Archanjo, a mestizo whose knowledge, books (published by Corró), camaraderie, honor, generosity, and sexual feats command the respect of this community. Pedro Archanjo’s story is told in 1968, one hundred years after his birth, by Fausto Pena, an unappreciated poet, hired by the handsome and blond American scholar, winner of the Nobel Prize, and professor at Columbia University, Dr. James D. Levenson, to do research on Pedro Archanjo for an introduction to the professor’s English translation of the mulatto’s works. Unknown to the rest of Brazil’s literati until Levenson’s discovery, Pedro Archanjo’s works are praised and consecrated by the famous American’s recognition of their overall...
(The entire section is 557 words.)