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(04/17/2008) Pen, Sword, Camisole: A Fable To Kindle A Hope by Jorge Amado. Boston. 1985. Godine. Translated from the Portuguese by Helen R. Lane. keywords: Literature Translated Brazil Latin America. 276 pages. Jacket illustration by James Steinberg. 0879235527. (original title: Farda, fardao, camisol de dormir, 1980 - Distribuidora Record Servicos de Imprentsa, S.A., Rio de Janeiro).

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   It is 1940. In Rio de Janeiro, a crisis is brewing. The brilliant womanizing poet, Antonio Bruno, has just died, and his seat in the Brazilian Academy of Letters is vacant. Who will replace him? Colonel Agnaldo Sampaio Pereira, chief of security of the New State Dictatorship, who welcomed Nazi control with unqualified joy, resolves it shall be he. But he does not count on the resistance organized by two intrepid octogenarians who rally to their standard a powerful group as determined to keep the colonel out of the Academy as he is to get in. Thus battle is engaged, in which the international forces of Nazism and the national forces of reaction and totalitarianism unite against two old men and four remarkable women-a typically fiery actress, a dressmaker who is not averse to a little part-time paid companionship, the wife of one of Brazil's richest men, and an industrialist's radical daughter-all former mistresses of the poet Bruno. Amado subtitled his novel 'A Fable to Kindle a Hope.' It is a just description, because this book, with its great, glorious doses of wit, is a ferocious and heartening cry for freedom. ON JORGE AMADO: 'Amado's strange and wonderful characters. his humanism, and his considerable powers of description result in a richness and warmth that are impossible to resist.' - THE WASHINGTON POST. 'It would be hard to find an English counterpart to Candide in Voltaire's time, and hard to find a writer in English-at least since the death of James Thurber-with as gay an imagination and as fond a sense of the absurd as the Brazilian, Jorge Amado.' - THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW. '[Amado] has the narrative art to a superlative degree, the ability to create three-dimensional characters, a deep awareness of the problems of his country and his epoch, a style as flexible and colorful as it is lyrical. One hardly knows what to admire most: the dexterity with which Amado can keep half a dozen plots spinning; the gossamer texture of the writing; or his humor, tenderness, and humanity.' - THE SATURDAY REVIEW. 'No other Latin American writer is more genuinely admired by his peers, nor has any other exerted so great a creative influence on the course of Latin American fiction.' - THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW.

Helen R. Lane is the award-winning translator of ON HEROES AND TOMBS, by Emesto Sabato (Godine, 1981).

 

 

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