The Literary Achievement of João Guimarães Rosa

Studies in the Literary Achievement of João Guimarães Rosa, The Foremost Brazilian Writer of the Twentieth Century
Editors: Ligia Chiappini, David Treece, Marcel Vejmelka
The Edwin Mellen Press, 2012

This long awaited and very much deserved anthology is the first of its kind in the English language: an anthology entirely dedicated to the study of  works by João Guimarães Rosa. Originally published in Brazil in 2009, the anthology collects selected academic essays first presented at an international symposium held in Berlin, Germany, in December 2008, in celebration of Guimarães Rosa’s centenary, and has just recently been translated into English.

David Treece, one of the editors of the anthology (and the English translator of a collection of short stories by Guimarães Rosa) had this to say about the anthology when I first spoke with him in May, 2010:

“The volume that we’re publishing, I think, could be very important. It’s a very wide-ranging anthology of essays, which came out of some conferences that we were organizing in 2008. The essays range from overviews of the impact of Guimarães Rosa on Brazilian Culture as a whole, surveys of the impact his works have had in the other arts and elsewhere in literature, essays on adaptations of his work for the cinema, very in-depth literary analysis of work including Grande Sertão, his short stories and other texts, there is a biographical essay by Guimarães Rosa’s daughter—a whole range. So I think this book could be something of a companion to Guimarães Rosa. That’s where we are in the Anglophone world with Guimarães Rosa: we have a limited number of translations to work with, [now we have] a kind of companion study, the anthology.”

A companion indeed. Or better yet: twenty six companions (writers, translators and scholars, Guimarães Rosa’s daughter among them), representing seventeen universities in nine countries. Individuals who have studied Guimarães Rosa for decades in many cases, and provide the English reader with otherwise inaccessible insights into the work of (as the lengthy yet appropriate title states) the foremost Brazilian writer of the twentieth century. This work will prove invaluable to the reader who truly wishes to understand the scope of the impact Guimarães Rosa has had on modern world literature and the arts.

Continue reading

JGR On HOW

I was invited to write the inaugural essay for Rear View Mirror, a new column under the aegis of HOW Journal that aims to reintroduce neglected and undervalued authors to a new audience. I’m excited to be a contributor to the project, and I hope readers of AMB will keep an eye on the column, as it promises to discuss some of the most significant writers still waiting in the wings.

The Higher The Level Of A Work, The More Does It Remain Translatable
Even If Its Meaning Is Touched Upon Only Fleetingly,
Or: João Guimarães Rosa, The Whole Wild Word