Book Club: ‘The Sad End of Policarpo Quaresma’

brasilobserver - Jul 15 2015

(Leia em Português)

The book for the July Brazilian Bilingual Book Club meeting is O Triste Fim de Policarpo Quaresma (1911), also as The Sad End of Policarpo Quaresma (2014), written by Afonso Henriques de Lima Barreto (1881 – 1922). 


By Nadia Kerecuk*

Lima Barreto was a novelist, journalist, short story writer and a social activist. He caricatured various aspects of the city of Rio de Janeiro, the Federal capital of Brazil at the time, and its society and government particularly from 1890s to the first decade of the 20th century becoming famous for his sharp-witted and ironic critique of the Brazilian society. Fiercely opposed to racism, he identified himself as black (he was mulatto) and remains highly regarded by Afro-Brazilian writers.

His social critique extended from excessive urban development and mechanization, militarism, civil and public servants, deception to the funding of football. In 1902, He started writing for various newspapers and magazines – Correio da Manhã, Jornal do Commercio, Gazeta da Tarde and Correio da Noite often signing under various pen names (Rui de Pina, Dr. Bogoloff, S. Holmes and Phileas Fogg).

In 1909, he published the first part of his auto-biographical novel Recordações do Escrivão Isaías Caminha (Memoirs of the Notary Public Isaiah Caminha) in the literary magazine Floreal (4 issues only) that he launched with friends. Two years later he published his main novel Triste Fim de Policarpo Quaresma in feuilleton format in Jornal do Commercio. This novel is regarded as a key pre-modernist work in Brazil.

His other novels Numa e a Ninfa (1915; Numa and the Nymph), and Vida e Morte de M.J. Gonzaga de Sá (1919; Life and Death of M.J. Gonzaga de Sá) and Clara dos Anjos (1904, published posthumously) and Aventuras do Dr. Bogoloff (1912, The Adventures of Dr Bogoloff, published posthumously).  In the short story O Homem que sabia Javanês (The man that knew Javanese) and Aventuras do Dr. Bogoloff focuses on deception. The latter depicts a fake doctor from the Old Russian Empire. In addition, Lima Barreto would write articles and columns that were read by a large number of readers throughout Brazil during his life-time. It is worth noting that the first translation of Triste Fim de Policarpo Quaresma appears in 1974 (Czech) and 1978 into English (The Patriot).

He would often be taken in for treatment for alcohol abuse losing his life in the very year of the Week of Modern Art.

* Nadia Kerecuk is Convenor of the Brazilian Bilingual Book Club of the Embassy of Brazil in London




When: 16 July, 6.30pm

Where: Embassy of Brazil (14-16 Cockspur Street)

Entrance: Free


Brasil Observer – Issue 29