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Download Brazil under Construction: Fiction and Public Works by Sophia Beal (auth.) PDF

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By Sophia Beal (auth.)

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Published serially in the Revista Sousa Cruz in 1923 and 1924 and then published posthumously as a single volume in 1948 in its partially unedited form, Clara dos Anjos scathingly critiques the government’s neglect of the poor in the early 1900s. Just before Marramaque—a humble civil servant—is murdered for trying to protect his goddaughter from a lecher, the narrator describes the insufficient public light in the Rio de Janeiro subúrbio where the crime occurs: “As luzernas de gás, tangidas pelo vento, mal iluminavam aquelas torvas ruas dos subúrbios, cheias de árvores aos lados e moitas intrincadas de arbustos” ‘The gas lights, touched by the wind, barely lit those dreadful streets of the outskirts, full of trees on either side and shrubs entangled with underbrush’ (117).

According to literary critic Brito Broca, from 1900 onward, carioca newspapers began to privilege reporting and hard news over prose, poetry, and long articles. The increased speed and stimulation of urban, everyday life shortened readers’ attention spans, making brief articles appealing. The police blotter was greatly expanded and sports coverage began for the first time; changes, Broca argues, meant to “serve the public’s sensationalist taste” (288). As a consequence of these changes and of the professionalization of journalism, newspapers asked writers for fewer literary contributions and more reporting, copyediting, and interviews (Broca 288; Süssekind 75).

Ferreira da Rosa and Bilac’s florid language elides the power structures at work and the reformers’ authoritarian efforts to control the citizenry. To celebrate his mayoral achievements, Pereira Passos commissioned a guidebook about Rio de Janeiro. It narrates the story of the reforms as a glorious rupture from the dark aspects of the past. Ferreira da Rosa wrote the guidebook, which was published in 1905. He updated the government-issued text in 1922 to celebrate one hundred years of Brazilian independence.

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