Speaking from the margins: the haunting voices of <i>Auto do frade</i>

Sara Brandellero

in On a Knife-Edge

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199589524
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595462 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs

Speaking from the margins: the haunting voices of Auto do frade

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This chapter studies João Cabral's fascination with liminal states in Auto do frade (1984). In this play, only the second in his career, Cabral develops the historical concerns he raised in the earlier A escola das facas. He deals with issues of political oppression by focusing on the hours preceding the execution of Frei Caneca (1779-1825), one of the heroes of North-East Brazil's struggle for independence and a fierce advocate of democracy. The chapter discusses how the experience of haunting conveys the plight of those condemned to live under the despotic rule of Emperor D. Pedro I, of which Frei Caneca is the most prominent victim. The use to which Cabral puts historical themes is extremely topical, given the social and political background against which he was writing, that of Brazil's gradual return to democracy after twenty years of military dictatorship. On a meta-textual level, the chapter discusses how Cabral interweaves the voice of Frei Caneca with his own, thereby paradoxically revising his poetic ideal of precision, as set out in his early work, through the voice of this eminent scholar in exact sciences.

Keywords: democracy; Auto do frade; Frei Caneca; dictatorship; haunting

Chapter.  13197 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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