Sunday, 17 March 2013

Grande Sertão: Veredas/The Devil to Pay in the Backlands Read-Along




By now you may have heard that there’s going to be a group read of João Guimarães Rosa’s The Devil to Pay in the Backlands. The book is hailed as the greatest Brazilian novel of the 20th century, which sounds promising, and the Brazilian equivalent of Ulysses, which, since I’m firmly convinced James Joyce’s novel is one of the worst and most insufferable wastes of paper I’ve ever read in my life, doesn’t make it very reassuring. But I’ll remain optimistic until I open the book.

This event, which will no doubt be etched deeply on the history of book blogging, is being co-hosted by several extraordinary bloggers. To make it more interesting, each person will be reading a copy in a different translation: Richard, from Caravana de Recuerdos, will read it in Spanish; Scott from seraillon in French; Rise from in lieu of a field guide, in English; and I shall have to make do with a Portuguese translation that, alas, I hear is very deficient. A recent and notable addition to our merry polyglot bunch is Caroline from Beauty is a Sleeping Cat,who will read it in German. So that means we still have slots for Italian, Russian, Albanian, Arab, Chinese, etc.

The event starts at the end of May, and everyone is free, and encouraged, to join. Copies in English, I understand, are elusive, so start looking around in libraries and used bookshops. You might get lucky. In preparation I’m also reading some other Brazilian books I plan to write about once we get closer to the date. It’s time we celebrate the great literature of Brazil!


10 comments:

  1. Too bad you shall have to make do with the Portuguese translation. Haha. I enjoyed hearing about your experience trying to get the book.

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  2. I agree about the need to celebrate the great literature of Brazil, Miguel. Especially since I haven't done that for 2-3 years now. Anyway, glad you found a copy of GR's novel in time to co-host the event with us and hope that Pierre Menard did as nice a job with your Portuguese translation as he did on that one of Don Quixote several decades ago. From what I understand, he's supposed to be pretty ace...

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  3. If I were picking a book for other people to read and then write about at length, I might well have picked this one. So I am looking forward to enjoying everyone's writing.

    Then if the same group would cover Berlin Alexanderplatz and Miguel de Unamuno, that would be great, thanks in advance.

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  4. I really need to read Berlin Alexanderplatz. That at least would make sense in German. I've read the link Rise attached to my post and it seems that the old German version I have is not bad bt he emphasized other things that the new translator will. An author who wants to renew language is bound to be a bit hard to translate.
    I'm looking forward to reading it but I have now also ordered a French copy, and will switch back and forth.

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  5. I have no life, so naturally I'd be up for Berlin Alexanderplatz and some Unamuno just to make criminal mastermind Tom happy. Who else is in?

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    1. I have donwloaded Unamuno a while back and the Döblin is sitting on my shelves anyway. I'm tepmted but let's see how this one goes.

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  6. Interesting, Döblin and Unamuno are on my list of writers to buy at May's Lisbon Book Fair, so be patient...

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  7. Wow, that was easier than I thought. When you have finished those, I'll toss out some more names. I got a long list of books for other people to read.

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    1. Better toss them out now so I can add them to the buying list ;)

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