lunes, 11 de marzo de 2013

Grande Sertão: Veredas Group Read


While I'd hoped to spring the good news about this papal conclave-style secret more than a month ago, it gives me enormous areligious pleasure to finally announce the late May group read of João Guimarães Rosa's 1956 Grande Sertão: Veredas [a/k/a The Devil to Pay in the Backlands in its English incarnation*] that I'll be co-hosting with Miguel of St. Orberose, Rise of in lieu of a field guide, and Scott of seraillon (also, thanks to Scott who, with some assistance from Rise, came up with that cool button for the event above).  As befits a novel that at least one person with Wikipedia editing access has dubbed the Brazilian Ulysses for its ecstatic linguistic peculiarities and slippery range of high and low registers, the four of us will be reading this South American modernist epic in English (Rise, the intrepid re-reader in the bunch), French and English (Scott), the original Portuguese (Miguel), and Spanish (me).  You?  You're welcome to read the novel in any language you choose should you choose to join us in following in the tracks of the jagunço Riobaldo as he journeys through the arid Brazilian backlands wrestling with the problems of good and evil, life and fate, and his next shape-shifting monologue in no particular order.  In any event, please note that discussion of the novel is slated to commence sometime during the last week of May at all of the participating blogs.  Hope to see you then!

*A word about the English translation.  Rise has pointed out that the not universally well received translation of The Devil to Pay in the Backlands brought to you by James L. Taylor and Harriet de Onis for Knopf in 1963 is long out of print and not all that easy to find.  Although that's certainly no way to treat a translation of a novel that The Guardian includes among The top 100 books of all time, you could still pick up a couple of beat-up used copies of it on Amazon for under $500 bucks each the last I checked.  Failing that, you could also start getting that ILL order ready now (trust me, libraries--and those handsome devils and glamorous she-devils who only work in them--are sometimes truly your best friends).



Other Readers

25 comentarios:

  1. Oh yes yes to the glamorous she-devils! I started out in ILL, needless to say. But well, to be honest, the she-devil part is more accurate than the glam part...

    This sounds like a great group read (and yes re the cool button) - can't wait to read the posts! (heaven [sic] forfend I should actually read the book!)

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    1. Jill, an ex-ILL lass, eh? Really glad I said "glamorous" instead of "mousy" then! :D As far as the group read goes, yes, it does promise to be a fun one. The novel's rumored to be both entertaining and challenging, which makes it a natural for the multiple perspectives that a good group read usually generates. Happy to hear that you're looking forward to the posts--so am I!

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  2. Don't know what the odds of finding a copy of this in the Irish library system are! I've searched on Amazon etc for this on a few occasions when I've been reminded of it. Hopefully this readalong might even help convince someone to republish the existing translation, or undertake another.
    I imagine an underworld of illicit PDFs circulating via off-net subgroups. Dr Benway "Got some of that book sickness, hey have you tried some of this Brazilian junk - muito bom!"

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    1. Another English translation of the novel was supposed to be in the works just a couple of years ago, Séamus, but that was the last I heard of it--I should probably see if there's any update on that. One of the translators said to be involved in the prospective new translation, Elizabeth Lowe, did an absolutely smashing job on another Brazilian classic by Euclides da Cunha I read a couple of years ago, so I hope she's still involved with the project in one form or another. Otherwise, the PDF route you allude to may prove to be an irresistible temptation for the more hardcore readers out there!

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  3. Investigations show you can read it here, though it may not be the ideal reading environment:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/103907503/The-Devil-to-Pay-in-the-Backlands-by-Joao-Guimaraes-Rosa

    Or pay some money to download it.

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    1. Obooki, thanks for the link--that may be the best option for some readers without access to the book through big money or big library channels. Have you read the novel before? I remember you talking about it at some point.

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    2. No, I haven't read it. I may have mentioned it in a rant about why the only thing available in English by Guimaraes Rosa is The Third Bank of the River, which is in every short story anthology.

      I might have a go at it, but 500ish pages read off the internet would be unprecedented.

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    3. It'd be great if you could join us, but I'm not sure I'd want to read a big book like that off the computer screen either (actually, I am sure but I'll try to stay "positive" for just this one sentence in the hopes of enticing you to take on such an unprecedented feat in May). I just picked up that The Third Bank of the River and Other Stories GR anthology at the library earlier today; it looks like a good way to distract me from the two big books I'm only making glacial progress with this month...

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    4. I'll give it a go. If I start now, I might finish in May.

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    5. Excellent news--thanks for giving it a try!

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  4. Sounds to be really intriguing book! I love philosophical fiction. I am tempted to join but am so bogged down this month! I look forward to reading everyone's commentary.

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    1. It's supposed to be a great one, Brian, so it'd be nice to have you join us should you be able to find the time before the end of the May (of course, as Obooki points out above, it's not exactly a short book either). Naturally, just keeping up with the flurry of posts about the novel would also be appreciated by the various group readers. Cheers!

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  5. I'm well prepared. Since you first mentioned this book I got a cheap used copy - in German. It is also out of print in German. That means I'm probaaly reading a totally different book from anyone else but I'll still try to join you all.

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    1. Caroline, outstanding news (about you joining us if not about the book being out of print in German)! And I'm strangely happy to see another translation language added to our list given Guimarães Rosa's own polyglot abilities and language interests.

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    2. I must have grabbed one of the last used copies available.
      I like the idea that they kept the title of the original. Hopefully the translation is good.

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    3. Anybody who's participating in our group read deserves one of the last available copies of this book and a good translation. Glad to hear you're already at least halfway there!

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  6. you going struggle will order at library but at moment showing three copies on world cat in the uk library system ,if I get one will join in ,all the best stu

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    1. Stu, I'm going to count you in among the group readers given our e-mail exchange earlier today and your conversations on Twitter about trying to locate a loaner copy of the book. No pressure if the book hunt doesn't pan out, but I'm delighted to hear that it looks like you'll probably be able to read along with us!

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  7. Nice. It's turning out to be a Rosean litfest, in at least 5 languages!

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    1. Rise, yes, we're off to a running start with both the numbers of readers and the languages in play--should be great discussion potential with this particular group, too!

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  8. Wow. Good choice. Good luck!

    I doubt I will join in, although it is awfully tempting.

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    1. Thanks, Tom, and please note that nobody will hold it against you if you change your mind. You have two months to come to your senses, etc., etc. Anyway, hope you'll have the time to visit a readalong post or two whether the temptation gets to you or not in the end. Cheers!

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  9. I have it in French. I think I'll never read it if I don't enter a readalong. So, unless I have huge workload in the office (possible at this time of year), I'll join you.

    Emma

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    1. Emma, wonderful news--merci! Of course, no worries if you get too busy or the book doesn't work out for you for other reasons. Cheers!

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  10. I got to know of this readalong through Caroline's post. I would love to join, provided I can find a copy. It is really sad that such a great work of literature is no longer in print. I hope the publishers do something about that. I found a scanned copy of the English translation of the book on the internet here. That is where I am planning to read it. Normally I buy a copy of the book that I want to read and don't read copies on the internet, especially when the book is not out of copyright, but what does one do, if the book is out-of-print and the publishers don't care to come out with a new edition? It is better to read a book than not to, isn't it? :) Also, isn't there an old story which says that a book is alive as long as a reader is reading it right now? Thanks to you, Miguel, Rise and Scott for hosting this. You guys are doing a wonderful service to Brazilian literature - admire you guys!

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