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João Guimarães Rosa

The diplomat and writer João Guimarães Rosa (1908–1967) is considered one of Brazil’s most important novelists, often compared with authors such as James Joyce because of the extensive experimentation with language in his work.Vilém Flusser and Guimarães Rosa were close friends until Guimarães Rosa’s death. Guimarães Rosa is thus a frequent theme in Flusser’s essays, at least after the publication of Língua e Realidade [Language and Reality] (1963), which was enthusiastically read and highly praised by Guimarães Rosa.

For his part, Flusser initially displayed great admiration for Guimarães Rosa’s writing and his character; thanks to him, wrote Flusser, “Portuguese is clearly taking on the characteristics of a poetic, philosophical, and theological language, to participate henceforth in the dialogue of theWest” (Da Religiosidade, 2002, p. 158; translated from the Portuguese). Later, in his philosophical autobiography Bodenlos [No Firm Ground] (1992), Flusser would leaven this admiration with a critical perspective. To the philosopher, Guimarães Rosa had betrayed his transcendental, spiritual immortality in favor of his desire for fame and recognition (for an “immanent immortality”) (Bodenlos, 1992, p. 141). In no way, however, did this diminish Guimarães Rosa’s importance – a writer with whom the Portuguese language became “conscious of itself and turned against itself” (Bodenlos, 2007, p. 137; translated from the Portuguese).

According to Flusser, the characters Guimarães Rosa created represent mythical humanity’s unceasing travels along paths with no fixed destination, and are therefore constantly seeking the other. Thus it is no surprise that Flusser admired stories such as “MeuTio o Iauaretê” [My Uncle the Jaguar] (1961), in which the characters, because they are uprooted and inhabit the world of myth, are identified with oxen, asses, flowers – in short, with animals and elements of nature (Bodenlos, 1992, p. 142).To mark the publication of the German translation of Grande Sertão: Veredas [Great Backlands: Paths] in 1964, Guimarães Rosa’s 1956 magnum opus (which appeared in English in 1963 as The Devil to Pay in the Backlands), Flusser published the article “Guimarães Rosa oder: Das Große Hinterland des Geistes” [Guimarães Rosa; or, The Great Backland of the Mind] in the journal Merkur in 1965.

Original article by Erick Felinto in Flusseriana

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joao_guimaraes_rosa.txt · Last modified: 2023/03/12 19:44 by steffi_winkler