Several weeks ago, we profiled a lady who began writing plays at the age of 52 and is still going strong at 72. Today we bring you a dude who was dead at 20, yet his plays and other works are still required reading in Brazil.
Manuel Antônio Álvares de Azevedo was a precocious learner. In college he studied English, French and German. Through his reading, he came to know of Lord Byron, François-René de Chateaubriand, Victor Hugo, George Sand, William Shakespeare, John Keats, Manuel du Bocage, Dante Alighieri, Alfred de Musset, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Alphonse de Lamartine and Thomas Chatterton, All of these influenced his writing.
He wrote a bunch of stuff in his short life including essays, short stories, poetry and yes, plays.
Before we jump into his writing, I only knew Àlvares de Azevedo as a Gothic writer –
And as such I guess I expected his work to be kinda like a Brazilian Poe.
Note to self: go into this sorta thing with little to no expectations. Àlvares de Azevedo’s work is indeed Gothic, but it is also mind-numbingly misogynistic – Poe has been accused of misogyny but has been defended against the same. I don’t think Àlvares de Azevedo’s plays can really be defended all that well.
Seriously, I wasn’t disturbed by the cannibalism or even necrophilia in his works, but it was the overall abusive attitudes towards women that bothered me.
Warning: if fictional scenes and depictions of violence against women disturb you, feel free to read a different post.
The main reason I’m profiling him here is that his place in Brazilian literature is so extremely high that he should at least be known in the Anglosphere. I couldn’t even find an English translation of these two plays. Let’s hop right into it:
Act I: Massive douchebag Macário, on his way home, stops at a tavern to spend the night, is a jerk to the hired help and meets a stranger who turns out to be Satan and leads him to a desolate city. Macario wakes up in a tavern with. He thinks it was all a dream, but he sees burned goat tracks on the bedroom floor.
Act II: Macário follows Satan to Italy. Other students show up. They’re confused, depressed and in search of love. Macário’s friend Penseroso, was happy in his relationship, but ends up committing suicide. Finally Satan and Macario ended up at an abandoned church (metaphor alert) where they see five guys getting drunk. This is actually a setup for the second play, Noite na Taverna.
That’s like an official synopsis – these were the notes I made while reading it:
Macario douchebag – drunk asshole – mean to women
Macario accosted by Satan
Talk about women
Satan talks about a 5000 year old angel with icy breasts
satan kills his mom
references famous literature
debate with boarders
Now Álvarez de Azevedo does have talent. The two things that stand out are his composition skills. Dude does indeed write like a poet and he does it quite well. Secondly, he has imagination. True, he’s drawing from all the hot, young writers of the Romantic period, but he does it very well.
Anyways, let’s take a look at some dialogue from this play (in Portuguese and the English in blue):
Numa estalagem de estrada.
MACÁRIO, fallando para fora.
Olá, mulher da venda! Ponhão-me na sala uma garrafa
de vinho. Façào a cama, e mandeni-me ceia : palavra de
honra que estou com fome ! Dêm alguma ponta de charuto
ao burro que está suado como um frade bêbado ! Sobre-
tudo não esqueçào o vinho !
lia aguardente unicamente, mas boa.
Aguardente! Pensas que sou algum jornaleiro?…
Andar seis léguas e sentir-se com a goela secca ! oh I
mulher maldita ! aposto que também não tens agua?
E pura, senhor 1 Corre ali embaixo uma fonte que é lim-
pa como o vidro e fria como uma noite do geada. (Saiic.)
Eis-alii o resultado das viagens. Um burro frouxo, uma
garrafa vasia. (Tira uma jjarrafa do bolso.) Cognac ! És um
bello companlieiro de viagem. És silencioso como um
vigário em caminhd, mas no silencio que inspiras, como
nas noites de luar, ergue-se ás vezes um canto mysterioso
que enleva ! Cognac ! Náo te ama quem não te entende !
Náo te amào essas boccas femmís acostumadas ao mel en-
joado da vida, que não anceião prazeres desconhecidos,
sensações mais fortes 1 E cis-te ahi vasia, minha garrafa !
Vãsia como mulher bella que morreu! Hei de fazer-te
E não ter nem um gole de vinho! Quando não ha o
amor, ha o vinho; quando não ha o vinho ha o fumo;
e quando não ha amor, nem vinho, nem fumo, ha o
spleen. O spleen encarnado na sua forma mais lúgubre,
naquella velha taverneira repassada de aguardente que
NOW IN ENGLISH
In a roadside inn.
MACÁRIO, stumbling out.
Hello, shop woman! Put a bottle
of wine for me in the living room.
Make the bed, and send me supper: I swear that I’m hungry!
A some cigar butt
to the burro who is sweating like a drunken friar! Above
all don’t forget the wine!
He only reads liquor,, but well.
Brandy! Do you think I’m some journalist?
I walk six leagues and my throat feels dry! oh l
Damn you woman! I bet you have no water, either?
And pure, sir. Run down there a fountain that is clean.
pa as glass and cold as a frost night. (EXIT)
This is the result of travel. A loose burro, a
copper bottle (He takes a jug from his pocket.) Cognac! You are
A beautiful fellow traveler. You’re as silent as a
Vicar on a walk, but in the silence that you inspire, as
on moonlit nights, sometimes a mysterious corner rises!
Cognac! Do not love one who does not understand you!
I do not love you these female mouths accustomed to the sweet life,
who don’t know ancient pleasures,
stronger sensations And you clear my bottle!
Go away like a beautiful woman who died! I’ll make you
And don’t have a sip of wine! When there is no
love, there is wine; when there is no wine there is smoke;
and when there is neither love, wine, nor smoke, there is
anger. Anger incarnate in its most dismal form,
The inside of that old barn stinks from the brandy that pervades there.
Macário talks like a poet, albeit a sadistic one who bosses around others. He has plenty more abuse where that comes from:
Entra a mulher com uma bandeja.
Eis-aqui a ceia.
Ceia! que diabo de comida verde é essa? Será algum
feixe de capim? Leva para o burro. •
Leva para o burro.
É fritado em toicinho
Leva para o burro com todos os diabos!
(Atira-lhe o prato na cabeça. A mulher sai. Macário come).
Enter the woman with a tray.
Here’s the supper.
Supper! What the hell kind of green food is this? Will there be some
beam of grass? Take it to the donkey.
It’s cabbage …
Take it to the donkey.
It’s fried in bacon
Take it to the donkey with all the devils!
(Throws his plate at her head. The woman EXITS. Macário eats).
One way you can see how a person is happens to be how they treat people they’re not required to be nice to (i.e. hired help, restaurant employees, bus drivers, etc) I’d advise against dating Macário unless you want a headful of cabbage tray.
Pergunta à taverneira se apertei-lhe o cotovelo, pisquei-lhe o olho, ou pus-lhe a mão nas tetas.
Uma mulher! Todas elas são assim. As que não são assim por fora o são por dentro. Algumas em falta de cabelos na cabeça os têm no coração. As mulheres são como as espadas, às vezes a bainha é de oiro e de esmalte e a folha é ferrugenta.
Falas como um descrido, como um saciado! E contudo ainda tens os beiços de criança! Quantos seios de mulher beijaste além do seio de tua ama de leite? Quantos lábios além dos de tua irmã?
A vagabunda que dorme nas ruas, a mulher que se vende corpo e alma, porque sua alma é tão desbotada como seu corpo, te digam minhas noites. Talvez muita virgem tenha suspirado por mim! Talvez agora mesmo alguma donzela se ajoelhe na cama e reze por mim!
I asked the taverna whether I could shake her elbow, wink at her, or put my hand on her tits.
A woman! They’re all like that. Those that are not so outside are inside. Some who lack hair on their heads have them in their hearts. Women are like swords, sometimes the scabbard is of gold and enamel and the blade is rusty.
You speak like a disciple, like one who is tired! And yet you still have the child’s lips! How many breasts of a woman have you kissed beyond the bosom of your nursemaid? How many lips besides those of your sister?
The slut who sleeps in the streets, the woman who sells body and soul, because her soul is as faded as her body, can tell you my nights. Maybe a lot of virgins have sighed for me! Maybe now some maid will kneel on the bed and pray for me!
If anyone needed prayer, it’s certainly this spankshaft. I bet, like most braggarts, Macário’s blade is the rusty one.
Na verdade és belo. Que idade tens?
Vinte anos. Mas meu peito tem batido nesses vinte anos tantas vezes como o de um outro homem em quarenta.
E amaste muito?
Sim e não. Sempre e nunca.
Mais claro que o dia. Se chamas o amor a troca de duas temperaturas, o aperto de dois sexos, a convulsão de dois peitos que arquejam, o beijo de duas bocas que tremem, de duas vidas que se fundem tenho amado muito e sempre! Se chamas o amor o sentimento casto e poro que faz cismar o pensativo, que faz chorar o amante na relva onde passou a beleza, que adivinha o perfume dela na brisa, que pergunta às aves, à manhã, à noite, às harmonias da música, que melodia é mais doce que sua voz, e ao seu coração, que formosura há mais divina que a dela—eu nunca amei. Ainda não achei uma mulher assim. Entre um charuto e uma chávena de café lembro-me às vezes de alguma forma divina, morena, branca, loira, de cabelos castanhos ou negros. Tenho-as visto que fazem empalidecer—e meu peito parece sufocar meus lábios se gelam, minha mão se esfria..
Parece-me então que se aquela mulher que me faz estremecer assim soltasse sua roupa de veludo e me deixasse por os lábios sobre seu seio um momento, eu morreria num desmaio de prazer! Mas depois desta vem outra— mais outra—e o amor se desfaz numa saudade que se desfaz no esquecimento. Como eu te disse, nunca amei.
You’re really beautiful. How old are you?
Twenty years. But my chest has struck in these twenty years as many times as another man in his forties.
And you loved much?
Yes and no. Always and never.
Lighter than the day. If you call love the exchange of two temperatures, the tightness of two sexes, the convulsion of two breasts that pant, the kiss of two mouths that tremble, of two lives that merge I have loved much and always! If you call love the chaste and pure feeling that makes one thoughtful, that makes the lover cry on the grass where beauty has passed, who guesses the scent of it in the breeze, who asks the birds, morning, night, the harmonies of music, which melody is sweeter than her voice, and to her heart, what beauty is more divine than hers – I have never loved. I have not found a woman like that yet. Between a cigar and a cup of coffee I sometimes remember some divine, brunette, white, blonde, brown or black hair. I have seen them make them pale-and my chest seems to choke my lips frozen, my hand cools ..
It seems to me then that if that woman who makes me tremble so were to loose her velvet clothes and leave me by the lips on her breast a moment, I would die in a faint of pleasure! But after this comes another – another – and love is dissolved in a longing that is forgotten in oblivion. Like I told you, I never did.
Ahem.” some divine, brunette, white, blonde, brown or black hair” What? No redheads?
The whole “I would die in a faint of pleasure!” line reminded me of a song. Probably about Macário.
Pouca coisa. Beleza, virgindade, inocência, amor.
Notai que por beleza indico um corpo bem feito, arredondado, setinoso, uma pele macia e rosada, um cabelo de seda-froixa e uns pés mimosos.
Quanto à virgindade?
Eu a quereria virgem na alma como no corpo. Quereria que ela nunca tivesse sentido a menor emoção por ninguém. Nem por um primo, nem por um irmão Que Deus a tivesse criado adormecida na alma até ver-me como aquelas princesas encantadas dos contos—que uma fada adormecera por cem anos. Quereria que um anjo a cobrisse sempre com seu véu, e a banhasse todas as noites do seu óleo divino para guardá-la santa! Quereria que ela viesse criança transformar-se em mulher nos meus beijos.
Muito bem, mancebo! E esperas essa mulher?
E é no lodo da prostituição que hás-de encontrá-la?
Talvez! É no lodo do oceano que se encontram as pérolas
Little thing. Beauty, virginity, innocence, love.
Note that for beauty I include a well-made body, rounded, silky, soft and rosy skin, hair like a silk-scarf and tender feet.
What about virginity?
I would want her as a virgin in the soul as in the body. She wished she had never felt the least emotion for anyone. Not for a cousin, or for a brother. May God have created her asleep in her soul until she saw me like those enchanted fairy princesses-a fairy that had fallen asleep for a hundred years. She would want an angel to cover her with her veil, and bathe her every night of her divine oil to keep her holy! I’d want her to become a child in my kisses.
Very well, young man! And you expect this woman?
And is it in the slime of prostitution that you will find it?
Perhaps! It is in the mud of the ocean that the pearls are found.
I can’t but think of the time in 4th grade when our teacher read The Pearl to us.
Macário continues imparting poetic wis-dumb:
Tens razão: a virgindade da alma pode existir numa prostituta, e não existir numa virgem de corpo.—Há flores sem perfume, e perfume sem flores. Mas eu não sou como os outros. Acho que uma taça vazia pouco vale, mas não beberia o melhor vinho numa xícara de barro.
You are right: the virginity of the soul may exist in a prostitute, and not in a virgin of body.-There are flowers without perfume, and perfume without flowers. But I’m not like the others. I think an empty glass is not worth it, but I would not drink the best wine in a cup of clay.
never drink the best wine in a cup of clay drink whatever you want in whatever vessel suits you.
After selling his soul, His Satanic Majesty tells Macário of what’s to be found in this town in Italy:
Por acaso também há mulheres ali?
Mulheres, padres, soldados e estudantes. As mulheres são mulheres, os padres são soldados, os soldados são padres, e os estudantes são estudantes: para falar mais claro: as mulheres são lascivas, os padres dissolutos, os soldados ébrios, os estudantes vadios. Isto salvo honrosas exceções, por exemplo, de amanhã em diante, tu.
Are there women there too?
Women, priests, soldiers and students. Women are women, priests are soldiers, soldiers are priests, and students are students: to speak more clearly: women are lewd, oriests dissident, soldiers drunk, students lost. This save honorable exceptions, for example, from tomorrow onwards, you.
They visit the ruins of a church. You wanna know how to make Satan angry? Ask him if he really is Satan.
E tu és mesmo Satan?
É nisso que pensavas? És uma criança. De certo que querias ver-me nu e ébrio como Caliban, envolto no tradicional cheiro de enxofre! Sangue de Baco! Sou o diabo em pessoa! Nem mais nem menos: porque tenha luvas de pelica, e ande de calças à inglesa, e tenha os olhos tão azuis como uma alemã! Queres que te jure pela Virgem Maria?
And you really are Satan?
Is that what you thought? You’re a kid. Of course you wanted to see me naked and drunk as Caliban, wrapped in the traditional smell of sulfur! Blood of Bacchus! I am the devil in person! No more and no less: because I have pelican gloves, and I wear pants in the English style, and have eyes as blue as a German! Do you want me to swear by the Virgin Mary?
But Macário is saving the best diss for last:
Eis o que é profundamente verdade! Perguntai ao libertino que venceu o orgulho de cem virgens e que passou outras tantas noites no leito de cem devassas, perguntai a D. Juan, Hamlet ou ao Faust o que é a mulher, e . nenhum o saberá dizer. E isso que te digo não é romantismo. Amanhã numa taverna poderás achar Romeu com a criada da estalagem, verás D. Juan com Julietas, Hamlet ou Faust sob a casaca de um dandy. É que esses tipos são velhos e eternos como o sol. E a humanidade que os estuda desde os primeiros tempos ainda não entende esses míseros, cuja desgraça é não entender e o sábio que os vê a seu lado deixa esse estudo para pensar nas estrelas; o médico, que talvez foi moço de coração e amou e creu, e desesperou e descreu, ri-se das doenças da alma e só vê a nostalgia na ruptura de um vaso, o amor concentrado quando se materializa numa tísica. Se Antony ainda vive e deu-se à medicina é capaz de receitar uma dose de jalapa para uma dor íntima; um cautério para uma dor de coração!
Falas como um livro, como dizem as velhas. Só Deus ou tu sabes se o Ramée ou D. Cesar de Basan, Santa Teresa ou Marion Delorme, o sábio ou o ignorante, Creso ou Iro, Goethe ou o mendigo ébrio que canta, entenderam a vida. Quem sabe onde está a verdade? nos sonhos do poeta, nas visões do monge, nas canções obscenas do marinheiro, na cabeça do doido, na palidez do cadáver, ou no vinho ardente da orgia? Quem sabe?
This is what is profoundly true! Ask the libertine who has won the pride of a hundred virgins and who has spent so many nights in the bed of a hundred sluts, ask D. Juan, Hamlet or Faust what the woman is, and. none can tell. And what I’m telling you is not romanticism. Tomorrow in a tavern you will find Romeo with the maid of the inn, you will see D. Juan with Juliets, Hamlet or Faust in the coat of a dandy. It’s just that these guys are old and eternal like the sun. And humanity that studies them from the earliest times still does not understand these miserable ones, whose misfortune it is not to understand, and the sage who sees them by his side leaves this study to think of the stars; the doctor, who was perhaps a young man of heart and loved and believed, and despaired and disbelieved, laughs at the diseases of the soul and only sees the nostalgia in the rupture of a vessel, the love concentrated when it materializes in a physical. If Antony still lives and gave himself to medicine he is able to prescribe a dose of flower for an intimate pain; a cauterization for a heartache!
You talk like a book, as old women say. Only God or you know if Ramée or D. Cesar de Basan, Saint Teresa or Marion Delorme, the wise or the ignorant, Croesus or Iro, Goethe or the drunken beggar who sings, understood life. Who knows where the truth is? in the poet’s dreams, in the monk’s visions, in the obscene songs of the sailor, in the madman’s head, in the pallor of the corpse, or in the wine of the orgy? Who knows?
“You talk like a book, Satan”
Then there’s that one friend Macário had:
Adeus, Penseroso. Eu pensei que tu me acordavas a vida no peito. Mas a fibra em que tocaste e onde foste despertar uma harmonia é uma fibra maldita, cheia de veneno e de morte. Adeus. Penseroso. Ai daquele a quem um verme roeu a flor da vida como a Werther! A descrença é a filha enjeitada do desespero. Faust é Werther que envelheceu, e o suicídio da alma é o cadáver de um coração. O desfolhar das ilusões anuncia o inverno da vida.
Onde vais, onde vais?
Onde vou todas as noites. Vagarei à toa pelos campos até que o sono feche meus olhos e que eu adormeça na relva fria das orvalhadas da noite. Adeus.
Good-bye, Penseroso. I thought you remembered me in your chest. But the fiber in which you have touched and where you have awakened a harmony is a cursed fiber, full of poison and death. Bye. Penseroso. Woe to him whom a worm has gnawed at the flower of life like Werther! Disbelief is the daughter of despair. Faust is Werther who has aged, and the suicide of the soul is the corpse of a heart. The stripping of illusions heralds the winter of life.
Where are you going, where are you going?
Where I go every night. I will roam the fields until sleep closes my eyes and I fall asleep on the cold grass of the dewy nights. Bye.
Penseroso sounds like a morose (if well-read) barrel of laughs.
Macário asks Satan where they’re headed:
A uma orgia. Vais ler uma página da vida cheia de sangue e de vinho—que importa?
É aqui, não? Ouco vociferar a saturnal lá dentro.
Paremos aqui. Espia nessa janela.
Eu vejo-os. É uma sala fumacenta. À roda da mesa estão sentados cinco homens ébrios. Os mais revolvem-se no chão. Dormem ali mulheres desgrenhadas, umas lívidas, outras vermelhas Que noite!
Que vida! não é assim? Pois bem! escuta, Macário.
Há homens para quem essa vida é mais suave que a outra. O vinho é como o ópio, é o Letes do esquecimento…
A embriaguez é como a morte. . .
Cala-te. Ouçamos. ___________________________
To an orgy. Are you going to read a page of life full of blood and wine-what does it matter?
It’s here, isn’t it? I gasp at the orgy inside.
Let’s stop here. Check out that window.
I see them. It’s a smoky room. Five drunken men sit round the table. Others rolled out on the ground. There loose women are sleeping, some pale, some red. What a night!
What life! it’s not like this? Well! listen, Macário.
There are men for whom this life is softer than the other. Wine is like opium, it is the Letes of forgetfulness …
Drunkenness is like death. . .
Shut up. Let’s listen. ___________________________
Note to self: “Don’t invite Satan to next orgy.”
“Drunkenness is like death…” “Shut up.” Macário sure knows how to talk to Satan.
And here is a short student-made film of Macário.
NOITE NA TAVERNA
This is the sequel to Macário and it takes the cray-cray factor to infinity and beyond.
Though written as a book of short stories, it is primarily dialogue and is often performed as a play. This conflict is apparent even in the Wikipedia articles:
Naturally the Dutch side with the English. Probably still pissed off from the time the Dutch tried to colonize Brazil.
The first chapter, set in a European city, introduces five characters, each of whom seems to be douchier than Macário. They drink a lot and talk about having sex with women. A lot. Then each takes turns telling some sort of screwed up horror story. Moments from this part:
— Oh! vazio meu copo esta vazio! Olá taverneira, não vês que as garrafas estão esgotadas? Não sabes, desgraçada, que os lábios da garrafa são como os da mulher: só valem beijos enquanto o fogo do vinho ou o fogo do amor os borrifa de lava?
— O vinho acabou-se nos copos, Bertram, mas o fumo ondula ainda nos cachimbos! Após os vapores do vinho os vapores da fumaça! Senhores, em nome de sodas as nossas reminiscências, de todos os nossos sonhos que mentiram, de sodas as nossas esperanças que desbotaram, uma ultima saúde! A taverneira aí nos trouxe mais vinho: uma saúde! O fumo é a imagem do idealismo, é o transunto de tudo quanto ha mais vaporoso naquele espiritualismo que nos fala da imortalidade da alma! é pois, ao fumo das Antilhas, a imortalidade da alma!
— Oh! Empty my glass is empty! Do not you see that the bottles are exhausted? Don’t you know, unhappily, that the lips of the bottle are like the lips of a woman: the kisses are only valuable while the fire of wine or the fire of love sprinkles them with lava?
— The wine has run out of glasses, Bertram, but the smoke still ripples in the pipes!” After the wine vapors the fumes of the smoke! Gentlemen, in the name of our reminiscences, of all our dreams that lied, of soda bicarbonate of our faded hopes, one last toast! The clerk there brought us more wine: to health! Smoking is the image of idealism, it is the transpose of all that is most vaporous in that spiritualism that tells us of the immortality of the soul! it is, to the smoke of the Antilles, the immortality of the soul!
Buncha drunk poets…
— Estas ébrio, Johann! O ateísmo é a insânia como o idealismo místico de Schelling, o panteísmo de Spinoza o judeu, e o crente de Malebranche nos seus sonhos da visão em Deus. A verdadeira filosofia e o epicurismo. Hume bem o disse: o fim do homem é o prazer. Dai vede que é o elemento sensível quem domina. E pois ergamonos, nós que amanhecemos nas noites desbotadas de estudo insano, e vimos que a ciência é falsa e esquiva, que ela mente e embriaga como um beijo de mulher.
– You’re drunk, Johann! Atheism is insanity just like Schelling’s mystical idealism, the pantheism of Spinoza the Jew, and the believer of Malebranche in his dreams of vision in God. True philosophy and Epicureanism. Hume well said it: the end of man is pleasure. See that it is the sensitive element that dominates. And then we wake up, we dawn on the faded nights of insane study, and we see that science is false and elusive, that it lies and intoxicates like a woman’s kiss.
Get drunk, talk about Spinoza. Got it.
First, it is Solfieri’s turn:
I’m gonna raid Wikipedia for this and then add any necessary commentary:
“When in Rome, on a rainy night, Solfieri sees a shadow crying over a window. He realizes it is a beautiful woman. She leaves the house and Solfieri decides to follow her, and they ultimately arrive at a nearby cemetery. There, the woman cries, kneeling before a headstone, as Solfieri falls asleep watching her from afar.
One year later, Solfieri, wandering the streets of Rome after taking part in an orgy, ends into a church inadvertently. He sees a coffin and, after listening to breathing noises inside, opens it, and sees the cemetery lady he met the year before inside it. After realizing that she is still alive (but in a catalepsic state), he carries her through the city. Arriving at his home, the woman dies two days later, of a very high fever. Solfieri buries her under the floorboards of his bedroom and pays a sculptor for a statuette built in the woman’s likeness.”
Some choice moments from Solfieri:
Sabei-lo. Roma é a cidade do fanatismo e da perdição: na alcova do sacerdote dorme a gosto a amásia, no leito da vendida se pendura o Crucifixo lívido. É um requintar de gozo blasfemo que mescla o sacrilégio a convulsão do amor, o beijo lascivo a embriaguez da crença!
Know it. Rome is the city of fanaticism and doom: in the priest’s bedroom, the lover sleeps, the livid Crucifix hangs on the bed of the sold. It is a refinement of blasphemous enjoyment that mixes sacrilege with the convulsion of love, the lecherous kiss of the drunkenness of belief!
Abriu a camisa, e viram-lhe ao pescoço uma grinalda de flores mirradas.
— Vede-a murcha e seca como o crânio dela!
He opened his shirt, and they saw a wreath of scarlet flowers around his neck.
“See her as dry and dry as her skull!”
Apparently his buddies don’t believe him until he shows them her funerary flowers around his neck.
Here’s a student production of Solfieri’s story. That’s the beauty of Noite na Taverna: Brazilian students want good grades like everyine else.
“Bertram tells the story of his ill-fated love for a Spanish woman from Cádiz, named Angela. Amidst their romance, Bertram’s sick father, living in Denmark, calls for him. He goes, returning two years later; however, during the time he was away, Angela marries another man, having a son with him. Despite this, Bertram tries to maintain his affair with her, but Angela’s husband finds out everything. Before her husband kills her, she kills him and her child, and flees with Bertram.
One day, without further explanations, she leaves him. Bertram sinks into despair as he tries to forget Angela; subdued by woe, he faints in the middle of a street and is run over by a chariot. The passengers of the chariot, an old man and his 18-year-old daughter, help him and take him to their mansion so he can recover. Bertram gets in love with the lady and they flee together, but he ultimately gets bored with her and sells the lady to a pirate in a card game. Later, he would learn that the girl poisoned the pirate and threw herself in the sea.
Having moved to Italy, Bertram decides to kill himself there, but when he is about to do it, he is saved by a sailor whom he kills unintentionally. Bertram spends some time in the sailor’s ship (a corvette), where he gets in love with the captain’s wife, being requited.
In the midst of this affair, the ship is attacked by pirates and sinks, but not without making the other one sink too. The captain, his wife, Bertram and two other unnamed sailors are able to save themselves in a raft. Some time later, with no water or food, the two unnamed sailors being washed out by the sea, the three lot in order to discover who will be killed and serve as food for the others. The chosen one is the captain, but he does not accept his fate and fights for his life. He loses the fight however, and Bertram and the woman are obligated to eat him because of the lack of food, maintaining themselves for two days.
Arriving at a beach, both already weakened by hunger, the woman asks Bertram for a last moment of love before her death. Afraid of dying, Bertram strangles her and lives at the beach in complete solitude until he is found by a British brig that rescues him.”
I prefer the notes I took while reading this:
Cadiz – Denmark
Here are some nuggets of Bertram’s wisdom:
— Sabeis, uma mulher levou-me a perdição. Foi ela quem me queimou a fronte nas orgias, e desbotou-me os lábios no ardor dos vinhos e na moleza de seus beijos: quem me fez devassar pálido as longas noites de insônia nas mesas do jogo, e na doidice dos abraços convulsos com que ela me apertava o seio! Foi ela, vós o sabeis, quem fez-me num dia ter três duelos com meus três melhores amigos, abrir três túmulos àqueles que mais me amavam na vida ― e depois, depois sentir-me só e abandonado no mundo, como a infanticida que matou o seu filho, ou aquele Mouro infeliz junto a sua Desdêmona pálida!
Pois bem, vou contar-vos uma história que começa pela lembrança desta mulher.
–You know, a woman led me to perdition. It was she who made me go mad in the orgies, and faded my lips in the ardor of the wines and the limp of their kisses: who made me pale during the long sleepless nights at the tables of the game, and the madness of the convulsive embraces with which she squeezed my breast! It was she, you know, who made me have three duels with my three best friends in one day, opening three tombs to those who loved me the most in life – and then, afterwards, feeling alone and abandoned in the world, like the infanticide that killed his son, or that unhappy Moor next to his pale Desdemona!
Well, I’ll tell you a story that begins with the memory of this woman.
Another dude led to perdition by a woman. More orgies. Yawn.
Era alta noite: eu esperava ver passar nas cortinas brancas a sombra do anjo. Quando passei, uma voz chamou-me. Entrei — Ângela com os pés nus, o vestido solto, o cabelo desgrenhado e os olhos ardentes tomou-me pela mão Senti-lhe a mão úmida Era escura a escada que subimos: passei a minha mão molhada pela dela por meus lábios. — Tinha saibo de sangue.
— Sangue, Ângela! De quem é esse sangue?
A Espanhola sacudiu seus longos cabelos negros é riu-se.
It was high night: I expected to see the shadow of the angel in the white curtains. As I passed, a voice called out to me. I entered – Ângela with bare feet, loose dress, shaggy hair and burning eyes took me by the hand I felt her wet hand. The ladder we climbed was dark. I ran my hand by her wet lips. – I knew blood.
– Blood, Ângela! Whose blood is this?
The Spaniard shook her long black hair and laughed.
You know your relationship is gonna have problems when you have to ask your girlfriend whose blood this.
— Vês, Bertram, esse era o meu presente: agora será, negro embora, um sonho do meu passado. Sou tua é tua só. Foi por ti que tive força bastante para tanto crime Vem, tudo esta pronto, fujamos. A nós o futuro!
–You see, Bertram, this was my gift: now it will be black, though, a dream of my past. I am yours and yours alone. It was for you that I had enough strength for so much crime Come, everything is ready, let’s run away. To us the future!
A black gift? Like a cute pug puppy, right?
Solfieri gets nauseated by Bertram’s disgusting tale:
— Por que empalideces, Solfieri? a vida é assim. Tu o saber como eu o sei. O que é o homem? é a escuma que ferve hoje na torrente e amanhã desmaia: alguma coisa de louco e movediço como a vaga, de fatal como o sepulcro! O que é a existência? Na mocidade é o caleidoscópio das ilusões:: vive-se então da seiva do futuro. Depois envelhecemos quando chegamos aos trinta anos é o suor das agonias nos grisalhou os cabelos antes do tempo, e murcharam como nossas faces as nossas esperanças, oscilamos entre o passado visionário, e este amanhã do velho, gelado e ermo — despido como um cadáver que se banha antes de dar a sepultura! Miséria! Loucura!
– Why are you pale, Solfieri? Life is like this. You know how I know it. What is man? it is the scum that boils in the torrent today, and tomorrow it faints: something as mad and unstable as the wave, fatal as the grave! What is existence? In youth it is the kaleidoscope of illusions: it is then living off the sap of the future. Then we grow old when we reach the age of thirty. The sweat of agonies has made our hair gray before time, and our faces have shrunk our hopes, we have wavered between the visionary past, and this tomorrow of the old, icy and wilderness – naked as a corpse bathed before entering the grave! Misery! madness!
But wherever there’s starvation and cannibalism, there’s lust! [always comes in threes]
Eu e a mulher do comandante passamos — um dia, dois — sem comer nem beber…
Então ela propôs-me morrer comigo. — Eu disse-lhe que sim. Esse dia foi a ultima agonia do amor que nos queimava: gastamo-lo em convulsões para sentir ainda o mel fresco da voluptuosidade banhar-nos os lábios… Era o gozo febril que podem ter duas criaturas em delírio de morte. Quando soltei-me dos braços dela a fraqueza a fazia desvairar. O delírio tornava-se mais longo, mais longo: debruçava-se nas ondas e bebia a água salgada, e oferecia-m’a nas mãos pálidas, dizendo que era vinho. As gargalhadas frias vinham mais de entuviada
Me and the commander’s wife passed – one day, two – without eating or drinking …
So she proposed to die with me. I told you so. This day was the last agony of love that burned us: we spent it in convulsions to still feel the fresh honey of voluptuousness bathe our lips … It was the feverish enjoyment that two creatures can have in death’s delirium. When I let go of her arms the weakness made her go wild. The delirium grew longer, longer: it bent over the waves and drank salt water, and offered it to me in pale hands, saying it was wine. The cold laughter came over her.
She was crazy.
He reminds me of that dude who’s always telling you how crazy his exes are except you know he’s actually the crazy one.
And, like the other stories in Noite na Taverna, it makes for a great student project:
“The painter Gennaro reminisces of when he was the young apprentice of the famous Godofredo Walsh. Walsh had a young, beautiful wife named Nauza (whom Gennaro loved) and a young, beautiful daughter named Laura (who loved Gennaro). One day, Laura gets pregnant of Gennaro, but when she proposes marriage to him, he declines. Displeased, she gradually sinks into depression and dies, taking the baby with her.
The old painter, not knowing anything, visits his daughter’s bedroom every night and, because of this, Gennaro starts sleeping with his wife. However, the painter is able to make Gennaro confess everything in a certain night. Days later, Godofredo takes Gennaro to a cliff and tries to kill him; however, he survives the fall and decides to return to Godofredo’s house – initially planning to apologize, but later he changes his mind and decides to take his revenge on the painter and murder him. However, when he arrives at the painter’s house, he finds both Nauza and Godofredo dead.”
Here are my original notes:
Off the cliff!
In Gennaro’s own words:
— Sim: e uma das minhas historias: sabes, Bertram, eu sou pintor, e uma lembrança triste essa que vou revelar, porque e a historia de um velho e de duas mulheres, belas como duas visões de luz.
Godofredo Walsh era um desses velhos sublimes, em cujas cabeças as cãs semelham o diadema prateado do gênio. Velho já, casara em segundas núpcias com uma beleza de vinte anos. era pintor: diziam uns que este casamento fora um amor artístico por aquela beleza Romana, como que feita ao molde das belezas antigas — outros criam-no compaixão pela pobre moca que vivia de servir de modelo. O fato e que ele a queria como filha — como Laura, a filha única de seu primeiro casamento — Laura, corada como uma rosa, e loira como um anjo.
– Yes, and one of my stories: you know, Bertram, I am a painter, and a sad memory I shall reveal, because it is the story of an old man and two women, as beautiful as two visions of light.
Godofredo Walsh was one of those sublime old men, in whose heads the gray hairs resemble the silvery diadem of the genius. An old man already, he’d married a second time with a beauty twenty years of age. He was a painter: some said that this marriage had been an artistic love for that Roman beauty, as if it had been molded by the ancient beauties – others created compassion for the poor girl who lived as a model. The fact was that he wanted her as a daughter – like Laura, the only daughter of his first marriage
– – -Laura, flushed like a rose, and blonde as an angel.
Old dude with two young women – another another young dude shows up. What could go wrong? After Godofredo’s young wife dies [after having been impregnated by Gennaro]…
E as noites que o mestre passava soluçando no leito vazio de sua filha, eu as passava no leito dele, nos braços de Nauza.
And the nights that the master passed sobbing in the empty bed of his daughter, I passed them in his bed, in the arms of Nauza.
Godofredo of course catches him. He and Gennaro had to run errands in town – teh road went past a cliff – and, and…
— Gennaro, quero contar-te uma história. E um crime, quero que sejas juiz dele. Um velho era casado com uma moca bela. De outras núpcias tinha uma filha bela também Um aprendiz — um miserável que ele erguera da poeira, como 0 vento as vezes ergue uma folha, mas que ele podia reduzir a ela quando quisesse…
—Gennaro, I want to tell you a story. It’s a crime, I want you to be his judge. An old man was married to a beautiful girl. From his previous marriage, he had a beautiful daughter, too. An apprentice – a miserable man who had risen from the dust, as the wind sometimes raises a leaf, but which he could reduce to dust when he wished …
Please, please kill Gennaro…Godofredo pushes Gennaro off the cliff (yay) but he survives (boo) and goes back to the house where Godofredo has killed his daughter and himself with poison (boo).
Brazilian high school lit classes must be something else:
“Claudius Hermann, an assiduous gambler, spots the beautiful Duchess Eleonora at a horse race and falls in love with her at first sight. He meets her once more in a theatre later on, and during an entire week he stalks her.
In a certain night, he bribes one of the duchess’ lackeys for permission to enter her house for an hour, and also obtains a copy of her bedroom’s keys. He puts sedative in the duchess’ wine and has sex with her, returning for many nights.
One day, however, her husband, Duke Maffio, inadvertently drinks some of the sedative as well. Desperate and afraid of being caught, Claudius plans to kill him, but changes his mind and kidnaps Eleonora instead while she is still sleeping. Arriving in an inn, she wakes up, and Claudius tells her everything, forcing her to stay with him. Optionless, she accepts.
Some days later, Claudius has to leave in order to take care of some affairs; when he returns home, he finds the duchess and her husband dead.”
Yeah. Let’s see those notes again:
Arnold finishes it
But let’s hear what Hermann has to say about this:
Levou-o aos lábios entreabertos dela: e verteu-lhe algumas gotas que ela absorveu sem senti-las. Deitou-a e esperou. Daí a instantes o sono dela era profundíssimo… A bebida era um narcótico onde se misturaram algumas ,gotas daqueles licores excitantes que acordam a febre nas faces e o desejo volutuoso no seio.
He took it to her parted lips: and poured a few drops into her that she absorbed without feeling them. He laid her down and waited. From then on, her sleep was profound… The drink was a narcotic, where a few were mixed with drops of those exciting liquors that awaken the fever in the cheeks and the voluptuous desire in the bosom.
Hermann is a date rapist.
Quando me levantei, embucei-me na capa e sai pelas ruas. Queria ir ter a meu palácio, mas estava tonto como um ébrio. Titubeava e o chão era lúbrico como para quem desmaia. Uma idéia contudo me perseguia. Depois daquela mulher nada houvera mais para mim. Quem uma vez bebeu o suco das uvas purpurinas do paraíso, mais nunca deve inebriar-se do néctar da terra… Quando o mel se esgotasse, o que restava a não ser o suicídio?
When I got up, I slipped into the cloak and went out into the streets. I wanted to go to my palace, but I was as dizzy as a drunken man. I hesitated, and the ground was as seductive as if one were fainting. An idea still haunted me. After that woman there was nothing more for me. Whoever drank the juice of the purple grapes of paradise, but never should be inebriated with the nectar of the earth … When the honey was exhausted, what remained but suicide?
Yes, Hermann, suicide is a viable option for you. For everyone else, there’s the National Suicide Hotline.
So then for some reason Arnold knows the ending to Claudius Hermann’s story:
— Escutai vos todos — disse. — Um dia Claudius entrou em casa. Encontrou o leito ensopado de sangue: e num recanto escuro da alcova um doido abraçado com um cadáver. O cadáver era o de Eleonora: o doido nem o pudéreis conhecer tanto a agonia o desfigurara. Era uma cabeça hirta e desgrenhada, uma tez esverdeada, uns olhos fundos e baços onde o lume da insânia cintilava a furto como a emanação luminosa dos pauis entre as trevas…
Mas ele o conheceu era o Duque Maffio…
Listen everyone – he said. One day Claudius entered the house. He found the bed soaked with blood: and in a dark corner of the alcove a madman embraced with a corpse. The corpse was that of Eleonora: the madman didn’t look the same since agony had disfigured him so much. He had a harsh, shaggy head, a greenish complexion, deep, drooping eyes where the fire of insanity gleamed like the luminous emanation of the pairs in the darkness …
But he knew it was Duke Maffio …
And there’s video!
“Johann’s story begins in a different tavern, located in Paris. He was playing a game of carambole with a blond-haired man named Arthur. Johann was losing the game, while Arthur only needed to score one point to win. When it is Johann’s turn to play, Arthur bumps into the table (accidentally or not), detouring Johann’s ball, thus making him lose the game. Infuriated, he defies Arthur to a duel, which he accepts. They stop at a hotel to get the guns, and the blond man writes two letters. They head to a deserted and dark street. In there, they choose their guns – but only one is loaded.
They shoot. It is revealed that Johann’s gun was the loaded one, and Arthur, before supposedly dying, hands Johann the letters he wrote. The first letter is addressed to Arthur’s mother, and the other one is addressed to his girlfriend; he also hands Johann her address and an engagement ring. Pretending to be Arthur, Johann then decides to steal his girlfriend.
In the morning after they sleep together, Johann is attacked by a mysterious man. After a short struggle, he kills the man. However, after a close inspection, he discovers that the man he killed was his own brother, and Arthur’s girlfriend was his sister.”
This synopsis has several problems. Arthur didn’t give anything to Johann. He asked Johann to take his ring and letters if he died. Also, Johann doesn’t “steal” Giorgia – he rapes her by deception.
Let’s see the notes:
blank & loaded
kills own brother
Now let’s see some text:
Era uma figura loura e mimosa como a de uma donzela. Rosa infantil lhe avermelhava as faces: mas era uma rosa de cor desfeita. Leve buço lhe sombreava o lábio, e pelo oval do rosto uma penugem doirada lhe assomava como a felpa que rebuça o pêssego.
He was a blond, cuddly figure like a maiden. An infant rose reddened his cheeks: but it was a rose of color undone. A slight fluff shone on his lip, and from the oval of his face a reddish fuzz appeared like the plush that stings the peach.
Johann is describing Arthur above.
And now, the video version – I believe this is a short that was a kinda serious production. It intercut’s Johann’s story with scenes of young Álvarez de Azevedo in class.
After Johann’s story, there’s a final chapter – Último Beijo de Amor (Last Kiss of Love)
Último Beijo de Amor
In the last chapter, “Último Beijo de Amor” (“Last Love Kiss”), the orgy ends; everyone is sleeping. A mysterious hooded figure walks into the tavern and kills Johann, and then heads toward a man named Arnold.
The figure is revealed to be Giorgia, Johann’s sister, and Arnold is actually Arthur (who was saved by a passerby after the duel) under a false name. Giorgia reveals to Arthur that she wanted to get her revenge on Johann, and having done so, the honor Johann stole from her when they slept together is finally restored.
After exchanging some love words with Arthur, both decide to commit suicide.
woman shows up
reminds him of his shittiness
So Giorgia gets some vengeance, but not nearly enough to make up for the casual abuse heaped upon women in the story. And of course she dies.
Of course when Giorgia shows up at the end, she’s none too happy:
— Sim, já não sou bela como há cinco anos! É verdade, meu loiro amante! É que a flor de beleza é como todas as flores. Alentai-as ao orvalho da virgindade, ao vento da pureza, e serão belas… Revolvei-as no lodo… e, como os frutos que caem, mergulham nas águas do mar, cobrem-se de um invólucro impuro e salobro! Outrora era Giorgia — a virgem, mas hoje e Giorgia — a prostituta!
-Yes, I’m not as beautiful as I was five years ago!” It’s true, my blond lover! It is that the flower of is like all flowers. Encourage them to the dew of virginity, to the wind of purity, and they will be beautiful … Roll them in the mud … and, like the fruits that fall, they plunge into the waters of the sea, they cover themselves in an impure and brackish envelope! Once it was Giorgia – the virgin, but today it is Giorgia – the prostitute!
“Dew of virginity” Come on. Some guy wrote that.
— Oh! deixa que me lembre: estes cinco anos que passaram foram um sonho. Aquele homem do bilhar, o duelo à queima-roupa, meu acordar num hospital, essa vida devassa onde me lançou a desesperação, isto é um sonho? Oh! lembremo-nos do passado! Quando o inverno escurece o céu, cerremos os olhos; pobres andorinhas moribundas, lembremo-nos da primavera!…
– -Oh! Let me remind you: these five years that passed were a dream. That billiard man, duel at point-blank range, my waking up in a hospital, this wasted life where I was desperate, is this a dream? Oh! let us remember the past! When winter darkens the sky, let us close our eyes; poor moribund swallows, let’s remember spring!
I doubt Johann will make it to spring.
— Giorgia! Era ele um infame. Foi ele quem deixou por morto um mancebo a quem esbofeteara numa casa de jogo. Giorgia — a prostituta! vingou nele Giorgia — a virgem! Esse homem foi quem a desonrou! desonrou-a, a ela que era sua… irmã!
– Giorgia! He was an evil one. He was the one who left a young man dead whom he had slapped at a gambling house. Giorgia – the prostitute! avenged him Giorgia – the virgin! This man was the one who dishonored her! dishonored her, she was his … sister!
Incest in drama. Typical.
A mulher recuava… recuava. O moço tomou-a nos braços, pregou os lábios nos dela… Ela deu um grito e caiu-lhe das mãos. Era horrível de se ver. O moço tomou o punhal, fechou os olhos, apertou-o no peito, e caiu sobre ela. Dois gemidos sufocaram-se no estrondo do baque de um corpo…
A lâmpada apagou-se.
The woman was backing away. The young man took her in his arms, pressed his lips to hers … She screamed and fell from her hands. It was horrible to see. The young man took the dagger, closed his eyes, pressed it to his chest, and fell on it. Two groans choked on the thud of a body …
The lamp went out.
It’s kind of a downer. However, I found Johann’s Story and Último Beijo de Amor to be the least grotesquely misogynistic tales and I adapted them into a neat little one act play and submitted it to an interesting horror festival: they only do adaptations of classic horror. The deadline is February 28th.
There’s always a Youtube video:
One thing that cannot pass without mention is the fact Álvares de Azevedo was Brazilian, yet his plays are set in Europe with hardly a hint of anything Brazilian (or even Portuguese) in them. The only thing Portuguese mentioned is Bocage, who, ironically copied Brazilian forms of poetry.
Another interesting thing is in what high regard he’s held in Brazil, despite his European outlook.
Romanticism and Ultra-romantacism
Here I shall attempt to discuss Àlvares de Azevedo’s work in connection to Romantacism and Ultra-romantacism.
Romantacism, basically is about feelings. It is a push back against The Enlightenment and Age of Reason. Some cool things came from this time, such as countries beginning to abolish torture. The American Revolution as well as Haitian and Latin American independence could be attributed in some ways to The Enlightenment. The Enlightenment even saw the nascent stirrings of (GASP!) feminism.
The US Bill of Rights and The Declaration of the Rights of Man were byproducts of this philosophy. Basically, reason and science were believed to be the absolute best of anything. Logically, torture is wrong, slavery is wrong, colonialism is wrong. We can thank The Englightenment for many of these “common sense” concepts. It’s no mistake that Tom Paine’s pamphlet was indeed entitled “Common Sense.”
However, in a society where logic and reason rule everything, one thing gets left out and man does it feel ever-so-butthurt about it: emotion.
For the Romantacists, feeling was the epiphany of everything, especially art and literature. It didn’t matter that the plot kinda doesn’t make sense – how does the work make you feel? It doesn’t matter that Macário is absolutely written as a stageplay and its sequel looks like some weird play/novel hybrid. How do they make you feel?
“Creation from nothingness” was also an ideal.
Portugal and Brazil (naturally) took this to an extreme – creating Ultra-romantcism. Because apparently simply feeling wasn’t enough…Via Wikipedia, here are some supposed markers of Ultra-romantacism. I shall make note of how/if these plays fit the mold:
- Creative liberty (the content is more important than the form; grammatical rules often ignored) One looks like a play. The other looks like a play in story form.
- Free versification Not much rhyming going on. Or meter. But there are instances of it.
- Doubt, dualism Pure virginal women victimized by lecherous psychopaths.
- Constant repugnance, morbidness, suffering, pessimism, Satanism, masochism, cynicism, self-destruction Pretty much the whole damn play (both)
- Denial of reality in favour of the world of dreams, fancy and imagination (escapism, evasion) Macário hangs out with Satan. People tell stories that may or may not be true.
- Adolescent disillusion Horny, sadistic college students getting constantly drunk
- Idealization of love and women Happens, at times. Several characters yap on and on about “pure” “white” “virginial” women (and raping them)
- Subjectivity, egocentricity These characters only care about themselves.
- Saudosismo (an untranslatable word meaning homesickness or longing) for childhood and the past The stories are about the past, but I don’t see much saudosimo here.
- A preference for the nocturnal Everything seems to happen at night, like a certain film genre.
- Conscience of solitude Everyone is lonely.
- Death: total and definitive escape from life, an end to suffering; sarcasm, irony All characters would be better off dead – the the innocent die more often. And yes, death is preferable to sarcasm.
Beyond these two plays, he left behind numerous essays, stories and poems. We’ll leave you with a couple of poems before the link dump:
[update: I cannot find any poems of his in English and don’t feel like translating them right now – couldn’t do them justice, but themes are the same – this one translates to Virgin Death.]
For our other playwrights, click here.
Since this is a THEATRE blog, here are some videos of (amateur) theatre productions of Noite na Taverna.
The dance-comedy version from 1989:
All links in Portuguese, unless noted.
His collected works.