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Please enable cookies in your browser to get the full Trove experience. Skip to content Skip to search. Physical Description p. Edition 1a ed. Subjects Rio de Janeiro Brazil -- Civilization -- 19th century. Rio de Janeiro Brazil -- Social life and customs -- 19th century. Rio de Janeiro Brazil -- In popular culture -- 19th century. Notes Includes bibliographical references p.

If given their natural sense of community, the freedom to provide mutual assistance, and ability to set their own moral standards, the popular classes can survive and thrive. Yet it appeared to him that the city provided little latitude for the exercise of those freedoms. Lamenting the influx of desperate Brazilians from the countryside flooding the city of Rio seduced by greed and disingenuous politics, Lima Barreto tells of how their fascination for the city draws them there and then their sad fate leaves them as "vagabonds" in the streets.

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Go back to the farm! In reiterating this battle cry of the turn-of-the-century rebuilders and reformers of the city, which may be translated as "Rio, get civilized! For Lima Barreto, civilization did not lie so much in a particular place as it did in a type of relationship between human beings, one which he felt was about to be lost to the world.

The underworld of those overlooked or plowed under by the civilizing process fascinated Lima Barreto since, among other things, he appears to have felt that it upheld a possibility for Brazil genuinely to civilize itself. More than their importance as individual subjects, the prostitutes, thieves, old gamblers, police soldiers, poor children, and vagabonds who populate his chronicles have profound meaning to Lima Barreto as upholders of an all-important but endangered community. Only with the second coming of this community did Lima Barreto feel he could hope for collective success, happiness, and justice for the Brazilian nation.

It is in this spirit that he observed the people of Rio and published his reflections on them. Conclusion: Dilemmas and Possibilities For both these writers and others of the genre they represent, the city was observable; in fact, it demanded observation of all its minute details and most hidden and obscure crevices. But, ultimately, if it became fully comprehensible, it would no longer be interesting.

I would place the center of pleasure higher, in the brain, the core of imagination. The city is entertaining and pleasurable exactly because it is dense and mysterious. Here, one of the ripple effects of this type of portrayal becomes apparent. It is important to realize that to mystify is to leave both the observer and the reader, who identifies with the observer as an ineffectual player, left standing agape in the faceof the terrible, sublime beauty of the underworld.

One needs to ask how this perspective might distort the historian's sense of the concerns of the poor majority and how they got through the day. One might further ask what the long-term effects of this mystification might have been, both in shaping the body of knowledge about the city and the way we, as researchers, approach it.

Through both mystification and nostalgia, they have helped generate a discourse forever by definition removed from the reality of Rio's daily life. He visits the old markets where the popular classes buy their goods, and he is filled with nostalgia.

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They "dedicated themselves to the street corner," thus altering the course of Brazilian literary writing at the end of the nineteenth century. This last phrase is striking. In other words, the city itself has become an agent of action. According to the above quotation, it is the city itself that has created "a new reality. How can we account for the multiplicity of human actors who push and pull history along? A possible solution to this dilemma is to understand the human elements of the city neither as a unified and concrete entity, nor as a sort of independent variable that is an accomplished fact, but rather as a process.

In other words, to paraphrase the textual metaphor that William Roseberry uses, like all structural elements of society we should not view the city as "written. First, for methodological, theoretical and empirical reasons we need to know more about the poor and working classes' relationship to the printed word. We know that through many such creative and often defiant means, people who did not know how to read sought the information and the power of the printed word.

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Yet much research remains to be carried out to tell these stories. Second, we need more complete information on how particular literary works have been used as historical sources and to what effect. Similarly, case-based research can further our understanding on the reciprocal relationship between discourse and experience. Extensive archival research on the social instruments behind the social reality of what I call in this study the urban "underworld" is needed to complement further research on the literary and discursive invention of this geopolitical and cultural space.

From a case-study approach, it will be possible to trace the formation and acceptance of an idea such as that of the dangerous and sublime urban underworld. The history of ideas and new cultural history have paved the way for such an inquiry, but it has yet to be done. Instead, I wish to emphasize that the historian's task in assimilating a literary text into his or her fund of knowledge about the past is neither to try to debunk the author of that text nor to neutralize his or her biases with formulaic disclaimers, but to understand them in the system of thought these authors helped create -and the one that created them.

When they are pressed into service as historical informants, as they so often and fruitfully are, literary writers can be comprehended as one voice added to the raucous symphony of other perspectives. What then begins to emerge is a social landscape marked by conflicting testimonies and competing ideas. This approach would involve placing analytical importance on social actors' interpretations and retellings of events. On the other hand, such an approach might help us turn away from the propensity to drift further into the lifeless and depopulated realm of pure discourse.

Perhaps the trickiest question to which a literary source is vulnerable as an historical source is: what do we make of the literary element in it? These sources were written purporting to fact but also for aesthetic enjoyment and thus under the tacit literary contract between writer and reader to suspend disbelief. Literature by its very nature tends to aestheticize and to find universal themes. Because of their artistic value, literary texts inherently contain elements that escape our best efforts to explain and contextualize them historically.

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Yet a version of this obscurity exists in any historical document. The crux of the theoretical question an historical researcher must apply to a literary work, then, is not whether or how to force an either-or decision between literary "text" and historical "document," but rather what must be done conceptually to a work of literature before we can use it with impunity as an historical source. Do we seek to isolate the mimetic rather than the imaginative effort the author put into it?

Is it possible to tame a literary work without doing violence to the imaginative power that produced it and therefore to the ranging meaning it contains? It probably is not. But we can back up and observe the different levels of observers and observed.


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Health Street. The foreigner goes to rent a house right behind the street sign and dies. But if the street is pestilent, why does it have this name? No one explains it. And in politics, as in diplomacy, in administration, as in art, everything is the opposite of what it claims to be. This volume unites a selection of short pieces that the author first published in the s.

The author wishes to thank Jeffrey Lesser for organizing the roundtable and for his patient, insightful assistance throughout the process of producing this article. For the period of the Brazilian Empire, see Thomas H. The seminal work that develops the idea that the cultural and political impact of literary production does not result from but rather promotes geopolitical and epistemological boundaries is Edward W. Rio de Janeiro: IBMEC, , 6 A complete bibliography of recent monographs, collections of essays, articles, and dissertations on Latin American urban history would be ponderously large.

To name only a notable few, recent social and cultural history scholarship on cities in modern Latin America during the period that the present essay covers includes: Ronn Pineo and James A. Baer, eds. See, for example, Ronn Pineo and James A.


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The problematic nature of their use as historical sources has only recently begun to attract the attention of Brazilian scholars. Thompson, quoted in Kenneth Mills and William B. This essay was written as an attack on French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser's sweeping structuralist dismissal of the ability to achieve historical knowledge.

According to Thompson, Althusser's claim that knowledge "emerges wholly within thought" makes it "possible to dismiss both the question of experience and the question of specific procedures of investigation experimental or other which constitute that empirical 'dialogue' which I will shortly consider"; 16 17 Groden and Kreiswirth, 18 For example, in the course of David Mayfield and Susan Thorne's excellent description of the various forms British historian Gareth Stedman Jones' scholarship has taken, these authors detail some of the turns scholarship has taken since the linguistic one, with which he argued that language determines thought and knowledge, and that we form our social identities discursively.

The authors assert that language is not referential and prefigurative. As noted, until the expulsion the Portuguese assistance of the Society of Jesus was politically and territorially complex. After the restoration, it would no longer be possible to speak of a unified Jesuit history in the Portuguese world.

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The events that precipitated at the beginning of nineteenth century Napoleonic invasions and the transfer of the Portuguese royal family to Rio de Janeiro produced a crisis in the regimes of representation of spatial and temporal order. In the Iberian peninsula, the Jesuits were generally identified with monarchical restoration, which made them object of constant attacks. As late as , the Jesuits were again expelled from the Republic of Portugal, having previously suffered numerous attacks. The situation was different in Brazil, where the academic institutions promoted by the empire gradually valorized the figure of the Jesuits in the foundation of Brazil.

The Brazilian Geographical Historical Institute IHGB played a key role in defining the parameters of national past, assigning the Jesuits a privileged place after initial reticence. Important historians of the institute promoted anti-Jesuit currents. Famous Brazilian historian Francisco Adolfo Varnhagen —78 , author of the General History of Brazil , was one of the contenders.