I seem to be on a theme recently A while back, I wrote a review of Coetzee s Waiting for the Barbarians The theme there is basically the horror of empire and its need for a them to dominate, to fight, to fear Ant nio Lobo Antunes has presented a similar theme in The Splendor of Portugal This is not his only book to deal with this theme but I cannot imagine how he could do it better Put simply, Lobo Antunes wants his readers to know the absolute horror and misery generated by empire and colonialism Whereas Coetzee gives us a short, succinct allegory that teaches us through reference and notion, Lobo Antunes drags us through the blood and the gore He takes into the depths of hurt created by racism and cruelty, two of humanity s most pervasive creations Homo sapient be damned We are Homo crudelis What other species could come up with such a stupid idea as race Here we are in colonial and post colonial Angola through good times and bad We have a family with a son, Carlos, who is a mulatto mestizo, m tis, half breed Nobody really talks to him about it, just about him Mostly he thinks he s white but importantly he s not He needs to suffer for it It s an embarrassment to the family to keep him here in the house Isilda only God can know how embarrassed I am That s his maternal grandmother talking He is his father s bastard another of those words by a black woman His adoptive mother bought him from her Oh Wait That s wrong He s his mother s, Iselda s, son His alcoholic father just goes along with the pretence There s another son, Rui, who s epileptic, unable to care for himself, and from early childhood is sadistic He has a pellet gun with which he torments animals and blacks I m not quite sure who his father is You re not Carlos s father or Rui s either are you Dad my father because Carlos s father is a black man and Rui s was that policeman from Malanje This is the daughter, Clarisse, speaking who takes after her mother except she gets an abortion I m your whore aren t I you can admit it I won t get angry your lover out in the workers quarters you don t have to humor me worry about me act loving toward me when I found that lump in my breast And so on But her paternity is in doubt too I m just not sure She pretty well sums up the family I don t know if I like my family I don t know if I like anyone at all I don t know if I like myself And then we have the servants, blacks of course There are many, but I shall discuss two Jos lia and Maria da Boa Morte The two, who despite being abused and unappreciated were willing to sacrifice themselves for their mistress, Iselda, as the civil war closed in on them and took everything they ever had, however little it had been Jos lia, who saw herself as a member of the family because the old matriarch had been her godmother and had wanted her at her side as she died Jos lia, who is hated by Iselda, the mother, for that fact Jos lia who saves Iselda s life in the jungle as they flee the civil war by giving her own life she was happy to see Maria da Boa Morte tug at my arm, tugging and tugging at my arm pulling me toward the raft at the second river where the wild dogs couldn t reach us while Jos lia looked over at us to verify that we d gotten off the balsa and were heading toward Marimba, hitting the wild dogs with the branch so much that it broke, hitting the wild dogs with her fists, the dogs sizing her up And so Iselda watches the wild dogs tear Jos lia apart, never stopping to think of it as an act of sacrifice, only seeing Jos lia as a shirker and a slave and a black What are these Portuguese people doing in Angola my father used to explain since we d accepted exile in Africa in order to suffer through our obscure penances, punishments, and condemnations feeling less humiliation and less shame than if we were in Portugal, the Portuguese in power in Lisbon hoping that we d die of a plague in the backlands or that we d all kill each other like animals, forcing us to make them rich with tariffs and taxes on things that didn t belong to them, the same way we became rich from coffee and cotton that didn t belong to us either, women whose passports were confiscated so they couldn t return to Europe, prisoners of the little huts out on the island prostitutes What is Lobo Antunes message Simply that colonization dehumanizes But it is the colonizer who is dehumanized to the greatest extent The colonized are mistreated They suffer But some of them are still capable of human feelings They maintain their sense of humanity in defending family , even if not their own biological family Even where the colonizer denies their humanity, they can maintain it In the final analysis, the Europeans are victims of their own inhumanity They are finally destructive to themselves, destructive to their own kin, destructive to the colonized and, destroyed by the monsters they have created I will not go on another rant against the dehumanized horrors of colonialism We need only look at the violence currently occurring in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen to understand the heritage of Britain, France, Italy, the US and Russia Ant nio Lobo Antunes has continued to express his own frustration and horror of the heritage he has been given as a citizen of Portugal, as an unwilling participant in a colonial war, and as a medical doctor, a psychiatrist who is in close proximity to continuing human agony which cannot be overcome.
I highly recommend this to anyone wanting to come into touch with their own humanity and the realization as to how thin the veil can be.
What we came in search of in Africa wasn t money or power it was my son Carlos, the oldest, the mulattothat slut that slut ClarissaRui the epileptic boy busy torturing everybodyMaria da Boa Morte what can one say about Maria of the good death The children and the servant of You look so pretty Isilda, the matriarch and her drunk husband if it were for Africa and whiskey I wouldn t live here.
A family A farm in Angola A civil war The outcome.
Gritty, harsh and tough tender, beautiful and poignant His style and poetical language is not a typical book It was like having four people tell me their sides of the story using memories, voices, images from the past and present, in a poetical almost like a Greek chorus that enhanced the language It reminds me of Cort zar s Rayuela Challenging the senses to tell a non linear story It s about memory or what we perceive as memory It s about morality or nothing is moral It s about history, truths, lies and everything in between It s about a family, holding on to the past trying to forget the past but all wrapped into what really happened What really happened What really What This is my first read of Ant nio Lobo Antunes and this book amazed me No Mesmerized me I had those little sayings run through my head I read entire pages and sometimes had to reread it because I was lost in the beauty of the words The translation was very good but I am very curious to read in Portuguese.
Without a doubt this is one of the best books I have read, despite the sombre subject matter, in a very long time.
A splendid novel dealing with the ugliness of the Portuguese colonial enterprise in Angola This is the story family of settler colonialists owning a slave plantation in Angola has fallen from their former glory in the wake of the Angolan War of Independece.
A searing and anguished look into the real heart of darkness , the book is an indictment of imperialism and how it super exploits the people of the peripheries to sustain prosperity of the mother country.
It graphically portrays the way a political and economic order and the dominant social relations it creates dehumanizes the ruled as it makes monsters of the rulers.
Told through streams of consciousness and fragments of memories that poetically jumps back and forth through time, the novel s form mirrors the falling apart of their personal lives, their once wealthy family, along with the colonial society they were accustomed to.
At once dark, ironic, and poetic, the novel gives much needed insights into the extremely class conscious and racialized psychology of the brutal and hedonistic colonial elites.
Ardua y potente novela a trav s de la cual el autor nos adentra en una historia familiar, y a trav s de ella, en el declive de la intervenci n colonial portuguesa en Angola Hay que comenzar se alando que no es una novela sencilla, ya que el lector en ocasiones est al borde de perderse en un texto que mezcla diferentes voces y diferentes pocas, y no siempre es claro el referente de lo narrado Sin embargo la prosa avasallante y po tica del autor es suficiente est mulo para avanzar en una lectura que va exhibiendo descarnadamente un conjunto de injusticias de todo tipo que hacen de la tierra africana un verdadero infierno de violencia donde diferentes fuerzas pugnan por imponerse Sobre ese tel n de fondo se recorta un mundo familiar m s complejo de lo que las simples apariencias hac an suponer, y que va revelando un mundo de hipocres as que atraviesa tanto ese mbito familiar como el pol tico Creo que algunas p ginas menos hubieran redondeado mejor una novela trabajosa pero que permite un acercamiento imprescindible a la realidad de aquellos que poco o nada tienen, y a la de aquellos que mucho han hecho para que eso ocurra.
Mindblowing I was almost chocked by reading a book, where such a political subject is turned into such a personal matter In the end it is easy to say what is wrong, but very hard to say who is guilty And the criticism of colonialism is fierce describing it as a system of oppression on all levels, also between those who consider themselves privileged.
First, let me confess I read this in English Even so, it was heavy going Lobo Antunes clearly does not believe in giving the reader meaning on a plate Instead, he gives you buelele a lot of stream of consciousness, leaving you to work out whose consciousness he is streaming He has also made heavy use of copy and paste, so much so that the continual repetition becomes soporific.
I d never have believed that such a highly regarded writer could produce a novel set in Angola and Portugal and make it boring It s long, too On the plus side, he does a splendid myth busting hatchet job on colonialism and its aftermath The title, of course, is ironic.
A feminidade de Isilda alcan a especial relev ncia, lutando contra a passividade e a obedi ncia normalmente associada mulher neste caso, quer pela in rcia do marido, quer pela adversidade da guerra civil , demonstrando a matriarca uma vis o complexa e desajustada da realidade no fim do colonialismo portugu s Isilda e tinha a certeza de nunca ser velha nem com rugas nem com cabelos grisalhos nem doente e a orquestra tocaria no palco at ao fim dos tempos Porque sou mulher Porque sou mulher e me educaram para ser mulher, isto para entender fingindo que n o entendia bastava trocar as palavras por uma esp cie de distrac o divertida a fraqueza dos homens e o avesso do mundo, as costuras dos sentimentos, os desgostos cerzidos, as bainhas da alma, me educaram para desculpar as mentiras e o desassossego deles, n o aceitar, n o ser cega, desculpar conforme desculpei ao meu pai as suas infidelidades ruidosas e ao meu marido a sua indecis o pat tica, me ensinaram a intelig ncia de ser fr vola com os meus filhos at a viuvez me obrigar a tomar conta deles e da fazenda na mesma impiedade com que tomava conta das criadas, a embarc los Angola acabou para voc s ouviram bem Angola acabou para voc s no navio de Lisboa P g 108 Ant nio Lobo Antunes vai conjugando in meras tem ticas numa multiplicidade de perspectivas atrav s das vozes dos quatro narradores, acentuando o passado atrav s da escraviza o e da explora o dos pretos , a depend ncia monet ria, atrav s do acerto de contas entre o trabalho e os g neros alimentares real ando que nem mesmo o facto da ra a branca ser sin nimo de status social, existindo diferencia o entre os brancos os fazendeiros e os que vivem nas cidades angolanas, e os que vivem na metr pole, em Portugal do alcoolismo, do adult rio e da trai o o racismo exacerbado e a complexidade das rela es entre brancos e pretos , dos conturbados tempos de dio, sofrimento e solid o, da crueldade e do horror subjacente ao per odo colonial e ao per odo p s colonial da perda de identidade pessoal que ocorre nas v rias personagens, incapazes de se adaptarem s mudan as sociais e pol ticas e, sobretudo, da culpa e do remorso que perpassam nos relacionamentos e nas desaven as familiares Isilda O meu pai costumava explicar que aquilo que t nhamos vindo procurar em frica n o era dinheiro nem poder mas pretos sem dinheiro e sem poder algum que nos dessem a ilus o do dinheiro e do poder que de facto ainda que o tiv ssemos n o t nhamos por n o sermos mais que tolerados, aceites com desprezo em Portugal, olhados como olh vamos os bailundos que trabalhavam para n s e portanto de certo modo ramos os pretos dos outros da mesma forma que os pretos possu am os seus pretos e estes os seus pretos ainda em degraus sucessivos descendo ao fundo da mis ria, aleijados, leprosos, escravos de escravos, c es, o meu pai costumava explicar que aquilo que t nhamos vindo procurar em frica era transformar a vingan a de mandar no que fing amos ser a dignidade de mandar, P g 255 O Esplendor de Portugal um excelente romance, que apresenta uma multiplicidade de leituras, numa narrativa complexa na estrutura e deprimente na tem tica, num dos per odos mais dram ticos e relevantes da hist ria de Portugal e de Angola.
La Ironia Del Titulo Frase Tomada De Una Estrofa Del Himno Nacional Ya Anuncia Lo Que Sera El Desarrollo Y El Proposito De Esta Novela De Lobo Antunes Mostrar El Otro Lado De Ese B EsplendorB , Desvelar Sin Paliativos La Verdad A Uno Y Otro Lado Del Espectro Politico, A Traves De Dos Espacios Narrativos Alternantes, Luanda Y Lisboa, De A , A Lo Largo De Dieciocho Anos De Historia Mediante Una Estructura Coral De Distintos Monologos Que Se Acercan Y Se Alejan, Lobo Antunes Nos Conduce Con Su Particular Maestria Al Interior De Unos Personajes Que, Habiendo Perdido Ya Su Lugar, Esperan En Vano Ese Sitio En Donde B El Mundo Redescubra Su Antiguo OrdenB Un Lugar Irremediablemente Perdido Que Los Personajes Resucitan Artificialmente Rememorando Su Infancia B Inventada, Como Todas Las InfanciasB , Sin Que Por Ello Puedan Eludir La Vejez Ni Dejar De Vivir Entre Un Pasado En Ruinas Y Un Futuro Que, Cuando No Se Posterga, Permanece Latente En La Invencion