Luck, action and wisdom in the Brazilian hinterland’s oral literature

Revista da Academia de Letras da Bahia, ISSN 1518-1, nº 50, p. 125-140, Salvador, 2011.

“The wisest man I have ever met in my entire life could not read or write.” Those were the opening words in the speech given by 1998 Nobel-Literature laureate and Portuguese author José Saramago, referring to his grandfather, a farmer from whom he said to have learned the most important things in life. The text published is directed precisely to the one given at the lecture towards members of the Academy of Letters of Bahia on 2010/08/05, at the invitation of then president Prof. Edivaldo Boaventura. The text not only suggests orality can establish a veritable model of literature, but also, in the context in which it is situated – that of hinterland culture –, it identifies certain wisdom and world view in those tragic tales found in hinterland orality. The awareness of one’s own vulnerability, and of a Fate that will surprise him or her, is an excuse for resignation, or a challenge to overcome the adversities placed before inlanders? The author has an optimistic view on Tragedy, and principally through texts of backcountry and cordel music, he shows that inlanders will seek, in action and culture, deliverance from suffering, and the tools which will at last soften the effects imposed on them by Chance.


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