As a first-generation Brazilian and later as an American citizen, I have always lived in more than one culture, always had before me an amalgam of nationalities, cultures, and beliefs. Long ago I recognized that identity is necessary but contingent, a construct, but so made as to seem inevitable and “natural."
This book grew out of my observations about identity, necessity, power, contact. I hope it does justice to the virtues of those among whom I grew up, from whom I learned: my argumentative parents and their friends; Vilém Flusser, in whose house all ideas were welcome and none taken for granted; Antônio Cândido, whose pioneering course in literary theory at the University of São Paulo shaped my thoughts about literature in general and about Brazilian literature in particular.
I thank all who listened to my ideas while they were a-shaping, read the early versions of various chapters, and gave me encouragement and advice: Rolena Adorno, Charles Baxter, Henry Golemba, Michael Giordano, Marisa Lajolo, Arthur Marotti, Walter Mignolo, Michael Palencia-Roth, Ross Pudaloff, Roberto Schwarz, Elizabeth Sklar. They did much to show me the right direction and save me from blunders.
I thank the English Department and Wayne State University for leaves of absence and grants that allowed me the time to complete this work. And I thank the Newberry Library for its help and the National Endowment for the Humanities for the grant that allowed me to attend the Newberry’s invaluable Summer Institute on Transatlantic Encounters in 1986.
Earlier versions of portions of this book have appeared as articles. Parts of Chapter 2 appeared as “Travelers’ Tales about Brazil: Variations,” in L'esprit créateur 30 (Fall 1990): 15–26; parts of Chapters 6 and 7 appeared as “The Red and the White: The ‘Indian’ Novels of José de Alencar,” in PMLA 98 (October 1983): 815–27; “Re-inventing the New World: Cooper and Alencar," in Comparative Literature 36 (Spring 1984): 183–200; and “The Reception of Cooper’s Work and the Image of America," in ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 32.3 (1986): 130–45; an early version of Chapter 8 appeared as “Preguiça and Power: Mário de Andrade’s Macunaíma,” in Luso-Brazilian Review 21 (Summer 1984): 99–116. I thank the journals for permission to use these materials.
Unless otherwise noted, all translations in this book are my own.
Finally I thank my husband, Rick, and my children, Sarah and Daniel, for advice, patience, encouragement, and joy.