Reviewed in American Journal of Sociology © 1945.
Partially available online.
From a translator’s introduction:
There can be no doubt that Euclides da Cunha’s Os Sertões is a work that is unique not only in Brazilian but in world literature as well. In no other instance, probably, has there been such unanimity on the part of critics of all shades of opinion in acclaiming a book as the greatest and most distinctive which a people has produced, the most deeply expressive of that people’s spirit. On this the native and the foreign critic are in agreement. “Nosso livro supremo – our finest book,” says Agrippino Grieco, in his study of “The Evolution of Brazilian Prose,” and he adds that it is “the work which best reflects our land and our people.” Stephan Zweig, Brazil’s tragic guest, saw in Os Sertões a “great national epic … created purely by chance,” one giving “a complete psychological picture of the Brazilian soil, the people, and the country, such has never been achieved with equal insight and psychological comprehension. Comparable in world literature, perhaps, to The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, in which Lawrence describes the struggle in the desert, this great epic, little known in other countries, is destined to outlive countless books that are famous today by its dramatic magnificence, its spectacular wealth of spiritual wisdom, and the wonderful humanitarian touch which is characteristic of the whole work. Although Brazilian literature today has made enormous progress with the number of its writers and poets and its linguistic subtlety, no other book has reached such supremacy.”