Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Mansions and the Shanties

Freyre, Gilberto, The Mansions and the Shanties, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963.

From the Introduction, by Frank Tannenbaum:
A good way to begin this introduction is to recall the many Brazilians who will tell you that in the future the history of their country will be chronicled in two parts: that before and that after Gilberto Freyre. The dividing line is Casa Grande e Senzala… of which this volume, The Mansions and the Shanties (Sobrados e Mucambos), first published in 1936, is a continuation. The books describe the emergence and growth of Brazilian civilization from the patriarchal family, Negro slavery, and a single-crop economy – based on sugar. But the Masters and the Slaves is a great deal more than just a book – it marks the closing of one epoch and the beginning of another. Brazilians have in fact been carrying on what might be described as a sentimental affair with what has become for them the symbol of a new age. Since 1933, there have been eleven editions of this book in Portuguese, ten in Rio de Janeiro and one in Lisbon…

From the Preface to the first edition:
The attempt to reconstruct and interpret some of the more intimate aspects of the social history of the family in Brazil, which I began in an earlier study, The Masters and the Slaves, is here continued, employing the same criterion and the same technique. The principle objective of this work is to study the process of subordination, and, at the same time, of accommodation of one race to another, of one class to another, of the fusion of various religions and cultural traditions into a single one, which characterized the transition of Brazilian patriarchy from rural to urban. And especially to trace, from the end of the eighteenth century, its continuation in a less rigid patriarchy; the growth of the cities; the creation of the Empire – in a word, the formation of the Brazilian nation as, for the most part, a patriarchal society.

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