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Books, readings and ideas: history and literary criticism


The universe of readings made by a writer may seem sometimes impenetrable and difficult to be submitted to the history scrutiny. Not always it is possible to answer to a question which can be clear enough when it comes to comprehension the literary production of an author: what, in fact, did he read? A detailed exam through the samples within his personal library is a procedure which allows us to get into this reading universe of a writer who had done or had intended to do, indicating a rich mapping of his interests on this field. And if, beyond analyzing what he has read, we can go into a deeper research towards another direction, to determine how he has read, has claimed his readings and has used them? Possible answers to these questions imply into identify and go through texts on which the author is caught mentioning, observing and discussing about his readings, either literary criticism or comments about any of the books he had the opportunity of reading and getting to know. These are the two search fronts which make up the present research project. The issues presented here are even more significant when we consider that the mentioned writer was a man who lived fundamental transformations in Brazil history between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. A black man born during the slavery period, he has seen, when he was still a child, the abolition to become true and the republican regime on which we live in nowadays to be installed. He has witnessed and felt himself the frustrations with the recently proclaimed Republic and the freedom won, even without the imperative guarantees for the citizenship exercise - for which the black people still fights in the present. In other words, what is intended to be better understood with this search is what did Lima Barreto (1881 - 1922) read and how he did it. The author has been the subject of several researches, but if something remains unexplored it is his universe of readings and how he appropriated them. So, the importance and uniqueness of this present proposal, which aims to get the careful analysis of his readings collection together with the set of texts which defines this writer as a literary critic. After all, it is the exam of these texts that also makes possible to create a more detailed and in-depth framework of understanding about the writer's academic background, the formulation of his literature idea and the means through which he built his career in the letters world. Thus, the research intends to answer to key issues such as: what di Lima Barreto read? How did he read the works he mentions on his literary criticism? How did he use the references which served him as a basis to his criticism and comments? How did he make out his literature conception by examining the texts produced by other authors of his time? Which newspapers and magazines would disclosure these literary criticism texts and what do they mean in the press scenery at that time? (AU)

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