Veríssimo, Érico (1905–1975)

views updated

Veríssimo, Érico (1905–1975)

Érico Veríssimo (b. 17 December 1905; d. 1975), Brazilian novelist. Born in Cruz Alta, Rio Grande do Sul, Veríssimo belonged nonetheless to the later modernist novelists of Brazil, who at first preferred the novela, a short novel emphasizing one character and limited space and time. One of his first such fictional efforts, Clarissa, was an immediate success. The youthful Veríssimo was fascinated by the plastic arts, but he left painting with colors for painting with words. Counterpoint, flashbacks, montage, simultaneity, telescoping, diary, and documentary are only a few of the devices he used in his broad, cosmopolitan view of the world. Veríssimo wrote in the first person and expressed details so convincingly that the reader readily becomes absorbed in the characters; yet psychological development and philosophy are subordinate to the story.

Veríssimo's humanistic and ideological themes were often conveyed by symbols and portrayed in characters. Music is often found in his works as allusions and symphonic structures, for instance, in Música ao longe (1935). Dialogue, used sparingly in his early novels, becomes increasingly important in his great multivolume work, O tempo e o vento.

Veríssimo quickly developed the novel as his preferred genre. He was the first in Brazil to make effective use of the point-counterpoint novel. He focused on urban life and immediately became a best-selling novelist, the first writer in Brazil to live by the pen. Other novels, Caminhos cruzados (1935), Um lugar ao sol (1936), Olhai os lírios do campo (1938), and O resto é silêncio (1943), followed in rapid succession, each a result of Veríssimo's continuing experimentation in his medium.

In O tempo e o vento, Veríssimo gives his broad, penetrating view of the history of his home state. On a wide panoramic screen developed in three volumes (the third of which has three parts), Veríssimo chronicles the vicissitudes of two families. He presents in human and symbolic terms the rise of Rio Grande do Sul from the mythical past and its history from the founding of its society in the middle of the eighteenth century to the dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas in the first half of the twentieth. The principal subject of this great work is the evolution of the urban middle class, along with all the inherent issues, both in the state and in the nation. Volume 1, O continente, appeared in 1949 and volume 2, O retrato, in 1951; the first two books of volume 3, O arquipélago, were published in 1961, and the third, the following year.

See alsoLiterature: Brazil .


Guilhermino César, "O romance social de Érico Veríssimo," in O contador de histórias: Quarenta anos da vida literária de Érico Veríssimo, compiled by Flávio Loureiro Chaves (1972).

Regina Zilberman, A Literatura no Rio Grande do Sul (1982).

Additional Bibliography

Aguiar, Flávio, and Ligia Chiappini Moraes Leite. Civilização e exclusão: Visões do Brasil em Erico Veríssimo, Euclides da Cunha, Claude Lévi-Strauss e Darcy Ribeiro. São Paulo: FAPESP: Boitempo Editorial, 2001.

Bordini, Maria da Glória, and Regina Zilberman. O tempo e o vento: História, invenção e metamorfose. Porto Alegre, Brazil: EDIPUCRS, 2004.

Silva, Maria das Graças Gomes Villa da. O Horror antigo e o horror moderno em: O tempo e o vento e Noite de Érico Verissimo. Araraquara, Brazil: Laboratório Editorial da FCL; and São Paulo: Cultura Acadêmico Editora, 2004.

Young, Theodore Robert. O questionamento da história em O tempo e o vento de Erico Verissimo. Lajeado, Brazil: FATES Editora, 1997.

                                  Richard A. Mazzara