Rawet, Samuel

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RAWET, SAMUEL (1929–1984), Brazilian author. Rawet was born in Klimontow, Poland; in 1936 his family immigrated to Brazil, where his parents settled in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. Rawet earned a degree in engineering, and he made significant contributions to the design and building of Brasília. He early on decided to establish a career as an author and in 1956 published his first volume of short stories, Contos do imigrante, which contains stories he had previously published between 1949 and 1953 in a variety of magazines and literary supplements. Subsequent works of fiction include: Diálogo (1963), Abama (1964), Os sete sonhos (1967), O terreno de uma polegada quadrada (1970), Viagens de Ahasverus (1970), and Que os mortos enterrem os seus mortos (1981). An anthology of his stories has also been published in English under the title The Prophet and Other Stories (1998). In addition to his fiction, Rawet also wrote two plays (never published) and a number of nonfiction works such as Alienação e realidade (1970), Homossexualismo, sexualidade e valor (1970), and Angústia econhecimento (1978).

Rawet's works began to receive critical attention in the 1990s. Most critics point to his adherence to a nostalgic portrayal of Yiddishkeit in his early fiction to a rather violent rejection of Jewishness is his later works. To be sure, his work reflects the author's changing attitudes over the course of his life. He was at times controversial. His characters are in a constant struggle to define and find their place in the world. Displacement, exile, tragedy, solitude, suffering, incomprehension, anguish, insecurity, and memory persist in his literature as inherent to the human condition. The trope of the wandering Jew, most overt in Viagens de Ahasverus, is a persistent leitmotif in his works. Problematic and inconsistent, his works represent a major contribution to Brazilian literature.

[Darrell B. Lockhart (2nd ed.)]