WRITINGS BY THE AUTHOR:
- Menino de engenho (Rio de Janeiro: Andersen, 1932); translated by Emmi Baum as Plantation Boy, in Plantation Boy (New York: Knopf, 1966).
- Doidinho (Rio de Janeiro: Ariel, 1933); translated by Baum as Doidinho, in Plantation Boy (New York: Knopf, 1966).
- Bangüê (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1934); translated by Baum as Bangüê, in Plantation Boy (New York: Knopf, 1966).
- O moleque Ricardo (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1935).
- Usina (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1936).
- Histórias da velha Totônia (São Paulo: J. Olympio, 1936).
- Pureza (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1937); translated by Lucie Marion (London & New York: Hutchinson International Authors, 1947).
- Pedra bonita (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1938).
- Riacho doce (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1939).
- Água-mãe (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1941).
- Gordos e magros (Rio de Janeiro: Casa do Estudante do Brasil, 1942).
- Fogo morto (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1943).
- Pedro Américo (Rio de Janeiro: Casa do Estudante do Brasil, 1943).
- Poesia e Vida (Rio de Janeiro: Universal, 1946).
- Conferências no Prata: Tendências do romance brasileiro--Raul Pompéia--Machado de Assis (Rio de Janeiro: Casa do Estudante do Brasil, 1946).
- Eurídice (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1947).
- Bota de sete léguas (Rio de Janeiro: A Noite ).
- Homens, seres e coisas (Rio de Janeiro: Ministério da Educação e Saúde, 1952).
- Cangaceiros (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1953).
- A casa e o homem (Rio de Janeiro: Organizações Simões, 1954).
- Roteiro de Israel (Rio de Janeiro: Centro Cultural Brasil- Israel, 1955).
- Meus verdes anos: memórias (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1956).
- Presença do Nordeste na literatura (Rio de Janeiro: Ministério da Educação e Cultura, 1957).
- Discursos de posse e recepção na Academia Brasileira de Letras, by Rêgo and Austragésilo de Athayde (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1957).
- Gregos e Troianos (Rio de Janeiro: Bloch, 1957).
- O vulcão e a fonte, introduction by Lêdo Ivo (Rio de Janeiro: O Cruzeiro, 1958).
Editions and Collections
- Romances reunidos e illustrados de José Lins do Rego, five volumes, introdcution by João Ribeiro, bibliography by Wilson Lousada, notes by Thiago de Mello, Almeida Sales, Cassiano Nunes, Antonio Candido, and Sergio Milliett, illustrations by Luís Jardin (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1960-1962).
- Fogo morto (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1965)--includes an essay, "O brasileiríssimo José Lins do Rêgo," by Otto Maria Carpeaux.
- Pedra bonita, seventh edition (Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, 1968)--includes an essay, "De Menino de engenho a Pedra bonita," by Paulo Rónai.
- José Lins do Rêgo: antologia e crítica, edited, with an introduction, by Edilberto Coutinho (Brasília: Coordenada- Editora de Brasília, 1971).
- Menino de engenho, fourteenth edition (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1973)--includes an essay, "Origem e significado de Menino de engenho," by José Aderaldo Castello.
- O moleque Ricardo, ninth edition, introduction by M. Cavalcanti Proença (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1973).
- Ficçao completa de José Lins du Rêgo, 2 volumes, introduction by Josué Montello (Rio de Janeiro: Nova Aguilar, 1976).
- O melhor da crônica Brasileira, by Rachel de Queiroz, Armando Nogueira, Sérgio Porto, and Rêgo (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1979).
- Antologia José Lins do Rêgo, O homem e a obra, edited by Eduardo Martins (João Pessoa: Secretaria de Educação e Cultura do Estado da Paraíba, 1980);--includes essays by José Américo de Almeida, Assis Chateaubriand, Carlos Lacerda, Valdemar Cavalcanti, Ariano Suassuna, Mário de Andrade, Aurélio Buarque de Hollanda, Otto Maria Carpeaux, José Aderaldo, and others.
- Dias idos e vividos: antologia, edited by Ivan Junqueira (Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1981).
- Eurídice, eighth edition (Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1986).
- Fogo morto, fourth edition (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1993)--includes an essay, "Breve notícia--Vida de José Lins do Rego," by Wilson Lousada.
- Pureza, eleventh edition (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1994)--includes an essay, "Pureza," by Antonio Carlos Villaça.
- Zelins, Flamengo até morrer, edited by Edilberto Coutinho ([Rio de Janeiro], 1995).
- Flamengo é puro amor: 111 crônicas escolhidas, edited by Marcos de Castro (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 2002).
- Julio Bello, Memórias de um senhor de engenho, second edition, preface by Rêgo (Rio de Janeiro: Olympia, 1938).
- E. A. Rheinhardt, A Vida de Eleanora Deese, translated by Rêgo (Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, 1940).
- Gilberto Freyre, Região e tradição, preface by Rêgo (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1941).
- "Mistério de Brandão," in Brandão Entre o Mar e o Amor, by Aníbal Machado, Graciliano Ramos, Jorge Amado, Rêgo, and Rachel de Queiroz (São Paulo: Martins, 1942).
- Os Gatos, edited by Rêgo and José Valentim Fialho de Almeida, Colecão Clássicos e contemporâneos, no. 6 (Rio de Janeiro: Livros de Portugal, 1942).
- Freyre, Ingleses, preface by Rêgo (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1942).
- Mário Rodrigues, Copa Rio Branco, 32, preface by Rêgo (Rio de Janeiro: Irmãos Pongetti, 1943).
- Rodolfo Maria de Rangel Moreira, O morto debruçado, preface by Rêgo (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1947).
- Eduardo Mallea, Tôdo verdor perecerá, translated by Rêgo and Henrique de Carvalho Simas (Rio de Janeiro: Globo, 1949).
- José de Alencar, Cinco minutos, preface by Rêgo (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1951).
- Breno Accioly, João Urso, contos, second edition, preface by Rêgo (Rio de Janeiro: O Cruzeiro, 1953).
- Luiz Cristóvão dos Santos, Caminhos do Pajeú, preface by Rêgo (Rio de Janeiro: Nordeste, 1954).
- Zé da Luz, Brasil caboclo, third edition, preface by Rêgo (Rio de Janeiro: O Cruzeiro, 1956).
A series of coincidences led José Lins do Rêgo to write works describing the end of the Northeastern sugar aristocracy and the disappearance of rural patriarchal society in Brazil. Early in his career Rêgo met and was influenced by Brazilian writers Gilberto Freyre and José Américo de Almeida, who helped to change his life with their knowledge, wisdom, passion for the land, and search for their origins. A contemporary of Brazilian Modernism, Rêgo responded to the popular linguistic nationalism of the Modernists by creating a new movement. Rêgo's novels left an historical and sociological account of the Northeast, preserving the rural language and documenting his personal experiences with plantation life. Although Rêgo was not the first to focus on this region, critics consider him to be a first-generation writer of the Sugarcane Cycle, one of the important series of novels dealing with northeastern Brazil. Characterized by descriptive techniques of the nineteenth century, Rêgo's fiction made him one of the most representative Brazilian prose writers of the 1930s.
José Lins do Rêgo Cavalcanti was born 3 June 1901 on his grandfather's sugarcane plantation in the state of Paraíba in northeastern Brazil. Born to João and Amélia do Rêgo Cavalcanti, the author lost his mother to complications from childbirth before he was one year old. Rêgo was raised by his mother's relatives and the black nannies on his grandfather's plantation. He grew up hearing stories from black cooks, nurses, and caretakers, the living legacy of institutionalized slavery. At the age of eight Rêgo was sent to study at a boarding school in Itabaiana, Paraíba; when he was eleven years old he was transferred to the Colégio Marista (Marista School) in João Pessoa, where in 1912 he wrote an article on Joaquim Nabuco for the school newsletter Revista Pio X. By 1915 Rêgo had moved to Recife, where he attended the School of Law from 1919 to 1923; during this time he became friends with Américo de Almeida and Freyre. Américo de Almeida inspired him to revisit his roots to learn about his people and their past. Similarly, Freyre instilled in him a great passion for the land and the people, while also teaching him about the artistic value of writers such as D. H. Lawrence , Thomas Hardy , and Stendhal. Rêgo felt that these writers were closest to his personality and readily admitted their influence on him. Later, in a preface to Freyre's Região e tradiçao (1941, Region and Tradition), Rêgo confessed Freyre's enormous influence on both his life and works, such that writing about Freyre seemed much like writing about himself.
In 1920 Rêgo became the literary editor of Diário do Estado, a newspaper in Recife. With Osório Borba, Olívio Montenegro, and Freyre, he founded the weekly newsletter Dom Casmurro. In 1924 Rêgo married the daughter of Antonio Massa, senator of Paraíba state, Filomena Massa, with whom he had three daughters: Maria Elizabeth (born 17 July 1925), Maria da Glória (born 20 October 1926), and Maria Cristina (born 3 March 1933). Rêgo held several different jobs over the next ten years. He moved to Minas Gerais to work as a prosecutor but soon quit his job; he was not interested in the law. In the Northeast he worked in several jobs, including stints as a banker and as an income tax collector. It was during this period that he became friends with writers Graciliano Ramos, Rachel de Queiroz, Jorge de Lima, and Aurélio Buarque de Hollanda.
Rêgo's first book, Menino de engenho (translated as Plantation Boy , 1966), was published in 1932. Because publishers did not like the manuscript, Rêgo paid a little-known press to publish the first edition. The book was a surprising success and received the prestigious Fundação Graça Aranha (Graça Aranha Foundation) award, which is usually given to outstanding new authors. Over the next twenty-five years Rêgo published twelve novels, six books of essays and chronicles, three travel reports, two lectures, one children's book, and one book of memoirs.
In 1935 Rêgo moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he contributed to the newspapers O Globo (The Globe), Diários Associados (Associated Daily News), and Jornal de Esportes (Sports Newspaper). He made official visits to Argentina and Uruguay as a guest speaker; to France as a guest of the government; and to Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, and Peru as a member of the executive council of the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (Brazilian Soccer Federation). In 1950 he became president of this organization, which dictates the rules and by-laws to all soccer teams in Brazil. Soccer had become one of Rêgo's great passions, and being a part of the executive council of the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol afforded political status and prestige. While living in Rio de Janeiro, Rêgo became intrigued by the powerful effect soccer had on the lives of Brazilians. He wrote more than 1,500 chronicles on Brazil's national pastime between 1940 and 1950. In 1995 critic Edilberto Coutinho collected and edited many of these writings. Rêgo was fanatical about the Flamengo soccer club, and in 1944, according to Eduardo F. Couthino and Ângela Bezerra de Castro, he wrote that a Flamengo championship was more important to the Brazilian people than the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II. He also declared that literature and soccer were the power of the people. These opinions became a national scandal. When asked about the possibility of becoming a member of the Academia Brasileira de Letras (Brazilian Academy of Letters), he replied that he was a common man and could not cheer Flamengo in the elegant uniform of the academy that was required during sessions. In one of his chronicles he asked "Como poderei torcer pelo Flamengo amarrado nos dourados arreios de luxo?" (How will I cheer on Flamengo tied down in a luxurious gold saddle?). He was saying that it seemed impossible to reconcile his irreverent passion for soccer with becoming a vaunted member of the academy. He later relented, however, and was inducted into the academy.
At times Rêgo's political beliefs were a hindrance to him. One of his novels, O moleque Ricardo (1935, The Black Boy Ricardo), expressed a political ideology seen by many as communist. In the mid 1940s, however, Rêgo joined the Integralist Party, a Brazilian fascist movement modeled on European fascism; his communist friends never forgave him for this move. Even Rêgo realized he had made a mistake in joining a political party affiliated with Hitler. In 1954 Rêgo wished to visit his daughter in the United States, but he was denied permission by the State Department because of O moleque Ricardo. Despite his controversial political alliances, Rêgo became a well-known author in Brazil and abroad. His books were translated and published in Italy, Argentina, England, France, and Germany. It was not until 1966, however, that his books were finally introduced to the United States.
The novels for which Rêgo is most celebrated are organized into "cycles." The first, known as the Sugarcane Cycle, includes the award-winning Menino de engenho, Doidinho (1933; translated as Doidinho, 1966), Bangüê (1934; translated as Bangüê, 1966), and Usina (1936, Sugar Refinery). O moleque Ricardo, though included by the author himself, usually is not considered part of the Sugarcane Cycle because it tells the story of political actions and communist movements in Recife as well as the title character's experiences there. On the other hand, Fogo morto (1943, Dead Fire), considered to be Rêgo's masterpiece, is a continuation of the Sugarcane Cycle. These books constitute a living record of a people immersed in the social world created by plantation mansions, and include explorations of the power struggles and personal conflicts that are part of that life.
Rêgo's two other novel cycles are The Cangaço Cycle (Banditry Cycle) and the Ciclo Independente (Independent Cycle) or Ciclo Lirismo Erótico (Erotic Lyricism Cycle). The Cangaço Cycle comprises Pedra bonita (1938, Pretty Stone) and Cangaceiros (1953, Bandits). These novels combine ecological and sociological elements of the Northeast. The Independent Cycle includes Pureza (1937; translated, 1947), Riacho doce (1939, Freshwater Stream), Água-mãe (1941, Water Mother), and Eurídice (1947). According to many critics, this cycle represents Rêgo's attempt to abandon themes dealing with the hinterlands and explore issues such as psychology and human nature. In 1941 Água-mãe won the Felipe d'Oliveira award for distinguished achievement, and in 1947 Eurídice earned the Prêmio Fábio Prado (Fábio Prado award).
The Sugarcane Cycle owes its name to ideas generated by the Congresso Regionalista de Recife (Congress of Brazilian Regionalism), which was organized by Freyre in 1926. Many people of different ages and professions attended, from plantation masters to medical doctors to old cooks. Freyre's goal was to expand the idea of regionalism, which he felt had been limited to bizarre language, style, and clothing. The Congress was the Northeastern writers' direct response to the Week of Modern Art, organized in São Paulo four years earlier. Freyre opposed the dynamic young artists of the South (that is, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo) whose modernist ideas radiated from Brazil's cultural centers. Freyre's group, which included Rêgo, resisted the innovations of the modernists. They saw the modernists of the South as a threat to the roots of Brazil, which were in the Northeast. Freyre and Rêgo saw the modernists as bizarre, exotic, and noisy, and--even worse--they wrote in ungrammatical language. Freyre's idea was to develop and strengthen the characteristics of each state and region in order to strengthen the entire Brazilian people.
The Sugarcane Cycle essentially refers to a literary creation that focuses on the people of the hinterlands of the Northeast, featuring plantation mansions, the sugarcane plantations, and the mills. Rêgo once declared, in an interview quoted by Coutinho and Castro, "A terra é que manda nos meus romances" (the land is the one who gives orders in my novels). He created much of his fiction from his own biography, through which he simultaneously created a biography of all those who are a part of Northeastern culture. Some of Rêgo's characters were based on people he had known, while other characters were imagined products of the land. Rêgo's evocation of his childhood experiences with and impressions of the sugar mills are crucial to the novels of this cycle, which bring together the fundamental ideas of the author as he seeks to understand both the greatness and the misery of human nature.
The first book of the Sugarcane Cycle, Menino de engenho, illustrates Rêgo's narrative process, which is based on the oral traditions of the Northeastern storytellers. The book deals with social transformation in the Brazilian Northeast, centering around cultural identity and human understanding as they relate to Rêgo's boyhood and family. Rêgo's childhood and the mills come alive in the author's search for a world that no longer exists. In narrating his memories, Rêgo relates the stories of many children who lived and worked in sugarcane mills. He portrays his grandfather, in the character José Paulino, as representative of the Northeastern rural patriarchal society. The symbolic depiction of the rural patriarchal system of the Northeast is a basic element in all the novels of the Sugarcane Cycle. José Paulino is the absolute master of the land and the mill, his family, and his servants. Thus, the splendor and colonial roots of the sugarcane mills, completely under the power of the owners, are revealed. In a synthesis of literature and life, Rêgo is represented in the character Carlinhos, who is a product of the rural elite. Menino de engenho was followed by another highly autobiographical novel, Doidinho, which relates the reminiscences of a plantation boy in a Catholic boarding school.
Rêgo's next book from the Sugarcane Cycle, Bangüê , is a romance of transition in which the author strays from his memoirs and focuses more on social issues. Specifically, Bangüê portrays the decadence of the patriarchal system. José Paulino is the last of the patriarchs, supported only by his pride and an unsustainable tradition. Carlos de Melo, Paulino's grandson, is the new generation. He is a young man who has graduated from law school and returned to the plantation. He does not, however, have the energy and power of his ancestors. Bangüê shows the end of the traditions of the rural patriarchy of the Northeast.
O moleque Ricardo , considered a sugarcane novel by Rêgo, is the first Brazilian novel in which a black man is portrayed as a good person. It is the story of Ricardo, a black contemporary of Carlos who is also the product of rural society. In the big city of Recife, Ricardo feels displaced and unhappy as he longs for rural life. When confronting spiritual values, Ricardo notices that African religions are just an escape for the poor in Recife. Similarly, sex in the mills is an escape for maids and young boys. The struggles of the migrants provide the background and basis for political action in the novel.
The next sugarcane novel, Fogo morto , is an essentially autobiographical narrative in which Rêgo creates social and psychological profiles of the people of the Northeast. He describes the pseudoaristocrats and their traditional values, mystics, and superstitious people, all of whom are involved in an unjust, arbitrary, and isolated world. Fogo morto constitutes a bridge between the Sugarcane Cycle and the Cangaço Cycle. In Rêgo's final Sugarcane Cycle book, Usina, rural inhabitants' physical and moral resistance, determination, resignation, mysticism, and sense of fate are all represented. The workers feel compelled to attack and sack the sugar refinery. Ricardo, who left Recife in O moleque Ricardo, comes back to the sugarcane mill and his story ends in the first chapter. Usina conveys radical changes, portraying the death of the tradition of slave masters and the dehumanizing effect of the new economic order.
The two books of the Cangaço Cycle continue the saga of the rural inhabitants of the Northeast, focusing on peasant revolts. The history of cangaço is tied to the social history of the patriarchs. The Cangaço Cycle shows the social and economic consequences of the droughts that plague parts of northeastern Brazil and explores the revenge of the oppressed against society, the police, and the state. The atrocities practiced by the cangaceiros (bandits) are shown to result from the laws created and endorsed by powerful landowners and politicians. The first Cangaço Cycle novel, Pedra bonita , explores these elements during the misery of the long dry seasons. Both Pedra bonita and Cangaceiros are regionalist works that are filled with mysticism. Both novels explore moral and psychological problems, including sentimentalism and fatalism, and both depict the oppressive power of the police and the leadership of a fanatic. In Rêgo's novels the cangaceiro is a hero or a bandit; a victim or a revenger; admired or hated. He is a victim of his own existence.
The novels of the Independent Cycle are different from Rêgo's regionalist works. In the Independent Cycle a lyrical atmosphere predominates as the author explores collective and individual human psychology, involving hidden and painful dramas and tragic endings. Pureza belongs to this group as a novel with a simple, linear structure in which Rêgo focuses on male and female relationships. Água-mãe, Riacho doce, and Eurídice do not take place in the backlands, and Eurídice is Rêgo's only book that takes place in Rio de Janeiro. Água-mãe narrates the story of a famous soccer player and traces his apogee and decline. The novel also features the story of three different mothers who live in different social conditions and yet act the same way: they all fear the supernatural. Hence, the work documents the collective reality of human psychology. Additionally, in an attempt to get away from themes associated with the Northeast, Rêgo beautifully describes the coastal city of Cabo Frio and its lake, saltmines, and fishermen. Riacho doce deals with a human being's physical and spiritual self-destruction. It is the story of a woman in search of her identity. For most of her life she struggles with personal relationships and attempts to adjust to social groups dominated by men or by popular mystical beliefs. Finally, the last novel of the Independent Cycle, Eurídice, is the only one of Rêgo's works to show the influence of Freudian theories.
Beyond the novel cycles, Rêgo wrote many other significant texts. In Histórias da velha Totônia (1936, Old Totônia's Stories), a children's book, Rêgo retells narratives related to him by Old Totônia during his childhood. In his preface to the book, Rêgo assures the reader that Old Totônia was a real person and his only source for the stories. He claims that he wanted to pass her image along to his grandson and to other children because the "Old Totônias" no longer exist. This sentiment is related to the nostalgic tone of the novels of the Sugarcane Cycle.
Another book, Gordos e magros (1942, Fat Men and Skinny Men), features Rêgo's interpretation of literary styles and his belief that literature is essential to the greatness of human beings. Rêgo gives physical attributes to the authors on whom he focuses, defining them as fat or skinny according to their style. In A casa e o homem (1954, The Home and the Man), Rêgo reconstructs the true story of Laurindo Rebelo, a black man who wrote a Portuguese grammar book that was widely used during the nineteenth century. In yet another book, Presença do Nordeste na literatura (1957, Presence of the Northeast in Literature), Rêgo published essays on the Jesuits in Brazil, Father Antonio Vieira, José de Alencar, Gilberto Freyre, Manuel Bandeira, and other important writers and poets of the Northeast. Additionally, Rêgo wrote about his travels in Bota de sete léguas (1951, The Boot of Seven Leagues), in which he sensitively captures the feeling of the places, the people, and landscapes visited.
While Rêgo's work has regionalist and memorialist characteristics, it also has modernist features in terms of its nationalism, use of oral traditions, and use of regional elements. Rêgo did not, however, embrace the tenets of the Southern modernists endorsed at the Week of Modern Art of 1922. Rêgo, along with Freyre and the Group of Paraíba, which included like-minded writers from Paraíba such as Valdemar Cavalcanti, Ramos, Aloísio Branco, Queiroz, Hollanda, and Lima rejected the modernists of São Paulo. For example, through his chronicles Rêgo attacked Mário de Andrade's use of language as the work of a philologist rather than a language for communication. Rêgo opposed the confusion of Andrade's "researched" and "invented" language with the spoken language of the illiterate Northeastern Cantadores (Popular Singers) and the workers of the backlands and sugar mills. (Despite this public debate, Andrade and Rêgo later became good friends.) Rêgo's regionalism was an attempt to keep alive the popular culture of the Northeast that was being threatened by technological progress and change. Despite the tensions between them, both the modernists and the regionalists advocated historical, anthropological, and sociological studies and urged the Brazilian intelligentsia to incorporate Brazilian popular art, folklore, and traditions into their work.
Rêgo's narratives also feature cries for social justice in an unequal economic society. The Sugarcane Cycle provides an important example. These novels are a reconstitution of the rural patriarchal society, organized around the plantation house, the slave headquarters, and the remaining former slaves and their descendants. They capture the transformation of the region as the old sugar mills disappear and are replaced by modern sugar refineries. In the sugarcane novels Rêgo depicts the way in which the introduction of technology resulted in a dehumanization of the economy when workers--former slaves--were dispersed and not incorporated into the job market. The novels illustrate the historical, social, economic, and psychological changes that occurred when the sugarcane oligarchy disappeared, and explore the options that were available to the people who had been trapped in the system.
On 12 September 1957, after a three-month period of hospitalization, Rêgo died as a result of liver cirrhosis, hepatic-renal syndrome, and uremic acidosis. His coffin was covered with the flag of his beloved Flamengo soccer team. His body was mourned at the Brazilian Academy of Letters and then buried in Rio de Janeiro.
Rêgo was the product of both his country roots and his urban life. Through his characters, he searches for something lost in both worlds as he explores the past and the present; the mystical and the real; and the weak and the powerful. For these reasons Rêgo has been studied and analyzed in more than four hundred books and articles. All of his books have been reprinted, some of them many times. Doidinho has had twenty-five editions, and Fogo morto has had more than forty-three editions. By 1996 Menino do engenho had gone through sixty-four editions. These facts speak to Rêgo's impact on Brazilian literary history. The magazine IstoÉ considers Rêgo to be the seventeenth most important Brazilian writer of the century. Furthermore, then-Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso designated the year 2001 as "The Year of Literature," and Rêgo was one of the four Brazilian writers honored.
José Lins do Rêgo's literary work is predominantly memorialist and regionalist. The memorial aspects of his works result from the literary transformation of his personal experiences. His novels are regionalist in the sense that they focus on the sugarcane mills, the rural areas, the outlaws, and the mysticism of the Northeast. His characters, however, are both a part of and transcend the Northeast, having both specific and universal qualities. Rêgo's fictional universe, which features both regional and psychological elements, is influenced by and preserves folkloric traditions, the narratives of the popular storytellers, and his own personal participation in the life of the Brazilian Northeast.
FURTHER READINGS ABOUT THE AUTHOR
- Mário de Andrade, Macunaíma, thirtieth edition (Belo Horizonte: Villa Rica, 1997).
- David Brookshaw, Race and Color in Brazilian Literature (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1986).
- Edilberto Coutinho, Romance do açúcar. José Lins do Rêgo, in Vida e obra (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1980).
- Eduardo F. Coutinho and Ângela Bezerra de Castro, eds., José Lins do Rego: colecão fortuna crítica (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1991).
- "José Lins do Rego," O Brasileiro do Século, IstoÉ <http://www.terra.com.br/istoe/biblioteca/brasileiro/literatura/lit17.htm>.