XCIV -- Boa Ventura, of Lucas Figueiredo, comments by André Bandeira
This best-seller, of the prize-winner journalist Lucas Figueiredo, narrates the gold rush in Brazil, starting in 1697 and ending up in the first decade of the XIX century. The style is not new. It has been named «History journalism», due to its short chapters, attractive graphic layout, and sometimes breath-taking sententious writing. Most of the facts are well documented, once the Bibliography had been inserted between the chapters. But it is not the work of an historian. How come? Because an historian should be very well experienced in the Science of History and have some knowledge of the Philosophy of History, before resorting to the sources and relentlessly drawing conclusions, which only serve the reader's eagarness. His mood is one of ridiculing the Portuguese Crown's approach to Brasil as if this latter was about to succumb into an neapolitan comedy. The most badly hit is John the Fifth, at the acme of the gold bleeding out of Brazil towards the Metropole and Europe. On the other hand, the way he describes the intentions and compellances of the first gold seekers, either from S.Paulo or having crossed the ocean, depicts an european colonizer's character where, providentially, the terrible becomes sublime. It is not because the author gives room, in his narrative, to the evocative pestilence of Gold, also suggested both by the indians and the african slaves, the «greek choir» of brazilian history. The first gold-seekers had been adventurous and daring, long before gold came into sight, and they just found another crazy horse to ride after decades in mounting insane and grandiose expeditions deep into the territory. One remark made by the author (I wouldn't say conclusion because, as a matter of fact, he is no historian)seems to be quite pertinent: the first brazilian province with no waterfront, Minas Gerais, has been designed thanks to the gold rush. The author is daringly schematic about the first nationalistic revolt which broke out precisely in Minas Gerais, the «Inconfidência Mineira» and, in the tide of conclusiveness where he sails, of course he jumps to the conclusion that this revolt wanted to found an independent state, exclusively within that territory. Paradoxically, the author has a notion of how the utmost independence model of that time, the U.S.A. began (and how it did end in the civil war), but he still seems carried away by his own assertiveness. In conclusion (now, it is time for mine): the author makes a remarkable contribution for keeping alive the interest in history, but he pollutes the complexity of brazilian history with mythological soundbytes, where the «goodies» and the «badies» are replaced by the «pioneers» and the «clowns». He enjoys the show, with a secret simpathy for the bombastic, as if he gestured to opt between an improbable italian-spanish drama and a portuguese stygma. This way of turning history into a politics of prejudices and emotions, becomes worrisome when we konw that the author has been one of the most competent reporters on the victims of the brazilian military dictatorship.