CVIII - O Guarani, by José de Alencar, comments by André Bandeira
Romantic novel, written during the Empire, in Brazil. It is generally said to be the turning point towards a genuine brazilian novel, and not the repetition of any european literature. Unfortunately, after the long pages which set the scene for the final countdown, one can see that the myths, looming underneath, seem to be the same of the North Atlantic, that means, the myths generated in Eurasia, probably transfered to the New World, by sea or by land. And even if they have never been transfered that way, the common chamber, where they've been encapsulated, seems to be so resistant and wreckproof that they go on dictating to the author where to the narrative leads. There are two indians, the good and the bad. First, Peri, the tupi, and then, the collective of the Aimorés, the tapuia, who fight between themselves, as the hero against the pristine forces, in order to conquer a portuguese post, the shelter of civilization, lost in the jungle as a beacon of nobility and the safe of a virgin goddess, who happens to be daugher of the master of the house. Of course, this Olympus in the middle of the jungle, is not deprived of its own forces of hell, notably the mercurial adventurers who are supposed to reinforce the civilization strikeforce and most of all, Loredano, the former italian friar turned into treasurehunter. The italian burns in passion for the young goddess, even at the costs of her family life, and planned to find some hidden silver mines, disclosed to him by a former moribund during the performance of his former friar's duties. These hell forces seem very similar tho the defecting gods of the ancient nordic pantheon. When the teluric forces portrayed by the warlike tribe of the Aimorés, launch their final assault on the rock, on the top of which, the remaing noblemen and servants raise their schematic cross, the ammunition house goes off with all of them, both attackers and defenders, ignited by the master of the house. One of the final images is also flaming, with the former friar, dispossed of the silver mines map and stripped out of his false identity, tied up to a pole, burning up for his treachery, in the old Inquisition way. On the other hand, the final scene is fluid and flooded with the myths of water: Peri, the good indian, who served in a pagan way the virgin goddess, without ever touching her with a finger, follows the lead of an old transatlantic myth, and while escaping from this jungle Ragnarök and facing a river flashflood, manages to rescue both, into the hole of a floating palmtree. The novel ends without ever settling whether they finally reached the next portuguese post, the place where, the good indian promised the master of the house, to deliver his precious and elusive daughter. It doesn't seem so: while escaping through the jungle, the virgin asked her devoted savage knight to come and live among the christians in her final destination, but the indian retorted that he only made himself christian to be close to her and, instead of master of the jungle and her slave, he would be there, the slave of slaves. Then, she suddenly poised to dress as an indian, and bound herself to live in the jungle, finally giving the good indian, her first kiss, after so many courtney loves, intrigues, caprices and tragedies. The whole narrative is poised to begin when the master of the house decides to go and live in the jungle, in order to keep a portuguese free soil, while the mother-country had been hopelessly invaded by the spaniards. The final love scene, derives form a common ground, where the constancy of the good indian is rooted in a paganism which precedes any physical or courtney love, and too which the blond, blue-eyed virgin, finally gives in, boarding her and her dedicated Lancelot, in a boundless sailing. And this river long, a burst of confined waters follows very well up, the first kiss, so long waited for, thus distracting the reader, of the real narrative confinement. The narrative is so full of the same clear-cut moral categories, mixing up in such a computer-game rythm and special effects, that the novel tells us a different story of the one where the stubborn daughter of a stubborn master, and the indian, survive, contrariwise to another couple: the moribund nobleman, Álvaro, first betrothed with her, and Isabel, her half-sister, beautiful bastard daughter of the master of the house -- this one, it is in fact the first, naif novel of Brasil, which goes down in flames with the rest, giving room to the superior match. The real story, which will only be dismounted in the social criticism of Machado de Assis, it is the story of a compelling and smashing Destiny, portrayed in the canine, savage, and free-willed devotion of the good indian, for his feminine master and where the courtney moral utterances of noble portuguese are bound to be set on fire on the top of a powder keg which has not been piled up only in the unmasked friar's soul. The ending points out to a fluid errancy, both blue in the water and in the elusive virgin's eyes. The essence of the novel is cold, as the virgin's eyes, which matriarchally prevail over the black eyes of her half-sister, half indian, who always hated the good indian. The author says that the good indian never hated her back, except as a member of an enemy tribe...who's tribe ? The human race, frail, caught in the crossfire of a pagan stubborness, and still existing, despite all this romantic arsons.