Lúcio Cardoso

Lúcio Cardoso

LÚCIO CARDOSO

Lúcio Cardoso (1912-1968) is one of the leading Brazilian writers of the period between 1930 and 1960. As well as authoring dozens of novels and short stories, he was also active as a playwright, poet, journalist, filmmaker, and painter. Within the history of Brazilian literature, his oeuvre pioneered subjective scrutiny of the modern self, bringing to the fore the personal dramas and dilemmas that underlie perceptions of collective existence. Lúcio Cardoso came from a strongly Catholic background, and his diaries (re-published 2012, in Portuguese) furnish a powerful account of the doubts and guilt deriving from his homosexuality. As a writer, he turned away from the social realism fashionable in 1930s Brazil and opened the doors of Brazilian Literature to introspective works such as those of Clarice Lispector – his greatest follower and admirer.

Cardoso was also a major force in the renewal of the Brazilian theater in the 1940s, authoring the first play staged by the Teatro Experimental do Negro group, pioneered by Abdias do Nascimento. He was also an ardent lover of cinema, which engaged his interest as a filmmaker in the 1940s and led eventually to his screenplay for Paulo Cesar Saraceni’s Porto das Caixas, the first production of Brazil’s Cinema Novo movement in the 1960s. Partially paralyzed by a stroke in 1962, Cardoso was forced to give up writing and turned to painting instead. In the words of Fausto Wolff, “he began to express in images that which he could no longer say with words”. In 1966, Cardoso was awarded the Machado de Assis Prize, for lifetime achievement, by the Brazilian Academy of Letters. He died two years later, at the age of 56, following a second stroke.

CHRONICLE OF THE MURDERED HOUSE (CRÔNICA DA CASA ASSASSINADA)

“When a friend suggested that CHRONICLE OF THE MURDERED HOUSE might be the greatest modern Brazilian novel, I was startled. There are so many more obvious candidates, after all. But as I thought about it, I realized that the statement wasn’t as strange as it sounds. The book itself is strange – part Faulknerian meditation on the perversities, including sexual, of degenerate country folk; part Dostoevskian examination of good and evil and God – but in its strangeness lies its rare power, and in the sincerity and seriousness with which the essential questions are posed lies its greatness.”
– Benjamin Moser, author of Clarice

Lúcio Cardoso’s 1959 novel, CHRONICLE OF THE MURDERED HOUSE, tells the story of a traditional family’s slippage into social and moral decline. Employing a variety of narrative devices – including letters, diaries, memoirs, statements, confessions and accounts penned by the various characters – the author weaves a complex and thoroughly engaging tale, hauntingly brought to life by a prose style unique in Brazilian literature. Truth and falsehood play out their contradictions, drawing the reader into a plot peppered by adultery, incest, madness and decadence, the overriding theme of which is the conflict between the freedom to live out one’s desires and the constraints imposed upon the individual by social conventions and family values.

A descent into the dark underside of Brazilian culture, with the universal appeal of a great work of literature.

Publication/Status: Originally published in 1959, this Brazilian classic is in its 13th edition by Civilização Brasileira (Record Group). Published by Métailié (France) and Open Letter Books (USA).