Rubem Fonseca's Cold Case: The Ephemeral and the Historical in Agosto.
Romance Notes, 2006, Fall, 47, 1
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THE word ephemeral, from the Greek ephemoros signifying a day's duration, connotes evanescence or transience. In ancient texts ephemoros also referred to events that were deemed insufficiently important to accord them a place of permanence in the collective memory (Eisenhauer 286). In this latter sense the ephemeral is the antithesis of historiography, whose purpose is to express meaning through the creation of enduring memories, particularly as they pertain to events in the public sphere. Through its fusion of police procedural and historical novel Rubem Fonseca's Agosto (1990) implicitly addresses this dichotomy of the ephemeral and the historical. Fonseca's narrative juxtaposes the activities of fictional homicide detective Alberto Mattos with those of a central figure of twentieth century Brazilian history, President Getulio Vargas (1882-1954). Agosto's chapters dedicated to the last three weeks of Vargas's life (August 1-24, 1954) eschew irony and mimic standard historical accounts of the period. However, the novel's interpolation of ephemeral events in the life of detective Mattos, coupled with the ultimate failure of the protagonist's investigative activity and the novel's anticlimactic conclusion, present an underlying critique of official history's presumed authority. (1) Agosto's protagonist, Alberto Mattos, embodies the roman noir detective's hard-boiled uncertainty, characterized by a quest conducted on uncertain terrain, lacking confidence that the truth will ever be reveled (Chiappini 50). Unlike the nearly omniscient traditional detective or, for that matter, the official historian, roman noir investigators make no claim to authoritativeness. Although he is a public and not a private investigator, Mattos is no exception to this tradition. Like the noir detective Mattos's investigative activity is predominately a compendium of mistakes, spurious leads, and false conclusions. Matto's daily existence is also played out amidst the "marginal realism" of transient interactions with Rio de Janeiro's petty criminals, winos, prostitutes, gamblers, and anonymous homicide victims. (2) His personal narrative consists of fleeting, mundane events such as routine paperwork, doctor visits, and ephemeral relationships with women.
- 2,99 €
- Categoria: Artes e disciplinas linguísticas
- Publicado: 22/09/2006
- Editora: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Romance Languages
- Tamanho da impressão: 10 páginas
- Línguas: Inglês