Readalong – Grande Sertão:Veredas – The Devil to Pay in the Backlands by João Guimarães Rosa


Last year Richard (Caravana de recuerdos) mentioned João Guimarães Rosa’s novel Grande Sertão (1956) on his blog and since I wasn’t familiar with the book but saw it was called a Brazilian Ulysses, I had to get it. I bought what seems to have been one of the last copies available in German. Sure, I could have bought it in French or English but for some reasons, I thought German might be just as good. After having read the first ten pages I think I might have been wrong. Grande Sertão is a groundbreaking work of Brazilian literature and much of that comes from the fact that it uses oral traditions to create something new. It’s what is called “Oralisierung” in German. (I couldn’t find the quivalent in English.Would it be “Oralization”?) Obvioulsy it is meant to sound like a long monologue of someone using a not very sophisticated but colorful spoken language. And that’s where I have a problem. The spoken German rendered in the translation doesn’t sound like spoken German but it seems to mimic the Brazilian. I hope I’ll get used to it.

Despite my reservations regarding the German translation, I think this is a very interesting book and when I saw that Richard (Caravana de recuerdos), Rise (in lieu of a field guide), Miguel (St. Orberose) and Scott (seraillon) co-host a readalong of the book in May I signed up immediately. At the moment there are still more hosts than participants, so you might want to consider rebalancing that a bit and sign up as well. It might not be easy to find a copy but maybe the one or the other already has one somewhere and was just waiting for the right moment. And there are libraries who might have it too.

Here’s the synopsis on wikipedia

If you’d like to sign up. Here are the intros of the hosts:





The discussion takes place during the last week of May 2013.

Do you know the novel? Will you join?