Fear of De Sade by Bernardo Carvalho

Bernardo Carvalho is a Brazilian writer and Journalist he has spent time in france and America as a correspondent for a brazilian paper ,fear of de Sade  is his sixth Novel .He has also translated books from English into Brazilian Portuguese by the likes of Oliver Sacks and Bruce Chatwin .

The fear of de Sade is a novel in two act the first is told in dialogue between an unnamed voice and the Baron of LaChafoi a forty-year old that is a bit of a libertine ,he had before been taken to prison had an orgy with three other people and spanish fly in the mix it becomes a scandal  ,he is being asked to remember this by the voice and thus solve what happened and how that some one  had died as a result of the orgy ,all this is set during the terror period of the french revolution .Over time the Baron feels the voice maybe the man he admires De Sade the infamous French noble man   and a man much admired by the baron .

VOICE : And what proves it wasn’t you ? that you’re not lying ? The fact that you don’t remember doesn’t mean much .Who can tell if you’re not really mad, and committed the crime in a fit ?

BARON :Master,I swear it !

Voice: don’t call me master !

BARON: I beg of you .My defence depends on you helping me .

the baron and the voice (de Sade?) talk

This first part does remind me of Kafka ,whether I d call it Kafkaesque I m not sure it is easy to put that title to piece that seem to not show the full picture and people on the edge or caught in the judicial system ,and I often see it mention and it is even ,mentioned on the back of the book ,But I feel this maybe owes something more to Beckett two unknown voices other than the baron’s  name and the act he has supposed to have committed we are told nothing else .I m remind of the plays of  Beckett detached voices ,people meeting in odd circumstances .

The second part of the book is about a couple,following a game that was devised by the Baron on his following of De Sade ,where the partners taken in turn to create fear in the other as the feeling is that when love dies all that can remain is fear its self  ,so we see the acts by each partner crank-up one by one ,but they act as thou this is normal  and thus this leads to the partners getting more radical with there ideas and thus leading to the husband taking a radical final step to put the fear in his wife .Again like the first part of the book this has no names the couple are just referred to as husband and wife .

In one of his books ,a moralising novel in dialogue form ,the baron recounted how he had avenged himself on the wife who was betraying him : he deflowered the illegitimate daughter she’d had by his cousin .Because according to the Baron’s philosophy ,only treachery liberates .Treachery is repaid with treachery .

The couple discover the Barons words .

This book is a gem an unusual and refreshing style of book inventive and an interesting insight into the human psyche .How far people will go in pursuit of an idea .

Have you a favourite Brazilian Novel ?


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. parrish
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 12:12:22

    This is one I definitely look up, as it appeals on most levels. A question have you read De Sade?


  2. Caroline
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 13:54:09

    I recnetly bought a cheap copy of anoter of his novels that sounded equally intriguing. I’m not sure how well known he is but I think he sounds like an author worth discovering.


  3. Parrish
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 15:33:10

    Hi Stu, did you know that, This is the second of several novellas featuring deceased literary figures at the heart of a murder mystery: based on a highly acclaimed Brazilian series entitled Death or Literature. New fiction in this occasional series comes from Louise Welsh (on Christopher Marlowe) and Alberto Manguel (Stevenson Under the Palm Trees – January 2004). Have read the Manguel (posted on it) & now have purchased this one.


  4. Jim Morphy at 366books
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 16:11:29

    A quick scan of my bookshelves rather shamefully reveals that I only have two books by Brazilians. Machado de Assis’s A chapter of hats, which I loved. And Coelho’s The Alchemist, which I absolutely loathed, and I’m still annoyed at myself for having read. Keen to try Fear of De Sade, sounds good and my kind of thing.


  5. Geosi
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 07:56:23

    You keep reminding me that there are other countries I have to read about their writers. all the best, stu


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January 2012


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