• Short stories
  • 1974

The Via Crucis of the Body

Upon its release in 1974, The Via Crucis of the Body was controversial. Some critics reacted negatively to the commissioned work, written intentionally as erotic stories. The ideology of seriousness and the framing of the author as an icon of philosophical literature prevented them from perceiving its master moves. First, the reference she makes to some canonical works of Brazilian erotic and pornographic literature. In some stories, she clearly establishes a dialogue with the playwright Nelson Rodrigues and Curitiba-based writer Dalton Trevisan: she resorts to rapid dialogues—much more than in other works—; she uses short sentences; she deals with taboos such as prostitution, rape, ménage à trois; she incorporates kitsch; she subverts the separation between high and “low” literature. Not in the book, but in the crônica “Um caso para Nelson Rodrigues” (A Case for Nelson Rodrigues), published in Jornal do Brasil a year earlier, she cites the two masters of incitement to morals and good manners: “But I’m getting all confused or it’s the case of being so wound up that if I can I’ll unwind albeit Dalton Trevisan would narrate with the greater force he possesses. His realities are invented. I apologize because besides stating the facts I also guess and what I guess here I write.” The intertextuality takes place in a parodic way and with a great sense of humor.

Another striking aspect of the book is its discussion of loneliness and helplessness, especially but not exclusively associated with aging. Official and conventional dates, such as May 13 [when the Lei Áurea or “Golden Law” that abolished slavery was signed] and Mother’s Day; a birthday celebration; or the aura of magic that has encompassed the writer in the process of creation since the Romantics – none of these rites, myths, or conventions can obliterate the sense of malaise, the insurmountable isolation in a daily routine that distances people, despite all the electronic devices that decorate the houses: radio, television, telephone.

The book displays diverse dictions, entertaining the reader with tales that invoke the grotesque and humorous techniques listed by the philosopher Henri Bergson, and touching us with the story of the elderly woman who resorts to paying for sex, because a body needs another body.

ByClarisse Fukelman