'The seed of madness exists in all of us and with no warning may attack, overpower, crush and bury us ... '
Policarpo Quaresma - fastidious civil servant, dedicated patriot, self-styled visionary - is a defender of all things Brazilian, full of schemes to improve his beloved homeland. Yet somehow each of his ventures, whether it is petitioning for Brazil's national language to be changed, buying a farm to prove the richness and fertility of the land, or offering support to government forces as they suppress a military revolt - results in ridicule and disaster. Quixotic and hapless, Quaresma's dreams will eventually be his undoing.
Funny, despairing, moving and absurd, Lima Barreto's masterpiece shows a man and a country caught in the violent clash between illusion and reality, hope and decline, sanity and madness.
Afonso Henriques de Lima Barreto was a Brazilian novelist and short story writer. The son of first- and second-generation freed slaves, he was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1881, in the tumultuous decade that saw the abolition of slavery in Brazil and the formation of the First Republic. He worked as a civil servant and journalist, both of which provided him with a rich source of material for the satirical writings that brought him fame, as well as a platform for his political activism. Published in serial form in the prominent periodicals of his time, Barreto's novels are now placed amongst Latin America's finest. He died in 1922.