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Binding with Briars my Joys and Desires,
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This review is from: The Crime of Father Amaro (Dedalus European Classics) (Paperback)The Crime of Father Amaro was a revelation to this reader. It's not just breathtakingly satirical and (as other readers have noted) cynical, but it manages to combine this with real wisdom and compassion (a difficult trick to pull off, since cynicism is so often heartless); and (in this superb translation by Margaret Jull Costa) comes across as wickedly stylish and inventive in terms of its language. The range of characterization is masterly; and what I particularly liked was the way in which our sympathies change as we read on. Father Amaro appears more sinned against than sinning for about the first half of the narrative: we feel genuinely sorry for his social isolation and angry at the injustice of his enforced celibacy. But then, when we discover how selfish and corrupt he has become, while still acknowledging that society IS at least partly to blame, we gradually stop feeling that his actions are in any way justifiable. The tragic consequences of his behaviour come with a chilling suddenness and savagery, and there is a wonderfully ironic final section set some years later, which ferociously condemns not just Father Amaro himself but the whole of Portuguese society at this time. And how topical this novel seems at a time when the Catholic Church is rent by scandals of a related kind!
This is a truly great book: it's up there with Crime and Punishment, Madame Bovary, and Anna Karenina as one of the titanic masterpieces of world fiction, and deserves to be much more widely known. I can't wait to read more of de Queiroz's fiction.
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Initial post: 1 Sep 2010 14:44:58 BDT
S. Kowalczyk says:
I'm over halfway through this book and I'm not looking forward to how it will turn out. Do you know if there was any way, in those days, that a priest could leave the priesthood?
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