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Equador: romance av Miguel Sousa. Tavares
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Equador: romance (urspr publ 2003; utgåvan 2003)

av Miguel Sousa. Tavares

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
3341561,183 (3.68)4
It is Lisbon in the year 1905 and our hero, Luis Bernardo Valenca, a 37 year-old bachelor and owner of a small shipping business, is revelling in the luxury of Lisbon's high society. Intellectually curious, he writes about politics in his spare time, believing that Portugal's vast empire is having a civilising effect on the far-off lands it has colonised. However, his life is turned upside down when King Dom Carlos asks him to become governor of Portugal's smallest colony, the tiny island of Sao Tome e Principe, stuck out in the Atlantic off the coast of equatorial West Africa, whose economy rests almost entirely on its cocoa plantations. However, the English believe that slavery still exists illegally in Sao Tome and intend to send a diplomatic envoy to check it out. (Of course the English, with their rival cocoa plantations in Africa, have their own reasons for trying to prevent the export of cocoa from Sao Tome). As a gentleman used to a softer urban life, Luis Bernardo is ill-prepared for the challenges of plantation life, and he is shocked by the conditions under which the Angolan workers labour - although he is more than willing to engage romantically with the wife of the English consul, one of several candidates for his attentions. Equator is a compelling and constantly surprising novel, casting light on a little-known corner of colonial life. Epic in scope, laced with emotional and moral complexity, Equator brings this simmering tropical community to life through the entanglements and betrayals of its cast and unforgettable characters. A best-seller in Portugal, and sold in many languages, Equator will also amaze and delight readers across the globe.… (mer)
Medlem:CatarinaRibeiro
Titel:Equador: romance
Författare:Miguel Sousa. Tavares
Info:Lisboa, Oficina do Livro, 2003
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:Ingen/inga

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Equador av Miguel Sousa Tavares (2003)

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» Se även 4 omnämnanden

I read the Dutch translation of this Portuguese block buster historical novel on a vain Lisbon playboy columnist, made governor of São Tome and Principe, who seeks to change the old ways of the cacao planters on the island by fighting slavery.

Tavares has an acute sense of historical events that allows for a perfect plot at the end of his tragedy. Luis Bernardo is a typical turn of the century member of the lazy, highly cultured, urban elite in Lisbon. He runs an import-export firm moving goods between Cape Verde and Portugal, an enterprise which he inherited and requires him to run three company ships from a small office in Lisbon. This gives him ample time to visit theatres, debating clubs, night clubs and beaches in aristocratic circles in Lisbon. He even manages to seduce a married beauty, whom he knew from childhood. After writing a column in a local newspaper presenting high flying ideas on Portugal’s civilizing mission in its overseas provinces (necessitating the abolishment of slavery), he receives an invitation to visit the King, Dom Carlos, at his palace in Vila Viçosa. The King charges him with a complicated mission as governor of São Tome – convince the newly appointed English consul that slavery does no longer exist among the cacao planters of those islands, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Luis Bernardo vacillates, but then a friend offers him an excellent buy-out price for his fledgling company, his illicit affair comes to fruition (as does his guilty conscience), and his boredom, progressive ideas and sense of patriotic duty gets the better of him (a theme often plied by that giant of Portuguese literature – Eça de Queiros).

Tavares paints his hero as a typical over-sentimental, slightly arrogant, up and coming intellectual who is driven by rational, modern ideas; behaves like a gentleman who is highly sensitive in the romantic realm; but who at the same time feels he has the stamina and organizational talent to make a difference in the world. Off he goes to the torpor, heat and boredom of São Tome and Principe.

Luis Bernardo settles in, visits all roças (plantations), investigates the labour relations and after only two months he basically knows he cannot fulfil his royal assignment: the planters do apply the legally imposed contract conditions, but the Angolan labour force is (kept) illiterate and unaware of their right to claim 60% of their withheld wages to demand repatriation to Angola after five years of contract work. It is not within the governor’s remit to change this because the responsible official, the procurator, is in cahoots with the planters.

Enter the English Consul David and his beautiful wife Ann. David has been disgraced in a gambling scandal when he was Governor of Assam in British India. His punishment is to report on suspected slavery in São Tome and thus help cacao producers in the British Gold Coast by imposing a boycott on Portuguese cacao. David, Luis B and Ann hit it off: they may be enemies in diplomatic terms, but their world view, life style and ideas about slavery are exactly the same. The settler community despises their governor for his views on slavery, his decisive interference in a court case against two labourers who had fled the biggest plantation, and his friendly relations with the British consul (and his developing passionate relationship with Ann, which becomes a public secret). Things come to a head during a visit of the Crown Prince and the Minister to the Portuguese Overseas Provinces. Just before these arrive, a rebellion breaks out at Principe island. Luis Bernardo prevents further escalation and manages to free the tortured labour leader, Gabriel: David offering to provide shelter and a job in his household. After a successful royal visit and the expiry of the first 5 year labour contract, the litmus test occurs: will planters allow their labourers and families to return to Angola or will Cadbury and the British impose a boycott? What will the governor do in response? Will he elope with Ann?

As usual with novels set in colonial settings, this story provides the view of the rich and powerful, not the black and suppressed. That’s a missed opportunity. Certainly Gabriel, the leader of the rebellion, could have added a voice (and not just his pecker) to the story. However I cannot blame Tavares – to develop a POV of an Angolan slave in São Tome would have required him to study and understand a slave’s perspective – something the Portuguese and British administrators could not achieve in their time and probably readers of bestsellers (who are overwhelmingly white and middle-class) are not really interested in. Tavares manages to provide a credible story on a young Portuguese administrator trying to civilize his compatriots in a backward tropical setting. The story compares well with similar stories developed at the turn of the 19th century by Eça de Queiros. Rich, urban, spoiled playboys with high flying ideals taught at the legal faculty in Coimbra meeting simple, hard working folks in a rural setting. ( )
  alexbolding | Oct 2, 2021 |
Tavares es, desde luego, un periodista. Parece que su interés es contarnos su historia y lo hace empezando por el principio y por su orden. Solo en un momento es necesario echar la vista atrás, para explicarnos los orígenes del cónsul enviado por Inglaterra a en São Tomé y de su irresistible esposa. Nada altera el relato, lo que no quiere decir que sea rápido, sino que no se aparta de su camino. Nos cuenta directamente y sin ambajes todo lo que cree que puede sernos útil para estar bien informado de la cosa, incluyendo ochenta páginas de la vida del protagonista previa al comienzo del asunto, es decir, a su nombramiento inopinado como gobernador de la remota isla por un encargo personal y francamente complejo del rey Carlos I. También dedica muchgas, demasiadas páginas, a la historia del cónsul y su mujer, que podía haber resuelto de otro modo.

Como buen periodista, escribe muy claro. No solo nos enteramos perfectamente de todo lo que hay que saber sobre la trama o sobre los sentimientos del protagonista (nada de los demás personajes), sino que también quedan claras las intenciones morales o ideológicas del autor. Se trata de mostrar la hipocresía de una sociedad colonial que formalmente había abolido la esclavitud pero que mantenía a los negros en una situación muy parecida. En medio, una historia de pasión sexual que, como cabía esperar, acaba estropeando su misión política. Y el gobernador siempre aparece intachable; si fracasa, no es por falta de ganas o de convicción moral, sino por la insidia de los retrógrados y materialistas hacenderos locales, que es que hay que ver lo mala que es la gente que se enfrenta al progreso.

Como digo, todo esto lo cuenta Tavares con mucha eficacia, y así la novela se lee muy bien, con mucho gusto. Pero no es escritor de raza. No disfruta con los juegos literarios, ni gusta de los matices o de utilizar las técnicas narrativas para abrir el abanico de posibilidades. Tampoco es historiador, con lo que no es capaz de mirar más allá de la perspectiva de su personaje, enfangándose en un maniqueísmo de buenos y malos que, hacia el final, acaba cansando un poco. En muchos momentos, parece que juzga a los cuasi-esclavistas o a los funcionarios coloniales con ojos de hombre de hoy, como un periodista, pero no como un historiador ni como un escritor. ( )
  caflores | Jul 16, 2021 |
Li este livro há uns anos (em 2013 se não me engano) e dei 4 estrelas. Eu realmente gostei... até hoje.
Decidi reflectir sobre este romance que de inicio tinha adorado e achei-o mesmo muito bom. Mas...

Hoje detesto, sobretudo pela forma como acabou. O autor deve ter achado fácil assim.
Uma coisa são tragédias e isto foi tudo menos tragédia, foi um fim mal amanhado e elaborado às 3 pancadas. Porquê envolver um blacked.xxx para destruir tudo, porquê, sr Miguel Tavares? Podia ter feito melhor do que isso...
Por isso, 1 estrela. ( )
  masomaro | Jun 24, 2021 |
Uma das melhores coisas que já li em português. A estória te prende tanto no macro (imigração forçada, política local, estertores da monarquia em Portugal, etc) quanto no micro (o bon vivant lisboeta removido à África, as paixões, as traições). Só o pósfácio bocó da Lilia Schwarcz é que não está à altura do resto do livro. Ainda assim, daria 6 estrelas se pudesse. ( )
  marzagao | Jun 1, 2021 |
Ambientado na década final da Monarquia em Portugal o romance mostra como não é de hoje que as questões da economia são mais importantes que as questões humanas. Tanto Portugal quanto a Inglaterra mantinham o trabalho escravo em suas colônias mas se esforçavam para camuflar essa realidade. Nesse contexto, o autor, brilhantemente, consegue nos manter presos à leitura. Paixão e erotismo permeiam a narrativa e os personagens. Recomendo muito. A editora foi muito feliz em manter, para nós brasileiros, o português de Portugal.
  amorimdeandrade | Apr 18, 2017 |
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Miguel Sousa Tavaresprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Lemmens, HarrieÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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Evenaar: lijn die de aarde verdeelt in een noordelijk en zuidelijk halfrond. Symbolische grens tussen twee werelden. Het Portugese woord equador is mogelijk een samentrekking van de uitdrukking é com a dor (é-cum-a-dor in oud Portugees), "het is met pijn en verdriet".
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Zodra dingen eenmaal gebeurd zijn, is het bijna onweerstaanbaar je af te vragen wat er van je leven zou zijn geworden als je het anders had gedaan.
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It is Lisbon in the year 1905 and our hero, Luis Bernardo Valenca, a 37 year-old bachelor and owner of a small shipping business, is revelling in the luxury of Lisbon's high society. Intellectually curious, he writes about politics in his spare time, believing that Portugal's vast empire is having a civilising effect on the far-off lands it has colonised. However, his life is turned upside down when King Dom Carlos asks him to become governor of Portugal's smallest colony, the tiny island of Sao Tome e Principe, stuck out in the Atlantic off the coast of equatorial West Africa, whose economy rests almost entirely on its cocoa plantations. However, the English believe that slavery still exists illegally in Sao Tome and intend to send a diplomatic envoy to check it out. (Of course the English, with their rival cocoa plantations in Africa, have their own reasons for trying to prevent the export of cocoa from Sao Tome). As a gentleman used to a softer urban life, Luis Bernardo is ill-prepared for the challenges of plantation life, and he is shocked by the conditions under which the Angolan workers labour - although he is more than willing to engage romantically with the wife of the English consul, one of several candidates for his attentions. Equator is a compelling and constantly surprising novel, casting light on a little-known corner of colonial life. Epic in scope, laced with emotional and moral complexity, Equator brings this simmering tropical community to life through the entanglements and betrayals of its cast and unforgettable characters. A best-seller in Portugal, and sold in many languages, Equator will also amaze and delight readers across the globe.

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