The Athenaeum

Trade Paper – $21.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3079-1
Publication Date
June 2015
Page Count
264 pages
Trim Size
5.125 x 7.75

The Athenaeum

A Novel
Raul Pompeia; Translated from the Portuguese by Renata R. M. Wasserman; Introduction by César Braga-Pinto

Originally published as O Ateneu in 1888, The Athenaeum is a classic of Brazilian literature, here translated into English in its entirety for the first time. The first-person narrator, Sergio, looks back to his time at the eponymous boarding school, with its au­tocratic principal and terrifying student body. Sergio’s account of his humiliating experiences as a student, with its frank discus­sion of corruption and homoerotic bullying, makes it clear that his school is structured and administered so as to reproduce the class divisions and power structure of the larger Brazilian society.

In its muckraking mode, the novel is in the spirit of Natural­ism, imported from France and well-acclimated to Brazil, where it blossomed. At the same time, Pompéia maintains the novel’s credibility as a bildungsroman by portraying the narrator’s psy­chological development. The novel’s conclusion suggests both a doomed society and its possible redemption, indicative of a mo­ment of upheaval and transition in Brazilian history.

About the Author

RAUL POMPÉIA (1863–1895), a canonical nineteenth-century Brazilian au­thor, wrote novels, short stories, and journalistic pieces. He belonged to the Naturalist school, though his work sometimes subverted its principles. He was also a political activist, eventually committing suicide when his writing got him in trouble with the authorities.

RENATA R. M. WASSERMAN is professor emerita of English at Wayne State University.

CÉSAR BRAGA-PINTO is an associate professor of Brazilian and comparative literature at Northwestern University