The Apprentice Tourist (Paperback)
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A Brazilian masterpiece, now in English for the first time: a playfully profound chronicle of an urban sophisticate’s misadventures in the Amazon
A Penguin Classic
“My life’s done a somersault,” wrote Mário de Andrade in a letter, on the verge of taking a leap. After years of dreaming about Amazonia, and almost fifty years before Bruce Chatwin ventured into one of the most remote regions of South America in In Patagonia, Andrade, the queer mixed-race “pope” of Brazilian modernism and author of the epic novel Macunaíma, finally embarks on a three-month steamboat voyage up the great river and into one of the most dangerous and breathtakingly beautiful corners of the world. Rife with shrewd observations and sparkling wit, and featuring more than a dozen photographs, The Apprentice Tourist not only offers an awed and awe-inspiring fish-out-of-water account of the Indigenous peoples and now-endangered landscapes of Brazil that he encounters (and, comically, sometimes fails to reach), but also traces his internal metamorphosis: The trip prompts him to rethink his ingrained Eurocentrism, challenges his received narratives about the Amazon, and alters the way he understands his motherland and the vast diversity of cultures found within it.
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About the Author
Mário de Andrade (1893–1945) was a Brazilian writer, born in São Paulo, best known for the gleefully anarchic rhapsody Macunaíma, the Hero with No Character (1928). A polymath of his era, he was trained as a musician but became equally influential in fiction, poetry, photography, and art criticism. He served as the founding director of São Paulo’s Department of Culture and helped organize and participated in the Semana de Arte Moderna (Week of Modern Art) in 1922, an event that would be central to the birth of modernism in Brazil. A key thread of Andrade's work involved the recognition and preservation of Afro-Brazilian cultures and traditions.
Flora Thomson-DeVeaux (translator/introducer) is a translator, writer, and researcher whose translation of The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas by Machado de Assis was acclaimed as “a gift to scholars” by The New York Times. She studied Spanish and Portuguese at Princeton University and earned a PhD in Portuguese and Brazilian studies from Brown University. She lives in Rio de Janeiro.
“The Apprentice Tourist shows Andrade’s fascination with Amazonian cultures—and his utter boredom with the government officials and elites who welcomed the group of travelers along the way. . . . [It] offer[s] an important corrective in bringing canonical Brazilian works into English.” —The New York Times
“A playful romp . . . The translator ha[s] done remarkable work, approaching the unruly text with joy and scholarship . . . fascination and care.” —Joy Williams, Book Post