21.00 x 14.00 cm, 120 pp. ISBN 9788535911831 25,00
The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell Novella, 1961 | Afterword by Affonso Romano de Sant’Anna
The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell tells the story of the double- perhaps triple- death of Joaquim Soares da Cunha. Had he died a natural death, stretched out on a rustic cot in a hillside tenement in Tabuão? Or perhaps crossed the threshold some hours later, in the sea of Bahia, where he had always wanted to be buried? Or had it happened even earlier, the day he descended into dissolute life on the streets of the Bahia capital? To the dismay of his family, Joaquim Soares da Cunha, Quincas, decided to throw it all away. At a certain juncture in his life he simply abdicated his role as model employee, father, husband and respected citizen to become a “champion drunk”, the “king of the indigents of Bahia”. Then one day he wakes up dead. At the funeral, the family tries to restore some of the deceased’s former respectability and dress elegantly for the occasion. In the coffin, however, Quincas is sporting a malicious grin. Is he really dead? That night, along come his drinking companions: Curió, the Negro Pastinha, the corporal Martim and Pé-de-Vento. His pals from the high-life, loaded with rum, give the corpse something to drink and take Quincas for a wander through the streets of the town and down to the shore. There, in the company of his friends and his lover, Wide-eyed Quitéria, Quincas Wateryell will come to his final resting place. The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell, a brief but dense text, at once poetic and raucous, is a little masterpiece by Jorge Amado. Pristine in construction and style, it deals with the conflict between the established order and bohemian freedom.
Illustration by Carybé
Poster for the play The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell
Considered by many to be Jorge Amado’s masterpiece, the novella The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell was published in 1959 in the magazine Senhor, along with illustrations by Glauco Rodrigues. At the time, the author was enjoying one of the best phases in his career. He had just published Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon the previous year, a novel that marked a turning point in his work. Earlier in 1959, the year the novella was published, he received the title of obá orolu, one of the highest distinctions in Candomblé. Two years later, in 1961, the author would be elected to seat number 23 on the Brazilian Academy of Letters. The first edition of The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell in book form came in 1961, in the volume Home is the Sailor, in which the novella was accompanied by A completa verdade sobre as discutidas aventuras do comandante Vasco Moscoso de Aragão, capitão-de-longo-curso (The Long-distance Captain), which would later be published as a separate novel. The sociologist Roger Bastide wrote a comprehensive study that served as the preface to the French edition of the novella, which was also published in 21 other countries. The story received countless adaptations for theatre, the first in 1972. In 1988, a stage version was performed in France. In terms of television, the story was made into a soap-opera on TV Tupi in 1968 and, ten years later, another version was made by Walter Avancini and James Amado for the Caso Especial series on Rede Globo, with the participation of Paulo Gracindo, Dina Sfat, Stênio Garcia, Flávio Migliaccio and Antônio Pitanga. In 2006, The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell was voted Jorge Amado’s best work in an opinion poll conducted by Entrelivros magazine. Participants included Antonio Dimas, Milton Hatoum, Ferreira Gullar, Fábio Lucas, João Ubaldo Ribeiro and Boris Schnaiderman.
He made a most unpresentable corpse — the corpse of a bum who had died accidentally and indecently, laughing cynically at her, and no doubt at Leonardo and the rest of the family. That corpse belonged in a morgue; it should have been dumped into a police wagon to be cut up by the medical students and buried in a shallow grave, with no cross and no inscription. It was the body of Quincas Wateryell, rum-swiller, debauchee, and gambler, who had no family, no home, no flowers, and no one to pray for him. It was certainly not Joaquim Soares da Cunha, respectable functionary of the State Rent Board who had retired after twenty-five years of loyal service, or the model husband to whom people had tipped their hats and whose hand everyone had been proud to shake. How could a fifty-year-old man leave his home, his family, his lifelong habits, and his old acquaintances to wander the streets, drink in cheap bars, visit whorehouses, go around dirty and unshaved, live in a filthy hole in the worst part of town, and sleep on an old cot that was falling to pieces? Vanda racked her brains for a valid explanation.