1. First Fragment
João Clímaco Bezerra was born in Lavras da Mangabeira on 30th March, 1913 to Raimundo Nonato Bezerra and Maria da Costa Bezerra. He started learning how to read and write in his hometown at the old ‘School Group’ with teachers Amélia Braga and Rosária Mota.
In Lavras he worked in the local trade. Later he moved to Fortaleza where he studied at São João and Liceu do Ceará schools, from where he left to enroll at the Federal University of Ceará Law School. He graduated in 1950.
He graduated in accountancy at the Padre Champagnat School of Commerce, where he started his career as a professor. He also worked as a professor at the Justiniano de Serpa Institute of Education, at the School of Philosophy, at the School of Economics and Business Administration Sciences at the Federal University of Ceará, and at the School of Business Administration of the State of Ceará.
He occupied important positions in the government of the State of Ceará, such as technical director at the Ceará Secretariat of Education, chief of public affairs at the Bank of Northeast, and technical assistant at the National Industry Conference in Rio de Janeiro, where he moved to.
He debuted in 1948 with the novel Não Há Estrelas no Céu (A Starless Sky), which was well acclaimed by the critics, and with this book he joined the group of writers considered to have been the creators of the cearense novel. He left indelible imprints from his childhood in this book.
His second novel – Sol Posto (Sunset) – was published in 1952, and just like the first one, was published by the Editora José Olympio publisher, from Rio de Janeiro. The novel Longa é a Noite (Endless Night) is also published in 1952, considered by Sânzio de Azevedo a Machado de Assis like fiction with an almost enigmatic plot.
The third edition of this novel, now in book format, was published in 2007 by the Edições Poetaria publisher under my responsibility. I, therefore, am proud to have accomplished this great project.
In the field of chronicles and short stories he wrote the following books: O Homem e Seu Cachorro (The Man and His Dog) (Rio, MEC Documentation Service, 1959) and O Semeador de Ausências (Sower of Absences) (Rio, Record Publisher, 1967); and for the collection Our Classics by AGIR Publisher, João Clímaco Bezerra wrote the essays on Juvenal Galeno (1959) and Humberto de Campos (1965).
A Vinha dos Esquecidos (The Vineyard of the Forgotten) novel dates from 1980. However, one of his most important books, the long fiction Os Órfãos de Deus (God’s Orphans), remains unpublished, challenging his readers and admirers’ expectations.
As a journalist, João Clímaco held the position of editor at the Unitário newspaper in Fortaleza for a long time. He wrote a daily chronicle for the newspaper and was also very successful in his practice of writing book reviews and essays.
Acclaimed by the national critics, João Clímaco Bezerra was also an essayist and novelist; he was a member of the Cearense Literary Academy where he occupied chair n. 9 which has Fausto Barreto as patron. He died in Rio de Janeiro on 4th February, 2006.
2. Second Fragment
As the author of high performance novels, as is the case with Sol Posto (Sunset) (1952) and Não Há Estrelas no Céu (Starless Sky) (1948), this writer may be placed, according to the critics, in an intermediary line between Domingos Olímpio and Rachel de Queiroz.
According to Artur Eduardo Benevides, João Clímaco was probably “a highly qualified master”. Benevides also acknowledges the author of the A Vinha dos Esquecidos (The Vineyard of the Forgotten) (1980), “as having absolute mastery of the writing technique and of changing people’s facts and destiny, many times tragic, into a novel, hoping to interpret the pain of living and the time lost”.
Acclaimed at his debut as one of the revelations of the Brazilian novel by writers such as Jorge Amado, Graciliano Ramos, Érico Veríssimo and Tristão de Athayde, João Clímaco, who consolidated the purest literary intentions and forms of the cearense novel, would pass into posterity as one of the writers who, in Brazil, assumed literature as their vocation and destiny.
Be it in the above mentioned novels or in the chronicles and essays he wrote for the prestigious Nossos Clássicos (Our Classics) collection, by AGIR publisher, on Juvenal Galeno (1959) and Humberto de Campos (1965), João Clímaco Bezerra always showed, in a consistent manner, that literature had been his great mirage and his mission among the living.
Therefore, now in 2013, when the author of O Homem e Seu Cachorro (The Man and His Dog) (1959) celebrates his 100th birthday, the impression his work has on me is that it continues to strongly impose itself as a project that resists time and the plural winds with which the readers and the critics have examined it.
João Clímaco Bezerra is probably the novelist from Ceará who has reached the greatest universal scope and who has the most spontaneous and exquisite literary style. His linguistic construction makes reference to the legacy left by writers such as Adolfo Caminha and Oliveira Paiva, and by short story writers such as Moreira Campos and Juarez Barroso.
His text is dense and highly refined. The psychological density of his characters is supreme, in spite of the atmosphere of solitude and abandonment which haunts the construction of A Vinha dos Esquecidos (The Vineyard of the Forgotten), probably a late and unnecessary novel in his bibliography.
As an attentive reader of this great Brazilian writer’s works, who honored me with his friendship, I had the privilege to read the originals of his most ambitious novel: Os Órfãos de Deus (God’s Orphans), inexplicably unpublished to this date due to prejudice from a group of João Clímaco’s friends who never forgave the plot’s main character’s transgressions, as if the novelist’s inner voice could interfere with his sexual orientation.
Every heterosexual writer, as is the case with João Clímaco, has the artistic freedom to conduct the construction of his work from his formal and polyphonic resources, from his perspective of class and his values. And what we most expect from him is that he transgresses the daily life norms.
The narrator’s homosexual introversion in this novel by João Clímaco re-marks a character’s behavior, even though this novel was written with the focus on the first person.
With recurring technique and a detailed plot, João Clímaco’s lyrical texture in Os Órfãos de Deus (God’s Orphans) is seen as a high-quality discourse, although the author sometimes uses traditional language that clashes with the narrative dynamics.
The obsessive feeling of guilt and sin in this audacious novel by João Clímaco wins striking poeticity and literary vigor. However, the emphasis is on the strength of the narrative structure and the vision of the existential absurdity, which is actually very important for this novelist’s literary works.
Nevertheless, what I would like to highlight in this text is a small book by João Clímaco Bezerra; a book that has always touched me in a very special way. It is the novel Longa é a Noite (Endless Night), written in the form of a diary and first published in the Clã magazine, N. 11, in December, 1951. This novel had a second edition published in partnership with a Stênio Lopes’s soap opera.
Considered by Sânzio de Azevedo as one of the author’s most important pieces of fictional work, Longa é a Noite (Endless Night) also gives this same author the impression of being a soap opera permeated by intentions and almost enigmatic plots. Also according to Sânzio de Azevedo, this “almost Machado de Assis like” enigma is “one of the strengths that constitutes the importance of this novel by João Clímaco Bezerra”.
The Edições Poetaria publisher’s decision to republish this long fiction by João Clímaco in 2007 is surely a sublime moment in the state of Ceará’s cultural life, thus giving emphasis to this well-known Brazilian writer’s human density and extremely beautiful and creative language.
I hope that the mystery and the semantic construction, that the subjective plot and the existential and ontological perspective in this cearense novel – Endless Night – will continue to seduce the reader, just as they did when it was published more than half a century ago.
To re-read João Clímaco’s works in the year we celebrate his 100th birthday is one of the challenges facing the Brazilian literary critics. As a member of a generation of novelists, probably the most brilliant in our literature, João Clímaco Bezerra needs to be urgently rehabilitated. The State of Ceará owes him this tribute; Brazil needs to hear his voice.