In 1946 Albert Camus traveled to South America. During this journey, he took random notes published posthumously, in which he produced irregular (and sometimes brutal) remarks on both cities visited and on persons he met.
Perhaps the best way of outlining a brief definition of what I propose to call Shakespearean countries is resorting to V. S. Naipaul’s The Mimic Men, whose title already suggests a Girardian reading of the work of the Nobel Prize.
There is an uncanny and even fascinating relationship between mimetic theory and the topic of cannibalism. In one of his most influential books, La Violence et le sacré (1972), when René Girard has to produce an authentic tour de force in order to prove the “unity of all rites,” he resorts to ritual cannibalism.
In the work of the most distinguished Latin American authors there is a disquieting circumstance, namely, the virtual omnipresence of a particular semantic field centered upon the concepts of copy, imitation, emulation, plagiarism, and influence.
I would like to start my contribution at Arcade by proposing a distinction between “comparative literature as content” and “comparative literature as form.”
João Cezar de Castro Rocha is Professor of Comparative Literature at the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). He is the author of Literatura e cordialidade: O público e o privado na cultura brasileira (1998; Mário de Andrade Award, National Library, Rio de Janeiro); O exílio do homem cordial: Ensaios e revisões (2004); Exercícios críticos: Leituras do contemporâneo (2008); and Crítica literária: em busca do tempo perdido? (2011, forthcoming). He has edited more than 20 books, among which are a collection of six volumes of Machado de Assis's short stories (Record, 2008); Producing Presences in Portuguese: Branching Out from Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht's Work (2007); The Author as Plagiarist: The Case of Machado de Assis (2006); and Brazil 2001: A Revisionary History of Brazilian Literature and Culture (2001). His book of dialogues with René Girard and Pierpaolo Antonello, Evolution and Conversion (2008), has been translated into seven languages, and received in 2004 the Prix Aujourd'hui in France.
Among others, Castro Rocha has received the following distinctions: the Endowed Chair Machado de Assis of Latin American Studies (Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana / Brazilian Embassy, Mexico, 2010); Hélio and Amélia Pedroso/Luso-American Foundation Endowed Chair in Portuguese Studies (University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, 2009); Research Fellowship (Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung / Freie Universität - 2005-06); Ministry of Culture Visiting Fellow (University of Oxford, Centre for Brazilian Studies, 2004); Tinker Visiting Professor (University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2003); Overseas Visiting Scholar (Cambridge University, St John's College, 2002); John D. and Rose H. Jackson Fellow, (Yale University, Beinecke Library, 2001).