Journalist, jurist, diplomat, politician, orator, philosopher, reformer, Rui Barbosa de Oliveira lived a long, active, and fruitful life dedicated to Brazil. As one result of his many varied activities, he left to posterity, among other things, a vast number of speeches, letters, and writings. During the past decade, the Casa de Rui Barbosa in Rio de Janeiro has published about seventy volumes of its namesakes’ works; about six single volume anthologies have been printed since 1917. In view of this rather extensive publication, one questions the special raison d’être of this new anthology. There are, perhaps, two reasons which justify its publication. First, this long book of fine print seems to be the most complete anthology yet published, both in quantity of works presented and in variety of subject matter. Second, this edition brings together for the first time widely scattered lectures and essays by distinguished Brazilian scholars interpreting and analyzing the works and life of Rui Barbosa. Previously many of these interpretive lectures and essays were difficult to find. By bringing them together in this single volume, the editor has done a considerable service to students of Brazilian history, literature, and politics.
In the three introductory essays on Rui Barbosa, the most challenging interpretations are presented by João Mangabeira in a series of brief statements about Rui’s opinions on various subjects ranging from capitalism to youth. One wonders if in certain instances, in order to be terse, the author has not drawn overly simplified conclusions. A case in point is the discussion of Rui Barbosa’s opinions on foreign policy, principally his views on the United States. Senhor Mangabeira concluded from the few quotations around which he built his discussion that Rui Barbosa was a friend of the people of the United States but an enemy of American capitalist imperialism. Such affirmations would seem to ignore many statements in Rui’s letters, which, in addition to professing admiration and friendship for the United States, called for closer relations between the two countries. Furthermore, those conclusions reflect a tendency to interpret statements made in 1910 in a context more in keeping with 1960. The introduction concludes with an excellent chronology of the major events in Rui Barbosa’s life and the reproduction of eleven pertinent photographs.
The anthology divides the selections of Rui’s works into six parts: political oratory (subdivided into national and international), legal oratory, academic oratory, journalism, essays, and philology. Since the political life of Brazil absorbed much of Barbosa’s energy, it is natural that about half of the anthology should be devoted to his political speeches in parliamentary or presidential campaigns. These convincing, dramatic, and fluent speeches reveal an unshakable faith in democracy and in Brazil.
Each of the six sections of the anthology is preceded by an interpretive essay germane to the selections which follow. Because of their high quality and insight into the works of Rui Barbosa, these essays are the most valuable part of this book.
Appended to the main body of the anthology are one hundred and three pages of short quotations from Rui Barbosa on subjects varying from agiotage to George Washington. The three-column, seventeen-page index is the most disappointing part of the book. Rather than give the page on which the subject in question is found, the index gives the number of the selection in which it is located. Such an arrangement means that the reader must thumb through this fat volume searching for the number of the selection and then peruse the entire cited selection in order to find the desired reference. The bibliography apparently was meant to cover only the most important Brazilian publications. The French anthology of Rui Barbosa’s writings, for example, is not listed. The section enumerating the studies concerning Rui Barbosa is not complete and is devoted almost exclusively to Brazilian works. In spite of these deficiencies, this anthology of the works of Rui Barbosa is the best and most complete one which has been published to this date.