This original study serves as a critical reassessment of traditional literary periodization and categorization, with the aim of rethinking Brazilian literature beyond the confines of the dominant aesthetic approach and in fovor of the sociohistorical. Reexamining Brazilian letters from 1850 to 1950—a time span the author, albeit reluctantly, interprets as a period of "transition"—this volume cogently rereads a variety of literary works in terms of their monological and dialogical elements. It ultimately points to the former as the predominant authoritarian proclivity in Brazilian literature—that is, until 1950.

Reis also argues for a reevaluation of the Brazilian canon in order to include other discourses, such as memorialism, lyrics, and what until now have been considered minor works. He presents an interesting case for going outside the restrictive parameters of Brazilian elitist cultural thinking. Moreover, as a bold attempt to unmask the flagrant authoritarianism in Brazilian literature, his book succeeds in addressing important questions without arriving at conclusive answers or facile solutions.

With its clear direction toward its objective of offering an alternative approach to traditional literary criticism in Brazil, this study coincides with the ongoing current, among Brazilian literary critics as well as Brazilianists, of furnishing new perspectives on the development of Brazilian literary historiography. In this vein, the work is most relevant to what is occurring in a field that, until recently and for the most part, has refrained from adapting innovative modes of theory to literary criticism. Reflecting the proclivity to see literature in terms of discursive patterns instead of currents or movements in chronological progression, this study also employs contemporary theories based on language and signification to illustrate the monolithic visions and monovalence of meaning emanating from many Brazilian discourses. Showing how social power and hegemony in the forms of state and patriarchy can lead to the effacement of difference (very much in tune with Foucault's ideas on power structures), the author's theoretical arguments also display notions of poststructuralist thinking and Derridean concepts of difference, even though no specific allusion is made to these theoretical views.

Structured to highlight a series of works exemplifying the author's primary argument—the continuing authoritarian bent in Brazilian literature—this critical work also underscores the slow and reluctant emergence of true modernity in Brazil. This is characterized as dialogical, using Don Quijote as the example par excellence of the modern text as polymorphous. This approach allows the author to analyze a variefy of titles, demonstrating how, in one case, a Machado de Assis merits his reputation, given his decidedly dialogical perspective and his pre-anthropophagus use of parody and intertextuality; while in another, modernists like José Lins do Rego reflect more the idea of continuity than rupture. The reader may concur with many of the provocative readings, and especially the inclusion of such writers as the memorialist Humberto de Campos and the unnos-talgic, vibrant Erico Veríssimo. But the interpretations of João Guimarães Rosa and Clarice Lispector warrant more discussion, particularly in regard to the former’s validation of the “human sertäo” and the latter's trenchant use of irony in Uma Aprendizagem, a work that ultimately, and in a deep structural sense, challenges patriarchal postures. Nevertheless, the reader will glean much from most of the well-argued themes, such as how implacable tradition and surface modernity CO-exist in Brazil and how the centralized state had an insidious hand in the cooptation of intellectuals and artists in the 1930s.

Written in a style that at times reflects awkward English phrasing, The Pearl Necklace nonetheless manifests good organization and sound reinforcement of its original themes and ideas. Given its timely appearance as Brazilian literary criticism and historiography undergo an intellectual revamping, this study warrants attention. It challenges the reader to rethink how Brazilian literature can be reinterpreted in light of the dynamic and chaotic patterns of the country's irrepressible social history.