Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 June 2019
Mehr wohl angestattet möch ich im Hause die Braut sehn;
Denn die Arme wird doch nur zulezt vom Manne verachtet,
Und er hält sie als Magd, die als Magd mit dem Bündel hereinkam.
O verso seguinte veio, sem ela querer: Ungerecht bleiben die Männer …
[I would like to see the bride of the house more richly adurned; Because the poor woman will only be scorned by her husband, And he will treat whoever arrives as a maid with her bundle as a maid. The next verse came to her against her will: Men are always unjust … She rejected it.]—Mário de Andrade, 1927
GOETHE SPECIALISTS WILL recognize the hexametric prosody of the German lines in the epigraph as belonging to Hermann und Dorothea, even if they perhaps do not quite recall their exact place in the idyll, or the character who speaks them. (It is Hermann's father in the second canto, “Aussicht,” 2.183–85) They will certainly notice the several errors in transcription: “angestattet” instead of “ausgestattet” (“angestattet” not being a word in German, I have translated it with the English neologism “adurned”); “möch”; and “zulezt.” And anyone can see that this resulting text is bilingual. The final line in Portuguese says that the next verse came to “her”—the novel's protagonist— unwittingly, and that she rejected it. The number refers the reader to a footnote that provides a somewhat free translation of Goethe's lines into Portuguese, which are almost the last lines in Mário de Andrade's 1927 novel, Amar, verbo intransitive. Idílio (To love, intransitive verb, idyll; hereafter Amar).
The “she” is a German woman named Elza living in Brazil, who is usually referred to as “Fräulein”; various sentences in German, or sentences sprinkled with German words, as well as an entire poem by Heinrich Heine declaimed by Elza's pupil, appear in the middle of the Portuguese. In the erlebte Rede (i.e., free indirect discourse) narrative modality of much of the novel, German authors and poems are cited repeatedly. The citations are sometimes translated, or more frequently mistranslated.