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Gilberto Freyre

Burke, Peter / Pallares-Burke, Maria Lúcia G.

Gilberto Freyre

Social Theory in the Tropics

Year of Publication: 2008

Oxford, 2008. 261 pp.
ISBN 978-1-906165-04-8 pb.  (Softcover)
ISBN 978-1-906165-09-3 hb.  (Hardcover)

Weight: 0.430 kg, 0.948 lbs

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Book synopsis

Gilberto Freyre was arguably the most famous intellectual of twentieth-century Latin America. He was active as a sociologist, a historian, a journalist, a deputy in the Brazilian Assembly, a novelist, poet and artist. He was a cultural critic, with a good deal to say about architecture, past and present, and a public intellectual, whose pronouncements on race, region and empire – not to mention sex – made him famous in some quarters and notorious in others.
The Masters and the Slaves, his most famous work, went through forty editions and has been translated into nine languages, made into a comic book and a television miniseries, while two directors (one of them Robert Rossellini) planned to turn it into a film. Yet he is not well known outside Brazil. Freyre was a major social thinker, one of the few who have not come from Western Europe or the USA, and this book argues that we should take account of the pioneering work of this gifted intellectual. His ideas are of particular relevance today for both political and academic reasons. His interest in gender, ethnicity, hybridity, identity, globalization, and capitalism ensures that his ideas are still provocative and topical, and ready to be introduced to a wider audience.


Contents: The Importance Of Being Gilberto – Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – Masters and Slaves – A Public Intellectual – Empire and Republic – The Social Theorist – Gilberto Our Contemporary.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

The Authors: Peter Burke is an internationally renowned historian at the University of Cambridge and has published 25 books including History and Social Theory and Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe (3rd edition forthcoming in 2008 for its 30th anniversary).
Maria Lúcia G. Pallares-Burke was Professor at the University São Paulo and is now an associate of the Centre for Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge. Her book on the young Freyre, published in Portuguese in 2005, won prizes and wide acclaim.


«The world’s greatest thinking happens in many climes, contexts, and languages. To alert the English-speaking world to this fact, there are no better scholars than Peter and Maria Lúcia Pallares-Burke and no better subject than Gilberto Freyre – Brazil’s uomo universale, who combined literary genius, intellectual audacity, academic rigor, unrestricted vision and profound originality in work that has helped shape one of the global giants of the present and future: modern Brazil.» (Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Tufts University)
«As expected, the authors have produced a major work of intellectual biography of a most original and influential Latin-American thinker.» (José Murilo de Carvalho, Brazilian Academy of Letters)
«This is an excellent book focusing on the work of the leading Brazilian intellectual of the twentieth century, whose ideas had a major national and international impact.» (Francisco Bethencourt, University of London)
«Peter Burke is the leading cultural historian of our generation.» (Jay Winter, Yale University)
«(...) de Burkes hebben met dit boek een fascinerende intellectuele biografie van Gilberto Freyre geschreven, die ook voor de meer algemeen genteresseerde lezer meer dan de moeite waard is.» (Geert A. Banck, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis)


The Past in the Present. Vol. 4
Edited by Francis Robinson