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A Samba for Sherlock - Essay Example

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‘O Xangô de Baker Street’ is a novel written in 1995 by noted Brazilian author and comedian, Jô Soares. The story is set in the final decades of the nineteenth century in the sprawling city of Rio de Janeiro. …
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A Samba for Sherlock
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Download file to see previous pages The plot begins with a performance by famous actress Sarah Bernhardt in the city’s municipal theater that was based on French influences. The entire audience, including the reigning emperor Pedro II, was enthralled by her performance. During a rendezvous upon the show’s conclusion, the emperor confides in Sarah about the mysterious disappearance of a Stradivarius Violin that he had once gifted to his mistress (Krueger, 2006).
Meanwhile, the city was also shaken by the news of a prostitute’s brutal murder, which had been orchestrated in a rather peculiar manner. The killer targeted beautiful ladies and would tie the string of a violin around the intimate portions of their bodies. In response, Dom Pedro requests the services of famous British detective Sherlock Holmes to help nab the culprit.
The novel is an uncanny adaptation of Sir Arthur Canon Doyle’s masterpiece although the protagonist introduced in the story is nothing like the Sherlock Holmes popular among European readers (Pitts, 2004). As a corrupt and distracted person, the Sherlock Holmes seems mesmerized by an attractive actress and indulges in trading drugs for cigarettes. Based on extensive insight of nineteenth century Brazil, the author has woven a thrilling and suspenseful story that combines the genius of an intellectual detective with the marvel of carnival revelry (Brown, 2009). This paper analyzes the ways in which ‘O Xango de Baker Street’, or its English adaptation titled ‘A Samba for Sherlock’, have transcended cultural and historical boundaries. It also describes the adaptation of western characters such as Sherlock Holmes in an emerging Latin American culture and the changes adopted by the author to reflect an intelligent and humoristic character of the protagonist. The paper also traces instances of carnivalesque arguments that serve to question the authority of traditional social hierarchy through chaos and humor. In addition, it also identifies certain British and Brazilian stereotypes that have contributed to the development of the story and the characters. Primary analysis As mentioned above, the story begins with a performance by famous French actress Sarah Bernhardt in Rio de Janeiro. A vivid insight of Brazilian culture and architecture is provided through the depiction of the Camille and Fedora operas. The author also describes the Brazilian political climate during that era and a fondness for theater and drama among the royal elite (Voltolini, 2006). In fact, the emperor Pedro II had travelled all the way from his summer capital, Petropolis, just to witness this impressive performance. The modus operandi of the serial killer suggests a very brutal end for all his victims. As is common in most suspense thrillers, the culprit also appears intent at leaving his mark by placing clues on the bodies of all his victims. It is evident that the theft of the precious violin and the clues left on the victims are connected. However, catching the perpetrator seems a distant thing even for a person of Holmes’s caliber. There is an element of mocking humor and disgust from the very beginning and it is evident that Soares has concocted a highly unusual story out of historical facts and fictional characters. While this wry depiction is largely subtle, it is nevertheless keenly felt, such as in the case of the following quote by the character Alberto Fazelli (Riley, 2009): “What do you think of Brazilian men?” The character had posed this question to Sarah Bernhardt as if he was a tabloid reporter. However, his expression was quite lustful and seemed to exceed the boundaries or propriety. Soares also relies on psychological perspectives in his portrayal of Inspector Pimenta, who throughout feels the pressure of bringing the serial killer to justice given ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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