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Cousin Bazilio

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Wikipedia article

'O Primo Baslio' ("Cousin Bazilio") is one of the most highly regarded realist novels of the Portuguese author Jos Maria de Ea de Queiroz, also known under the modernized spelling 'Ea de Queirs'. He worked in the Portuguese consular service, stationed at 53 Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, from late 1874 until April 1879. The novel was written during this productive period in his career, appearing in 1878.

A bowdlerized translation of this book by Mary Jane Serrano under the title 'Dragon's Teeth: A Novel' was published in the United States in 1889,See Preface to 1889 translation. still available as a print-on-demand title. More accurate translations have since been published, first in 1953 by the poet Roy Campbell (1992 reprint of 1953 trans.) and then in 2003 by award-winning translator Margaret Jull Costa.


Jorge, a successful engineer and employee of a ministry and Luiza, a romantic and dreamy girl, star as the typical bourgeois couple of the Lisbon society of the 19th century.

There is a group of friends who attend the home of Jorge and Luiza: Dona Felicidade, a woman suffering from gas crises and who is in love with the Councillor; Sebastio ('Sebastian'), a close friend of Jorge; Councillor Accio, good scholar; Ernestinho; and maids Joana - hussy and flirty - and Juliana - an angry, envious, and spiteful woman, responsible for the conflict of the novel.

At the same time cultivating a formal and happy marriage with Jorge, Luiza still maintains friendship with a former colleague, Leopoldina - called "Bread and Cheese" for her continuous betrayal and adultery. Luiza's happiness and safety become endangered when Jorge need to travel to work at Alentejo.

After the departure of her husband, Luiza is bored with nothing to do, in the doldrums and melancholy caused by the absence of her husband, and exactly in this meantime Bazilio comes from abroad. A womanizer and a "bon vivant", he doesn't take long to win the love of Luiza (they had dated before Luiza meet Jorge). Luiza was a person with a strong romantic view of life as she usually read only novels, and Bazilio was the man of her dreams: he was rich and lived in France. The friendly love became an ardent passion and this causes Luiza to practice adultery. Meanwhile, Juliana is just waiting for a chance to blackmail Luiza.

Luiza and Bazilio send love letters to one another, but one of these letters is intercepted by maid Juliana - who starts blackmailing Luiza. Turned from a spoiled lady into a slave, Luiza starts to become sick. The ill-treatment she suffers from Juliana quickly takes her liveliness, undermining her health.

Jorge comes back and is not suspicious, as Luiza satisfies every whim of the maid while looking for all possible solutions until she finds the disinterested help of Sebastian, who sets a trap for Juliana, trying to get her arrested and ends up causing her death. It's a new era for Luzsa, surrounded by the affection of Jorge, Joan and the new maid, Mariana. However, it is too late: weakened by life that had endured under the tyranny of Juliana, Luiza is affected by a violent fever. Luiza does not notice that Bazilio hasn't replied to her letters for months, and when the postman delivers the letter at her home, it grabs Jorge's attention due to it being addressed to Luiza and being sent from France. He reads the letter and discovers the adultery of his wife. The evidence of her betrayal makes him go into despair but nevertheless, he forgives her because of the strong love he feels for Luiza and due to her fragile health. The affection and care of her husband, friends and the doctor are useless: Luiza dies.

After that, Jorge dismisses the maids and moves with Sebastian. Bazilio returns to Lisbon - where he had fled, leaving Luiza without support - and as he learns of Luizas's death, he cynically comments to a friend: "If I had brought Alphonsine before." This part closes the book revealing that Bazilio is a mean person. As they walk down the street, his friend Visconde Reinaldo admonished Bazilio for having an affair with a "bourgeois". He also said he found the relationship "absurd", after all and told that Bazilio had done what he made for "hygiene". Bazilio confirms his suspicions.

TV and film adaptations

The first film adaptation of a work of Queiroz was a 1922 adaptation of 'Cousin Bazilio' by George Pallu, and the work was adapted to film 5 more times (including a 1959 Portuguese film, a 1935 Mexican film, the 1977 Spanish film 'Dios bendiga cada rincn de esta casa', a 1969 West German film and a 2007 Brazilian adaptation simply titled 'Primo Baslio'[https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0211055/?ref_=tt_ov_wr Ea de Queiroz] in the IMDb produced/directed by Daniel Filho, with Fbio Assuno in the role of Baslio, and Dbora Falabella as Luiza, Reynaldo Gianecchini as Jorge and Glria Pires as Juliana, with the action moved from 19th century Lisbon to So Paulo of the 1950s around the time of the construction of Braslia).

In 1988 the Brazilian company Rede Globo produced a television adaptation of 'O Primo Baslio' in 35 episodes, starring the then rising star Giulia Gam and renowned actors Marcos Paulo and Tony Ramos. Although never rerun, this production contains some of the best dramatic moments delivered by the actors involved, especially the villainous Juliana, played by Marlia Pra.


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