Othello's pathologies: Reading adolfo caminha with lombroso

César Braga-Pinto*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Given the growing concern with urban crime and the fate of the black man in the aftermath of the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1888, it is not surprising that the figure of Othello in its various versions, appropriations, and adaptations would become emblematic. In this essay I read the Brazilian novel Bom-Crioulo, written by Adolfo Caminha in 1895, in light of Cesare Lombroso's criminal anthropology. I argue that to read this novel-which deals with crime, race, sexual perversion, and jealousy-in the context of fin-de-siècle criminology and what I call "Othello's pathologies," rather than to celebrate its explicit and supposedly benevolent (or ambivalent) approach to homosexuality, is not just to be faithful to the literary work and its historical context. More importantly, I contend that the novel may help us examine how stereotypes are reproduced, as well as the assumptions regarding the immutability of race and sexuality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-172
Number of pages24
JournalComparative Literature
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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