The pleasures of imitation: gabriel tarde, oscar wilde, and joão do rio in Brazil's long fin de siècle

César Braga-Pinto*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article, drawing on the insights of Sylvia Molloy in her studies of Spanish-American modernismo and the ambivalent reception of Oscar Wilde in Latin America, explores the postures and impostures of some of the most renowned translators and emulators of Wilde in Brazil, such as Elísio de Carvalho and, more importantly, Paulo Barreto (who wrote under the pseudonym João do Rio). Wilde served these writers, translators, and dandies as a model and provided a language to legitimize the gesture of cosmopolitan imitation at a moment when criminologists (like Cesare Lombroso) and sociologists (like Gabriel Tarde) devoted significant time and energy to the study of imitation in a context of increasing demand for authenticity, originality, and identity. I conclude that dissident and sometimes racialized bodies and sexualities strategically manipulated the exhibition of their own bodies and works, in stark contrast to the earlier psychopathologies of nineteenth-century criminologists and the various forms of nationalism that were being articulated at the turn of the century and would flourish with the avant-garde movements in the 1920s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-189
Number of pages37
JournalComparative Literature Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • Brazilian literature
  • Fin de siècle
  • Imitation
  • Oscar wilde
  • Paulo barreto ( joao do rio)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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