HELEN CALDWELL, CECIL HEMLEY AND THEIR DELIBERATIONS OVER DOM CASMURRO

2019-08-14T03:02:06Z (GMT) by HÉLIO DE SEIXAS GUIMARÃES

Abstract Between September and December 1952, Helen Caldwell, who had just finished her translation of Dom Casmurro into English, and editor Cecil Hemley, who was preparing the publication of the book at the Noonday Press, kept up an intense correspondence. In reviewing the details of the translation, they also expressed their disagreements regarding the until-then prevailing interpretation of the novel, and in so doing set the ground for an alternative reading of the story about Bento Santiago and Capitu. In the letters airmailed between New York and Los Angeles, these two minds formulated the dilemma that would become the greatest commonplace derived from reading a literary text in Brazil: "In the end, did Capitu cheat on Bento or not?" Based on the correspondence between Helen Caldwell and her editor, and paying particular attention to the appended four letters presented in their original format, this article reveals how the interpretation that would change the reading of the most canonical book and author in Brazilian literature was forged.