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Tortured Text: An Analysis of the Absent Pages of Ignácio de Loyola Brandão's Zero


Born of political repression, censorship and torture, the novel Zero: romance pré-histórico by Ignácio de Loyola Brandão was revised in congruence with the intensity of repression in Brazil. In 2001, a new edition integrated pages that had been previously excluded from the novel. In this essay, I borrow narratological terms from Gérard Genette and David Herman to examine the most politically charged sections from the missing pages. A close reading sheds light on the relationship between what Herman calls the storyworld, that is, the fictional world of Latíndia-America that Loyola created, and what we think of as the real world in which Loyola was writing. I analyze how the content of the missing pages challenges the hegemonic ideology of the regime that banned Zero in its construction of a meta-commentary on neocolonial relations between Brazil and the United States. By employing Elaine Scarry’s work on the structure of torture, I argue that censorship and torture operate both textually and extra-textually in Zero. The missing pages illuminate this relationship in their criticism of a regime characterized by its dependence on censorship and torture to maintain its illegitimate and flagging power.

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