The Candle King

OSWALD DE ANDRADE (BRAZIL, 1934)
TRANSLATED BY ANA BERNSTEIN AND SARAH J. TOWNSEND

This raucous play by Brazil’s most notorious avant-garde writer helped spark the Tropicália counterculture movement when it made its belated debut in 1967. The title character, Abelard I, is a moneylender who keeps clients in a cage under the supervision of his assistant, Abelard II, a socialist who dresses as a lion tamer and carries a whip. His fiancée, Heloise of Lesbos, comes from the landed aristocracy, though her family has fallen on hard times due to the collapse of São Paulo’s coffee economy. Joining this odd trio is a motley cast that includes a groveling intellectual named Somersault, a fascist named Spittle, and an American banker who holds the ultimate trump card.

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