Bocage, the Triumph of Love | Chicago Reader

Bocage, the Triumph of Love

Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage was a pivotal figure in late 18th-century Portuguese literature, his earthy, rebellious, at times metaphysical poems embracing the ideals of both romanticism and the Enlightenment. This fanciful 1997 biography by Brazilian filmmaker Djalma Limongi Batista seems to be based more on Bocage's poetry than his life, portraying him as an exiled Don Juan in search of sensual pleasure and spiritual fulfillment. The whores, maidens, monks, and Indians he encounters don't talk so much as burst into Bocage's verse, with its vibrant cadences and sinuous sibilance, and the fantastical images of waterfalls, tropical beaches, and other spectacular locales communicate the surreal beauty that seduces men to abandon reason for lascivious behavior. The world as grotesque erotic circus recalls Fellini, and the format of nested tales is straight out of Pasolini, yet Batista's ribald, delirious take on the narcissistic poet's sexual salvation is entirely his own.

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