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venerdì 10 maggio 2024



Here you can download my essay in pdf ebook (“Marina in front of Alice’s revenge in Daphne du Maurier”, 2024)
“A sucessora [The successor]” is a novel published in 1934, the work of the Brazilian writer Maria Carolina Nabuco de Araújo (1890-1981), who descended from a family of grand landowners and notable participants in political life in Brazil. When a girl she stayed in Europe and lived in the USA. To these he dedicated his monograph, published in 1967, entitled “Retrato dos Estados Unidos à luz da sua literatura”, regarding which I take the opportunity to report appropriate brief elements in view of my analysis, illuminating elements regarding the forma mentis of Carolina Nabuco. She has an intense appreciation for the American society that grew from the linguistic, ideological, and practical seeds sown by early English colonizers and the Puritan Christian religion, a society that stood up to the Marxist danger. The story of “A sucessora” revolves around the character of Marina. She is a twenty-year-old woman who has green eyes and brown hair. She has a large passion for reading humanistic books, which have placed her a step higher in her young life than her frivolous peers. If on the one hand she felt uncomfortable adapting to light and worldly female company, on the other in a male context of committed and demanding discussion she achieved success. It is not the stuff of all girls, even nowadays, to display similar intellectual qualities, nor even to adopt a personal ex libris: “semper fidelis”, that of Marina, chosen due to the fact that she considered her own serious constancy to be the key aspect of his character. “Semper fidelis” has been the official motto of the US Navy (“United States Marine Corps”) since 1883. In Portuguese there is the adjective “marino/marinho” (from the Latin “marinus”), the feminine noun “marinha” also indicates a naval fleet. In “A sucessora” the protagonist meets, by chance, the recent widower Roberto Steen, a 35-year-old man, in the country house of her wealthy family. The two fall in love at first sight and get married immediately. He comes out of a marriage that lasted 14 years, without children. His first wife, Alice, passed away prematurely following illness. The events narrated in the novel take place in the peaceful years between the two twentieth-century world wars. In the house of Roberto, who represents the exponent of one of the richest families in Brazil, the house where the newlyweds reside, there is an appreciated painting of the figure of Alice, portrayed in her splendor. Alice, in her short life, had been a much admired leading lady. Her ways of saying and doing, her being, aroused lively and profound applause, consensus and admiration from the planetary system of people that revolved around her. All this group of friends and relatives of the old Steen family puts Marina under scrutiny, with curiosity and the intention to see and evaluate whether the new bride is up to the task of her disappearance.This situation throws Marina into a competitive clash with Alice. For this reason, the latter’s painting becomes a literal nightmare. Marina is appreciated for her beauty, but she discovers that those who frequent the Steen House, including her sister-in-law Germana (Roberto’s sister), are made up of people who do not like conversations that are not of a worldly and light tone. These love the cult of hedonism, aesthetics, divertissement. And Marina, coming from the world of large estates with its tradition, finds herself disoriented in the face of urban bourgeois life. These two worlds are measured in “A sucessora”: the first in an advanced state of decadence after the Brazilian abolition of slavery in 1888, the second in its unstoppable phase of technological and industrial expansive growth. The attempt to mediate between the two can be perceived in the novel. Here is praised the character of Miguel, Marina’s cousin, in love with her, with whom he was engaged before she broke off this engagement in order to marry Roberto. Miguel is a journalist who rejects the rationalist inclination, a lover of the sentimental and passionate connotation typical of a model of Latin American man that is not entirely gone today. He would prefer to act as a stimulator of the instincts of the masses rather than as an educator and modeller. His story, culminating in the decision to place himself on the margins in a society now requiring better doses of order, is presented by the Brazilian author of the analyzed text as a failure. Here I disagree about the values ​​assigned to the parts of the problem. The impulsive, old-fashioned Latino man, to me, is not a positive role model. Macho and machismo, the predominant action on reflection and ratio by virtue of an exclusive emotional conduction, in my eyes, represent derailments. I am a rationalist, and I consider it inappropriate to leave the driving of the Platonic chariot to the horses. There are elements of this rural world of which Carolina Nabuco laments the decline that I don’t like. The first is the suprematism of white descendants of the Portuguese colonizers, which has not been fully archived. An atmosphere of forced cohabitation is perceived with the parallel descendants of the natives and other emigrants of various ethnic groups. In some passages of the novel, few but significant, these are despised because of their backwardness and ignorance, even behaviors are attributed to them (in an unjustified and unclear way) which portray them (with forced objectivity) as negative characters. This does not happen with civilized whites, who are still surrounded by an aura of superiority. Carolina Nabuco was the daughter of a liberal-conservative politician, an abolitionist of slavery in Brazil in her time, fearful, according to what is handed down from the past,of the danger of an Africanization of the Brazilian nation. Her novel records shadows and contradictions. These can be traced back to a not so disguised apologia of the Portuguese white Catholic tradition. It is worth not overlooking that a “Catecismo historiado (Doutrina cristã para a primeira comunhão)” by this author was published in her homeland in 1940, and reprinted in three other editions until 1957. Marina can be appreciated in “A sucessora” for his “clean” line of descent. Of this connotation of the ultimately victorious protagonist, what remains is more the apologue than the condemnation. When the Brazilian writer addressed the theme of multi-ethnic coexistence in Brazil in the novel, showing a sharp feeling of displeasure towards the phenomenon («An endless parade. Race without beauty [...] curiously mixed. Opposite types, which intersected with indifference, without realizing the contrasts they presented, united, in the new world, only by the national spirit, slowly and solidly formed»), among other things he spoke of the «big noses of the Jews». This detail inserted in the text together with the concept of «raça» in the 1930s, the years of rise of German Nazism, does not appear delicate to us in the long run nor can it go unnoticed or escape us. Talking about «narizes grandes de judeu» is equivalent to showing a topos deriving from the input of the original traditional anti-Semitism of Christianity. This echo of Catholicism no shows the conditioning of a religious tradition, which is more honored than criticized. Marina and her mother come out of a rigid Catholic educational formation, however (in the face of their closure) in the novel they always shine towards the final destination. Roberto is also a practicing Catholic. He seems to find us in “I promessi sposi”, with Agnese, Lucia and Renzo. Of questionable Catholicism, not only Brazilian Catholicism, alongside that anti-Semitic stain just mentioned, in the novel we can observe a religious festival where happens the slaughter of a puppet representing a witch. Which constitutes a clear indication, albeit in a climate of divertissement, of tragic memories of past persecutions, which Enlightenment modernity itself has forced to no longer be practiced with a bloody continuation to the detriment of real women. This Brazil of Carolina Nabuco (who remained unmarried in her life) to be founded, according to a popular Manzoni perspective in “A sucessora”, on a Christian tradition made better suited to contemporary circumstances, but not much on a less suffocating normative level, I do not like it. I remind the praise of machismo mentioned above, but there is also an anti-feminist spirit opposed to that new historical society better open to secularism. It is said in the novel: «Today no one wants to know anything that could hinder freedom. Beautiful women want to be able to show their ignorance without constraint». This is stated in contrast to the Catholic Marina, the champion, uncensured, of the text in question, who prays regularly and walks with the rosary. Carolina Nabuco’s antipathy towards a freer world less subservient to Christian doctrine is revealed to be palpable within a narrative framework that proposes to abandon only the unfeasible of the ancestral Brazilian Catholic tradition: slavery, practical religious persecution. But otherwise the Brazilian writer seems to tell us that white supremacism and Catholic primacy remain values ​​that should not be set aside: indigenous people, Jews and blacks still remain beings to be kept at a distance in the ranks of the new bourgeois Brazil. Even if the macho Catholic latifundia declines, rightly or wrongly. The author of the book seems to tell us, not in a very veiled way, that the renewed Brazilian society must continue within the values ​​imposed by the Church, whose I remind in Latin America previous long diffusion of the obsolete racist instrument of the estatutos de limpieza de sangre. Proto-Nazi rules coming from fifteenth-century Catholic Spain, where they targeted, with a discriminatory objective, on the basis of an (unjustifiable!) biological parameter based on the purity of blood in the Christian family hereditary line, primarily Jews followed by blacks and Muslims (all judged to be of dangerously unhealthy blood), also took root in Brazil, a large South American Portuguese colony. Here they found application within colonial society and remained in force until 1773. The Catholic Inquisition was operational for centuries throughout the entire territory of Latin America following Spanish and Portuguese influence. In Brazil it was active between the 16th and 18th centuries: in Belo Horizonte the Museum of the Brazilian Inquisition has existed since 2012, and every March 31st the victims of unreasonable persecutions are commemorated. The Catholic Church has never dissolved its investigative institute, but rather changed its name several times: since 1965 that institution which was the Inquisition has been called the Congregation for the doctrine of the faith. The Portuguese Inquisition was abolished by state law in 1821. Brazil proclaimed itself independent from the motherland in 1822, in 1889 it transformed from a monarchy with a Catholic State religion into a federal republic projected towards a healthier secularism. In Portugal, the National day of remembrance for the victims of the Inquisition was established in 2020 (March 31). The Brazilian 1930s were a restless era in which the newly formed dictatorial and conservative regime of Getúlio Vargas stemmed the political pressures emerging from the right and left (like the Church already in conflict with liberals and Marxists). In 1931 the monumental “Christ the Redeemer” of Rio de Janeiro (then the federal capital) was completed. It is in this climate that “A sucessora” comes out with its Catholic pervasion. Therefore Marina and Roberto echo Renzo and Lucia, and on the other hand Alice’s death can be compared to that of Don Rodrigo despite their respective narrative chronological locations. The disappearance of Roberto’s first wife is very questionably presented as “providential” like that of Manzoni’s antagonist. “A sucessora” is influenced by the author’s Catholic readings. When Miguel kisses Marina, a married woman, a Dantesque suggestion comes from Paolo and Francesca. With the exception of her, Marina, who was condescending at the time, then immediately closed the matter dismissing it as a “sin” and confessing to a priest, also permanently distancing her cousin. Here is the “saving” power of Catholicism, in an episode of which Roberto will never have news. The figure of such a husband appears to be quite evanescent in the text, and it is no coincidence that Marina especially appreciates the external vir side of her husband: Roberto does not possess, or is not shown, a depth of homo, which despite everything , possesses the sentimental Miguel a little better. The Catholic Marina is pathologically obsessed with Alice and the painting of her that represents her. In the motif of the painting, an expression of monstrosity, of something terrifying, a Wildean suggestion appears.The novel indicates psychoanalytic coordinates towards the clinical classification of Marina’s personality in an explicit manner, but does not complete them. He leaves this confrontation between the two women, the dead and the living, shrouded in trouble. As if there were truly a challenge, a continuation of the charm of Alice’s action from beyond the grave. For almost the entire novel, Roberto Steen’s family system plots against his new wife and has at its symbolic head, Alice’s vicar, Germana, the main apologist of the previous sister-in-law. Alice becomes a heavy persecutory neurotic complex for Marina. Carolina Nabuco highlights the effects, not the causes of the phenomenon. Marina is very disturbed by the Catholic education received because it imposed a closed mindset on her, beyond of what her merits may be. The reason for her suffering is therefore placed on the “diabolical” Alice, the «courageous [destemida]»  woman thirsty for entertainment, targeted even when she puts herself in danger in a successful attempt to save a child. An act that is in itself worthy and valuable is subjected to an incomprehensible rebuke in the text on the basis of recklessness. Carolina Nabuco contests an inversion of roles between men and women, where the latter take on masculine characteristics (courage, in the case mentioned) while the former become effeminate. Another exemplum of this last case study is another passage in which Miguel reproaches himself: «A man must not have sensitivity [sensibilidade]». The figure of Alice takes on the role of symbol of the emancipated modern woman, she represents the new witch, the door to Hell. The accident at home in which Marina is causing, no one knows how involuntarily, the burning of her rival’s portrait constitutes, outside the surface narrative schemes, an attempt to kill, to burn, the witch (it is a theme already previously reported elsewhere, a passage in which the evidence was clearer). Roberto’s new wife aims to bring the rhythm of life around the couple back within the iron confines of Catholic morality since she keeps in mind that it is «the duty of Christian women to fight against the paganization of the times in its manifest symptoms». Unmarried friends in church pay the costs, banned likewise to events in the home swimming pool as dressing in modern costumes is considered scandalous and immoral. Let us not forget that the Constitution of Brazil issued in 1891, which remained in force until 1930, recognized only civil marriage as valid («A Republica só reconhece o casamento civil, cuja celebração será gratuita»). In the Vargasian era, religious marriage assumed the possibility of civil validity. This is Marina marching through the narrative advancing towards the final triumph: a young neurotic Catholic in relation to whom the Brazilian writer points out that it is the wrong world around Marina,and not the contrary (where one could instead, with appropriate balance, point out the defects of a modernity which should however not be demonised, much less completely). That the young woman prefers the company of books and that of mature people is one of the few things I admire about Marina: I don’t like surrounding myself with mountebanks either. At the end of the 1970s, a television stage transposition of “A sucessora” was made in Brazil (Carolina Nabuco still alive). It was among the first telenovelas to arrive in Italy in 1983. I remember it very well, even though I was little at the time, and I remember following it until the last episode, which remained in my mind. More than forty years on, I don’t remember anything in detail about the over one hundred previous episodes, but regarding the last episode I remember staying at home for the specific purpose of seeing it. Above I talked about the painting reproducing Alice which in the novel was about to end up burned. In the soap opera, in the final episode, it is discovered that Alice had, without Roberto’s knowledge, a child from a lover before she died early. Marina’s desire in the written narrative to find a flaw, a fault, in Alice, venerated by other surviving acquaintances, finds satisfaction in the soap opera in this memorable last episode, of which I have not forgotten that Roberto, cornered by the evidence of an unknown Alice faithless, takes a kind of torch and sets fire to the painting of his first wife, destroying it forever. The telenovela consumed (in effigy) the stake of the witch, Ianua Diaboli, which was not completed in the novel, in which however Marina asked in prayer that the house where she lived with her husband be completely devoured by the flames with the feared portrait inside (again once we notice a Christian theme, that of punishing and purifying fire). Marina’s escape to her original maternal home (she no longer has her father for some time) represents Carolina Nabuco’s desire for a return to a bygone era in which she dominated the agricultural economy of the large estate managed by the descendants of the Portuguese settlers. In the pages of this section there is an event linked to the favorite tree during the protagonist’s childhood, during which it is cut down for wood by a servant unaware of Marina’s attachment. She thinks to herself about the man who had left her displeased: «It’s not worth getting angry with this near stupid». The felling of this tree constitutes an allegory of the end of the regime of large estates with forced servile labour. The Brazilian author is aware that she cannot turn back the clock of History. She therefore projects her disgusted protagonist of the world offered to her by her husband not towards radical reaction, but towards a synthesis in the dialectic between Marina and the urban bourgeoisie,following the overcoming of the protracted negative critical phase. Marina becomes pregnant. The idea of ​​paternity erases all Roberto’s doubts in the face of his wife’s strange behavior aimed at distancing herself from Alice’s disturbing portrait. The two had come close to an irreparable breakup, but now her motherhood takes them far away on a journey to celebrate the event. In its course, Marina learns, through an old acquaintance of Alice’s, that this de facto she was never truly happy in her existence due to the fact that she was unable to have children. The information deactivates the neurosis centered on Roberto’s first wife. The firm perfection venerated in Alice by others collapses before the gaze of Marina, who perceives a questionable dimension of incompleteness in it. The Brazilian author of the novel allowed her protagonist to remove the siege of Alice’s neurotic complex in a way that I considered unclear. Marina’s motherhood here is in fact configured as the destiny of Christian women, not as the biological possibility of each woman. Carolina Nabuco is presenting us with a religious principle: the main female task lies in having children and taking care of them until adolescence; in replacement a sober, monastic life (the writer wrote a biography, published in 1957, of Catherine of Siena, a saint nowadays scientifically considered to have a disturbed anorexic personality). I don’t like it for this reason, not because of the other principle that I contrasted in the antithesis. Because we clearly notice that Alice ultimately emerges defeated due to the failure to satisfy a religious expectation in the divertissement. Would the conclusion of “A sucessora” be acceptable that non-puritan women who have not carried out pregnancy are not accomplished women? Certainly not. And I don’t think there’s any point in going on about it. If Marina has overcome her neurosis - and I agree that she has overcome it - it is by virtue of another, Jungian mechanism. Alice’s neurotic complex, to which Marina had opened the doors, moves away as the latter follows the archetype of Mother Nature, which gives her the energy to look elsewhere and forward. The religious scheme offers a pseudo-solution. However, Marina manages to talk to Roberto about her problems, and the painting ends up in a museum due to the latter’s decision. I prefer the ending of the book to that of the telenovela. “A sucessora” is a novel known beyond its literary value because together with another more well-known work by another author it was at the center of a critical controversy in which was suspected, and even accused, of plagiarism, without that nevertheless it ended up in judicial proceedings, Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) in relation to her famous novel “Rebecca” (released in 1938, four years after “A sucessora”).I read and examined the second text by this English writer, which made an excellent impression on me. Regarding the vexata quaestio, I would absolutely not speak of plagiarism, not even if Daphne du Maurier had read the previous work of the Brazilian writer, indicated by some critics as the basis of inspiration for the creation of “Rebecca”. The conclusion of my analysis on this last text leads me to believe that its creator actually read “A sucessora”, however, contrary to the statements of these controversial critics mentioned, she developed a new work, original and of high literary value , which in relation to the previous one constitutes a sort of “dialectical sequel”, a response, a reply, an objection to the ideal heritage highlighted and valorised by Carolina Nabuco. In my opinion, Daphne du Maurier has done something very intelligent, very well thought out, not within everyone’s reach, but not outside the realm of comprehensibility either. I judge, naturally hypothetically, in the way in which I will explain below, that between “A sucessora” and “Rebecca” there is an organic link in which analogies by consonance and contrast are not the result of coincidences, much less of plagiarism, but rather key pieces to decode in the entire mosaic of the English writer. At the beginning of my examination of “Rebecca, in comparing the two texts in question, I soon had the impression that there was a thread between them, and not long after a dialectical relationship appeared to me, in the way already mentioned. In the following analysis I relied on the ideal orientation and mindset of Daphne du Maurier, who was a woman of secular and progressive inclination, not linked to religious traditionalism (she was the daughter of a Freemason). This, combined with the fact that when she created “Rebecca” she was around thirty years old (namely a young woman in the flower of the energies invested in youthful vocations), leads me to believe that the aforementioned stages a reversal of Carolina Nabuco’s traditionalist preferences and that therefore the two works de facto must necessarily have tangencies. I consider it plausible that the purpose of “Rebecca” in the mind of its author was to respond to the religious traditionalism exalted by the Brazilian writer. I think, due to dialectical connection channels which I will illustrate better shortly, that Daphne du Maurier saw “A sucessora”, she did not like the reactionary ideological content, and that in her youthful enthusiasm she constructed a subtle sequel as reply: something comparable to a dispute between two philosophical works in which the second replies and responds. I read “Rebecca” so since I wondered what its creative input was, also wanting to verify whether there were more or less random coincidences or even plagiarism.I clearly reject everything that other critics my predecessors have connected with the hypothesis of plagiarism. I feel like breaking a spear in favor of the English writer, therefore I reject the conclusions to her detriment which lead to the accusation of undue imitation. I don’t see cloning: “A sucessora” and “Rebecca” are two different novels, a pro-Catholic work and a black-and-yellow response. In my modest way of evaluating it, we cannot speak of plagiarism in any way: in this wake, in extremis and absurdly, all those who have included a time machine and a time traveler in their papers could be accused of having plagiarized H. G. Wells. At most, in other people’s shoes, referring to our case, I would have spoken of “ancestry” and not “plagiarism”. Obviously I don’t deny that there are possibilities of literary plagiarism, but this does not seem to me to be the exemplum. I will point out, with the best possible clarity, how the relationship between the two works I am examining is one of “thesis and antithesis” and not of “copy and paste”. Dynamic analogies, whether consonant or contrasting, necessarily have their legitimate reason for being in a punctual and dialectical exposition of ideal comparison: one cannot reply to another’s illustration if one does not demolish it by retracing it. Daphne du Maurier, in my opinion, produced in “Rebecca” a demolition and overturning of the religious traditionalism of Carolina Nabuco, and she implemented it in such a refined form that perhaps it was missed, or if understood, it was not very welcome. Let us therefore proceed to see this novel by the English author and highlight the key points of the construction. There is a passage that in my outlined analytical perspective struck me a lot and that seemed to me to be the key to everything: «Men are simpler than you imagine […] but what goes on in the twisted tortuous minds of women would baffle anyone».That is to say in general about the novel: go beyond a misleading sensation of plagiarism, dig deep. This is what I did, accepting the invitation towards a perspective that I had already assumed earlier in my reading. This passage seemed like a permit to me. The first thing to clarify now in my examination journey concerns the anonymous protagonist of “Rebecca”. Everyone would be pushed to compare her to Marina from the other novel. I think this is wrong: the anonymous one is Alice, Alice reincarnated in search of justice for the previous way she was treated; Marina the Catholic, she’s Rebecca. How, it may be said, could the saintly Marina be represented by the no good Rebecca? I say: but didn’t Marina kiss her cousin Miguel when she was married, then saving her facade and appearances? One of the things that “Rebecca” wants us to understand - I hypothesize - is that behind the boast of Christian virtues there may be much more: Rebecca and her cousin represent Marina and her cousin, not in a context of plagiarism, but of heavy criticism of Christian religious hypocrisy. Who knows how many adulterous relationships are hidden by conventional religious ordinariness? Like that of Marina... Here is a passage by Daphne du Maurier expressed in the dialectical form: intelligentbus pauca. The anonymous protagonist, around whom the servants Alice and Robert (!) revolve, is not anonymous by chance: we must understand that she is Carolina Nabuco’s Alice revived. “Rebecca” stages a nemesis for the benefit of Roberto Stein’s deceased wife Alice. Daphne du Maurier’s Alice II is a 21 year old girl without much experience, simple and sensitive; Maxim de Winter (Roberto Stein’s alter ego) is 42 years old and at the beginning of the novel has lost his wife Rebecca for a few months. He meets the anonymous woman, falls in love with her reciprocated, the two get married and go to live in an elegant English home. It would seem like a plagiarism of “A sucessora”, but in my opinion it isn’t. History repeats itself in order to make us understand what the first term of the general antithesis is. Let’s say that it is a prompt, not plagiarism at all. Then, as mentioned, the styles and substances of the two novels are very different despite everything. “Rebecca” has approximately double the length and a descriptive set that projects it towards an easy concrete stage transposition. Was it written with the desire that one could, as has been done several times, make an animated visual version of it? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t rule it out. Maxim de Winter, unlike Roberto Stein, is not a character who evaporates immediately. He has a homo personality, he nourishes emotions, he experiences internal conflicts, he is not the integral vir/macho celebrated by Carolina Nabuco, the man in one piece, good for all occasions. This other comparison brings out a new dialectical point of ideological detachment from “A sucessora”. Here it is argued that viri should not be sensitive, in “Rebecca” instead about the servant Robert it is said that he was «sensitive». If Miguel lives again in that grotesque parody of Jack Favell, a pathetic degradation of the South American macho, the male protagonist in Daphne du Maurier acquires considerable interior and psychological depth: idest, to play him in the cinema you need a Laurence Olivier, someone who played the role of Hamlet, to give you an idea. I find it very difficult to argue plagiarism in the face of such considerations. That Alice II, the girl unsuited to discussing with Mrs Van Hopper’s company (unlike Marina, the interlocutor who reads books), represents Nabuco’s Alice is also suggested by their shared artistic talents. A detail worth highlighting comes from the civil marriage of du Maurier’s literary couple in conflict with the religious marriage of Nabuco’s couple: here is another dialectical point, analogy by contrast; the English writer did not really appreciate the formal institution of marriage. A new piece of the mosaic of “Rebecca” placing its creator in opposition, always dialectical, derives from the character of this American Mrs Van Hopper. We have seen Carolina Nabuco’s sympathies towards the USA, inside and outside “A sucessora”. Daphne du Maurier seems to attack them through this figure of a mature American woman (symbolizing the United States) who at the beginning of the novel supervises the destiny of Alice II, like an oppressive cloak, a cloak that has become a cage, from which she will go out and escape “providentially “ joining Maxim. The “Mrs Van Hopper / Alice II” dichotomy is full of political implications for me. When Alice II originally explains to Maxim that she performs companion duties, he compares “buying companionship “ to “a primitive idea”, to the “oriental slave market”. Which could indicate a social mentality that has at times still remained discriminatory in its sectors. The moment “Rebecca” came out, the pot of History was boiling, and it is not strange that a sharp and refined mind such as that of its creator inserted cryptic elements of symbolic and concrete historical reference into it. Similar criticism of Carolina Nabuco’s Stars and Stripes Americanism, witnessed by her SEMPER FIDELIS, then returns in Rebecca’s death. She, representing MARINA, sinks dead inside a boat: a dynamic which does not seem casual to me but rather full of meanings of political criticism. I note that Daphne du Maurier attacked the axis of pan-American conservative traditionalism, an axis aimed at stemming progressive social pressures for the reactionary protection of the power of land and industrial wealth. On the other hand, the English author’s text defends the emancipation of the modern woman from all the burdens of the past: Alice II in fact undertakes a process of growth which will lead the inexperienced girl to a degree of solid maturity. Even in her uncertainties, she however personifies an authentic and genuine woman, devoid of neurotic religious ornaments. Her uncontaminated simplicity pushes her to appreciate the “pleasure of remembrance” (theorized in works by Mary Shelley, even before Leopardi). The literary couple of du Maurier reside in the famous residence of Manderley, alter locus of the luxury home of Roberto Stein and Marina. If we thought we would find Rebecca’s vicar in Manderley in Maxim’s sister on a par with Germana and Alice, we would be wrong. Here the task of keeping alive the disturbing memory of the previous missing wife is entrusted to the housekeeper, Mrs Danvers. She, she holds that vicarious role; she is effectively acting as Marina’s (alias Rebecca) mother. If Mrs Danvers defends the cult of Rebecca’s memory it is because their dynamic bond reproduces the mother-daughter one in the case of Marina in “A sucessora”: hence the vengeful incitement to suicide aimed at Alice II. The character of the latter immediately developed in Manderley, in the narrative, a sense of unease in front of Rebecca’s shadow, an uneasiness that is however understandable and does not rise to the level of obsessive neurosis. There is a studied persecution set up by Mrs Danvers to the detriment of the protagonist: in the novel by the English writer, all the sense of inadequacy of the latter is not shown to be entirely of her own making, the aforementioned housekeeper puts a lot of her own into it . In any case, Alice II experiences that climate of confrontation brought about by others between her and Rebecca/Marina. And here arises yet another dialectical point in the construction of Daphne du Maurier. While Marina relies on the Catholic sacrament of her confession following her fall with her cousin Miguel, Alice II does not fall into betrayal. She remains intact and more virtuous than Marina, the hypocrite who will throw a faithless kiss behind her. Alice II finds a “confessor”, and a sincere friend, in Frank Crowley, an employee of Maxim. We note a new dichotomy of strong contrast between sacramental confession and open confidence with a friend. A traditional institution and a freer model collide. “Rebecca” does not constitute, in my opinion, a plagiarism of “A sucessora” at all, instead it represents the critical reversal of her. In the novel by the English author, a painting of Rebecca is mentioned that was taken away from the house before the second marriage: transposing, that is to say that Roberto Stein, after having had the painting that terrified Marina removed, commissioned one which portrayed the latter , the hypocritical saint, and then similarly had it removed, since Rebecca/Marina was no saint. In the central part of “Rebecca” there is a key passage on the occasion of the masquerade ball party in Manderley, parallel to the carnival celebration in Brazil experienced by Marina with the Lenten spirit of killjoy, a spirit which will fatally fall on Manderley. Maxim invites the second wife to dress up asWe note a new dichotomy of strong contrast between sacramental confession and open confidence with a friend. A traditional institution and a freer model collide. “Rebecca” does not constitute, in my opinion, a plagiarism of “A sucessora” at all, instead it represents its critical reversal. In the novel by the English author, a painting of Rebecca is mentioned that was taken away from the house before her second marriage: transposing, that is to say that Roberto Stein, after having had the painting that terrified Marina removed, commissioned one which portrayed the latter , the hypocritical saint, and then similarly had it removed, since Rebecca/Marina was no saint. In the central part of “Rebecca” there is a key passage on the occasion of the masquerade ball party in Manderley, parallel to the carnival celebration in Brazil experienced by Marina with the Lenten spirit of killjoy, a spirit which will fatally fall on Manderley. Maxim invites the second wife to dress up as Alice-in-Wonderland: the suggested name does not seem marginal to me, I actually believe that it is suggested to identify the protagonist as Alice, reincarnated, revived, Roberto Stein’s first wife. Alice II’s party goes badly as Mrs Danvers (Marina’s mother) induces her to wear a costume identical to the one used last time by Rebecca. This further sends the anonymous protagonist into a tailspin, but in this renewed disturbing and disquieting scenery she tells us illuminating words about her relationship with Rebecca: «Wherever I walked in Manderley, wherever I sat, even in my thoughts and in my dreams, I met Rebecca. […] Perhaps I haunted her as she haunted me […]. Did she resent me and fear me as I resented her?». We are talking about a relationship of “mutual obsession” between the living and the deceased, as if life and death no longer had value, and the two personal poles had been abstract. This is what I believe in comparing the two novels which I have subjected to analysis. In each of the two, the Catholic Marina and the free Alice are measured and compared; in Daphne du Maurier the roles are reversed, and Marina becomes Rebecca, the dead woman obsessed with the living woman. Here is revealed the secret, in my humble opinion, of those rather strange words on the surface. That Rebecca represents Marina is confirmed to us by Mrs Danvers, alias the latter’s mother, when she declares that she has taken care of Rebecca since she was a child. And she also adds that she had speech skills, equal to that of Marina, I specify. A stinging dig at Danvers puts a cherry on the cake of anti-traditionalist criticism: «A weird gaunt figure in her black dress, the skirt just sweeping the ground like the full, wide skirts of thirty years ago». A delicate section of my exam concerns Maxim’s revelation of Rebecca’s femicide. Absolutely, firmly, something that cannot be tolerated or justified. My task as a literary critic is to explain symbols and dynamics: I cannot, and much less would I, in a spirit of defense of the analyzed work of Daphne du Maurier, legitimize a killing, even if it is literary. Murder constitutes a very serious crime, in reality and also in fiction: in both contexts only “legitimate defense” can be accepted. However, this does not lend itself to the benefit of Maxim’s circumstance, unfortunately: he turns out to be a murderer, and his second wife, aware of the truth, becomes his accomplice. Reminding the role play, it is Roberto Stein who kills Marina/Rebecca: that is, another impulsive and passionate “macho” Catholic hypocritical saint commits the feminicide of his spouse. At the moment of the murder, Maxim transubstantiates into Roberto Stein: his criminal act has Christian anti-feminist ancestry. In this limited tragic event the Jungian Shadow prevails,staining the person responsible indelibly. The fact that Rebecca was a no-good doesn’t justify Maxim/Roberto. This further revelation to Alice II frees her mind from the uneasiness she had previously felt, as in the parallel case of Marina. Maxim does not express regret regarding the very serious gesture made with Old Testament logic, and this worsens his situation. If discovered - which however does not happen in the novel - he would have received a capital punishment. Personally, as a rationalist, I am against any death sentence, and the disturbing passage on the phenomenology of hanging in “Rebecca” gives me renewed reason to do so. But we are inside not one, but two novels, with their symbolic scaffolding, and we have to deal with figures released from a reality strictly placed under the control of human justice. Rebecca’s feminicide represents Alice’s revenge, the fact that the former was terminally ill does not justify her killing in any way, not even on a literary level, where for me the principles of justice and (Kantian) ethics. In “A sucessora” it had been Marina’s dark desire to set fire to Roberto Stein’s house with Alice’s disturbing portrait inside. In “Rebecca”, at the end, when Maxim and Alice II are safe before the deceived eyes of the Law, Manderley goes up in flames as in a sort of murky and twisted manifestation of Nemesis. And in my opinion the circle connecting two works in a dialectical manner, foreign to the concept of plagiarism, closes. If Carolina Nabuco, with a touch of elegance, never brought Daphne du Maurier to court, an elderly American writer, Edwina Levin MacDonald (1878-1944), did so in 1944 in New York, also suing the publisher of novel “Rebecca” and the producers of the film adaptation (1940) directed by Alfred Hitchcock. This American author from Louisiana (an old separatist slave state in 1860), who died before the end of the judgment, believed that a couple of her novels from the 1920s had been plagiarized. In his 1948 ruling, the judge promptly clarified, in a fine example of analysis, writing and objectivity of judgment, the unfoundedness of the accusation of plagiarism. Francis Rugh Grant (1897-1993), intellectual and activist in support of Stars and Stripes Pan-Americanism, founder of the “Pan American women’s association” in 1930 and of the “Inter-American association for democracy and freedom” in 1950, had written a so-called bombshell article in “The New York times book review” in ‘41, where he targeted Daphne du Maurier to the advantage of Carolina Nabuco. In this text he asks how accidental the coincidences could be between the two novels examined here of these two writers, recently published at the time. He admires the Nabuco family,appreciated in the USA due to its political-administrative activity, and regarding the Brazilian author she informs us that the English translation of “A sucessora”, in view of later rejected publications, had reached the USA and England. Faced with rejections motivated by the brevity of the text in relation to the preferences of English-speaking readers, the unpleasant surprise for Carolina Nabuco was to learn about “Rebecca” and its subsequent diffusion in Brazil from 1940, translated in Portuguese. Here the similarities between the two works have animated a lively reaction against the English author, a reaction that Grant traces in highlighting the aforementioned analogies. With all due respect to another man of scholarship attentive to social life, I do not share his judgments on literary merit, in line with my critical reflections. I cannot say how “A sucessora” could possibly have reached Daphne du Maurier; I can reiterate my impression that she read it, in light of my parallel analysis of “Rebecca”: it is not impossible that she saw it in Portuguese, perhaps a copy coming from Portugal, and that then all the controversy and the a latere judicial proceeding mentioned above have induced her, having seen herself misunderstood (or attacked by Pan-American traditionalists), out of a sense of caution, not to admit her possible reading of Carolina Nabuco’s novel, however published. A heavy critical accuser of Daphne du Maurier was Álvaro de Barros Lins (1912-1970), a multifaceted Brazilian intellectual who came out of a Salesian college of studies before studying law. This man, who in his life was a highly prominent personality in twentieth-century Brazil, repeated more or less the same things as Grant, with increased caustic intensity, in a writing entitled “‘Rebecca’, um plágio” and contained in one of his works which collects various texts published in 1941. It was a man who at that time had received the appreciation of George Bernanos (1888-1948; a notable exponent of Catholicism who lived in Brazil between ‘38 and ‘45). I believe, in my intellectual modesty, that supporting the thesis of plagiarism on the limited closed basis of the surface comparison entails a premature blocking of the analysis, which prevents us from going in depth where we can better observe the operating conceptual mechanisms and that dialectical connection between “A sucessora” and “Rebecca” which I described.

Daphne du Maurier’s passages come from “Rebecca” (1938, publisher Gollancz).