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The Viceroy of Ouidah

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  618 ratings  ·  51 reviews
In this vivid, powerful novel, Chatwin tells of Francisco Manoel de Silva, a poor Brazilian adventurer who sails to Dahomey in West Africa to trade for slaves and amass his fortune. His plans exceed his dreams, and soon he is the Viceroy of Ouidah, master of all slave trading in Dahomey. But the ghastly business of slave trading and the open savagery of life in Dahomey slo ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published June 7th 1988 by Penguin Books (first published 1980)
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Rhys
Probably the best novel I've read so far this year. I had never read anything by Chatwin before this and I picked it up with the assumption it was going to just be another novel in the 'English' style. How wrong I was! Chatwin writes like a more bloody and concise version of Marquez, with an incredible ability to evoke landscapes, situations and the oddities of people. Imagine a cross between Marquez and Conrad's *Heart of Darkness* with the addition of several big spoonfuls of voodoo imagery!

Al
...more
Steve
Nov 11, 2008 Steve rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Steve by: Adam
Shelves: fiction
A grim, but outstanding story on the evils of the slave trade, with a focus on the African coast. Chatwin crafts a story that is as psychologically probing as Conrad's Heart of Darkness (Kurtz), and as bizarre as Marquez's Autumn of the Patriarch (a mad African king, a city of skulls and heads, women warriors with filed teeth). The common ground for all three is moral corruption. However, I think the "horror" of Chatwin's vision, as opposed to Conrad's, is there seems to be no recognition of des ...more
Philip
Bruce Chatwin’s The Viceroy Of Ouidah masquerades as a small book. In 50,000 words or so, the author presents a fictionalised life that has been embroidered from truth. History, hyper-reality, the supernatural and the surreal and the cocktail that creates the heady mix through which strands of story filter. Overall the experience is much bigger than the slim book suggests.

We meet Francisco Manuel da Silva, a Brazilian born in the country’s north-east in the latter part of the eighteenth century.
...more
Tia
This book was complex, hard to understand and grim. It wasn't what I had expected. I'm sure if I understood the language I would've had a better understanding. However, the parts I did understand were good. Francisco had a very diverse and interesting life encountering many strange and appalling characters. Some being his own children. It is a dense read at only 105 pages. I really had to focus. I think I will stop here as I just can't and won't do this book justice.

*sorry for the mumbo jumbo re
...more
Adam
A short novella absolutely packed to the gills with imagery and characters. I recognize elements from Marquez (including a definite Hundred Years of Solitude allusion) and Conrad and fans of them will find much to love here, but there is distinctive flavor that must be Chatwin’s alone. There is too much to even hint at in this book, and I guarantee some of the images will inform your dreams and fever visions. It makes sense that Herzog would film this.
E. Chainey (Bookowski)
2.5


Öncelikle sizi blogumdaki yeni yazımı okumaya davet edeyim; eğer ki kölelik konusu ilginizi çekiyorsa tabii ki: http://bookowski101.blogspot.com.tr/2...

Kitaba gelecek olursam eğer, kitap öyküleme tekniği ile yazılmış bir kitap. Yani diyalog çok az. Tanıtımda da belirtildiği üzere " her satırından renkler, kokular ve sesler fışkırıyor" gerçekten de.

Yazar köle taciri Felix de Sousa'nın hayatından ilham alarak yazmış bu kitabı. Romanın kahramanı Francisco Manoel da Silva, aslında Felix de Sous
...more
Alberto Jacobo Baruqui
Un libro distinto. Su escritura es bien particular y la historia otro tanto.
Me gusta la manera como da entrada a su historia y como se sincera con el lector para notificar la falta de información dentro de sus investigaciones para dar vida a su historia, que comienza a principios del siglo XIX cuando la venta de esclavos estaba en apogeo.
Decidido a hacer fortuna en la venta de esclavos Francisco Da Silva viaja al continente negro, pero el proceso de su fortuna es extraño por lo dispar en formas
...more
Julián
Narra la historia de un traficante de esclavos, brasileño y blanco, que se instala en el puerto de Ouidah, desde donde despacha la mercancía que le facilita el rey de Dahomey. El protagonista, basado en un personaje real, nace en medio de la miseria en el sertao brasileño y, dando tumbos y sobreviviendo de milagro, llega a Bahía. Entabla relaciones con una familia poderosa que le propone hacerse cargo del tráfico de esclavos en Ouidah, en la costa del golfo de Guinea. Allí padece los caprichos d ...more
Chris Gager
My next book. Got the title from writing trivia questions from Halliwell's movie book. My edition is hardcover with a different picture. On "my" cover the guy is unshaven. My edition also has 155 pages...

I'm well past midway in this short novel. So far its been reasonably engrossing, a story hyped-up by the author's ultra-modern treatment. This is actually historical fiction and tells the a story that might be missed among all the big stuff. That's a good thing. I love the bit about all those de
...more
Jovana Vesper
Brutal, cruel and fantastic book. Bruce's skills to express complete tragicomedy of dom Francisco's life (as well as the lives of his family and the people with whom he came in contact) with short, clear, journalistic sentences is just breathtaking. It is a small book in size but layered with information, characters, psychological profiles and all the absurdity, oddity and wretchedness of slave trade, war, culture and life in Africa.
Oceana2602
Okay, let's face it: as much as I loved Chatwin's travel novels, I never liked his other novels much. They are dry, confusing, stiff. This one is no exception.
Alber Vázquez
¿Novela? sin argumento claro, sin trama, sin demasiado interés... Bah, muy poco cosa y Chatwin aburriendo a las vacas.
Stig
Dazzling novel about a Brazilian slave trader who settles in the Kingdom of Dahomey in West Africa where he spawns an enormous family of mulatto Da Silvas. Lots of brutality, of course, and Francisco da Silva is by no means a nice man, but you do end up feeling some sympathy for him in the final part of the book where everything falls apart for him.

But there is more to this short novel than just the story of Francisco da Silva. The first part is a brief, but sadly precise account of life in 197
...more
Nell Grey
The star system fails me here, so please ignore the meaning of the four star rating I've given, as I can't honestly say that I 'really liked it'. This is doubtless due to personal taste, as I admire Chatwin's works tremendously. I do think 'it was amazing', but my rating reflects the trauma and horror suffered during reading, the fact that I was constantly trying to distinguish truth from fiction and the difficulties of remembering and keeping track of the different characters. An automatic dict ...more
Stephen King
This was the first Bruce Chatwin book I've read and reading it whilst in Benin gave this additional power and relevance. My only complaint is that it's too short at little over 100 pages. This reminded me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and it's time shifting (which can be frustrating) was both relevant and easy to navigate
Susan
I selected this book because I wanted to break the totally Euro-centric mold of my reading. Admittedly, Chatwin was European (British), but he writes about such exotic locales and topics. In this case, Dahomey (now known as Benin), once at the heart of the slave trade. This book is a fictional account of the Brazilian who ran the slave trade in Dahomey and it's fascinating and bizarre. It reminded me that there's a whole world out there which isn't Europe, which always amazes me because I am so ...more
Thurston Hunger
Like hearing the death-bed confession of a madman, swaddled in sweaty bandages and delirious with fever. Big jumps, taller tales, more than a hint of the truth and a whiff of disease as well.

I came to this by way of the Herzog film "Cobra Verde" and am glad I did so. Don't know enough about the process of Chatwin, but some of the quick captures from the past are as visceral as they are fleeting.

Left me with the sensation of a man larger than life, but so much smaller than fate. Music seemed to
...more
Isa
Was reading this because of Werner Herzog's (not very well received) movie "Cobra Verde", which is loosely based on this. -- Both movie and book are quite OK, not really masterpieces but still enjoyable -- and I think, I like the movie better, conveys more mystery and drama, the book is more over-the-top in comparison. -- Thinking about it, it's rather pessimistic - the characters hardly have any aspirations but still fail tremendously, fundamentally. Not even "wasting your life in beauty" or he ...more
Martin Stanley
Wonderful, concise, precise prose. Imagine Hemingway but without the use of repetition that occasionally marred his longer works.
Sue
2 stars because I can appreciate the writing. But this story was not for me.
Lukas Evan
Filmed by Werner Herzog as "Cobra Verde."
Stefan Glosby
Not really sure why the author bothered to write this.
Felisberto Barros
Leitura surpresa...leitura decepção

Peguei neste livro por acaso e foi uma desilusão completa. Compreendo que historicamente o livro possa estar bem contextualizado e o tema sobre o qual se debruça é de máximo interesse, o que me levou a lê-lo, mas a história, a meu ver, está fraca. A narrativa não é nada empolgante, tem detalhes que não transportam qualquer emoção de uma terra quente, viva e dinâmica. Foi o meu primeiro livro deste autor e tão cedo não devo pegar noutro dele.
Dougal Bain
Like a fusion of Marquez, McCarthy, Conrad and de Bernieres. This little novella combines the story of an eccentric African extended family coming together and the historical story of the larger than life founding figure.
Beautifully told, Chatwin mixes some nightmarish scenes with bizarre humour. To someone who is no expert on the subject this novella seems to provide some insight into West Africa, where it has come from and where it may go.
Kevin Argus
The Viceroy of Ouidah was my first introduction to the brilliance of Bruce Chatwin. Another educative context, the slave trade from Africa to Latin America. This book had me engrossed from the first chapter to the last. I felt it filled a gap in my historical knowledge and presented an insight in to the conflicted minds of Latin American men that Chatwin and Marquez both wrote about (both sharing a love of South America).
Stephanie Augustin
Short reads are always really bad or really good. In this sense, my first taste of Chatwin was fantastic. Told in flashback, all the elements of melodrama, adventure and barbarian-like politics reminiscent of Henry Rider Haggard make this an entertaining yet touching story.



Who knew one could feel empathy and start rooting for a slaver?
Jeff Jackson
A fascinating miniature: A generation-spanning saga compacted to 150 pages, with prose and imagery as lush as Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Brilliant but occasionally remote, it recounts the bloody and perverse true-life account of a Brazilian slaver in Africa during the 1800s. The basis for Werner Herzog's movie "Cobra Verde."
Alice
Another novel where none of the characters is at all likable in any way. Snore.
Kurt
There's such an underlying current of surrealism and mysteriousness, some of my favorite qualities of a novel if done effectively. Reminiscent of Alejo Carpentier's The Kingdom of This World, Chatwin earns a place at the top with this work alone.
Trevor
Lovely book, dazzling writing, colourful images, and great use of descriptive language.

The story moves at a very swift pace, with no superfluous scenes or loose ends.

Need to read it again soon to pick up on all the imagery.
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Charles Bruce Chatwin was an English novelist and travel writer. He won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel On the Black Hill (1982). In 1972, Chatwin interviewed the 93-year-old architect and designer Eileen Gray in her Paris salon, where he noticed a map of the area of South America called Patagonia, which she had painted. "I've always wanted to go there," Bruce told her. "So have ...more
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