[Até 1965, o Campo de São Cristóvão era um jardim sob encantamento.]
[Victor Giudice]



A Popular Boy

Victor Marino del Giudice was born February 14, 1934. His parents were craftspeople: Italian-born Marino Francisco del Giudice made hats back when hats were still used; Dona Mariannalia del Giudice, a catholic, was a skilled embroideress with the “baroque” hands of the “palest fairy”, as her son would describe (or imagine) her in his short story Minha mãe (My Mother). The manner in which he referred to his parents in their absence, also evident in his short story A única vez (The Only Time), about his father, only serves to emphasize the importance of his aunt Elza, a piano teacher, with whom he spent the greater part of his youth and called "mother".
When Victor was five, the family moved to the borough of São Cristóvão, in Rio, which would become his fictional “country” and everlasting reference of origin. "When you’re born and raised in São Cristóvão, you learn soon enough that all things in São Cristóvão belong to São Cristóvão", in the words of the semi-autobiographical character in his short story A glória no São Cristóvão (Glory at the São Cristóvão). Victor was a popular child, who captivated neighborhood friends with his stories. It was during his childhood that one of the most seductive facets of his charismatic personality began to develop. With the astuteness and craft of a legitimate entertainer, who blends memory and invention in an indistinguishable fashion, he drew in all who crossed his path.

[Alto da Página] How it All Began
At five, Victor already demonstrated a love for great music. His father would take him to concerts at the grand Theatro Municipal in Rio to witness celebrated Maestro Arturo Toscanini in action. With his aunt Elza, he began taking piano and voice lessons, which he would further develop with renowned teachers later in life. At nine years of age, he would attend piano recitals and operas. When Victor was 11, he read several volumes of the censored Green Collection of erotic romance novels, a discovery that revolutionized his future: writing was pleasure. It was then that Victor produced his first short story, Os três suspiros de Helena (Helena’s Three Sighs).
A taste for literature was thus instilled in him forever. He went on to read Rider Haggard, Conan Doyle, Poe, Camões, Sartre, and Machado de Assis. Balzac – whose works he devoured during his adolescent raids on the library of his neighbor and future father-in-law, Dr. Azevedo Lima, the patriarch of a large family – became his eternal passion. Incidentally, that is when Victor began courting Leda, the doctor’s youngest daughter, now a professor of literature, with whom he would later marry and have two children, Maurício, a mathematician, and Renata, a journalist. Victor studied Literature at UERJ (University of the State of Rio de Janeiro), graduating in 1975, after obtaining a degree in Statistics in the 50’s and briefly studying Law in the 60’s. His second wife, Eneida Santos, was a dedicated collaborator and the first to read all the initial drafts of his stories.
Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, which he read when he was 12, revealed to Victor a fascination with mystery novels. With the series that played in Rio’s Cinema Fluminense movie theater, he grasped the value of suspense and unpredictability, attributes that would permeate his entire literary work. The Perils of Nyoka, The Phantom, Flash Gordon, Captain Marvel, Undersea Empire – the so-called motion-picture serial – were the first objects to make up Victor’s coveted film collection. Movies by French filmmakers Henri-Georges Clouzot and André Cayatte were also among the first films to influence the budding cinephile.
When he was around 13 years of age, his frequent visits to the Cinédia movie studios garnered him a brief appearance in the movie Pinguinho de Gente (Tiny Droplet of a Person), by Gilda de Abreu. Much later, he studied under the famous actor Dulcina, who taught him the mysteries of acting. However, Victor was a born actor, as well as a priceless imitator. His impromptu performances or convincing recitals of the poems by the Portuguese poet Antonio Nobre were a delight for those fortunate enough to be close by.
[Alto da Página] A Love of Images
His childhood love of movies would persist throughout his adult life, with a special affection for classical European cinema: Visconti, Fellini, Monicelli’s first films, films by Totò, Carné, Clouzot, British comedies of the 40’s and 50’s, and the nobility of Sir Lawrence Olivier at the forefront of Shakespearian adaptations such as Richard III. American movies, in turn, were capable of awakening conflicting emotions in him. While admiring the efficiency and credibility of their stories, he loathed the clichés and superficiality with which they addressed the topics. Films by Orson Welles and great musicals like The Wizard of Oz, Singing in the Rain and an American in Paris were above all restrictions. With regard to Brazilian films, Victor would frequently become annoyed at signs of the amateurism that prevailed up to the end of the 70’s.
Despite not having any serious accomplishments in this field – he delved briefly into short films and a few teaching films towards the end of the 60’s, early 70’ -- , Victor used to love drafting electrifying prologues to imaginary films capable of leaving readers wanting more.
Drawing and photography also appealed to him from early on. Starting with the tiles in his home, which he subversively encouraged his childhood friends to redecorate by their own hand. He used to buy cheap reels of film and would set out to photograph Quinta da Boa Vista, Campo de São Cristóvão and particularly his friends, in the beginning of what would become a lasting adoration of portraits. His love of photography would accompany Victor throughout his life. Several of his pictures were published in the magazine O Cruzeiro (1969) and the weekly Crítica (1974).
For a number of years, one of the rooms in his house doubled as a dark room. At 16, Victor’s father passed away. The family lived in Macaé (RJ) at the time, but soon returned to São Cristóvão. He got a job at 21 preparing final art in a small ad agency. He painted several ads on theater curtains and, in the 1960’s, after earning his degree in Statistics, went to work designing graphs for the government. Later, after establishing himself as a writer, he still allowed himself the pleasure of designing the cover art for his own books
Necrológio (Necrology), Salvador janta no Lamas (Salvador Dines at Lamas) and O museu Darbot e outros mistérios (The Darbot Museum and Other Mysteries), in addition to a foreign trade magazine published by Banco do Brasil. Throughout his entire life, Victor privately cultivated portraits and caricatures of people he knew, drawn with quill and ink, sketches of characters, and he even tried his hand at water paints for a time.
[Alto da Página] The Multi-Faceted Man
An employee of Banco do Brasil for over 20 years, Victor took pleasure in transforming the jargon and real-life absurdities of everyday bureaucracy into fiction with a definite Kafkian flavor to it. O Arquivo (The File Cabinet), his first short story, which became a Brazilian classic, published in eight other countries, tells of a man who "progresses" within his company while his salary is progressively reduced and he himself is gradually converted into an object. In the austere environment of Banco do Brasil, to the consternation of the bank’s hierarchy and the delight of his colleagues, Victor had an irresistible tendency to satirize routine, toss all formality out the window and disregard the imperatives of the myth of that time: a good career in Banco do Brasil. Bureaucratic forms served as inspiration for poetic interventions and the daily routine gave way to comic situations.
The distinction between the man and the writer became blurred in the visceral relationship he maintained with the City of Rio de Janeiro. The traditional restaurant Lamas, where the short story Salvador janta no Lamas takes place, was just one of the city’s temples of gastronomy where Victor dined regularly with a zeal bordering on religious fervor. He delighted in fine cheeses and sophisticated desserts, but also enjoyed the dubious looking pastries of the local diner. At home, his talents as a chef produced Portuguese dishes, stroganoffs, haddock in cream sauce, his own fish recipe called "Peixe à Salvador", chocolate cakes, quindões (TN: Brazilian egg and coconut dessert) and marbled manjares (TN: coconut pudding often served with plum sauce).
Victor Giudice was both an intellectual with refined tastes and a simple man of the people. He maintained long-term friendships with artists and writers, as well as parking attendants, mechanics, doormen, etc. In his web of ties and affections, children and adults alike received the same attention.
This man who was in perpetual social activity also manifested himself in his relationship with the city’s geography. His heart was unquestionably routed in the North Zone, but the tunnels were his daily route to bookshops, record and video stores, restaurants, the homes of friends, etc. Commuting between the city’s various geographical, cultural and economic zones was part of the lifestyle of Victor Giudice, a man whose spirit knew no bounds of any kind.
Another remarkable facet of Victor’s personality was his mystical and esoteric side. He learned to read palms in his youth and professed to be a lover of the occult. In the 80’s, he went on to study the tarot in greater depth and collected dozens of decks of all kinds and different origins. He even read several people’s cards informally, and developed a prototype for a Divination Mandala, a game comprised of numbers and geometrical shapes capable of mapping a person’s entire life. There is strong evidence to suggest that this jesting esoteric penchant was, in truth, a tool used to create fiction in the tireless adventures of Victor’s imagination.
[Alto da Página] Flight to Bayreuth
Following his retirement in 1986, Victor resumed his career teaching literary theory and creation, which had been interrupted a decade earlier. The 90’s were some of the most productive years in his career: in addition to giving classes, he published two books, wrote the greater part of two others - the novel Do catálogo de flores (The Flower Catalog) and a volume on theory of meaning entitled O que significa isto? (What does This Mean?) -, inspired admiration and respect as a classical music critic for Jornal do Brasil, gave courses on opera and symphonic music, literary workshops and conferences in various parts of the country and in Colombia, and was also consultant to the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil for its opera video programming.
In August 1996, already suffering the first symptoms of what would later be diagnosed as a rare type of brain tumor, he fulfilled his dream of attending the Bayreuth Festival in Germany, to enjoy the
music of his idol Richard Wagner in its original setting. Victor, whose life was an incessant dialogue with international culture, was terrified of flying. Hence the small number of trips he took abroad: he had visited Buenos Aires and Bogotá, had briefly passed through Nova York three times, and took this, his last flight to Bayreuth, stopping briefly in Paris, his first and last sight of a mythic Europe.
One month later, Victor began his long, slow duel with death, which finally claimed him in the early hours of November 22, 1997. However, he wasn’t at the South Zone clinic where he had spent his last months, but in Tijuca, the borough where his children lived, close to his beloved São Cristóvão. Victor passed away within the magical perimeter of his life’s creative work.
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