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"The Backlands" is a translation of Euclide da Cunha's work "Os Sertoes", a non-fictional account of the War of Canudos in Brazil during the 1890s. The deadliest civil war in Brazilian history, the conflict was between the Brazilian government and a rebellious village of 30,000 Canudos living in the northeastern state of Bahia, led by Antonio Conselheiro, a religious zealot. Far from being simply an objective journalistic account, Da Cunha's story shows both the significance of this event and the complexities of Brazilian society.
EUCLIDES DA CUNHA, known for his vivd portrayal of Brazilian civil war, was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1866. A former army lieutenant, civil engineer and journalist, Cunha witnessed and reported firsthand the brutalities committed by the Brazilian army. The experience would eventually inspire his most celebrated novel, Rebellion in the Backlands, in 1902. ELIZABETH LOWE is Director of the Center for Translation Studies at the University for Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has translated the work of Clarice Lispector, Rubem Fonseca, Nelida Pinon, Darcy Ribeiro and Machado de Assis. ILAN STAVANS is Professor in Latin American and Latin Culture at Amherst College. His books include The Essential Ilan Stavans, The Hispanic Condition, On Borrowed Words: A Memoir of Language and Dictionary Days: A Defining Passion. In addition, he has introduced several Penguin Classics editions.