We have posted several pieces on Percival Farquhar, the subject of a dissertation by Charles A. Gauld prepared under my direction and published in 1964 under the title The Last Titan: Percival Farquhar, American Entrepreneur in Latin America (Stanford University: (Institute of Hispanic American and Luso-Brazilian Studies , pp. 427, 6 maps, 40 photos).  It sold for $5; no wonder that it quickly went out of print! Since Farquhar is a major figure in Brazilian history, there was much talk of getting out a Portuguese translation. Gauld died in 1977 while on vacation in Scotland, and I assumed responsibility for the fate of his book.  I made an agreement with the University of Brasília Press, which prepared a translation but then told me that they did not have funds to print it- In 1998 I was contacted by Miriam Paglia Costa, Executive Editor of  Cultura Editores Associados of Sao Paolo.  I told her about the problem with the University of Brasília Press, and advised her to approach it with a view to printing the translation. She said she would do so, but my inquiries went unanswered. Since apparently the translation was not published, I gather that no agreement was reached. I asked WAISer David Fleischer, who teaches at the Universiry of Brasília, to look into the matter, but I received no reply; perhaps he did not receive my message.

Now I have received this message from Eliana Nogueira do Vale of Brazil, who says: Between 70 and 71, while living in South Miami, Fla, with my husband, I met a Professor Charles Gauld at the South Miami-Dade College.  Professor Gauld presented himself as a Brazilianist.  He visited us a few times, and said that he was planning to retire in Brazil. He asked us whether we could take some books with us when we moved back home, and then give it to him when he came to Brazil.  However, we never heard from him anymore, neither had a home address to try to contact him.  (Internet didn’t exist at the time). This week, Brazilian TV is launching a series on Percival Farquhar called "Mad Maria", and the paper cited a Charles Gauld, author of book The Last Titan, on the theme.

Opening Stanford site, I learned that Charles Gauld died in 1968, that is, before we met him.  Or would there be two Brazilianists by name Charles Gauld? The lack of news from him made me wonder many times about his probable death.  Would you have more details on that?  I just would like to find out about an old historical doubt.

RH: Gauld died in 1977.  If Eliana will  e-mail me the Stanford website giving the wrong date, I will have it corrected. I would ask that she, or someone else in Brazil, help in two ways. I would appreciate precise news about the publication of the Portuguese translation of Gauld's book. Secondly, I would like to have an account of the TV program which I can post.  Why is it called "Mad Maria"?

We discussed Charles Gauld's biography of "the last Titan" Percival Farquhar, the American  behind the Madeira-Mamoré railway in Brazil. Eliana Vale explains the name of the TV series about it: The name of the series, "Mad Maria", was the nickname foreign workers gave the railroad, after the name Madeira-Mamoré, that sounds close to Mad Maria.  It would be like giving a lady’s name to a hurricane.  Maria is simply the commonest feminine name in Portuguese. The title of the article Tony’s Villain was a Titan is a joke involving the name of Tony Bellotto, famous Brazilian rock singer, whose rock group is called “Titans”.  And Tony Ramos, a very popular TV actor, will also be the main character in the script.

From the University of Brasilia, David Fleischer tells us about the TV series in thge life of Percival Farquahar:   Regarding the new TV Globo mini-series "Mad Maria" that began tonight (25th January), it is based on a book by the same title by docu-drama novelist Márcio de Souza (Ed. Record, 2002).  This book is a fictionalized version of Percival Farquhar's Amazon "adventure" - the completion of the Madeira-Mamore railroad (in the early 20th century) in what is now the state of Rondônia.  TV Globo bought Marcio de Souza's rights and the mini-series screen play is based on this "novel".  
The territory of Rondonia was "acquired" from Bolivia at the height of the "rubber boom", and the railroad was to be a "compensation" for Bolivia to permit the export of raw rubber from that region.  However, the production of synthetic rubber soon ended that dream.  Farquhar is played by the famous Brazilian TV/movie actor Tony Ramos.  The government of the state of Rondônia [named after General Rondon] cooperated with TV Globo to restore part of the railway, some installations and one locomotive for the TV Globo crew to use.
 Another book called Trem-Fantasma: Ferrovia Madeira-Mamoré e a Modernidade na Selva was written by Unicamp history professor Francisco Foot Hardman (Companhia das Letras, 2004).  This book is a historical review of the building of the railway in the context of worldwide capitalist expansion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and served as "background" for the TV mini-series, but was not used for the screen play.  Both books are now selling very well.
Unfortunately, the University of Brasilia Press never decided to publish Gauld's book.  In 2004/2005, this press certainly "missed the boat" (or train) by not capitalizing on the Globo TV mini-series and publishing this work.  

RH:  We are of course grateful to David for this information, but we would like to know what happened to the Portuguese translation of Gauld's book prepared by the University of Brasília Press.  Did Miriam Paglia Costa make a deal with that press, and did Cultura of Sao Paulo publish it? Is the translation just gathering dust in Brasília?  I hope David can answer these quesrions.

Clyde McMorrow writes: The Madeira-Mamoré Railway, financed and organized by Percival Farquhar, was a large and expensive operation.  The route from Santo Antonio on the Madeira River to Guajará-Merim on the Guaporé was tried twice by experienced British and American contractors before it was tackled by May, Jekyll and Randolph, experienced builders of railroads in Cuba and Guatemala. The Madeira-Mamore used the same health practices as were employed for the Panama Canal company and employed thousands of immigrant laborers and hundred of American engineers.  The Americans gave the project the name "Mad Mary" which became the title of a book by Marcio Souza.  Mad Maria is a fictional recounting of the construction of the Madeira-Mamoré and includes a visit by Percival Farquhar to Porto Velho (in fact, he never visited the project and failed to attend the opening of his other big Amazon effort, the Port of Pará).  It is Souza's book that is the topic of what I believe is a novella set in Rondonia at the time of the railroad construction.  I hope we can get a report on the TV show from someone in Brazil.

Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: February 10, 2005