The centenary in 2000 of Gilbert Freyre's birth occasioned a number of retrospectives on his place in Brazil's history. This article focuses on Freyre up to 1933, the year in which Casa Grande & Senzala was published. Emphasis is given to such formative influences as his undergraduate study at Baylor University, his graduate study at Columbia University and his subsequent travels in Europe. In these years Freyre rejected an invitation to stay in the USA and strengthened his resolve to return to Brazil and make his career as a writer. The theme he soon adopted was Brazil's viability as a modern nation, notwithstanding its supposed defects of race and climate.
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