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George Monteiro - WHEN THE POSTMAN DIDNT RING AT ALL

George Monteiro  - WHEN THE POSTMAN DIDNT RING AT ALL


WHEN THE POSTMAN DIDNT RING AT ALL

George Monteiro   



The film Il Postino celebrates the friendship that gradually emerges between Pablo Neruda, the  

exiled Chilean poet in exile, and his, at first, illiterate postman.  I'm reminded that something of    

the sort, but with significant differences, emerged for me when I was living in Brazil decades 

ago.  Although we never warmed up to each other, as Neruda and his postino do in the movie, we     

did smile and greet each other when the postman showed up at the apartment building where I 

was living.  Since he usually came at the same time each day, whenever I could do so I waited 

for him downstairs.  Then one day he did not show, then a second day, and finally every day for 

two weeks.  I would look up the street to see if I could spot him but to no avail.  On my way to 

work one day I spotted a postman having his cafezinho in a bar up the street.  I asked him about    

the whereabouts of our mailman.  His answer was that he was our mailman now, since our   

regular mail-carrier had died two weeks since.  I was shocked.  I told him that the news saddened 

me, but did he have any accumulated mail for me.  He said no, that there was no backlog, no 

accumulated mail for the route.  "But where is it?" I asked, not knowing what to expect.  It was 

gone; he said. It had just disappeared.  And the upshot was that I never did get that mail.  Small 

wonder my U. S. correspondents were first annoyed that I hadn't replied to their now lost letters 

and then skeptical as to the "truthfulness" of my explanation.



George Monteiro is a lifelong student and teacher of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, contributing to the scholarship on numerous writers, including Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Adams, Henry James, Emily Dickinson, Edith Wharton, Stephen Crane, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot and Bob Dylan. His latest book is Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil and After: A Poetic Career Transformed (McFarland, 2012).