The great historian Stanley J. Stein, who would have turned 100 in June 2020, has passed away. He had the intellect, mood, energy, and values of a restless young man. He specialized in American and Portuguese history, but his true love was studying Brazil. His 1957 work on Vassouras showed another world of slavery. Stan, as he was known, recorded in this research, almost unintentionally, the singing of Jongueiros, perhaps the only historical account of this kind of cultural manifestation.
He was a professor at Princeton and never left college. He attended courses on Brazil with the joy of a curious student, did not miss a lecture, asked sassy questions, and was enchanted by everything he learned. He attended a course on social markers of difference that I taught a year ago and was fascinated by the gender discussion. "I never thought that way," he whispered to me with a roguish expression. He discussed the history of Brazilian thought and did not forgive Gilberto Freyre. He spoke Portuguese with a delicious accent and practiced the language whenever he could. "Not to rust," he said.
Stan had a standing chair at the Mezza Luna restaurant and called all the waiters by name, and they did the same. They were immigrants, he explained to me, "all exploited."
Last time I met him last November, he confessed that "it was not okay for Brazilians to have elected a "backward and fascist president." He was a progressive intellectual who did not hide his indignation at the turn the world was taking and said: "frustrated with all this."
Stan was a thinker who dared to be angry and was disappointed in this world where people like Trump and Bolsonaro came to power. He died surrounded by friends, his beloved family, and his girlfriend Beth. He died as he lived with intellectual independence and immense autonomy. You will miss this world so much without utopia.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon