Memories of a Hotel Rat

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Dr. Antonio was a famous criminal due to his sophisticated robberies in several of Rio’s hotels, where he stayed under different identities. Dr. Antonio’s real name was Arthur Antunes Maciel, a man from a respectable family in Southern Brazil who fell into a life of crime because he couldn’t resist an easy living nor the love of women.

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In 1912, the same year that Dr. Antônio would die in jail, author João do Rio, famous for writing about an everchanging Rio de Janeiro, visits him and writes a newspaper serial in Rio’s Gazeta de Notícias describing a man who operates from two perspectives: that of a criminal and that of a respectable member of the upper-class.

The novel “Memórias de um rato de hotel” is the stage of a series of accounts from one of the most famous thieves of the early twentieth century. João do Rio, in a mix of reportage, fiction and memory penned, through the recollections of a well-dressed thief, a novel that stands out for its excess of historical details, characters and society of the time. However, between the very well written lines a few questions loom: until what point is the Memories of a Hotel Rat true or entirely of the author’s own making? How should one perceive the threads that interweave history, memory and fiction in the novel? The imaginative writing of João do Rio and the parodic memories of Artur Antunes Maciel showcase each in their own way, in a provocative dialogue with Brazilian history. [1]

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(Announcement of his death in 1912, Careta magazine)

The tale became a 2014 film titled Muitos Homens Num Só, within which the Hotel dos Estrangeiros is featured.

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