Country of the Future

According to this New York Times profile on Viennese writer Stefan Zweig, who moved to Rio shortly before poisoning himself in a suicide pact with his wife, we can thank Zweig for “creating one of most hackneyed phrases ever associated with Brazil: Country of the Future:”

Derived from the title of his 1941 book praising Latin America’s largest country, the phrase got expanded and recycled ad nauseam as a refrain, “Brazil is the country of the future — and always will be,” used to casually dismiss a nation long plagued by high inflation and entrenched corruption.

With Brazil’s prospects now notably improved, Brazilians are reassessing Mr. Zweig and his legacy as the book’s title gains new currency yet again, with everyone from advertising executives to visiting European diplomats and even President Obama, who visited Brazil in March, using it in a speech to suggest that perhaps Brazil’s “future” has finally arrived.

“Brazil isn’t the country of the future anymore,” said Romero Rodrigues, a Brazilian Internet entrepreneur, in one typical new repackaging of the term. “It’s the country of the present.”

“Country of the Future” is also the name of a song by 80′s Brazilian rock band Camisa de Vênus (Venus’s Shirt, double entendre at the time for a condom):