Amado, Jorge

Amado, Jorge
   Brazilian writer, political activist, and cultural icon. The son of a cacao farmer, Amado was born in a farm then located within the jurisdiction of the town of Illhéus, now in the Itabuna district, in the state of Bahia in the rural north of Brazil. Though the precise jurisdiction of the town of his birth may seem a small matter, it is significant detail for his countrymen and -women. At the time of his death, an obituary in the New York Times stated “in a nation where soccer is king, Mr. Amado, who published his first novel at 19, was called the Pelé of the written word.” Widely admired in his native country, he remains one of the most endearing literary figures of Latin America’s 20th century.
   Lifelong militancy in the Partido Comunista Brasileiro (PCB, Brazilian Communist Party) resulted in periods of imprisonment and exile early in his life. The first period occurred in 1936, when he was accused of participating in an abortive uprising against the government of Getúlio Vargas. A few years earlier, Amado—then a journalist—had published his first novel, O país do carnaval (Land of Carnival), to great critical and public acclaim. This work was followed, in 1933, by the novel Cacau (Cocoa), which garnered him even more public acclaim—two editions were quickly exhausted in as many months—and a growing reputation as a socialist realist novelist. The novel’s exploration of the working lives of the cocoa workers in his native north merited him the attention of critics, who soon included his name among other socially conscious writers of Latin America such as the Venezuelan Rómulo Gallegos, the Peruvian Ciro Alegría, and the Ecuadorian Jorge Icaza, to name a few. His reputation was further enhanced by the publication of Suor (Sweat) shortly before his political imprisonment. Both novels were soon translated into Russian and published in Moscow. While he was in prison, his books—at this point Amado had written six novels—were declared subversive and publicly burned by the military. According to one source, the military kept scrupulous records: 1,694 volumes were burned in the city of Bahia alone. The city—formally known as São Salvador da Baía de Todos os Santos—is so widely associated with the author that the Argentine daily Clarín, in its obituary, wryly designated Amado its “founder.”
   Freed from prison in 1938, he combined his work as a writer with greater militancy in the PCB, particularly in bringing attention to the political detentions and torture of dissidents. He was briefly exiled in Uruguay and Argentina. On his return in 1945, Amado—who had received a law degree from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 1935—was elected to the Brazilian National Assembly for the state of São Paulo. Soon he was successful in sponsoring legislation calling for freedom of religion in Brazil. While in exile, he had written in defense of the imprisoned leader of the PCB, Luís Carlos Prestes. The book, published in Spanish in Argentina, circulated clandestinely in Brazil; it would eventually be published in Brazil as O cavaleiro da esperança (Knight of Hope). Brazil’s entry into World War II on the side of the Allies and the decision by PCB leaders to support the Vargas regime—following Moscow’s directives and Prestes’s release from prison—would lead to the military coup of October 1945; two years later, the PCB was outlawed. Deprived of his seat in the Assembly and with his books in the “subversive material” list once again, Amado went into exile in Paris. While in Europe, Amado and his family embarked on several trips throughout the Soviet Union and the countries of the Communist bloc. He was expelled from France in 1950 and lived for a time in then Czechoslovakia. In 1952 he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize. He would not return to Brazil until 1955.
   His return to his native country coincided with the period of optimism engendered by the presidential elections of that year. A new stage then began for Amado as a writer; one that would bring him international renown. The gritty world of his first novels gave way to novels set among the gente do povo of Bahia—magnificent cooks, petty functionaries, and shopkeepers—and greatly leavened with humor. In this stage of his life, the writer distanced himself from the PCB and denounced Joseph Stalin’s crimes, without breaking, he claimed, with the idea of a socialist utopia. On more than one occasion, he was quoted as saying he had abandoned political duties to devote more time to his writing. (“Mas na realidade deixei de militar politicamente porque esse engajamento estava-me impedindo de ser escritor.” / “In reality, I abandoned political militancy because that commitment prevented me from being a writer.”) Soon after, on August 1958, he published what is perhaps his best-known novel, Gabriela, cravo e canela (translated in 1962 as Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon). The novel sold out its first printing of 20,000 volumes in two weeks; by December of that year, it had sold 50,000. The tale of the beautiful Gabriela, her prowess as a cook, and the love of Nacib, the store keeper, would be brought to the cinema twice; both times the title character would be interpreted by Sonia Braga, the Brazilian actress most associated with Amado’s work, under the direction of Bruno Barreto. Other adaptations, for television and stage, have also been produced.
   Although feminist scholars have pointed out that Amado’s novels objectify women, the feminine characters of the novels following the publication of Gabriela, cravo e canela remain among the best known, and best loved, among the author’s creations. Popular among other works of this period are Dona Flor e seus dois maridos (1966, translated in 1969 as Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands); Teresa Batista cansada de guerra (1972, translated in 1975 as Tereza Batista: Home from the Wars); Tieta do Agreste: Pastora de cabras ou a volta da filha pródiga (1977, Tieta, the Goat Girl: Or, the Return of the Prodigal Daughter Melodramatic Serial Novel in Five Sensational Episodes, With a Touching Epilogue); and Farda, fardão, camisola de dormir: fábula para acender uma esperança (1979, translated in 1986 as Pen, Sword, Camisole: A Fable to Kindle a Hope). This last work, published during the period of relative liberalization under the presidency of General João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo, satirizes the literary aspirations of a mediocre poet, one of the coronéis so vigorously mocked in Amado’s universe, who seeks to join the august members of the Brazilian Academy of Letters during the early Vargas regime. The work, Rabelaisian in tone, results in the trouncing of the colonel’s unfounded literary hopes while emphasizing, in the words of the critic Nancy T. Baden, “the everdifficult role of the writer vis-à-vis military regimes.” Two years earlier, Amado had joined a group of Brazilian writers and artists in signing a letter to then-minister of justice, Armando Falcão, protesting the banning of works by writers José Louzeiro, Ignácio de Loyola Brandão, and Rubem Fonseca. In fact, he is considered one of the few Brazilian writers who openly opposed the military regime with little fear of reprisal given his literary stature abroad, particularly during the 1969–1971 period, often termed o sufoco (the suffocation). His literary output decreased somewhat with age, although never his popularity, particularly among young people, who often traveled to Bahia in later years toting one of his travel guides, such as Bahia (1970) and Terra Mágica da Bahia (1984). Amado’s literary output includes books of poetry, short stories, juvenile literature, memoirs, and a play, as well as a translation from the Spanish of Doña Bárbara, by the Venezuelan Rómulo Gallegos. At the time of his death, it was estimated that his 32 books had sold more than 50 million copies worldwide in over 40 languages.
   Politically committed to the end of his days—reportedly one of his unfinished novels told of the struggle for power between the church and the coronéis in the Brazilian sertão (countryside)—Jorge Amado was one of the most esteemed writers of Brazil in the 20th century. He was elected to the Academia Brasileira de Letras (Brazilian Academy of Letters) early in his career and received numerous literary and civil awards as well as popular recognition in his native country. Among these—and not surprisingly, given the popularity of the popular-art performances in this country—Amado’s works served as inspiration for several samba schools during various Brazilian carnivals. The last of these, during the 1997 Carnival in Bahia, featured singer and composer Caetano Veloso at the head of the group Amigos do Amado Jorge (Friends of Beloved Jorge, a pun on his surname). A perennial nominee to the Nobel Committee throughout his long career, Amado was also distinguished in Latin America and Europe; among the recognitions was the medal of the commander of the Legion d’Honneur of France and the Premio Camões, jointly bestowed by Brazil and Portugal, the latter a country that for many years banned his works. He also received the title Honoris causa from universities in Brazil, Portugal, Italy, Israel, and France. In the United States, Pennsylvania State University—where he was a visiting fellow at the Institute for the Arts and Humanistic Studies in 1971—holds a collection of his papers. Later, however, the author would be included in the “exclusion list” of the U.S. government, as would the Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez of Colombia, Carlos Fuentes of Mexico, and Ernesto Sábato of Argentina. Throughout his life, Amado also spoke proudly of his being designated an Obá de Xangô, an honorary priesthood bestowed on very few devotees of candomblé, the Afro-Brazilian religion of Bahia, to which the author had been an adept since his youth. In ill health in his later years, Jorge Amado died in 2001. At the author’s request, his body was cremated and his ashes scattered, without ceremony, in the garden of his home at 33 Rua Alagoinhas, in the Rio Vermelho neighborhood of Bahia. The Fundação Casa de Jorge Amado is dedicated to the preservation and publication of the author’s work.

Historical Dictionary of the “Dirty Wars” . . 2010.

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  • AMADO (JORGE) — Pour d’innombrables lecteurs, l’œuvre de ce romancier, traduite en plus de quarante langues, est devenue synonyme de Brésil. Ce succès lui vient d’un talent de conteur incomparable, qui est la clef de l’unité d’une production dont les accents ont …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Amado, Jorge — born Aug. 10, 1912, Ferradas, near Ilhéus, Braz. died Aug. 6, 2001, Salvador, Bahia Brazilian novelist. Amado was born and reared on a cacao plantation. He published his first novel at age 20. His early works, including The Violent Land (1942),… …   Universalium

  • Amado,Jorge — A·ma·do (ə mäʹdo͝o), Jorge. Born 1912. Brazilian writer whose novels concern social injustice. * * * …   Universalium

  • Amado, Jorge — ► (1912 2001) Escritor brasileño. La infancia delincuente, la miseria del negro y la explotación del obrero humanizan su obra, rica en elementos populares. Sus obras más notables son: Cacao (1933), Bahía de todos los santos (1935), Gabriela,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Jorge Amado — Born Jorge Leal Amado de Faria 10 August 1912(1912 08 10) Itabuna, Bahia, Brazil Died 6 August 2001( …   Wikipedia

  • Jorge Amado — Nacionalidad …   Wikipedia Español

  • Jorge Amado — (* 10. August 1912, Brasilien; † 6. August 2001 in Salvador da Bahia) gilt als einer der bedeutendsten lateinamerikanischen Schriftsteller des 20. Jahrhunderts …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Jorge Amado de Faria — Jorge Amado Pour les articles homonymes, voir Amado. Jorge Amado de Faria (10 août 1912 – 6 août 2001) est un écrivain brésilien de l école moderniste …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Amado — (Jorge) (né en 1912) romancier brésilien qui décrit la misère du peuple: Terre violente (1942) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Jorge Amado — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Amado. Jorge Amado de Faria (10 août 1912 – 6 août 2001) est un écrivain brésilien de l école moderniste …   Wikipédia en Français

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