On the 21st anniversary of his death, what do you know about the writer and political activist Jorge Amado, the most prominent Brazilian novelist, who transferred his country’s literature to the world?
“Everyone should take care of burying himself,” says Jorge Amado, in the words of Kincas Roaring Water, the main character in his novel Two Dead One Man.
On this day, 21 years ago (August 6, 2001), many around the world mourned the farewell of the son of the Brazilian city of Bahia, who immortalized his homeland in the best possible way. He made Bahia, the land of cocoa that sleeps in the arms of the sea, present in most of his novels, Brazilian literature is one of the families of the Portuguese language, taking it to the world, as its novels have been translated into 50 languages. The famous Portuguese writer Jose Saramago said of him: “His death is a sufficient cause for national mourning in Brazil, and if Amado is absent, his books will remain.”
It can be said that the man who died once, and whose memory remains present through the greatness of what he accomplished, was as if he lived two lives, and more!
Jorge Amado de Faria was born on August 10, 1912, in the Ferradas department in the southern Bahia state. Amado was taught to read and write by his mother, then entered a boarding school for Jesuit priests. At the age of twelve, he ran away from school, traveling through remote parts of Bahia to where his paternal grandfather lived.
The rebellious child began his race with life quickly, so he learned to write at an early age, working for the newspaper “Diario da Bahia”, as well as arrest, love and marriage. He wrote more than 45 books, was arrested several times on political charges, exiled to many countries, and married twice, earning him the lead on more than one level: he is the most popular writer in Brazil, the best-selling author outside of it, and the most exposed to spying by the political police that monitored His movements are moment by moment, and he is the most imprisoned (he entered the years 1935, 1937 and 1942) because of his affiliation with the Brazilian Communist Party, and for his political views opposing the dictator Getulio Vargas (1882 – 1954), and he is the most exposed to the experience of exile outside the country (he was exiled to Argentina, Uruguay, France and the Czech Republic). ), and more than one of his novels turned into plays, films and television series, and more than one of his books were banned by censorship, leading to the burning of thousands of copies in public squares in the cities of Bahia and São Paulo, by a military order from the political authority.
The rebellious child began his race with life quickly, so he learned to write at an early age, working for the newspaper “Diario da Bahia”, as well as arrest, love and marriage.
Even the experience of marriage was tested by Amado more than once. After his return from exile, he separated from his first wife, Matilde Garcia Rosa, and married the writer Zelia Gatai (1916 – 2008), the daughter of the city of Rio de Janeiro, whom he met in 1945 at a writers’ conference, and he married her after Only two months from the first meeting, Gatay shares 56 years of his life, 30 years in Bahia and the rest in exile.
Amado was awarded the Pablo Neruda Prize (Moscow 1994), the Luis de Camويسes Prize (Lisbon 1995), and the Cino del Duca Prize (1998). Although he was nominated for the Nobel Prize more than once, he did not receive it until his death. Many around the world agree that Jorge Amado did not lose the Nobel Prize, but rather the prize.
Did Amado repent of communism?
It was known about Jorge Amado – the lawyer who was never convinced to practice the profession in courtrooms, but rather by defending the rights of the poor and the marginalized in the arenas of struggle and political action – that in 1955 he abandoned his strict political stance, and devoted himself entirely to literature, as he occupied the 23rd chair in The Brazilian Academy of Letters since 1961, a chair that the Academy later awarded to his wife, Zelia Gatai, in recognition of her talent.
But what was later leaked about his book “The Torment of the Night” indicates more than a preoccupation with literature about politics, and explains the reason for this. The book is a manuscript of a 76-page novel that Amadou began writing at the height of his fascination with communism in 1939, and he left it with a companion in Uruguay , for fear of confiscation and arrest upon his return to Brazil because of its revolutionary content, to be completed later. But his disappointment with Stalin’s style of government frustrated him, and made him dismiss the completion of the manuscript, and its revision in preparation for its printing.
The novel tells 12 hours of the lives of 12 characters, and the plot revolves around waiting for a sign to start a communist uprising. In this unfinished work, there is no main character, but rather the intimate text describes the desires, feelings, and hopes of men and women. The work has spent more than 7 decades in secret, and currently lives silently in the Department of Literature and Memory at the Federal University of Santa Catarina.
In 1955, Amadawi abandoned his strict political stance and devoted himself entirely to literature, holding the 23rd chair at the Brazilian Academy of Letters since 1961, a chair that the academy later awarded to his wife, Zelia Gatai, in recognition of her talent.
Prior to that, in 1941 specifically, Amado had gone to the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, at the request of the Brazilian Communist Party, to write a biography of the Brazilian communist fighter Luis Carlos Pristes, who had been arrested by the Vargas government five years earlier with his partner Olga Pinario, after He banned the Alianca Nacional Libertadora movement that he led, and his novel was The Knight of Hope.
The novel, written in haste, was a failed attempt to liberate the struggling couple. It was first published in Spanish, and copies were secretly circulated in Brazil, until the edition was banned in Argentina and burned by order of the government of Juan Perón, and the first Brazilian version of the novel was published in Portuguese in 1945.
The writer who did not die
On the twenty-first anniversary of Amado’s passing, as his nearly 50 books grace the shelves of bookstores around the world, the absurdity of banning books and silencing creators is starkly highlighted. Books live forever.
In contrast to the enormous fame of the writer Jorge Amado, no one mentions the dictator Getulio Vargas only sparingly, and sometimes on the sidelines of talking about Amado himself!