Emília Freitas

Emília Freitas (January 11th, 1855 – August 18th, 1908) was a Brazilian writer.

She was born Vila da União (now Jaguaruana – Ceará), where she spent her childhood. When her father passed away, in 1869, the family moved to Fortaleza (Ceará), where Emília took private lessons in French, English, geography and arithmetic. Later, she briefly attended the Colégio Imaculada Conceição, in 1877, and completed her studies at the Escola Normal, to become a teacher.

Emília Freitas’ literary career started in 1873. She published articles and poems in several newspapers and periodicals, such as O Libertador, O Cearense, O Lyrio, A Mocidade, O Estado do Ceará, and A Brisa. During the 1870’s and 1880’s, Freitas participated in several poetry recitals in Fortaleza, and was famous for her abolitionist poems. Known as the ‘Poet of the Slaves’, Emília was invited to be a speaker at the inaugural meeting of the Sociedade das Cearenses Libertadoras, an abolitionist association founded by upper-class women in Fortaleza. In her speech, Emília pledged her time and talent to the abolition of slavery in Brazil.

When her mother died, on March 23th, 1885, Emília started to live with her brother. Somewhere around 1890, she published the novel O Renegado (c. 1890, ‘The renegade’), whose copies seem to have been unfortunately lost. In 1891, Emília published the poetry collection Canções do lar (1891, ‘Home Songs’). In 1892, she and her brother Afonso Américo moved to Manaus, where Emília started working as a primary and secondary teacher at the Instituto Benjamin Constant and at the Ginásio Amazonense.

On April 14, 1900, Emília married the journalist Arthúnio Vieira. It is likely that he was about ten years younger than Emília Freitas. When she met Arthunio, he was a widower and had a son, Ernani Vieira, who was two years old at the time.

After the wedding, the couple returned to Ceará, where they founded a spiritualist group in Fortaleza. They published several periodicals of spiritualist, republican, and cultural nature, such as the newspaper Luz e Fé, and the magazine Sophia. The couple moved frequently between Ceará, Pará and Amazonas. Around the same time, Emília Freitas also wrote the play Nossa Senhora da Penha, staged in Maranguape, in 1901. Unfortunately, all copies of the play seem to have been lost.

In 1899, Freitas published her most famous book, A Rainha do Ignoto (1899, ‘Queen of Ignotus’), considered a pioneering fantasy novel in Brazil. In her introduction to the book, Emília seems to be offering her novel  almost as a challenge to the Brazilian writers of her time: “Here it is, my book, like a dilapidated diamond ripped out from the heart of the earth and offered to you by a wild hand”.

Emília Freitas passed away in Manaus, on August 18th, 1908, after contracting yellow fever. She was an abolitionist, republican, spiritualist, pacifist and proto-feminist writer, but remained forgotten until the late 1970’s, when A Rainha do Ignoto (1899, ‘Queen of Ignotus’) was finally rediscovered. The book was reissued in 1980.

Books

About her

  • “Na casa da indecisão: algumas reflexões sobre A Rainha do Ignoto de Emília Freitas”, by Sônia Cristina Bernardino Ribeiro, in Desafiando o Cânone (2): ecos de vozes femininas na literatura brasileira do século XIX, ed. Helena Parente Cunha (2001)
  • “Mulheres do Sertão Nordestino”, by Miridan Britto Knox Falci, in História das Mulheres no Brasil, ed. Mary Del Priore (2001)
  • “A representação feminina em A Rainha do Ignoto, de Emília Freitas”, by Alcilene Cavalcante,   Anais   do   XII   Seminário   Nacional   e   III   Seminário Internacional  Mulher  e  Gênero,  Identidade  e  Hibridismo  Cultural  (2007)
  • “O estranho e a crítica ao patriarcado: resgatando o romance A rainha do Ignoto de Emília Freitas”, by Anselmo Peres Alós, Organon, v.19, n. 38-39, 2005, p. 113-126.
  • “Emília Freitas e a escrita de autoria feminina no século XIX”, by Régia Agostinho da Silva, Outros Tempos, Volume 7, número 9, julho de 2010, p. 225-239.
  • “A modernidade e o fantástico em uma romancista do século XIX”, by Luis Filipe Ribeiro, Anais do 3º Seminário Nacional Mulher e Literatura (1989)
  • “A escrita insólita da cearense Emília Freitas: revisando o cânone da literatura fantástica no Brasil”, by Ana Cristina Caminha Viana Lopes, Encontro Interdisciplinar de Estudos Literários (2018)
  • “O romance gótico e a crítica ao patriarcado no século XIX: A Rainha do Ignoto, de Emília Freitas”, by Anselmo Peres Alós, Salão de iniciação Científica (2001)
  • “Sob o signo do gótico: o romance feminino no Brasil, século XIX”, by Zahidé Muzart, Veredas: Revista da Associação Internacional de Lusitanistas, n. 10, p. 295-308, 1 dez. 2008.
  • A narrativa de autoria feminina do século XIX em resgate: uma leitura de Lésbia e A Rainha do Ignoto, by Sônia Cristina Bernardino Ribeiro. Dissertação de Mestrado: UFRJ (2001)
  • Resgatando Emília Freitas: As Questões Canônicas e os Aspectos Trágicos em A RAINHA DO IGNOTO, by Viviane Jesus da Silva. Dissertação de Mestrado: UFRJ (2007)
  • Mulheres do Brasil: pensamento e ação, ed. Henriqueta Galeno (1986)
  • Mulheres de romance: perfis femininos da cidade de Fortaleza, by Zilda Maria de Menezes Lima. Dissertação de mestrado: UFPE (1999)
  • Quem são elas, by Olga Barroso (1992)
  • Resquícios de Memórias: Dicionário Biobibliográfico de Escritoras e Ilustres Cearenses do Século Dezenove, by Carla Castro (2019)
  • Uma escritora na periferia do império: vida e obra de Emília Freitas – 1855-1908, by Alcilene Cavalcante (2008)
  • Dicionário Crítico de Escritoras Brasileiras, by Nelly Novaes Coelho (2002)
  • Lembrados e esquecidos: ensaios sobre literatura cearense, by Otacílio Colares (1976)
  • Além do amor e das flores: primeiras escritoras cearenses, by Cecília Maria Cunha (2008)
  • “Emília Freitas”, by Constancia Lima Duarte, in Escritoras brasileiras do século XIX, vol. 1, org. Zahidé Muzart (1999)
  • O romance cearense, by Abelardo Montenegro (1953)
  • A Mulher e a Abolição, by Gisela Paschen Schimmelpfeng (1984)
  • Dicionário Bio-bibliográfico Cearense, by Guilherme Studart (1911)
  • Entre o real e o imaginário: configurações de uma utopia feminina em A Rainha do Ignoto, de Emília Freitas, by Elenara Walter Quinhones. Dissertação de Mestrado: UFSM (2015)
  • A construção da subjetividade feminina na obra literária de Francisca Clotilde, Emília Freitas e na revista “A Estrella” (1899-1921), by Simone Moreira Avila. Dissertação de Mestrado: UNB (2007)

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