Six 19th-century Brazilian Women Writers

Hi, folks!

This post is my contribution to the blog parade „Frauen und Erinnerungskultur | #femaleheritage“, hosted by the Monacensia im Hildebrandhaus, in Munich, from November 11th to December 9th, 2020.

If you’ve been following this space for a while, you already know that this blank garden of mine is all about #femaleheritage, women and cultural history. This year, I’ve been particularly interested in Latin American women writers, and I feel that they are less represented in the debate over 19th-century literature. So, as a contribution to the blog parade, here is a list of

Six 19th-century Brazilian Women Writers

Júlia Lopes de Almeida (1862 – 1934) was one of the most successful novelists of her time. She was an active member of the group of intellectuals who founded the Brazilian Academy of Letters (ABL), but was barred from joining in, due to her gender. Her husband, a minor poet, was nominated in her place… I wrote more about her here. One of her most famous novels, A falência (1901, “The bankruptcy”) is centred on the moral and economic demise of a middle-class family in the early 1890s, in Rio de Janeiro. I wrote about this novel here.

 

Auta de Souza (1876 — 1901) was one of the first black female poets in Brazil. I wrote about her here. Her poetry collection Horto (1900, ‘Garden’ or ‘Orchard’) was highly praised by one of the most celebrated Brazilian poets at the time, Olavo Bilac. The book was sold out in two months after publication. I wrote about it (and translated some of its poems) here.

 

Carmen Dolores (pen-name of Emília Moncorvo Bandeira de Mello, 1852 –1910) was one of the most famous newspaper columnists and satirists of her time. Some (male) critics considered her writing style too “masculine” and argued that she dealt with topics that were unsuitable for women – such as women’s rights, divorce, and the separation of church and state in Brazil. You can read more about her here. Her novel A luta (‘The struggle’, 1909) was serialized in the newspaper Jornal do Comércio, to great acclaim. I wrote about it here.

 

Maria Firmina dos Reis (1822 – 1917) was one of the first black female novelists in Brazil. I wrote about her here. Her book Úrsula (c. 1859) is considered one of the first novels written by a woman in Brazil, as well as the first Afro-Brazilian novel and the first abolitionist book from Brazil. I wrote about it here.

 

Maria Benedita Bormann (1853 – 1895) was one of the first Brazilian female writers to address, in her novels, topics such as female desire, divorce, domestic violence, and suicide. She was considered the Brazilian “Emile Zola in skirts”. You can read more about her here. One of her most famous novels, Lésbia (1890), is a Künstlerroman, centred on the coming of age of a female writer and on her struggles for recognition, financial independence, emotional and erotic fulfillment. I wrote about it here.

 

Emília Freitas (1855 – 1908) was an abolitionist and proto-feminist writer who became known as the ‘poet of slaves’. You can read more about her here. Her most famous book, A Rainha do Ignoto (‘Queen of Ignotus’, 1899), is considered a pioneering fantasy novel in Brazil. I wrote about it here.


That’s it, folks! Which 19th-century Latin American writers would you recommend?

Yours truly,

J.


Woman at a desk, c. 1890, by Abigail de Andrade

7 thoughts on “Six 19th-century Brazilian Women Writers

  1. “topics that were unsuitable for women – such as women’s rights, divorce”.
    You can just hear the men saying, “Don’t worry your pretty little head about those things.”
    marketgardenreader.wordpress.com

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  2. I agree! I am trying to look for a copy of her novel Celeste in the original Portuguese, of course, because I’m not sure if it’s been translated to English. I can’t find a digital copy or a print edition to buy, but I’m also based in the United States so it may not be so readily available over here. Do you happen to know of where I can find a copy of Celeste?

    Liked by 1 person

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