Although known primarily for his long fiction, the prolific Jorge Amado (uh-MAH-doo) also wrote much nonfiction, including works of journalism and several books. His nonfiction indicates his interests even more obviously than does his fiction, as the translations of the following titles show: Guia das ruas e dos misterios da cidade do Salvador (1945; guide to the streets and mysteries of Salvador), Homens e coisas do Partido Comunista (1946; men and facts of the Communist Party), União Soviética e democracias populares (1951; the Soviet Union and popular democracies), and Bahia boa terra Bahia (1967; Bahia, sweet land Bahia). Also pertinent here are two biographies of Brazilians, ABC de Castro Alves (1941), about a Romantic nineteenth century abolitionist poet known as the poet of the slaves, and Vida de Luíz Carlos Prestes (1942), featuring a twentieth century revolutionary and Marxist hero. Amado’s efforts in other genres include a collection of prose poems, A estrada do mar (1938); a play, O amor de Castro Alves (pb. 1947; also known as O amor do soldado); and various film scenarios.
During the first stage of his career, in the 1930’s, Jorge Amado was frequently criticized for writing propagandistic novels, for allowing his left-wing politics to take precedence over his novelistic art. Although Amado proudly admitted such a priority, part of the explanation for his early awkwardness is that he was only beginning to learn his art. Of his novels of the 1930’s, the most notable is Jubiabá. Although Amado’s early novels are his least read, with many still untranslated into English, they do establish his credentials as a writer of the people and help account for his 1951 Stalin International Peace Prize.
With The Violent Land, Amado’s first acknowledged masterpiece, his politics became less overt. Samuel Putnam, Amado’s early translator into English, maintained that Amado succumbed to the repressive censorship of the Getúlio Vargas dictatorship in Brazil, but if this is so, Fred P. Ellison has argued, the ironic result was more effective art. Part of the explanation again seems to be that Amado’s art simply matured in The Violent Land, that he developed from thesis novels to a fuller version of reality.
Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, Amado’s next masterpiece, marked another shift in his career—adoption of a humorous stance. The entertaining novels of this period represent the height of Amado’s art. Other comic masterpieces include Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands and...
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Jorge Amado celebrates Afro-Brazilian culture. What similarities are there between Afro-Brazilians and African Americans?
Explain the basis for your judgment as to how many deaths Quincas suffered.
Defend Amado against one of the following labels that have been applied to him: antifeminism, stylistic sloppiness, superficiality.
What facts in Amado’s life seem to have led to his leftist philosophy?
Does the great rise in Amado’s reputation during the 1960’s owe more to changes in his writing or to changes in his society?
Consider the features of Amado’s later work that have led critics to call it more artistic.
Brookshaw, David. Race and Color in Brazilian Literature. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1986. Brookshaw detects racial stereotyping and prejudice in Amado’s characterization of blacks in Jubiabá; Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon; and Tent of Miracles. Includes a bibliography.
Brower, Keith H., Earl E. Fitz, and Enrique Martínez-Vidal, eds. Jorge Amado: New Critical Essays. New York: Routledge, 2001. In addition to analyses of specific novels, including Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands and Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, this collection features a comparison of the work of Amado and John Steinbeck and a description of a visit to Pennsylvania State University that Amado and his wife made in 1971.
Chamberlain, Bobby J. Jorge Amado. Boston: Twayne, 1990. Provides excellent and detailed analysis of Amado’s later works of fiction. Discusses Amado as a writer, social critic, and politician and places his works within their social, political, and historical context. Concluding chapter discusses the author’s contradictory status as a man of letters and a literary hack. Includes biographical information, chronology, and bibliography.
Dineen, Mark. “Change Versus Continuity: Popular Culture in the Novels of Jorge Amado.” In Fiction in the Portuguese-Speaking World:...
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