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Brazil on the Map: English-language Reception of Three Authors in an Age of Shifting Canons

  • Author / Creator
    Soares dos Santos, Bruno
  • According to David Damrosch, world literature is a locus of negotiation between a source culture and a host culture, and a “space defined in many ways by the host culture’s national tradition and the present needs of its own writers” (What Is World Literature? 283). Damrosch also notes that “more and more works of world literature are now favored for displaying specific ethnic identity or cultural difference” (What Is World Literature? 187). With that in mind, in this thesis I use contemporary theories of world literature to interpret the twenty-first-century English-language critical reception of three canonical Brazilian authors, namely, Clarice Lispector (1920-1977), Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839-1908), and Jorge Amado (1912-2001). I also compare that reception to the one in the second half of the twentieth century. I focus on North America, although other Anglophone contexts that influence the North American one are not ignored. My observations fall into two main categories. First, although Machado de Assis and Clarice Lispector were successful among academics and critics but not among the general public in the twentieth century, in the twenty-first century, retranslations of their works and the publication of deluxe collections of their stories have widened their visibility among the general English-language readership. Also, their recent critical reception tends to reveal a greater interest in their racial or ethnic background. In the case of Lispector, Benjamin Moser, her American biographer, has created a new persona within a Jewish literary tradition. Machado, who was the grandson of freed slaves, has been placed in a black literary canon and read from a racial perspective by North American critics. Second, while Jorge Amado became an international best-seller in the twentieth century, his work generated mixed reactions from the critics and was often seen as full of Brazilian stereotypes. I note how his reception follows an opposite path to Lispector’s and Machado’s, amplifying his critical acclaim after having achieved success through sales and becoming the subject of studies that detached his work from its Brazilian context.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-7nen-nw60
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.