Central at the Margin: Five Brazilian Women Writers

Central at the Margin: Five Brazilian Women Writers

Central at the Margin: Five Brazilian Women Writers

Central at the Margin: Five Brazilian Women Writers


Examines the work of 5 Brazilian women writers: Julia Lopes de Almeida, Rachel de Queiroz, Lygia Fagundes Telles, Clarice Lispector and Carolina Maria de Jesus.


This is a study of five brazilian women writers: Júlia Lopes de Almeida (1862–1934), Rachel de Queiroz (1910–2003), Lygia Fagundes Telles (1923–), Clarice Lispector (1920–1977), and Carolina Maria de Jesus (1914–1977), chosen because they are, or were, well known; because they made a career of writing and because their works have historical or aesthetic interest, or both. Except for Almeida, they were all born within a span of thirteen years at the beginning of the twentieth century, and started their writing careers at a time when women in Brazil were beginning to participate more fully in public life, changing conditions of both authorship and readership. the works are also different from each other and exist largely on their own terms, and can be so studied, rather than as “other” to European or North American women’s writings.

The aim of this study is to establish a series of conversations among five writers from different times, places, classes, backgrounds; between these writers, who, from a certain perspective, can be considered marginal, and the centers of cultural power outside of their place of origin; and, not least, between them and a history of Brazilian literature that often in its own turn marginalizes them. It is, in a way, an extended essay in intertextuality.

While presenting a series of women writers of different times and temperaments, and attempting to make it difficult to generalize about “Brazilian women writers,” in this study I also intend to show what these writers have in common with one another as Brazilians, as well as with other women as women. I then separate from among all writers those who are Brazilian, from among Brazilians those who are women, and from among women five specific ones; yet, I also claim their place not in a class but in a series of relationships that may eventually complicate the idea of such a class.

The caution has been expressed before, against “a misapplic}ation of feminist thought as elaborated largely in French- English- and German–language literary cultures” to literatures outside of Western Europe and the United States. But misapplication may be more . . .

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