A HISTORY OF JANE'S WORKS IN BRAZIL
Jane Austen was first translated in Brazil over a century after she was published in England.
The first Austen novel translated in Brazil was Pride and Prejudice (Orgulho e Preconceito) by novelist Lúcio Cardoso. It was published in 1940 by José Olympio Publishing House. It is not a coincidence that it was published right after the movie adaptation made by MGM with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson. The inside cover has a note saying: This romance was filmed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and it will be shown in Brazil with the title of “Pride”. The movie was exhibited with its full original title.
Two years later, in 1942, it was Mansfield Park that was translated by the famous Brazilian novelist Rachel de Queiroz and published by the same company that published Pride and Prejudice two years earlier. The translator, an author herself, must have been an Austen fan since her first book, O Quinze (1930), contains a sentence clearly inspired by Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. Her character says “I cannot love with only half of my heart…” which resembles “Marianne could never love by halves…”. As a collector, it frustrates me I do not own a first edition - only the second one.
The following book translated and the last to be published by Jose Olympio Publishing Company was Sense and Sensibility. It was translated by novelist Dinah Silveira de Queiroz in 1944. This edition, together with Mansfield Park from 1942, are very hard to come by. The title Sense and Sensibility has two different translations - one is Reason and Sentiment (Razão e Sentimento) and the other Reason and Sensibility (Razão e Sensibilidade). The last title was only used in movies and TV series.
Also in 1944, Panamericana Publishing House released a translation of Northanger Abbey. It was translated to Portuguese by the novelist and poet, Lêdo Ivo. These editions from the 40s were all printed in low-quality paper due to the shortage caused by WWII. That is why these editions are in such a poor, fragile state.
It took 30 years for the next translation to be published. In 1971, Persuasion (Persuasão) was finally published by Bruguera Publishing House, translated by the novelist Luiza Lobo. Over two decades after Persuasion, Emma was finally translated in Brazil in 1996. The translator, poet and novelist Ivo Barroso, was a great admirer of Jane Austen and suggested to Nova Fronteira – the publishing house – that Emma should be translated. He had also translated Sense and Sensibility in 1982 for the same company because it was impossible to find the original translation by Dinah Silveira de Queiroz.
In 2014, the unfinished novels – The Watsons and Sanditon (Os Waltons e Sanditon) - were also translated by Ivo Barroso, who invited me to write the foreword for this beautiful edition. It was also published by Nova Fronteira.
Lady Susan was published by two different publishing houses, Pedrazul and Zahar, in 2012. Two years later, in 2014, Companhia das Letras Publishing House published Jane Austen’s juvenilia.
This sums up the trajectory of the first translations of Jane Austen in Brazil. Currently, thanks to movies and mainly the internet, Jane Austen has become immensely popular. She is so popular right now that the biggest TV network in the country – Globo TV – made Jane Austen a conversational piece in their latest soap opera – a period drama called New World set in the early 19th century about a fictional lady-in-waiting to the Brazilian Emperor’s wife, Princess Leopoldina. The year is 1817 and in the soap opera Princess Leopoldina’s lady-in-waiting is being courted by a British officer who brings her several gifts, among them a copy of Pride and Prejudice. All Janeites in Brazil rejoiced to see Pride and Prejudice mentioned in such a popular primetime show.
The character of the lady-in-waiting was loosely inspired by a real person, a British writer - Maria Dundas Graham Callcott – who actually lived in Brazil and tutored one of the Princess Leopoldina’s daughters. Also known as Maria Graham, she wrote a few books about Brazil. To my surprise, she was published in England by none other than John Murray - Jane Austen’s own publisher.
Translated by Rita L. Watts - All Things Jane Austen.
If you have been entertained or inspired by the work of Jane Austen, please consider a donation to the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation today. All donors are rewarded with a personalised bookplate, with your name written in Jane's own handwriting. We are a volunteer organisation with no wages paid to anyone, so you can be confident your donation will be used wisely to buy books and writing materials for communities in literacy crisis, in honour of Jane.
Image credits: Raquel Sallaberry Brião