Amado’s Beloved Salvador

“In Portuguese, “amado” means “beloved,” and in more than a score of novels, the Brazilian writer Jorge Amado made clear his eternal passion for Salvador da Bahia, the city that took him in as a teenage boarding student and became his home. Salvador, in turn, loved him back, and even now, more than six years after his death, Amado’s exuberant spirit, aesthetic and characters seem to permeate the streets of the place he described both as “the most mysterious and beautiful of the world’s cities” and “the most languid of women.

For visitors keen to experience those tropical mysteries, Amado went so far as to suggest an itinerary in his novel, “Tereza Batista: Home From the Wars.” He wanted tourists to see not just “our beaches, our churches embroidered with gold, the blue Portuguese ceramic tiles, the Baroque, the picturesque popular festivals and the fetishist ceremonies,” but also “the putridity of the slum houses on stilts and the whorehouses.”

That kind of dichotomy was typical of Amado, who, especially in his early years, tended to see everything as pairs of opposites: good and evil, black and white, sacred and profane, rich and poor. He even managed to impose that Manichean vision on the geography of Salvador, scorning Rua Chile, then the main commercial street of the upper city, and its well-to-do clientele in favor of the lower city and the port, where sailors, longshoremen, beggars, prostitutes and grifters saturated him in “the greasy black mystery of the city of Salvador da Bahia.”

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Clarice Lispector – Near to the Wild Heart

Clarice Lispector (December 10, 1920 – December 9, 1977) was a Brazilian writer. Acclaimed internationally for her innovative novels and short stories, she was also a journalist and a translator. A legendary figure in Brazil, renowned for her mystical writings, her great personal beauty–the American translator Gregory Rabassare called being “flabbergasted to meet that rare person who looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf,”–and her eccentric personality, she is now considered (with João Guimarães Rosa) one of the two most outstanding Brazilian prose writers of the twentieth century.

Born to a Jewish family in Podolia in what is today Ukraine, Clarice Lispector emigrated as an infant, amidst the disasters engulfing her native land following the First World War. She grew up in northeastern Brazil, where her mother died when she was nine. The family moved to Rio de Janeiro when she was in her teens. While in law school in Rio she began publishing her first journalistic work and short stories, catapulting to fame at age 23 with the publication of her first novel, Near to the Wild Heart, written as an interior monologue in a style and language that was considered revolutionary in Brazil.

She left Brazil in 1944, following her marriage to a Brazilian diplomat, and spent the next decade and a half in Europe and the United States. Upon return to Rio de Janeiro in 1959, she began producing her most famous works, including the stories of Family Ties and the great mystic novel The Passion According to G.H.. Wounded in an accident in 1966, she spent the last decade of her life in frequent pain, steadily writing and publishing novels and stories until her premature death in 1977.

Though her books were often reputed to be difficult or hermetic during her lifetime, her fame and reputation have not ceased to increase since her death. She is the subject of innumerable books, and references to her and her work are common in Brazilian literature and music. Several of her works have been turned into films. One group of her fans, on the Brazilian social-networking site Orkut, has 174,386 members.