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Experimentation and Narratives of Self-Brazil

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A few days ago, I listened to an incredibly moving recording of the poet Ana Cristina César .It was taped at the last lecture she ever delivered, six months before she committed suicide. Her talk included a discussion of her own writing and its relationship to diaries and letters, two of her passions and elements constantly present in her writing practice throughout her life. One of the reasons this recording moved me so much was that it was part of a course called “The Literature of Women in Brazil” (“Literatura de Mulheres no Brasil”), a title evoking a literature we continuously emulate and against which the dominant misogynistic literary environment continuously reacts, in an apparent attempt to diminish its significance and aesthetic value.

There could not be a more emblematic example of how writing by women is devalued in Brazil than a recent case involving Ana Cristina César herself. Writing in Brazil’s most widely read newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, about the homage to Ana C. at the 2016 Paraty International Literary Festival, one of the country’s most important literary events, the critic Felipe Fortuna described her work as “minimal” and unworthy of any recognition whatsoever. His article belittled the importance of Ana C. in the national literary scene, comparing her to other writers who had previously honoured at the same festival, implying that she has no place besides writers such as Guimarães Rosa, for example. He labels Ana C. as inferior and insinuates that she was a “constructed” writer, a myth forged out posthumously by her friends. In a tone of misogyny and conservatism, Fortuna writes:

In fact, the construction of the literary figure of Ana C. is entirely posthumous: the guardians of texts taken from drawers, folders, and trunks recognize the weakness of her material. In a biographical outline [of Ana C.] by Italo Moriconi, one of the books published during her lifetime, Cenas de Abril (1979), was considered “adolescent catharsis.”

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