Bitita's Diary: The Childhood Memoirs of Carolina Maria de Jesus / Edition 1

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Overview

Carolina Maria de Jesus (1914-1977), nicknamed Bitita, was a destitute black Brazilian woman born in the rural interior who migrated to the industrial city of Sao Paulo. She was self-taught and obtained a degree of celebrity after the publication of several of her diaries written in the 1950s. Her book, Quarto de Despejo (The Garbage Room) sold over 90,000 copies in six months, was translated into five languages, and sold over 300,000 copies in English hardcover alone, as Child of the Dark. Her autobiography, drafted just prior to her death, covers her early life in the 1920s and 1930s. Originally published in French as Journal de Bitita and appearing now for the first time in the English language, Bitita's Diary is the most important document testifying to the hardships of lower-class black Brazilian women ever written. Offering extensive details about race and race relations, religion in rural Brazil (both Roman Catholicism and spiritism), life in small towns and cities of the interior, sexual intimidation, and the hardships of sharecropping, Carolina provides an insightful and moving glimpse of the Brazilian Revolution of 1930 from the vantage point of a poor person caught up in its promise.

"Carolina (1915-77), whose childhood nickname was Bitita, evokes the hardships of her early life in 1920s-30s rural Minas Gerais. Volume was written in 1970s and posthumously published, first in French in 1982 and finally in Portuguese in 1986. This very careful translation aims to retain inconsistencies and nonstandard grammar of the original. Valuable introduction and afterword by Levine"--Handbook of Latin American Studies, v. 58.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice Magazine
An often riveting account of a social reality that sheds light on Brazilian culture today.
Library Journal
An immediate best seller when it was published in Brazil in 1960, Jesus's Quarto de Despejo, the diary of a woman living in the slums of Sao Paulo, contained unusually vivid descriptions of the lives of the very poor. Its English translation, Child of the Dark (1962), was equally successful, as were translations in several other languages. The success of the book allowed Jesus to move out of the slums and continue writing. Through the efforts of her biographer, Robert M. Levine of the University of Miami (The Life and Death of Carolina Maria de Jesus, Univ. of New Mexico, 1995), some of these writings are finally being translated into English. Bitita's Diary (Jornal de Bitita), the last volume Jesus finished prior to her death in 1977, is a poignant description of her childhood in the Brazilian central interior state of Minas Gerais. It is important for providing a look at Brazil during the 1920s and 1930s through the eyes of an impoverished black child, a view rare in any country at any time. Sometimes simplistic, sometimes profound, this is a valuable volume for any Latin American research collection.Mark L. Grover, Brigham Young Univ., Provo, UT
Booknews
An autobiographical memoir of a 20th-century black Brazilian author who surmounted obstacles of poverty, class, and color, revealing details about a world virtually unknown to contemporary educated Brazilians. Her work as a domestic servant in the homes of prominent figures in S<~a>o Paulo, allowing her access to books and further learning, came to an end when she became pregnant by a white foreigner. Living in a shantytown, she kept a diary on scraps of paper sewed into notebooks. (And what is your excuse for not doing any creative writing today?) With the help of a journalist who "discovered" her, her diary became a best-seller in 1960. She received little money, however, and after an unsuccessful attempt to settle in a middle-class neighborhood, she bought a small piece of land and continued to write poetry, short stories, and fragments of plays and novels. The chapters that comprise this autobiography were originally written in the early 1970s. Includes an afterword offering historical context. No index. Paper edition (unseen), $19.95. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765602121
  • Publisher: Sharpe, M. E. Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/6/1997
  • Language: Portuguese
  • Series: Latin American Realities Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 178
  • Age range: 18 years
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 8.99 (h) x 0.57 (d)

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