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Livros do Brasil

Octalles Marcondes Ferreira (1901-1973) was the founder of the Brazilian publishing house Companhia Editora Nacional, the largest one in Sao Paulo in the 1930s. (Hallewell 355, Pereira 150). In 1932, Octalles bought Getulio M. Costa’s Civiliza^ao Brasileira (which had been founded in Rio de Janeiro in 1929) and, according to Hallewell, turned it into the Rio’s branch of his own Companhia Editora Nacional. Wishing to sell his books to the Portuguese, he opened the Lisbon branch in the same year (1932), under the same name, Civiliza^ao Brasileira. In spite of the fact that Bertrand Bookshop distributed in Portugal the Brazilian editions produced by the important publishing house Paulo de Azevedo as a result of an earlier commercial relationship, the launch of Octalles’ Civiliza^ao Brasileira in Lisbon would become, in Hallewell’s view (356), a synonym for the transformation in the book market exchanges between Portugal and Brazil, thus marking a turning point in the literary relationships between the two countries.

Octalles eventually sold the Lisbon-based Civiliza^ao Brasileira to his Portuguese manager who, in turn, sold it again, in 1944, to Antonio Souza Pinto. Under Souza Pinto, Civiliza^ao Brasileira became known as Livros do Brasil - and this is likely to be where Moura Santos’ confusion stems from. Despite being Portuguese, Antonio Augusto de Souza Pinto Junior had very good commercial connections in Brazil. Born in Oporto, he had moved to Brazil after spending his teenage years in Angola. Before launching Livros do Brasil with his brother Joaquim de Sousa Pinto in Lisbon in 1944, he had opened its “twin sister”, Livros de Portugal, in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1930s, with the aim of disseminating Portuguese literature in Brazil.[1] Conversely, the main goal of Livros do Brasil was to distribute Brazilian books in Portugal. In a 1945 press release, Livros do Brasil described itself as “the” importer of Brazilian books, exclusively representing a number of Brazilian publishing houses in both Portugal and the colonies (Medeiros 173). If Livros do Brasil was indeed the heir of the joint legacy of the Agencia Editorial Brasileira and Civiliza^ao Brasileira, this might not have been too big a claim. The company had a privileged commercial relationship with a number of Brazilian publishing houses, including two which were known in particular for their translations: Jose Olympio and Globo (Hallewell 458-61, Milton 199-200). According to Hallewell’s history of the book in Brazil, Globo, from Porto Alegre, had been the first Brazilian company to take the opportunity presented by the late 1920s for a national publishing house devoted to translated fiction. Others soon followed suit, namely Athena Editora, founded in 1935. However, Livraria do Globo, having started first, kept its prominence in the translation field until the 1950s.

[era a grande oportunidade para uma editora nacional de ficQo traduzida. A Livraria do Globo aproveitou-a. Outras logo a acompanharam - a Athena Editora, do Rio, por exemplo, fundada em 1935. Mas a Livraria do Globo, tendo saldo a frente, manteve-se proeminente nesse campo ate a decada de 50.] (317)

Many Livros do Brasil translations that were to be found in Portugal were therefore authored by Brazilian translators who regularly worked for Globo and Jose Olympio, namely Pepita de Leao, Gustavo Barroso, Mario Quintana and Erico Verissimo, amongst others. By the 1950s, Livros do Brasil had meanwhile joined the publishing business and launched a series in Portugal which, for decades, was the only one exclusively dedicated to Brazilian authors. It had achieved “one of the largest production output ever in the Portuguese publishing history” and was responsible for making “many of the most important names in world literature of the period between the wars known in Portugal” (Medeiros 174) - including authors such as Henry Miller and Andre Malraux, who had the Portuguese versions of Tropic of Capricorn and Man’s Fate, respectively, forbidden in 1961.

  • [1] Livros de Portugal published, for instance, the famous collection “Classicos e Con-temporaneos” [“Classics and Contemporaneaous”], directed by Jaime Cortesao withillustrations by Vieira da Silva.
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