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Some final notes

As we endeavoured to show, before Salazar’s dictatorship, publishers could still enjoy the absence of an organised censorship control over books, and were therefore able to release essays and guides supporting the emancipation of women. But this doesn’t mean that more conservative perspectives on women’s condition lost ground. In the same period many books hark back to the good old days of women at home and insist on the need to preserve the traditional patriarchal order.

After 1933, print freedom suffers a hard blow with the speedy implementation of ideological censorship aimed at all sorts of books in favour of women’s liberation. The issue “Women” does not lose its impact, there is an increase in the number of publications concerning the status and the role of women, but published titles - filtered through the censorship apparatus - must now meet the ideological requirements of the new regime. The belief that women must return home and the bitter condemnation of feminist “adventures” by the Estado Novo will put an end to the publication of books supporting women’s emancipation.

Woman and Home by Orison Swett Marden is certainly an exception (or one of the few exceptions) in this period. Within the Portuguese publishing context, the five reprints it enjoyed clearly show that it was a best-selling book. However, this success does not allow us to conclude that its reading rates were above the whole range of other books on women’s condition published during the same period. Throughout the Estado Novo, both in years that we dealt with and later, there was a large supply of guides for women. Furthermore, between 1933 and 1950, the number of guides written by Portuguese authors greatly exceeds that of foreign authors.[1] Under the close scrutiny of the organs of censorship, these guides keep pace with the regime’s agenda for women. During the years of the Estado Novo, the publishing of women’s guides became a tool of power: it contributed to shaping women according to a backward ideal, which was entirely adverse to their emancipation.

  • [1] The number of new editions exceeds fifty (see Pereira 61-63).
 
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