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DELTA: Documentação de Estudos em Lingüística Teórica e Aplicada

Print version ISSN 0102-4450On-line version ISSN 1678-460X

DELTA vol.19 no.spe São Paulo  2003 



Monteiro Lobato and translation: "Um país se faz com homens e livros"


Monteiro Lobato e a tradução: "Um país se faz com homens e livros"



John Milton

Universidade de São Paulo




This paper examines the role of the Brazilian writer Monteiro Lobato in the growth of the book industry in Brazil, concentrating on his translations of children's literature. Lobato revolutionized the book industry in Brazil by introducing more commercial techniques and by marketing his books to social classes that were not used to buying books. Lobato also uses his translations to introduce critiques of Brazil in the 1930s, particularly the political and economic closure of the Estado Novo of Getúlio Vargas. Indeed, the criticisms voiced in Peter Pan resulted in Lobato's spending three months in jail in 1941.

Key-words: Monteiro Lobato; Children's literature in translation; Adaptation; Peter Pan; D. Quixote das Crianças; Getúlio Vargas.


Este trabalho examina o papel de Monteiro Lobato no crescimento da indústria editorial no Brasil, concentrando nas suas traduções de literatura infantil. Lobato revolucionou a indústria livreira no Brasil através da introdução de técnicas comerciais e de venda de seus livros ao público que não estava acostumado a comprar livros. Lobato também aproveita suas traduções para introduzir críticas ao Brasil do Estado Novo, especialmente à política ecônomica de fechamento por parte de Getúlio Vargas. As críticas ao Brasil que aparecem no seu Peter Pan resultaram na prisão de Lobato durante um período de três meses em 1941.

Palavras-chave: Monteiro Lobato; Literatura infantil em tradução; Adaptação; Peter Pan; D. Quixote das Crianças; Getúlio Vargas.



The Growth of the Book Industry in Brazil and Argentina

In "An Item Called Books: Translations and Publishers' Collections" (Pagano 2000), Adriana Pagano discusses the reasons why the 1930s and 1940s were a period of immense growth in the book industry and Brazil and Argentina. A number of factors made it possible for the South American market to grow considerably in the 1930s and 1940s. Firstly, the Spanish Civil War forced a large number of publishing houses to leave Spain and set up in South America, mainly in Mexico and Argentina. The Second World War, and more particularly, the German submarine blockade of the Atlantic, prevented European books, mainly those from France, from reaching South America.

Book production inside Brazil increased substantially after Getúlio Vargas' nationalist insurgents in 1930 defeated the forces of the República Velha and, despite an unstable economic situation right through the 1930s, continued increasing right through the period of the Second World War. The government's ensuing policies had considerable effects on the book industry: a reform of basic teaching resulted in greater demand for school textbooks; and the devaluation of the Brazilian currency, the mil-réis (1930-31) resulted in imported books becoming, for the first time, more expensive than those published in Brazil. This helped to increase the number of translations and reduce the number of imported French books, and also increase exports of books from Brazil to Portugal. Moreover, the precarious copyright situation of the period enabled publishers to openly infringe copyright laws, thus allowing for multiple translations of the same volume, which could be aimed at different markets.

Translations of successful literary works were usually a sound investment. If the work was in the public domain, then royalties were zero, and the chances of the foreign work being accepted by the Brazilian public which had always looked abroad were much better than those of a book written by an unknown Brazilian author.

The Instituto Nacional do Livro was set up by the Getúlio Vargas government to improve the distribution of books to public libraries. It reissued out-of-print classic Brazilian works and planned to publish the Enciclopédia Brasileira, a project which was based on the Italian encyclopedia, Triccani, which had been published under the auspices of Mussolini. However, this final project never got off the ground.

A number of important publishing houses in both countries were established at this time: Editora Globo, Companhia Editora Nacional, Martins and José Olympio in Brazil, and Sudamericana, Losada, Emecé and Claridad in Argentina.

Both in Argentina and Brazil a large number of collections were issued, appealing to the lower-middle-class reader who possessed little cultural capital, who did not know foreign languages. The books translated and published for this new reader were generally for leisure purposes, often tie-ins with Hollywood films, in addition to feuillton novels, translated soap opera scripts, adapted screenplays, comics and cartoons.

A large number of collections were published in both countries "Grandes novelistas" [Great Novel Writers], "Grandes Ensayistas" [Great Essayists], "Os Grandes Livros Brasileiros" [Great Brazilian Books], "Obras Primas Universais" [Universal Masterpieces], "Novelistas Americanos Contemporáneos" [Contemporary Novel Writers of the Americas], "Biblioteca de Obras Famosas" [Library of Famous Books].

Each collection often brought together a wide variety of authors. For example, the Brazilian collections "Biblioteca dos Séculos" [Library of the Centuries] or "Coleção Globo" [Globo Collection], published by Globo, and "Fogos Cruzados" [Cross-fire], published by José Olympio in Rio de Janeiro, include authors such as Montaigne, Laclos, Stendhal, Flaubert, Maupassant, Verlaine, Balzac, Plato, Shakespeare, Fielding, Emily Brontë, Dickens, Nietzsche, Tolstoy and Poe. This is also the case with Argentine collections such as "Biblioteca Mundial Sopena" [Sopena World Library], published by Sopena, "Biblioteca Emecé de Obras Universales" [Emecé Library of Universal Books] or "Las Grandes Novelas de Nuestra Época" [Great Novels of Our Time], published by Losada. Thus a shape is given to the collection, and this "library shelf" may classify authors in a very different way to that which is conventionally used. The collection will plan the readers' reception, organizing their expectations of the text.

Such collections could be very profitable for the publishing houses, as the purchaser of the initial volume in the series was naturally induced to buy the second volume, and so on. It is also form of introducing fordism into the book industry. Monteiro Lobato was a great admirer of Henry Ford, visited his factory in Detroit, translated a number of Ford's writings, and believed that mass production techniques could be introduced into the book industry.

Once the work is translated it becomes part of the national language and culture. The collections launched in Brazil played an important role in establishing the currency of Brazil on the international intellectual market. A number of collections are devoted to Brazilian subjects: "Biblioteca Pedagógica Brasileira" [Brazilian Pedagogical Library], which includes the famous series "Brasiliana" [Brazilian], "Grandes Livros do Brasil" [Great Brazilian Books], "Biblioteca Médica Brasileira" [Brazilian Medical Library], all published by Companhia Editora Nacional, or "Os Grandes Livros Brasileiros" [Great Brazilian Books] published by José Olympio. These collections were published alongside other series made up mostly of translated texts, such as the collections "Paratodos" [Forall], "Terramarear" [Landseaandair], "Biblioteca das Moças" [Library for Young Ladies], all published by Companhia Editora Nacional. José Olympio, for example, issued the collections "Documentos Brasileiros" [Brazilian Documents] and "Os Grandes Livros Brasileiros" [Great Brazilian Books] together with other series such as "Rubáiyát, Joias da Poesia Universal" [Rubáiyát, Gems of World Poetry] or "Fogos Cruzados" [Cross-fire], both mainly made up of translated foreign texts. Martins, for instance, launched the collections "Biblioteca Histórica Brasileira" [Brazilian Historical Library] and "Biblioteca de Literatura Brasileira" [Brazilian Literary Library] alongside a collection labelled "Excelsior", mostly containing translated books.

By contrast, Argentine publishing houses focused their attention more on integrating Argentine production into broader classes. Despite series devoted to national production, such as "Novelistas Argentinos Contemporáneos" [Contemporary Argentine Novelists] and "Autores Argentinos" [Argentine Authors], the majority of the collections locate Argentine works transnational identities. Here one can find the concept of "the Americas", frequently invoked by Argentine collections, is built upon a representation of North America, Central America and South America as sharing a common identity (e.g., in "Novelistas Americanos Contemporâneos" [Contemporary Novelists of the Americas] published by Emecé), "Biblioteca de Narradores de América" [Library of Writers of the Americas] issued by Futuro and "Colección Panamericana" [Pan-American Collection] published by the "Pan-American" house Jackson1. This identity of the Americas is clearly seen in the authors included in "Colección Azul" [Blue Collection] from by the Argentine House Atlántida, which purported to cover "works, deeds and men of the Americas", bringing together works that had been canonized as representative of the Americas, such as José Hernández' Martín Fierro (Argentina), José Mármol's Amalia (Argentina), Jorge Isaacs' Maria (Colombia), Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn (United States) and Euclides da Cunha's Rebellion in the Backlands (Brazil), as well as works on Abraham Lincoln, José de San Martín, Simón Bolivar and Benjamin Franklin. Another transnational identity addressed by some publishers is that of "Nuestra América", built upon Cuban Jose Marti's notion. The notion of "Latin America" was still little used and will have to wait till the late fifties and early sixties to influence editorial projects.

This period is often called "Golden Age" of the book industry and translation in Brazil. Editora José Olympio expanded greatly, and, in 1939 -1940, published biographies of Nijinsky, Isadora Duncan, Tolstoy and Jack London, then introduced the Fogos Cruzados series, a selection of the most important world romances. José Olympio also published other foreign classics such as A Mulher de Trinta Anos, by Balzac, and Humilhados e Ofendidos, by Dostoevsky. Editora Martins, founded in 1941, published Dostoevsky, Bret Harte, Flaubert, O. Henry, Kipling, Poe and Mark Twain, and Editora Saraiva, which specialized in law books, from 1948, also invested in classics, publishing Machado de Assis, José de Alencar, Henry James and Edgar Allan Poe.

One of the most publishing achievements was that of the provincial publishing house, Editora Globo de Porto Alegre, which, from 1931 to 1956, published a considerable amount of fiction in translation, especially from English. The Coleção Amarela, published the detective fiction of Edgar Wallace, Agatha Christie, Sax Rohmer, G.K. Chesterton, Ellery Queen, Georges Simenon, and Dashiel Hammett and then, in 1933, began the Coleção Nobel, which, from 1933 to 1958, introduced Mann, Joyce, Gide, Virginia Woolf, Kafka, Aldous Huxley, Proust, Steinbeck, Pirandello and Faulkner to the Brazilian reading public (Amorim 108-110). Though the best-selling author in the collection was Somerset Maugham, Em Busca do Tempo Perdido was a commercial success, with a total number of 66,000 copies printed. Its Biblioteca dos Séculos published 25 titles, from 1942 to 1952, including Guerra e Paz (24,000 copies in 6 editions); Grandes Esperanças (11,000 in 3 editions); Viagens de Gulliver (9,000 in 2 editions); O Vermelho e o Negro (16,000 in 4 editions), in addition to collections of the works of Maupassant (21,000 in 4 editions); Poe (10,000 in 2) and Merimée (10,000 in two). But by far its most prestigious publication was a carefully annotated edition in 17 volumes of the Comédia Humana (1947-1955), organized by Paulo Ronai, with print runs from 20,000 (for the first in the series to 9,000 (for the last volumes in the series) (Amorim:157-159). Its children's series also included Lewis Carroll and Robert Louis Stevenson.

In addition, after the entry of Brazil into the Second World War in 1943, on the side of the allies, censorship was lifted on books about the Soviet Union, resulting in the translation of a large number of books about Russia translated from the English (Koshiyama:156).

The large number of translations during this period also influenced Brazilian authors. Brazilian critic Alfredo Bosi states:

Na decada de 30 os romances de Dos Passos, de Hemmingway, de Caldwell, de Faulkner, de Malraux, de Moravia, de Vittorini, de Corrado Alvaro, de Céline, deram exemplos de um realismo psicológico "bruto" como técnica ajustada a um tempo em que o homem se dissolve na massa: são os romances contemporâneos do facismo, do racismo, do stalinismo, do "new deal". Entre nós verificava-se o mesmo: é ler Graciliano Ramos, Jorge Amado, Érico Veríssimo, Marques Rêbelo. (Bosi:436).


Monteiro Lobato and the Book Industry in Brazil

Monteiro Lobato was probably the central figure in the growth of the book industry in Brazil and the first publisher in Brazil to attempt to develop a mass market for books and to develop the book industry as a consumer industry. Until Lobato, most publishing was in the hands of Portuguese or French-owned companies, and the target market was very much that of the Francophile middle-class elite. Lobato protested against the fact that there were no tariffs on books imported from Portugal.

Lobato's initial success was with Urupês (1918), stories about rural life inspired by his experience as a farm owner near São Paulo, in which he introduced Jeca Tatu, the indolent yokel who represented rural backwardness and ignorance. This was followed by his first collection of children's stories, A Menina do Narizinho Arrebitado (1921), in which he introduced his cast of children and dolls at the Sitio do Picapau Amarelo. The success of both books was phenomenal and in many ways started the mass market book industry in Brazil. Urupês went into five editions, and the first edition of Narizinho sold 50,500 copies, 30,000 of which were distributed to schools in the state of São Paulo. By 1920 more than half of all the literary works published in Brazil were published by Monteiro Lobato e Cia., and in 1941, a quarter of all books published in Brazil were produced by Lobato's Companhia Editora Nacional, founded after Monteiro Lobato e Cia. went bankrupt. Lobato was a major public figure in Brazil from 1918 to 1927 as, in addition to the success of these two books, he wrote a regular column for the influential newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, and bought the middle-brow journal, Revista do Brasil.

Lobato believed that a growing book industry would greatly aid Brazilian development, "Um país se faz com homens e livros" (Koshiyama:99; Amorim:44). People act through knowing the human experience of other people, which is found in the means of communication, especially books, and then acting on it.

But despite this exaltation of the book, Lobato had a hard-headed commercial attitude to selling books, which he saw as commercial objects which could be sold just as other goods were, in a variety of sales points: "livro não é gênero de primeira necessidade... é sobremesa: tem que ser posto embaixo do nariz do freguês, para provocar-lhe a gulodice" (in Koshiyama:72); He managed to increase the sales points for his works from 40, the total number of bookshops in Brazil, to 1,200, including chemist's and butcher's shops. He innovated in terms of the visual presentation of the book, and was responsible for much more attractive covers than the dull yellow featureless covers which followed the French imports.

Lobato stressed the importance that Brazil should give to its own culture. He was always against following the dominant Francophile culture, copying the latest Parisian fashions in art, music and literature. He wanted to open Brazil out to German, Russian, Scandinavian and Anglo-American literatures, and he translated and adapted such works as Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Robinson Crusoe, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Gulliver's Travels. Lobato's Companhia Editora Nacional, opened in 1925 after the bankruptcy of Monteiro Lobato e Cia., which over-invested in printing presses, also published Conan Doyle, Eleanor H. Porter, Hemmingway, H. G. Wells, Melville, Jack London, Steinbeck and Kipling. Thus Lobato helped to initiate a movement towards the importation of works written originally in English, which would continue right up until the Second World War, when English finally ousted French as the major foreign language studied and spoken in Brazil. His publishing companies also published unknown authors, thus democratizing access to the publishing industry. Getting published had usually meant the need for influence of friends in high places or money.

Economic factors were all-important for the development of a national book industry. In 1918 Lobato criticized lowering the tariffs on imported books and placing high tariffs on imported paper and printing presses, as this would strangle the book industry in Brazil as books in Portuguese produced outside Brazil would compete favorably with their Brazilian counterparts, which used taxed imported paper. Books in Portuguese were even printed in non-Portuguese speaking countries, as in the case of the adapted version of José de Alencar's O Guarani, published by Casa Bietti, Milan (Koshiyama:78).

In this struggle he faced the lobby of the well-organized paper industry, who were naturally against lowering tariffs on imported paper, but whose products were expensive and of low quality, thus resulting in costly books printed on poor quality paper. In the 1930s, with tariffs on imported paper high, Lobato was a lone voice protesting against these tariffs, which were only lowered after the fall of Getúlio Vargas' nationalist government in 1946.

Lobato believed that Brazil should look to the interior, its own folklore and own traditional myths. But the interior of Brazil needed reawakening. Lobato, always the practical man, encouraged vaccination campaigns and improvements in basic sanitary conditions. The government needed to stimulate investment in the interior, and the country people themselves suffer from indolence, characterized in his picture of the idle yokel, Jeca Tatu, who is in total contrast to the idealized rural figures found in the works of José de Alencar.

From 1927 to 1931 Lobato was commercial attaché for the Brazilian government in the US and was greatly impressed by American economic organization and efficiency. The way in which the US had taken advantage of its mineral wealth, particularly iron ore, coal and oil, showed Lobato what Brazil might be capable of if the country took the correct steps, and developed its own oil industry, rather than leaving it at the mercy of the trusts, especially the Standard Oil Corporation. On his return from the US, Lobato invested all his efforts and capital in oil prospecting in Brazil. However, these plans were foiled by the onset of the Estado Novo in 1937, when all prospecting plans were centralized and placed under the control of the government, and Lobato's financial losses were considerable.

All the children's literature which was available in Brazil when Lobato began writing was written in the Portuguese of Portugal, and the desire to provide stories his own and other Brazilian children could read stimulated Lobato to write texts for his own and all other Brazilian children. Lobato believed in developing the Brazilian language, and that after 400 years of subservience to Portugal, it was now time to definitively break away from Lisbon and develop a separate Brazilian language.

In a 1921 letter he mentions his plans to produce a series of books for children "with more lightness and wit" (Vieira:146) than the previously published stories organized by Jansen Muller, which he would rework and "improve". Lobato was puzzled by the language used in the Brazilian translations published by the French-owned house, Garnier, and remarked "Temos que refazer tudo isso - abrasileirar a linguagem" (Koshiyama:88), and he recommended that the translator Godofredo Rangel took the liberty of improving the original where necessary. Thus Lobato's translation technique is one of adaptation, using a more simplified language, which could immediately be understood by children, Lobato's target audience.

Lobato's children's books also introduce certain colloquialisms which were somewhat daring for the time. Examples in Peter Pan are "gabolice", "prosa", and "mangar", and, in other works, "danada", "diaba", "macaca", "fedorento", "focinho", "berrou", terms which perhaps today are mild, but which were more daring in the more polite age Lobato was writing in (Carvalheiro:208). Their style privileges communication and was attacked by conservative critics. Lobato was in favor of a spelling reform. Emília even crosses out the extra "useless" "a" in Cervantes name, "Miguel de Cervantes Saa vedra" in the Translation of Don Quijote the children and dolls find in the library.

Lobato made a large number of translations, which, after his losses on the Wall St. crash of 1929 and the in ill-fated attempt to prospect for oil in Brazil, became his major source of income. Amongst others, he translated the works of Conan Doyle, H. G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lewis Carroll, Will Durant, Mark Twain, Kipling, the Grimm brothers and Hans Christian Andersen. Many of the translations show signs that they were rushed and compare badly with his more careful adaptations of Don Quijote and Peter Pan.

D. Quixote das Crianças clearly shows his adaptation technique: the naughty rag doll, Lobato's alter ego, takes a thick book off the shelf, a Portuguese translation of Don Quijote, which Dona Benta begins reading to her grandchildren and the dolls. However, they and Dona Benta herself find the literary style turgid. After hearing "lança em cabido, adarga antiga, galgo corredor" (Lobato 1957:16), Emília, who, like Lobato, is against everything which is old-fashioned and backward, fails to understand anything, loses interest and is ready to go off and play hide and seek and Dona Benta herself retells the story to the children. This retelling and adaptation also takes place with Peter Pan, while Robinson Crusoe (1930), Gulliver's Travels (1937), Alice no País das Maravilhas and Alice no País do Espelho are adapted with no interventions. Near the end of D. Quixote das Crianças, Pedrinho asks whether Dona Benta is telling all the story or just parts, and Dona Benta replies that only mature people should attempt to read the whole work, and that only what will entertain children's imagination should be included in such versions (Lobato 1957:152). "Literary" qualities have no place in a work for children, whose imaginations should be stimulated by fluent easy language. In a 1943 letter, Lobato describes the difficulties he had to

"extirpar a "literatura" de meus livros infantis. A cada revisão nova mato, como quem mata pulgas, todas as literaturas que ainda as estragam. O último submetido a tratamento foram As Fábulas. Como achei pedante e requintado! De lá raspei quase um quilo de "literatura" e mesmo assim ficou alguma..." (in Abramovich:152)

In Peter Pan and Don Quixote das Crianças this intimate contact with the story is emphasized through the interaction the listens have with the story and the characters. Lobato uses the technique of Sherazade, with Dona Benta interrupting the story every night at nine o'clock, bedtime, and promising more entertainment for the next evening. The listeners get caught up with the stories: In Peter Pan, Emília, the naughty doll, makes a hook to put on her hand. In Don Quixote das Crianças, she dresses up as Don Quijote, and attacks the hens and the cook, saying she is the giant Freston; Dona Benta's grandson Pedrinho, Lobato's other alter ego, gets involved in books in the same way as Don Quijoje does. After reading the history of Charlemagne, he says that Roldan became incarnated in him as he got an old sword, went to the corn plantation, and, thinking the corn plants are 300,000 moors, cut them all down (Lobato 1957:94-95).

Lobato's work is overtly didactic as he is always placing his pet themes in the middle of the story. One of the most prominent is that of expanding the book market. At the beginning of Peter Pan, the children, Pedrinho and Narizinho, and the doll, Emília, having heard about Peter Pan in As Reinações de Narizinho, ask their grandmother, Dona Benta, who Peter Pan is. As Dona Benta doesn't know, she writes to a bookshop in São Paulo, which sends her Barrie's work in English, Lobato thus inserting a free advertisement for mail orders for book shops, and then she retells the story to the children and dolls in Portuguese, thus re-enacting in the book the situation of an oral retelling. Pedrinho has also inherited Lobato's entrepreneurial spirit as he intends to set up a toy factory when he grows up, and intends to market a variety of dolls, including copies of those at the Sitio do Picapau Amarelo (Lobato 1971:12).

Lobato introduces vocabulary extension exercises as Dona Benta explains "pigmento" (ibid:22), "cinegética" [related to hunting] (ibid:60), "excêntrico" (ibid:85), the use of "líquido" in "uma questão líquida" (ibid:59), and "interpolada" (Lobato 1957:190). References to Marie Antoinette (Lobato 1971:30), the etymology of the name of Captain Hook's ship, "Hiena dos Mares" ["Hyena of the Seas"] (:75), the background to Cervantes writing Don Quijote (Lobato 1971:18), the fact that barbers used to work as surgeons (Lobato 1957:100), the explanation of stalactites and stalagmites (Lobato 1971:59), the different formats of books: "folio", "in oitavo", etc. (Lobato 1957:152-3) also broaden the general knowledge of the reader.

Narizinho says she enjoys Peter Pan because it is a modern story, funnier and so different to the traditional stories of Grimm, Andersen, Perrault, with their never-ending succession of kings, queens, princes, princesses and fairies, thus reflecting Lobato's attempts to renovate Brazilian children's literature (Lobato 1971:28).

Lobato was a persona non grata for the Estado Novo nationalist government of Getulio Vargas, who despised Lobato for his internationalism, his constant negative comparisons of Brazil to the US, and his continual meddling. In March 1941 Lobato was accused of sending an insulting letter to dictator Getúlio Vargas, the President of the Republic and the General Gois Monteiro, and was imprisoned for six months, of which he served three, despite considerable protest from intellectuals against his imprisonment.

Lobato's Peter Pan suffered considerable political problems. In June 1941, a São Paulo state public prosecutor, with the rather significant name of Dr. Clóvis Kruel de Morais, reported to the Tribunal de Segurança Nacional in favor of prohibiting the distribution of Peter Pan as it would give children the wrong opinion of the government of Brazil and an impression that Brazil was an inferior country to Britain.

When the narrator, Dona Benta, compares Brazilian children to English children, she says that, unlike Brazilian children, all English children have a special room of their own, a nursery, which will be full of toys, have special furniture and wallpaper. By contrast, the room of the Brazilian child will be "um quarto qualquer e por isso não tem nome especial" (Lobato 1971:12), thus demonstrating the inferiority of living conditions of Brazilian children. Likewise, he compares heating systems. In forward-looking cold countries all houses have central heating, and not an open hearth. Although central heating is not needed in Brazil, it is clearly linked to the "países atrasados" (:59-60).

A further passage in which Lobato betrays Brazil is when Emília asks whether English children play with a "boi de xuxu" a toy animal made by sticking pieces of wood into a vegetable, common in country areas in Brazil where children had to improvise toys out of odds and ends. One of the main characters of Lobato's children's stories is the doll Visconde, who is made from an old shuck of corn (:12). Dona Benta replies that English children are very spoilt and are given the toys they want, and that they are not incredibly expensive, as they are in Brazil. High-quality German toys made in Nuremberg are also praised. Whereas, in Brazil, the toy industry is only just beginning. Of course, here, as in the section quoted, Lobato is inserting his opinions against economic protectionism, followed by Getúlio Vargas' Estado Novo government. Another report for the Tribunal de Segurança Nacional, made by Tupy Caldas, accused Lobato's works of being excessively materialistic, and lacking and kind of spiritualism, and that they should be banned as they were dangerous to the national educational programmed and they failed to contribute to the formation of a "juventude patriótica, continuadora da tradição cristã, unificadora da Pátria". Vargas himself, aware of the possible role which books could play, underlined this very danger:

Todo e qualquer escrito capaz de desvirtuar esse programa é perigoso para o futuro da nacionalidade. O nosso mal até aqui foi justamente dar liberdade excessiva aos escritores, quando é o livro o mais forte veículo de educação. (in Carneiro 1997:76)

Both Peter Pan and Don Quijote can be seen as anarchistic figures, failing to respect authority. Pedrinho says of Don Quijote: "-O que eu gosto em D. Quixote- observou Pedrinho, é que êle não respeita cara. Mêdo não é com ele. Seja clérigo, seja moinho de vento, seja arrieiro, êle vai de lança e espada em cima, como se fôssem carneiros" (Lobato 1957:91). Lobato's anti-clericalism was not surprisingly unpopular with the right-wing of the Catholic Church, whose views can be seen in Pe. Sales Brasil's A Literatura Infantil de Monteiro Lobato ou Comunismo para Crianças, in which he accused Lobato of encouraging the Communist revolution, bad manners within the family, the right to private property, and atheism.

As a result of the instructions given by the Tribunal de Segurança Nacional, the São Paulo Department of Social and Political Order (DEOPS) apprehended and confiscated all the copies of Peter Pan it could find in the state of São Paulo.


Lobato, Anthropophagy and Political Translations

In Lobato's adaptations we see a very important way in which a developing nation like Brazil will use original works from the First World. Lobato adapts the original stories, he changes the original emphasis; in Don Quixote das Crianças he "translates" the original difficult Portuguese into a much simpler and more readable language. Today, he says "usamos a linguagem a mais simplificada possível, como a de Machado de Assis, que é o nosso grande mestre". By contrast, Portuguese classical writers used a much richer language and more complex constructions (Lobato 1957:190-1). In Peter Pan Lobato makes comparisons with the Brazilian reality, as, for example, when the North American redskins are compared to Brazilian Indians and comparing them to the caboclos (half-Indians).

In 1928 Oswald de Andrade published the Manifesto Antropofágico, in which he presented the image of the Brazilian cannibal, who would "devour" the enemy, so he could take over his soul. Thus the Brazilian writer like the cannibal, would not take in the foreign influence in a passive way, but rather by transforming it into something new. The original will be actively swallowed and reproduced in a different form.

Adriana Vieria compares Lobato to Haroldo and Augusto de Campos (Vieira:153). Though Lobato is adapting popular literature within a commercial setting, and the Campos brothers are translating much more erudite non-commercial literature, Vieira believes that both Lobato and the Campos brothers use the original text in an anthropophological way, adapting the original and putting their own mark on it.

I would like to link this concept with the ideas on emancipatory translation described by Maria Tymoczko, based on her analysis of the way in which translations of the legend of Cú Chuliann was used by the movement of Irish nationalism at the end of the 19th century and the first twenty years of the 20th century. She makes the following propositions for the use of translation for political engagement.

Firstly, texts must be chose for translation with political goals in view, and, if need be, there must be a willingness to manipulate the texts in translation, so as to adapt and subordinate the texts to political aims and agendas. The intent to transmit the texts closely, in and for them selves, must in many cases – perhaps even most – be abandoned. It is important to flag this point for this type of radical manipulation is usually inimical to most people whose primary orientation is to the integrity of texts per se.

Secondly, translators should be ingenious and varied in their approach to translation. No single translation approach or strategy is likely to suffice - whether it is literal or free, "domesticating "or 'foreignizing'. Instead, as the Irish translators show, multiple strategies should be deployed and maximum tactical flexibility maintained, so as to respond to the immediate cultural context most effectively. It may even be desirable, as in the Irish case, to have multiple and complementary representations of the same set of texts. Trying to prescribe a single translation strategy is like trying to prescribe a single strategy for effective guerrilla warfare. What is required instead is a certain opportunistic vitality that seizes upon immediate short-term gains as the long-term goal remains in view. (Tymoczko 2000:41-42).

Her major study, Translation in a Postcolonial Context examines a number of translations and adaptations of the legend of Taín Bó Cúailnge (TBC), produced from 1878 to 1969. A large number of important literary figures, such as W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and A. E. Yeats, were rewriting, adapting and manipulating Celtic legends, producing pseudotranslations, pretending they had made translations of Irish myths when they had actually written them themselves, in order to challenge the dominant systems based on English literary values. In such cases, there is often an invisible line between original work and translations. Both popularizing and scholarly translations of the TBC were produced: firstly a "vigorous tradition of literary translation" will provide reading texts for the general public, and "interpretative readings [...] to guide the specialists' understanding of the literary import of the same texts" (ibid:139).

Thus we find Lobato adapting, changing, altering, inserting elements into his translations in order to further his political agenda of making Brazil into a more modern, educated, lay, efficient and open nation.



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BOSI, Alfredo. 1972. História Concisa da Literatura Brasileira. São Paulo: Cultrix.        [ Links ]

BRASIL, (Pe.) Sales. 1957. A Literatura Infantil de Monteiro Lobato ou Comunismo para Crianças. Bahia: Aguiar & Souza.        [ Links ]

CARNEIRO, Maria Luiza Tucci Carneiro. 1997. Livros Proibidos, idéias Malditas: O Deops e as Minorias Silenciadas. São Paulo: Estação Liberdade.        [ Links ]

CARVALHEIRO, Edgard. 1982. "Lobato entre a Cruz e a espada: Defesa do seu Amigo e Biográfo", in Vozes do Tempo de Lobato, ed. Paulo Dantas. São Paulo: Traço, 207-213.        [ Links ]

KOSHIYAMA, Alice Mitika. 1982. Monteiro Lobato: Intelectual, Empresário, Editor. São Paulo: Queiroz.        [ Links ]

LANDERS, Vasda Bonafini. 1982. De Jeca a Macunaíma: Monteiro Lobato e o Modernismo. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira.        [ Links ]

MONTEIRO LOBATO. 1971. Peter Pan. São Paulo: Brasiliense.        [ Links ]

_____. 1957. D. Quixote das Crianças. São Paulo: Brasiliense.        [ Links ]

PAGANO, Adriana. 2001. "Something Called Books": Translations and Publishers' Collectionsin the Editorial Booms in Brazil and Argentina from 1930 to 1950, in Emerging Views on Translation History in Brazil, CROP, revista do Curso de Língua Inglesa e Literaturas Inglesa e Norte-Americana, da FFLCH, USP. No. 6.        [ Links ]

TYMOZCKO, Maria. 2000. Translation and Political Engagement: Activism, Social Change and the Role of Translation in Geopolitical Shifts, in The Translator, Volume 6, Number 1, 23-47.        [ Links ]

_____. 1999. Translation in a Postcolonial Context. Manchester: St. Jerome.        [ Links ]

VIERIA, Adriana Silene. 2001. "Monteiro Lobato Translator", in Emerging Views on Translation History in Brazil, CROP, revista do Curso de Língua Inglesa e Literaturas Inglesa e Norte-Americana, da FFLCH, USP. No. 6, pp. 143-169.        [ Links ]



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