Jorge Leal Amado, Brazilian writer, Died at 88


Jorge Leal Amado de Faria died on the 6th of August 2001 at the age of 88; he was a Brazilian writer of the modernist school. Born on a farm near the inland city of Itabuna on the 10th of August 1912, in the south of the Brazilian state of Bahia.

He was the eldest of four sons of João Amado de Faria and D. Eulália Leal. The farm was located in the village of Ferradas, which, though today is a district of Itabuna, was at the time administered by the coastal city of Ilhéus.

For this reason he considered himself a citizen of Ilhéus. From his exposure to the large cocoa plantations of the area, Amado knew the misery and the struggles of the people working the land and living in almost slave conditions.

He married Matilde Garcia Rosa and had a daughter, Lila, in 1933. The same year he published his second novel, Cacau, which increased his popularity. He studied law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Faculty of Law but never became a practising lawyer.

His leftist activities made his life difficult under the dictatorial regime of Getúlio Vargas. In 1935 he was arrested for the first time, and two years later his books were publicly burned. His works were banned from Portugal, but in the rest of Europe he gained great popularity with the publication of Jubiabá in France.

On the 6th of April 1961, he was elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters. On his death his wife was elected to replace him.

Amado made the Academy the setting for one of his novels, Pen, Sword, Camisole. He received the title of Doctor honoris causa from several universities in Brazil, Portugal, Italy, Israel and France, as well as other honors in almost every South American country, including Obá de Xangô (santoon) of the Candomblé, the traditional Afro-Brazilian religion of Bahia.

He was finally removed from the French Government blacklist in 1965 following the intervention of the then Minister of Culture, André Malraux. In 1984 he was awarded the French Légion d’Honneur by President François Mitterrand.

Amado’s popularity as a writer has never declined. His books have been translated into 49 languages in 55 countries, and adapted into films, theatrical works and TV programs.

They even inspired some samba schools of the Brazilian Carnival. In 1987, the House of Jorge Amado Foundation was created, in Salvador. It promotes the protection of Amado’s estate and the development of culture in Bahia.