The Wikipedia article about Jorge Amado describes the author as "a Brazilian writer of the modernist school" and adds that he was "one of the founders of the Modernist 'Rebels' Academy"". His first novels were published a few years later: O País do Carnaval (The Country of Carnival, 1931), Cacau (1933) and Jubiabá (1935; English translation 1989). According to Wikipedia, the first novel has not been translated into English. The second one has probably not been translated either; WorldCat lists translations into Italian, French and Spanish but no English one.

For this reason, my question focuses on Jubiabá. What makes this work a modernist novel? The articles about the novel in the English Wikipedia, the French Wikipedia and the Portuguese Wikipedia make no mention of modernism. The article about literary modernism does not mention any authors who wrote in Portuguese or who lived in South America.

So we need to turn to other sources about modernism or Portuguese literature. According to Terry Eagleton's How to Read Literature, modernism differs from realism in several ways (emphasis added):

  • "Characters in the realist tradition are generally presented as complex, credible, fully rounded individuals. (...) For [modernist authors such as Woolf and Beckett] human beings do not have that much consistency and continuity. The typical realist character tends to be reasonably stable and unified, (...). As such, it reflects an era when identity was felt on the whole to be less problematic than it is today. (...) Modernism, by contrast, pitches the whole concept of identity into crisis." (Pages 65-67)
  • "The Victorians believed that one of the functions of art was to raise the reader's spirit. (...) This is one reason why almost all Victorian novels end on an affirmative note." (Page 103)
    "Conrad himself, however, suspects not only that endings are rarely happy, but that there are no definitive endings in any case." (Page 104)
  • "George Eliot and Thomas Hardy are convinced that the truth is essentially narratable, whereas Conrad and Woolf have no such faith." (Page 110)

This is not an exhaustive list of differences between realist (or Victorian, in Eagleton's examples) and modernist literature. It is also clear that Eagleton focuses on English-language literature. So my question is whether the characteristics that Eagleton attributes to English modernist literature also apply to Jorge Amado's early work, which was written in a different language and on a different continent. Or is the difference between realism and modernism in Brazilian literature based on a different set of distinctions?


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