21.00 x 14.00 cm, 656 pp. ISBN 9788535914047 69,50
Tieta Novel, 1977 | Afterword by Lilia Moritz Schwarcz
Antonieta is a goat shepherdess in Mangue Seco, where she surrenders to a string of lovers in the dunes. The pious Perpétua denounces her sister’s adventures to their father, Zé Esteves, and the town of Sant’Ana do Agreste is scandalized by the girl’s libertine ways. After a good caning from her father, Tieta is run out of the house. After a time roaming the nearby towns, prostituting herself to scrape a living, Tieta heads for São Paulo, where she becomes a panderess. Though she sends money back to her family, nobody knows of her whereabouts. When the correspondence stops, Tieta assumes that her sister is dead. Twenty-five years after her departure, Tieta decides to go home. The return of the prodigal daughter revolutionizes life in the small Bahian town. Thanks to her influence, the electricity generated by the Paulo Afonso dam arrives at Sant’Ana do Agreste, attracting the attentions of a highly pollutant industry that is interested in setting up there, with potentially disastrous consequences for the local ecology. In the meantime, Tieta once again stirs the fantasies of the menfolk and has an incestuous relationship with her nephew, the seminarist Ricardo. In this vast panorama of manners and accelerated change, many stories lived by a host of secondary characters flow into the main plot. The narrative includes interventions by the author, spicy dialogues that capture the register of the local speech and descriptions of traditional habits and tales. Power relations and corruption, religiosity, sexual liberation, fashion and consumption, the conflict between progress and environmental preservation are all issues that are woven into the novel’s plot, where they receive good-humoured critical treatment. It is this combination that makes Tieta an experimental and innovative narrative.
Illustration by Calasans Neto
Begun at Buraquinho beach, near Salvador, and completed in London in mid 1977, Tieta holds true to its full title: Tieta: the Goat Girl, or, The return of the prodigal daughter, a melodramatic feuilleton in five sensational episodes and moving epilogue: emotion and suspense! The novel is one of the author’s longest works, and accompanies its protagonist over the course of three decades. In Jorge Amado’s oeuvre, the book belongs amongst those written in Romanesque tone in which the author chronicles the epoch and its manners without losing sight of the social and political dimensions. Published during the dictatorship period, the plot addresses issues that would become central to the nation in coming decades, such as concern for the environment and criticism of political cronyism and corruption. With her impetuosity and questioning spirit, Tieta joins the ranks of Gabriela, Dona Flor and Tereza Batista as another of Jorge Amado’s great female creations. The book was made into a highly successful TV soap-opera of the same name by Aguinaldo Silva, screened between 1989 and 1990 on Rede Globo. In 1996, a film version of Tieta was made by Cacá Diegues. In 1997, it was chosen as the theme for the Carnival in Salvador. The novel has also been reworked in numerous examples of cordel literature.
Was that her? Peto didn’t sec how it could he. His aunt should be dressed all in black, with a funeral veil covering her face like his mother’s; she couldn’t be in any way, shape or form that movie star, that Gina Lollobrigida. On the top step, majestically framed in the doorway, stood Antonieta Esteves - “Antonieta Esteves Cantarelli, if you please,” fussed Perpetua. And she was a knockout; tall and shapely, with long blond hair escaping from beneath a red turban. Yes, red; and so was the classically cut jersey sport blouse that set off her firm, full breasts, a generous sample of which was visible at the unbuttoned neck. Blue jeans molded her thighs and buttocks, seductively emphasizing concavities and convexities. And what convexities! what concavities! Her feet were shod in fine tan moccasins. The only somber thing about the widow’s outfit was the smoked glasses with square frames and lenses, chic as all get out, designed by Christian Dior. The dumbfounded silence lasted for a fraction of a minute, a very long time, an eternity finally broken by a triumphant shout from Peto.