Graphic design Kiko Farkas / Máquina Estúdio e Elisa Cardoso/ Máquina Estúdio
21.00 x 14.00 cm, 472 pp. ISBN 9788535912913 53,00
Tereza Batista Home from the Wars Novel, 1972 | Afterword by Lygia Fagundes Telles
The orphan girl Tereza is sold by her aunt Felipa to one Justiniano Duarte da Rosa, Captain Justo, on whose ranch she is treated like just another piece of property, even from a sexual point of view. But Tereza will fight to the end against the dominations to which she is subjected. When the Captain catches her in bed with her lover Daniel, Tereza is forced to defend herself against his violence with a knife and ends up in jail. She is soon freed by Emiliano Guedes, a rich plant owner and long-time admirer. Tereza is sent to a convent, but is encouraged to escape by the panderess Gabi. Emiliano intervenes once again and takes the girl from the brothel. Left now to herself and to fate, she heads for Sergipe, where more misadventures await her: she falls for Januário Gereba, a married man, and has to fight an outbreak of smallpox alongside the prostitutes of the small town of Buquim, where she helps those assailed by the “Black bladder”. She then moves to Salvador, where she leads a movement of prostitutes, the so-called “closed legs strike”. “Peppered with pestilence, hunger and war, death and love, Tereza Batista’s life is the stuff of cordel”, reads the epigraph. There is no shortage of trials and tribulations in this heroine’s tale, but she faces them all with unshakeable determination. And the end of the story sees the rekindling of a flicker of hope that not even exhaustion can douse. Her spirit of non-conformism, struggle and seduction (though also her refusal of sensuality) ensure Tereza Batista her place among the great characters of Jorge Amado’s fiction.
Tereza Batista Home from the Wars was published in 1972 by Livraria Martins Editora and the protagonist took her place alongside the author’s other feminine figures, such as Gabriela and Dona Flor. Tereza Batista incarnates the revolt of a woman who rejects the condition of fragility, refuses to be anyone’s object and who fights for her autonomy. Though war-wearied, she never gives up the fight. The character won international fame: the headquarters of the Italian Feminist Club, an old palazzo on Via Ragabella in Milan, has born the name Tereza Batista House since 1977. Jorge Amado was already hugely popular at the time of the book’s launch. According to the journalist Geraldo Mayrink, in the biography Jorge, le rouge, the writer’s name was cited in the press some three hundred times in a single month, roughly ten times a day, a rate that would even be high for the president of the Republic. That same year, 1972, the samba school Lins Imperial, from São Paulo, paid tribute to the author in its allegorical parade “Bahia de Jorge Amado”. The novel was adapted for television by Vicente Sesso. The 1992 mini-series on Rede Globo was directed by Paulo Afonso Grisolli. The book was also published in Portugal and translated into more than ten languages.
Tereza had fallen asleep after ascending to Heaven, he smoked a cigarette, Daniel considered what would the best way to break the news of his imminent departure for Bahia, the law school and the nightclubs, his clas-mates and bohemian companions, the old ladies romantic hookers. “I’ll send for you later, darling, don’t feel bad and don’t cry, for heaven’s sake don’t cry a don’t torment yourself; as soon as I get there I’ll see what I can do.” He foresaw a bad quarter of an hour ahead of him; how tiresome it would be. Daniel had a horror of all scenes, ruptures, leave-takings, weeping and laments. Their whole last night would be spoiled, unless he waited until the last minute to tell her, at dawn when they said good-bye at the gate after a deep kiss with lips, tongues, and teeth. Maybe it would be better not to tell her that night at all. He could stop by the store the next morning to say a general good-bye to them all — he had had an urgent call from the law school, there was no help for it, he had to go; if he didn’t he’d lose credit for the whole year.