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The Love of a Soldier
Play, 1947
     The play The Love of a Soldier is about the Bahian poet Castro Alves, one of the key figures of Brazilian romanticism. Represented on stage alongside the poet of the slaves, author of “O navio negreiro” (The Slave-ship), is the Portuguese actress Eugênia Câmera, with whom Castro Alves had a love affair and to whom he dedicated some of the poems in his Espumas flutuantes (Floating Foam).
     The story begins in Recife in 1866, when the lovers meet, and depicts an author caught between his relationship with his beloved and the abolitionist cause. The conflict is shared by Eugênia, who admires the poet’s social conscience, but finds herself torn between furthering her successful acting career and accompanying a Castro Alves hell-bent on freeing the slaves and materializing his Republican ideals.
     The Love of a Soldier is a three-act play, with prologue and epilogue, set in the cities of Recife, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, where Castro Alves lived and campaigned. The nineteen scenes are littered with historical figures, such as Joaquim Nabuco, Rui Barbosa, Tobias Barreto, Antônio Borges da Fonseca and Fagundes Varela, not to mention the participation of the author himself.
     Jorge Amado interrupts the action at various junctures to explain certain passages in the poet’s life and to provide historical background to the events. As such, The Love of a Soldier pays tribute to a poet who combined lyricism and social activism in fighting on the front line of the abolitionist and republican struggle.
Illustration by Anna Letycia


     Jorge Amado’s only piece for theatre, The Love of a Soldier was written in 1944 at the behest of the actress and director Bibi Ferreira, who wanted to stage it. However, Bibi’s theatre company soon disbanded and the piece was never actually performed.
     Originally entitled O amor de Castro Alves (The Love of Castro Alves), the work makes a dramaturgical treatment of passages from Jorge Amado’s biography of the poet, ABC de Castro Alves, completed some years earlier.
     Composed during the Second World War, the play compares the importance of Castro Alves to that of the Brazilian infantry fighting in Europe. As the author said in an interview: “As a tribute to the Brazilian soldiers posted abroad, I wanted to present the life of a liberal and liberating poet”.
     The play was published in 1947 under the original title of O amor de Castro Alves to commemorate the centenary of the poet’s birth. In 1958 the piece received the new title, The Love of a Soldier.
      Eugênia Câmara’s sitting room in Recife. Night.
      In scene: Castro Alves and Eugênia. They are both seated and he is finishing his rally speech.
      …and so the rally can proceed to its end. The police don’t have the courage to come back.
      It is marvellous, my dear! You are indeed a happy man, for you know how to fight ardently for your dreams, for your ideal. You know how to fight for freedom…
      And fight we must, Eugênia. Freedom is not a good granted as a favour. It must be hard won, often at the cost of one’s life…
      Such beautiful dreams…abolition, the Republic, democracy…
      To dream is not enough Eugênia. We have to fight to make these dreams, which are shared by millions and millions across the world, become reality.
      I read your last poem…
      The one I was writing last night? I haven’t put the finishing touches to it yet, which is why I didn’t show it to you.

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Credits | Jorge Amado Estate Foundation
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