pt | en
Graphic design
Mateus Valadares / Máquina Estúdio
21.00 x 14.00 cm, 320 pp.
ISBN 9788535914528
Shepherds of the Night
Novel, 1964 | Afterword by Zuenir Ventura
     The marriage of Martim and Marialva causes uproar in the capital of Bahia. The boy Felício is baptised in a Catholic church in the Pelourinho, but with an African divinity for a godfather, the Orisha Ogum. The occupation of the Mato Gato slum forces the residents to confront the unscrupulous landowner and the police.
     Shepherds of the Night is a novel wrought of three independent but intimately related episodes built around a shared core of protagonists.
     In the first story, news of the wedding of the corporal Martim and the beautiful Marialva spreads as far afield as the neighbouring state of Sergipe. A Master in the art of marked cards, the scoundrel manages to rouse the jealousy of the panderess Tibéria, whilst Marialva attracts the attention of various men, including Cúrio, who finds himself falling for his best friend’s wife.
     The second tale tells the story of a blue-eyed boy named Felício, son of Benedita, from Alagoas, and the Negro Massu. On the eve of his first birthday, the baby is to be baptized by his father at a syncretic religious ceremony blending the Catholic rite with Candomblé.
     The third episode recounts the invasion of the Mato Gato slum. The owner of the land secures an eviction order to have the locals driven out by force. Expropriation is negotiated, much to the residents’ contentment, but the solution soon betrays a web of spurious interests on behalf of local politicians.
     The narratives that comprise the book characterize the world of the city of Salvador and Recôncavo, where the limits between peaceful co-habitation and open conflict have to be redrawn each day. Among the simple people of Bahia, solidarity and miscegenation are elements reflected in friendship, love, religion and community.
Illustration by Aldemir Martins


     The three stories in Shepherds of the Night form a panel of the social conflicts and communitarian and syncretic ties that configure life in the city of Salvador, Reconcâvo and the region. The novel mixes characters from other works by Jorge Amado with new creations like the caboclo Jesuíno Galo Doido (Mad Rooster Jesuíno), the saint mother Doninha, the young prostitute Otália, Father Gomes, nephew of a member of the order of the fire god Xangô, and the dreamer Pé-de-Vento (Windfeet), who claims to have sent a ship to France to fetch four hundred mulatto women.
     Jorge Amado started writing Shepherds of the Night toward the end of 1963, at his home on Rua Alagoinhas in Salvador. The book was launched in 1964. In 1967, the author recorded some excerpts from the book for the US Library of Congress.
     The second part of the novel, Ogum's Compadre , acquired a life of its own through a 1995 adaptation for a TV special on Rede Globo, after which it was published as a book in its own right. In December 2002, Globo TV ran a new four-episode TV version of Shepherds of the Night. The story had already been adapted for film in 1975 by the French director Marcel Camus.
     Shepherds of the Night has been translated into 17 languages.
     Bullfinch’s face had a dramatic air: the. next day he was going to drive a dagger into the bosom of his best friend. If Martini killed him, he could not complain. Perhaps it would even be better. If Martini killed him and her. the two lovers (platonic), they would lie together in the morgue, and they would be carried together by their friends to the grave. He saw himself dead, a flower on his breast, and Marialva beside him, her hair loose, her throat cut.
     OR HIMSELF STRETCHED COLD AND BLOOD-STAINED, and Marialva with a knife in her breast, or alive and having to witness Martini’s despair. There were moments when he even preferred the first hypothesis because of the horror the second aroused in him, the sight of a man as virile as Martini humbled, destroyed for good. Because without Marialva life would be sad and meaningless.
     Bullfinch imagined the scene. He would arrive, look at his friend, tell him all. No, not all. He would not mention the kisses, the bites, the hand working down from the neck to the delights of the breasts.

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