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Brazilian women writers in English: Translation of culture and gender in works by Clarice Lispector, Carolina Maria de Jesus, and Ana Maria Machado

Lilian Passos Wichert Feitosa, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In an interdisciplinary fashion, this dissertation on Brazilian women writers in English focuses on translation and gender issues and employs an historical and statistical approach. Following an investigation of the proportion of men to women writers in the corpora of Brazilian literature and its English translations, I offer an analysis of the English translation of three contemporary Brazilian women writers. Then, drawing on models developed by Javier Franco Aixelá and Carla Melibeu Bentes, I evaluate the "foreignizing" or "domesticating" character of the translations by examining Culture-Specific Terms (CSTs) and provide a new model to analyze translation strategies for Gender-Marked Terms (GMTs). The first part of the dissertation (chapters two and three) consists of a quantitative macro analysis of women writers' representation in Brazilian literature, based on a recent reference work, the Enciclopédia de literatura brasileira (2001), and on my own diachronic survey of translated authors. The surprising results, graphically represented in tables and charts, point to the visibility of Brazilian women writers in translation and raise questions regarding the process of cross-cultural transmission. In the second part (chapters four through six), I undertake a qualitative contrastive micro analysis examining the strategies used to translate CSTs and GMTs - presented in tables and charts–in seven books by three Brazilian women writers. Clarice Lispector (1920-1977), the most widely translated and best known in Brazil and abroad, has published highly introspective works. Carolina Maria de Jesus (1914-1977), briefly famous after the publication of her exposé of favela life, found unexpected success in English translation, which motivated her book's re-publication in Brazil. Ana Maria Machado (1940-), famous for her children's books, is one of the few Brazilian authors of this genre published in English. English translators tended to keep most CSTs (50%) in Portuguese; 68% of GMTs were equivalently translated; however, domesticating (CSTs) and neutralizing (GMTs) strategies had a significant impact on the translations. Such macro and micro analyses introduce an evidence-based dimension that complements contemporary translation studies, at times contradicting the presuppositions of theorists, and offers new avenues of research for understanding the processes by which Brazilian works enter the English-language market.

Subject Area

Comparative literature|Latin American literature|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Feitosa, Lilian Passos Wichert, "Brazilian women writers in English: Translation of culture and gender in works by Clarice Lispector, Carolina Maria de Jesus, and Ana Maria Machado" (2008). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3325275.