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Bitita's Diary: The Childhood Memoirs of Carolina Maria de Jesus (Latin American Realities) Hardcover – January 1, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0765602114 ISBN-10: 0765602113

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Product Details

  • Series: Latin American Realities
  • Hardcover: 163 pages
  • Publisher: M.E. Sharpe (January 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765602113
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765602114
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,978,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

An immediate best seller when it was published in Brazil in 1960, Jesus's Quarto de Despejo, the diary of a woman living in the slums of Sao Paulo, contained unusually vivid descriptions of the lives of the very poor. Its English translation, Child of the Dark (1962), was equally successful, as were translations in several other languages. The success of the book allowed Jesus to move out of the slums and continue writing. Through the efforts of her biographer, Robert M. Levine of the University of Miami (The Life and Death of Carolina Maria de Jesus, Univ. of New Mexico, 1995), some of these writings are finally being translated into English. Bitita's Diary (Jornal de Bitita), the last volume Jesus finished prior to her death in 1977, is a poignant description of her childhood in the Brazilian central interior state of Minas Gerais. It is important for providing a look at Brazil during the 1920s and 1930s through the eyes of an impoverished black child, a view rare in any country at any time. Sometimes simplistic, sometimes profound, this is a valuable volume for any Latin American research collection.?Mark L. Grover, Brigham Young Univ., Provo, UT
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

An evocative portrait of a childhood of abject poverty, by one of Brazil's bestselling authors. Jesus (191577) was a literary phenomenon of the 1950s. Discovered living in a shantytown by a So Paulo newspaperman, Jesus, whose nickname was Bitita, became the bestselling author in Brazilian history when the journalist helped her find a publisher for a collection of her diaries, which appeared in 1958 (and later in English as Child of the Dark). Jesus quickly became the spokesperson for Third World poverty as her book was translated into many languages, yet she died in near-obscurity and scavenging for food to eat. This rather fragmentary book, written in the 1970s and only compiled after her death, is Jesus's adult recollection of her childhood in rural Brazil in the 1920s. Like all memoirs, this one suffers from a certain amount of revisionist history-making. Her supposed five- and six-year-old ponderings about race and the unequal treatment of women by men, for instance, are at times so astute as to be unbelievable. That said, this is an impressive book, not only for Jesus's searing portraits of poverty in Brazil--a picture that editor Levine (director of Latin American Studies at the University of Miami) claims never has been so honestly drawn--but for her depictions of the crippling power of the Brazilian class structure and racial and sexual prejudice. Only the most heartless would not be moved by Jesus's recounting of the rebukes she received from relatives and others as she tried to claw her way out of the very deep social and racial hole into which she was born. Certainly not a book for mainstream America, but invaluable for scholars and historians interested the real picture of rural Brazilian life in the 1920s. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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Bitita's Diary, from Brazil, is an interesting and easy to follow factual book.
"kiki513"
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Latin American culture, or the plight of gender, class, and race issues.
Angela M. Adams
It was also moving to read this book and see the world through the eyes of a child.
Elizabeth Hazzard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Derek Pankau on May 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Bitita's Diary is the testimonial of a poor Brazilian woman named Carolina Maria de Jesus. Carolina grew up in the 1920s and 1930s. She lived in both the city as well as the countryside, and clearly recalls the rough living conditions she had to endure. This book dose not only describe what it was like to live in poverty, but also gives you the unique perspective of a poor woman in a patriarchial society. I found this book to be very informative. Carolina understandably writes about the terrible living conditions she had to endure, but also gave some thought to political policies, and their impact on society. While there was a lot of valuable information found throughout the book I feel that if the information was better organized into seperate arguments the book might be a more valid resource. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about women in latin America.
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By "jltorre" on May 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
Bitita's Diary tells the story of a Brazilian mulatta, Carolina Maria de Jesus, also know as Bitita, and the struggles that she had faced throughout her life. This testimony reveals the hardships that Bitita had to endure regarding poverty and inequality. Not only does this novel give the reader a sense of what she had to go through, but also shows how strong Bitita was by never giving up. While reading, we are able to understand the conditions that she grew up in and also learn how she was rejected by her family and made fun of by others. After reading Bitita's Diary, I have a better understanding of the hardships that people go through in other countries, but I have learned that these people do not give up instead, strive for a better live.
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By Susan Rakoczy on April 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this novel. It was very educational and related very well to class material. This novel helped to explain ideas such as discrimination by race and class, Latin American Culture, and feminism. My favorite chapter, The Godmothers, is very important to the rest of the novel because gives background into the rest of family. I would recommend this books if you wish to further explore Latin American culture and values.
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Format: Hardcover
"Bitita's Diary" by Carolina Maria de Jesus was a very interesting testimonial about a young black girl growing up in Brazil. Bitita had to face many obstacles throughtout her life, beginning in her childhood years. Many people in her onw family would (did) not accept her because of her dark skin and kinky hair. She was not allowed to enter the homes of her mulatto relatives. Bitita was treated different from her brother because he was of a lighter complextion. She was very curious as a child which irritated her mother and older relatives (she would constantly question different theories/aspects of life. As Bitita grew up she found that life was difficult, and she had to work very hard to maintain in society. For example, Bitita was very sick and was had an infection in her leg; yet she still worked on that leg as much as she could until she could not work anymore. In all, this book was a great exapmle of a testimonial. You were able to view the world as Bitita saw it and see the hardships that she had to face throughout her life.
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By Diana Geary on April 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Bitita's Diary by Carolina Maria de Jesus is an excellent testimonial about Bitita's life and obstacles she went through. She had to deal with gender, race, and class in her lifetime. Her own relatives did not accept her when they found out she was of lower class then them. Bitita tried to make the best of what she had or would move on to see what else the world could offer her. One time she left her mother and joined a convent. When she realized that she made the choice of no social life she had to leave the convent that provided her with food, a bed, and medicine and go back to living on the streets but had her freedom back to herself. I though this story was an inspirational testimony that shows a young girl who had to struggle in her life that tried to remain true to herself. I would recommend this story to anyone, especially women.
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Format: Paperback
In the book Bitita's Diary, by Carolina Maria de Jesus, we could see the struggles of a young girl as she grew up in a poor town as a person of color. We could see the obstcles that she needed to overcome because of her gender, race, and class. This book was very enjoyable to read, because you could actually put yourself in her positon, and see how hard her life really was. In the beginning her realtives who were of higher class, took Bitita in and gave her sweets and other things that were never given to her. As the aunt realizes that she is of a much lower class, and others were noticing her generosity to someone not as important in society, she soon shuts Bitita out just like others had. On the other hand Bitita was lucky in the fact that she got to attend school and become educated. Bitita did gain many opportunities to earn money so that she could survive. This is why it seemed ironic that Bitia would leave a job or shelter that she had been taken in at. In understaning Bitia's thinking we can see why she would do such a thing. She is a descendent of slaves, therefore she would maybe have a feeling of being held captive. Her mother also beat her, but then again her mother also knew of the struggles they would encounter, but needed to overcome so that they could survive in this town, so she could relate to her. Although Bitita did have hard times, she was better off than most other people like her. Bitita did realize the gifts that were given to her, but also kept in her mind the importance of her heritage.
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