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Bitita's Diary: The Autobiography of Carolina Maria de Jesus (Latin American Realities (Hardcover)) Hardcover – November 6, 1997

4.1 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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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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Product Details

  • Series: Latin American Realities (Hardcover)
  • Hardcover: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (November 6, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765602113
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765602114
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,877,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover
I think that Bitita's Diary was a very sad but interesting book. The book basically focused on how your race, class, and gender rated you according to society. For example, the blacks were treated as slaves or servants and the only way that they were treated as if they meant something was if they had money. Since Bitita was black and poor she was treated worthless, not only by people in the world but also by her own family. Because her family consisted of blacks, whites, and mulattos, everyone was viewed differently. For example, when the blacks in the family visited the whites or the mulattos they would make the saty outside, because blacks were not permitted in the house. I thought that was very unfair because they were all related and just because the color of their skin was different didn'r give them the reason to treat them badly. One thing that I liked about Bitita was the fact that she never gave up on her hopes and dreams. She always looked for a job and gave her mother money or clothes when she had it to give. I thought that Bitita's mom was using her in a way, because she would always tell her that she needed money for something and always criticized her. When Bitita gave her money dhe was happy, but when Bitita didn't have money she always talked bad about her. It seemed as if she was blaming Bitita for her own misfortune. Overall I thought that the book was very good because it showed how racism not only exists in the world, but also in families too. I highly recommend this book to other that way thay can see how this book touches the heart.
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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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Format: Paperback
Within the first few lines, Carolina Maria de Jesus, caught my attention. Her story details a life that few of us ever hear. Her writing style draws the reader in, connecting the author and reader. Once I began reading I was immediately hooked and could not put the book down. The simple ideas brought up by Carolina Maria, nicknamed Bitita, bring to light many problems that we face even today. Throughout the book the reader sees Bitita struggle and fight, but she never sacrifices herself and remains a strong woman. This book allows us to see how she survived when all the odds seemed stacked against her. Through the voice of a child questioning discrimination on every level, even within her own family, we are able to reflect on what is happening and come to our own conclusions about society and family. Critics argued that we cannot trust this book on the basis that some of the information is skewed. Nevertheless, the information provided by Bitita gives every reader the chance to take in another point of view through her interpretation and representation of the conditions. This story is an inspirational testimony of a womans struggle to remain true to herself in a world where it seemed impossible to do so.
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