Lygia Fagundes Telles

Article Bio Works Merits
genre(subgenre):
Written and spoken word (novel, short story, tale)
region:
America, South
country/territory:
Brazil
city:
São Paulo
created on:
May 22, 2003
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since January 24, 2011. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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Lygia Fagundes Telles
Lygia Fagundes Telles © Manchete

Article

The grand lady of Brazilian literature

Lygia Fagundes Telles, born in 1924 in São Paulo is the most respected and widely read writer in her homeland and is known as the grand lady of Brazilian literature. Of her 20 books so far, many have been published all round the world and received many international awards. Lygia Fagundes Telles lives in the city of her birth.
Now 77 years old, the Brazilian author Lygia Fagundes Telles was born on 19th April 1923 as the fourth daughter of a lawyer in São Paolo. Her first work was published when she was only 14 and marked the start of her passion for story-telling.

In 1940 the young author began studying sport-pedagogy, then a year later law. In her spare time she carried on writing, visiting student literary circles and having her tales and poetry appear in the high-school magazine Arcádia and Balança. In 1944 her second book of tales ´Praia Viva´ appeared, and five years later her third ´O cacto vermelho´. But she really broke through first in 1973 with the novel ´As Meninas´, still acclaimed by literary critics as her best work. The theme is the political and social upheaval of the 70s - sexual liberation, political radicalism and the change of social values, which are shown in the novel in terms of three very different girl-students. ´As Meninas´ won nearly all Brazilian literary awards.

Lygia Fagundes Telles, one of the first women to be made a member of the Brazilian Academy for Language and Poetry (1985), can now look back on a career spanning 20 books which are published all round the world. Typical for her tales and novels are the fantastic, supernatural elements with which her heroes are faced. Other themes which often recur are madness and death. Her latest novel ´Invençao e memória´ (Invention and Memory) is held by critics to be her most mature work as literature. In it, like in a puzzle, she mingles things lived through, read and heard with new experiences in the present. She plays with the tension between real memory and imagination - between parallel worlds.

But the grand lady of Brazilian literature is preoccupied with more than the publication of new works. At present she is also busily revising works for republication by the Brazilian publisher ´Rocco´. She does not adhere to the ´doctrine, that an author never retouches a published text´ (Cultura & Arte, www.estado.com.br). Indeed she has wholly disowned the works of her youth, since ´times change, as the reality of yesteryear is no longer up to date. Nowadays a 15 year-old girl drinks and smokes, reads Kafka and talks and practices sex, and the young girls risk everything. Whether this is good or not, I don´t know. At that age I was wholly naive. And anxious.´

Lygia Fagundes Telles also plays an important role as an ambassador of her homeland. She is keen to help Brazilian literature to international acclaim. In an interview published by the Brazilian daily paper ´O Globo´ in 1995, she revealed her concern about the future of Brazilian literature: ´Brazilians admire their football players, their singers and their samba-schools. Surely they would admire their writers too, but 60% of the population has no access to books, since few are able to read. In this land, one counts as being literate if one can write one´s own name on a voting-card.´

Writers, she believes, must build bridges and interrupt the silence of the masses: ´The function of a writer? To write for the readers who would like to hear from our mouths the words which they are afraid to say themselves. To discuss things with a neighbour, if only indirectly, so as to help him in his plight and suffering. Love and empathy should be in an author´s heart.´ (Cultura & Arte, www.estado.com.br).
Author: Verena Mörath 

Bio

Born on 19th April 1923 in São Paulo, Lygia Fagundes Telles studied sport pedagogy. She had her first tales published at the age of 14, and further books of tales appeared in 1944 and 1949. After marrying the lawyer Goffredo da Silva Telles jr. in 1950, she left her place of birth to live and work in Rio de Janeiro. From her marriage with da Silva comes her son Goffredo Telles Neto, who is a filmmaker.

In Rio the author found a publisher for her fourth book ´Histórias desencontro´ (1958) for which she gained her first literary award. After ten years, her marriage ended in divorce, and Lygia Fagundes Telles began to work as a procurator for the state health organisation. She held this position till retiring in 1991. Her second partner, Paulo Emilio Salles Gomes, was a professor for literature, a literature critic, a writer and a founder of the Brazilian cinema.

At the age of 49, Lygia Fagundes Telles reached the peak of her career with her fourth novel ´As Meninas´, which received nearly all important Brazilian literary awards. After her husband´s death in 1977, she took over the position of President of the Brazilian Cinema till 1981. In this role she travelled through Europe, the USA, China and the former USSR. In 1982 she was elected to the Academy for Language and Poetry in the state São Paulo, then three years later she was the first woman to be elected to the Academy for Language and Poetry in Brazil as a whole. At brief interludes, she brought out new tales, novels and essays and adapted her books for television, the cinema and theatre. Lygia Fagundes Telles is still active as an author and feels herself to be a cultural ambassador of her homeland, especially as regards literature. So far she has brought out 20 books.

Works

Conspiração de nuvens

Published Written,
2007
Memoirs. Rocco: Rio de Janeiro

Meus contos esquecidos

Published Written,
2005
Rocco: Rio de Janeiro

Histórias de mistério

Published Written,
2004
Rocco: Rio de Janeiro

Meus contos preferidos

Published Written,
2004
Novel. Rocco: Rio de Janeiro

A estrutura da bolha de sabão e as cerejas

Published Written,
2003

Durante aquele estranho chá: perdidos e achados

Published Written,
2002
Novel. Rocco: Rio de Janeiro

Invenção e memória

Published Written,
2000
Novel. Rocco: Rio de Janeiro

Oito contos de amor

Published Written,
1997
Antology.

FILM ADAPTATION

Film / TV,
1996
As Meninas

Pindura com um anjo

Published Written,
1996
Press article.

A confissão de Leontina e fragmentos

Published Written,
1996
Anthology.

A noite escura e mais eu

Published Written,
1995
Tale.

A caçada

Published Written,
1994

TV ADAPTATIONS

Film / TV,
1993
O jardim selvagem, 1978 (TV Globo) Ciranda de pedra, 1981 (TV Globo) Era uma vez Valdete, 1993 (TV Globo)

Capitu

Published Written,
1993

As cerejas

Published Written,
1993

Não vou ceder. Até quando?

Published Written,
1992
Press article.

As horas nuas

Published Written,
1989
Novel.

STAGE ADAPTATIONS

Production / Performance,
1988
As Meninas

Venha ver o pôr-do-sol

Published Written,
1988
Anthology.

The Marble Dance

Published Written,
1986
Novel. Avon Books: New York

Os mehores contos de Lygia F. Telles

Published Written,
1984
Anthology.

10 contos escolhidos

Published Written,
1984

Tigrela and Other Stories

Published Written,
1982
Short stories. Avon Books: New York

Girl in the Photograph

Published Written,
1982
Novel. Avon Books: New York

Mistérios

Published Written,
1981
Tale.

Lygia Fagundes Telles

Published Written,
1980
Anthology.

A disciplina do amor

Published Written,
1980
Tale.

Pomba enamorada

Published Written,
1979

Negra jogada amarela

Published Written,
1979
Tales for children.

O muro

Published Written,
1978

As formigas

Published Written,
1978

Filhos pródigos

Published Written,
1978
Tale.

Missa do galo

Published Written,
1977

Seminário dos Ratos

Published Written,
1977
Tale.

Antes do Baile Verde

Published Written,
1972
Tale.

Seleta

Published Written,
1971
Anthology.

Trilogia da confissão

Published Written,
1968

O jardim selvagen

Published Written,
1965

Gabi

Published Written,
1964
Novel.

Histórias escolhidas

Published Written,
1964
Tale.

Verão no aquário

Published Written,
1963
Novel.

Histórias desencontro

Published Written,
1958
Tale.

Ciranda de Pedra

Published Written,
1954
Novel.

O cacto vermelho

Published Written,
1949
Tale.

Praia viva

Published Written,
1944

Porão e sobrado

Published Written,
1938
Tale.

Merits

Award of the Instituto Nacional do Livro, 1958
Great Award for Foreign Writers in France, 1969/70
Guimarães Rosa Award, 1972
Ceolho Neto Award, Academia Brasileira de Letras, 1973
Brazilian Pen Club, 1977
Jabuti Award, Câmara Brasileira do Livro, 1980
Medal of the Ordem do Rio Branco, 1985
Preos Pedro Nava, best book of the year, 1989
Best Tales Award, Biblioteca Nacional, 1989
APLUB Award for Literature, 1989
Prémio Camões, 2005
Prêmio Juca Pato, 2008