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@#%&!: Why You Don’t Mess with Mothers in Brazil

A woman receives letters from an unknown man. Racy? Possibly.

The story above, “Obscenities for a Housewife” (“Obscenidades para uma dona de casa”), by Ignácio de Loyola Brandão is part of the Brazilian bestselling anthology The 100 Best Brazilian Short Stories of the Century (Os cem melhores contos brasileiros do século), a book that was banned earlier this year after being called “inappropriate.”

The book includes stories from acclaimed Brazilian authors Clarice Lispector, Carlo Drummond de Andrade, and Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, among many others, and was bought in bulk by the Brazilian government for public schools as an expedient way to introduce students to Brazil’s literary tradition and culture.

Since then the book, published by Objetiva, has been banned from public schools by the Sao Paulo State due to an objection by mothers against Brandão’s story. A Brazilian court backed the mothers’ objection, citing a “high sexual content” in the book. There is no word on what will become of the government’s copies or if another book might replace the anthology in public schools’ curriculums. Maybe they should ask the mothers.

While I am no expert on school standards or public education, I did manage to find a translated version of the text (of the story, not the book) and read it, and it is surprisingly dirty. Dirty enough to be banned? Perhaps. But as much as I am usually against censorship it might not matter on this one. The book is already a bestseller in Brazil and popular in bookstores. Regardless of the ban, the book is still out there if kids really want to read it.

But then, that too might be up to the mothers.

If you would like to have an opinion on this yourself, you can read the Portuguese text for Obscenities here. And here’s the Google Translated version, of which, only the swear words are coherent.



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