The Construction of a City: Salvador in the Writings of Jorge Amado

  • Mauricio De Oliveira

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis analyses the evolution of the city of Salvador in the novels of Brazilian writer Jorge Amado in order to identify different conceptualisations and perceptions of the city. For more than half a century, Amado was the best-selling Brazilian author, both in his own country and abroad. His work may be divided loosely into urban and rural novels. The majority of his urban novels focused on Salvador, the capital of Bahia state. Over a 60-year period, Amado portrayed Salvador in different forms: the city started out as a fragmented space in his first novel and was depicted as a potentially syncretic place in his last one. Several studies have analysed Amado's works from a myriad of perspectives: gender, race, carnivalesque motifs and political history are the most prominent themes in these analyses. However, these studies tend to ignore or downplay the importance of Salvador itself: its transformation across multiple narratives and how the city's characteristics greatly influence these narratives. The city was the original capital of Brazil, it has one of the largest black populations in the country and a very characteristic syncretic culture that draws on Afro-Brazilian practices. Amado is the best-known chronicler of Salvador. The objective of this dissertation is to assert the importance of Salvador in the writer's work and in a general discussion of how urban spaces may be conceived and occupied.The evolution of this fictional Salvador takes place over eight novels that represent four different periods of Amado's work: O País do Carnaval and Suor, the two earliest works; Jubiabá and Capitães da Areia, the socialist realist novels from the late 1930s; A Morte e a Morte de Quincas Berro Dágua and Os Pastores da Noite, two picaresque works from the early 1960s; and finally Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos and Tenda dos Milagres, the novels about hybridity from the late 1960s. The analysis of these novels reveals a process which moves towards the creation of an ideal city. To unveil this urban model, this thesis examines Amado's construct through several city binaries: order versus disorder, upper-class districts versus lower-class areas, as well as racial and cultural binaries. Such an investigation will demand the use of both literary and social theory, including Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of carnival, concepts of heterotopia as laid out by Michel Foucault and Edward Soja, Richard Sennett's examination of homogeneous and heterogeneous spaces, and Roberto Da Matta's analysis of Brazilian society. The starting point for this investigation is Henri Lefèbvre's concepts of spatial notions (lived and conceived spaces). In the process, this study places Amado's Salvador in the context of other Brazilian and world cities at the time and probes the ideologies that underlie different perspectives of urban space.
Date of Award1 Aug 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorLucia Sa (Supervisor) & Karl Posso (Supervisor)


  • Comparative studies
  • City
  • Brazil
  • Urban studies
  • Brazilian literature
  • Jorge Amado

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