“If life is the art of encounter”, as Vinícius de Moraes defined it, belonging to the Academy means for me to finally be reunited in person with those who seek many translations in the literary word. From worlds hitherto ignored. Of different or mixed emotions. Dreams, which make up a large part of writers’ lives; and the existence of all, in short, who look not only for beans in their daily lives.
Dreaming beings par excellence, writers can stimulate the imagination of readers through their writing, inspiring them to an increasingly unfolding life. With discoveries about themselves. The other. The condition of always expanding. “Literature exists because life is not enough,” wrote Ferreira Gullar based on a verse by Fernando Pessoa.
In Brazil, where Literature, like other Arts, has been ignored by the public authorities in recent years, there is some surprising and encouraging news.
The contempt, instead of diminishing the literary production and the taste for reading, had the opposite effect. It has never been published as much as it is now, with emphasis on female writers whose titles grew 28% compared to three years ago. We never read as much as in the two years that Covid affected us. People in need of comfort and refreshment for the soul ravaged by the fear of the pandemic, lacking entertainment for the spirit, eager for stories that would lead them to dream of a less threatening world, turned to books. We have never had a Book Biennial as prestigious as this year.
Literature, therefore, resists. Despite policies against it. From elliptical messages on cell phones. Of memes instead of phrases. From electronic images of little consistency. From Twitter with its 280 ringtones. Of the 764 public libraries closed in Brazil in the last four years.
Literature endures in all its genres and platforms because it can help us find answers to frequently asked questions. About our being in the world. Tough confrontations. The way they work. The need to accept and respect all individuality. The mystery of every life.
Literature resists because, in its essence, it reveals and names feelings that pass through our SOUL, this HOUSE that hosts joys and sorrows, hate and love, euphoria and depression, compassion and indifference… often become “juice of feelings”, because together and mixed. They are what make us human.
It was as a reader that I became a writer. To get here, I’ve come a long way that started with the first book I got when I was eight years old. He enchanted me so much that I wanted to live in Sítio do Pica-Pau Amarelo. Then I wanted to write like Monteiro Lobato.
This enchantment has accompanied me to every author I have discovered throughout my life. There were hundreds who exemplified to me that “the word is a stretcher of horizons”, as Mia Couto recently said in an interview. “
Excerpt from my speech yesterday, in the inauguration as patron of chair 18, occupied by the late Alfredo Palermo.