After a decade living in Brazil, Bishop was offered a $10,000 advance to write “Brazil” for the Life World Library series. The American poet became frustrated with the Time-Life editors for removing many of her historical criticisms of Brazil and those who have colonized it. Bishop’s often wry poetic observation was replaced by glossy captioned picture essays at the end of each chapter, aimed at marketing the country for capital expansion. The capital itself had just been moved to Brasilia, and while pictures of Oscar Niemeyer’s “jet-age” architectural city impress, Bishop argued that Rio de Janeiro remained the cultural capital choice of Brazilians. In 2011, Lloyd Schwartz’s book, “Elizabeth Bishop: Prose,” included Bishop’s unexpurgated text of “Brazil,” which was previously accessible only in the Vassar College archives. Readers now can understand, through the history and poetic imagery of Bishop’s original, why the poet who lived almost two decades in Brazil struggled with conforming to an American-Brazilian diplomatic tome. As Bishop’s partner and designer of Rio’s Flamengo Park stated, the Life editors “massacrated it.” Bishop’s original text contains satirical critiques reminiscent of her best Brazilian poems, such as “Brazil, January 1, 1502,” and “Arrival at Santos.” These poems from her 1965 volume, “Questions of Travel,” propose critical alignments between tourists and colonists such that readers observe historical patterns continuing and evolving over 500 years into our present day activities.
|Keywords:||Elizabeth Bishop, Canada, United States, Brazil, Questions of Travel, Imperialism, Anthropology, Lota de Macedo Soares, Flamengo Park, Portuguese|
Professor of English, School of English and Liberal Studies, Faculty of Business, Seneca College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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