Engendering literature through translation

Marta Teixeira Anacleto Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal

Intersecting identities and censorship: translating Brigitte for/by the Mocidade Portuguesa Feminina (M.P.F.) in the 1940s

Abstract: The article focuses on the Portuguese translations of Berthe Bernage’s Brigitte series of novels published in the context of the cultural education programme of the Portuguese Female Youth Movement. It analyses how an unassumed editorial censorship can produce radical ambivalence, thus obscuring antagonistic modalities of reconfiguration of the world.

Keywords: Portuguese Female Youth Movement; thematic series “Girls’ Library”; selfcensorship; utopian/dystopian rewriting.


In the Preface to the first volume of the Brigitte series, published in France in

1928,1 Berthe Bernage (1886-1972) describes the mechanism of metalepsis with which she superimposes the fictional character Brigitte upon the figure of the contemporary French girl. This way of understanding the fictional world as an alternative to the disillusionment of post-war society could be a leitmotif for the act of translating those French novels into Portuguese in the context of the “Mocidade Portuguesa Feminina” or M.P.F (the female wing of the Portuguese Youth Movement).[1] [2] That is to say, in the 1940s, during the Salazar dictatorship, translation becomes a strategy for imposing ways of reading, writing and living upon its members. In this sense, it is an ideological pretext for self-censorship and a form of diffuse censorship[3] which presupposes several intersecting identities - linguistic, cultural and ideological - framed by a constant interplay between the ideal and the real. In this article, I would like to reflect upon the construction of those ontological interplays between an evolving system of identities and the way translation belongs to a manipulated framework of value judgments in line with the literary reviews in the M.P.F. magazine Menina e Moga. I will focus on in the first volume, which was translated into Portuguese in around 1945, Brigitte jeune-fille.4

  • [1] This first edition is mentioned in the BNF catalogue as Bernage, Berthe, Brigitte jeunefille, Paris, editions Gauthier-Languereau, “Bibliotheque de ma Fille”, 1928 (http://catalogue.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb318006774 - accessed on the 31st January 2016).
  • [2] Ab out this Movement, see the excellent synthesis written by Irene Pimentel (MocidadePortuguesa Feminina).
  • [3] About translation, censorship and self-censorship during “Estado Novo”, see Seruya,Teresa and Maria Lin Moniz, “Foreign books in Portugal” 3-20; and also Seruya, Teresa,Maria Lin Moniz and Alexandra Assis Rosa (eds.), Traduzir em Portugal durante oEstado Novo.
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