Identities in context

According to Benjamin, text translatability is not essential for the original work itself, but a specific significance inherent in the original manifests itself in its trans- latability (Benjamin 263). Rewriting Berthe Bernage’s Brigitte series in the context of the collection “Biblioteca das Raparigas” [“Girls’ Library”] and the “Mocidade Portuguesa Feminina” was, thus, a way of imposing this immanent meaning in a culturally and ideologically controlled world, transferring that particular model of the French girl to the Portuguese “rapariga” (or “menina e mo^a”). Rewriting was a natural but imposed way of revealing meanings contained in the original, oriented toward the principles of a Movement which was founded in 1938 as a “[n]ational organization designed to educate Portuguese girls in the love of God, Nation and Family”(Arriaga 115). The aim was to supervise their upbringing to ensure that they would later be able to fulfill the role of mother. Consequently, the norms of behavior and of living were fixed in a closed cultural world designed to construct a female elite associated to such feminine virtues as purity, dignity, sacrifice and fortitude.

The two magazines of the Movement - the Boletim da MPF (May 1939 - April 1947)5 and Menina e Moga (1947-1974)6 - were sites for the depiction of identities and ideal real worlds within the context of the regime. In fact, the question “What we want our girls to be” [“O que nos queremos que as nossas raparigas sejam”], the title of a regular section of the Boletim, organizes mental schemata of [1] [2] [3]

behavior that condition the girls’ activities, such as reading and writing, putting on plays, and watching films.[4]

In this context, self-censorship was also an elitist process of imposing subliminal choices of subjects, making naturally subjective recommendations for constructing a “civic and moral education” for young girls, for modern young girls. Girls like Brigitte. Girls like those described by this “Catholic writer” as Berthe Bernage is called in the Boletim of April 1944: “They are such human books, so experienced, so imbued with the sentiments of today that they do indeed make interesting reading, not only for girls but for all women” [“Sao livros tao humanos, tao vividos, tao impregnados dos sentimentos de hoje, que na verdade, a sua leitura e cheia de interesse: nao so para as raparigas, mas para todas as mulheres”] (Boletim da M.P.F., no. 60, April 1944).

  • [1] Quotations, in this article, refer to these French and Portuguese editions: i) Bernage,Berthe, Brigitte jeune fille, Paris: Editions Gautier-Languereau, 1947; ii) Bernage, Berthe,Brigitte Solteira & Casada, Lisboa: Portugalia Editora, 2009 - facsimile edition).
  • [2] See Boletim da Mocidade Portuguesa Feminina: boletim mensal, Lisboa, 1939-1947- (accessed on the 31st January 2016).
  • [3] See Menina e Moga, Lisboa: C.N.M.P.F., 1947-1974.
  • [4] According to the sequence of the issues, girls must be “true”, “kind”, “healthy”, “young”,“elegant”, “active”, “good” (Boletim da Mocidade Portuguesa Feminina, nr. 25-31, May-October 1941).
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