Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus

Author(s): Carolina Maria de Jesus; Translated by David St Clair

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The powerful firsthand account of life in the streets of S o Paulo that drew international attention to the plight of the poor.

Carolina Maria de Jesus, a Brazilian woman with only two years of schooling, was the single mother of three children. This story of her life in São Paulo stands as a vivid, incendiary social document. With stark simplicity, Carolina describes her squalid neighborhood, the favela, and tells how she lived hand to mouth. To keep herself and her children alive, to stave off their ever-present hunger, Carolina scavenged for scraps of metal to sell and paper to write on. Her story is a witness to the life of the favelados-- prisoners of poverty, prey of the unscrupulous, and the breeders of revolution. 

Includes eight pages of photographs and an afterword by Robert M. Levine. Translated from the Portuguese by David S. Clair.


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"Written between 1955 and 1960, Child of the Dark is the daily journal of an artist, a writer who, as the single mother of three young children, supports her family by picking through garbage for paper and scraps to sell. They live in a cardboard and wood-scrap shack in a Brazilian slum called the favelas, where there is no plumbing, and one public cold-water spigot is the only clean water source for several hundred people. Her journal documents the lives favelados are forced to live....Carolina de Jesus is a poet of intense dignity."--500 Great Books by Women

"A haunting chronicle...a dramatic document of the dispossessed that both shocks and moves the reader."--New York Herald Tribune

"It is a minor classic--because it is one of the very few books that have ever been written about the lowest and the poorest, les mis rables, by one of themselves."--Horizon

"It is both an ugly book and a touchingly beautiful book. It carries protest and it carries compassion. There is even bitter humor. As a fast-paced and strangely observant account of sheer misery, Child of the Dark is an immensely disturbing study of what can happen to a segment of the population of one of the world's potentially wealthiest nations...a rarely matched essay on the meaning and feeling of hunger, degradation, and want."--The New York Times Book Review

Carolina Maria de Jesus (1914-1977) lived in a São Paulo, Brazil, shanty slum. She also kept a diary of her abject poverty. Black, illegitimate, and poor, she suddenly became at age forty-six Brazil's best-selling author when a book drawn from her diaries appeared in 1960. An English translation, Child of the Dark, was published in 1962 and sold over 300,000 copies in the United States in a decade. Newsweek heralded her book as "a desperate, terrifying outcry from the slums of São Paulo . . . one of the most astonishing documents of the lower depths ever printed."

General Fields

  • : 9780451529107
  • : Penguin Publishing Group
  • : Signet Book
  • : October 2003
  • : .6 Inches X 4.2 Inches X 6.8 Inches
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Carolina Maria de Jesus; Translated by David St Clair
  • : Paperback
  • : English
  • : 224