Monteiro Lobato bigraphy, stories - Critics

Monteiro Lobato : biography

April 18, 1882 - July 4, 1948
This article is about the Brazilian writer. For the place in São Paulo, Brazil, named after him, see Monteiro Lobato, São Paulo

José Bento Renato Monteiro Lobato (born in Taubaté on April 18, 1882 - July 4, 1948) was one of Brazil's most influential writers, mostly for his children's books set in the fictional Sítio do Picapau Amarelo (Yellow Woodpecker Farm) but he had been previously a prolific writer of fiction, a translator and an art critic. He also founded one of Brazil's first publishing houses (Companhia Editora Nacional) and was a supporter of nationalism.

Lobato was born in Taubaté, São Paulo. He is best known for a set of educational but entertaining children's books, which comprise about half of his production. The other half, consisting of a number of novels and short tales for adult readers, was less popular but marked a watershed in Brazilian literature.

Political ideas

  • English should be taught at schools because he believed it was more important than French or Latin (So he had the children characters learn English in one of his books)
  • It is generally assumed that Lobato advocated that ores and oil should be managed by the state to prevent their control by international corporations not interested in developing Brazil but in keeping it as consumer market (Viscount's Oil). But it is not to say that Lobato wanted a state monopoly over natural resources, as is widely believed. In a letter to Getúlio Vargas' administration found in the archives of Yale University, Lobato clearly says that oil should be explored by Brazilian companies, not by international Big Oil (his main target was U.S.'s Standard Oil), while government should support the local enterprises without creating a state-owned monopoly.
  • The Brazilian folk traditions were the cornerstone of national identity, they should be preserved and more cherished
  • The world was changing fast and those who could not adapt to its pace would end up being "eaten" (The Size Switch)
  • That scientific research could eventually enable man to make deeper changes to nature, and that such changes, if not wisely directed, could result in disasters
  • That war exists only because of corporate greed, political alienation of the masses and racial prejudice (The Size Switch)


Cover of the book "Serões de Dona Benta", written by Monteiro Lobato in 1937. Illustration by [[Manoel Victor Filho. In the cover are the main characters from Sítio do Picapau Amarelo, Mrs. Benta, the cook Anastacia, Lucia, Pedrinho, the talking rag doll Emilia, and Viscount the corncob.]] Most of his children books were set in the Sítio do Picapau Amarelo ("Yellow Woodpecker Farm" or "Yellow Woodpecker Ranch"), a small farm in the countryside, and featured the elderly ranch owner Dona Benta ("Mrs. Benta"), her two grandchildren — a girl, Lúcia ("Lucia") who is always referred to only by her nickname, Narizinho ("Little Nose", because she had a turned-up nose) and a boy, Pedrinho ("Little Pete") — and a black servant and cook, Tia Nastácia ("Aunt Anastacia"). These real characters were complemented by entities created or animated by the children's imagination: the irreverent rag doll Emília ("Emilia") and the aristocratic and learned puppet made of corncob Visconde de Sabugosa (roughly "Viscount Corncob"), the cow Mocha, the donkey Conselheiro ("Counsellor"), the pig Rabicó ("Short-Tail") and the rhinoceros Quindim (Quindim is a Brazilian dessert), Saci Pererê (a black, pipe-smoking, one-legged character of Brazilian folklore) and Cuca (an evil monster invoked by Brazilian mothers at night to convince their kids to go to bed). However the adventures mostly develop elsewhere: either in fantasy worlds invented by the children, or in stories told by Dona Benta in evening sessions. These three universes are deftly intertwined so that the stories or myths told by the grandmother naturally become the setting for make-believe play, punctuated by routine farm events.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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