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Dona Flor and her two husbands: a moral and…

Dona Flor and her two husbands: a moral and amorous tale (original 1966; edition 1988)

by Jorge Amado, Harriet de Onís (Translator)

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8542210,501 (3.87)44
Title:Dona Flor and her two husbands: a moral and amorous tale
Authors:Jorge Amado
Other authors:Harriet de Onís (Translator)
Info:Avon Books (1988), Paperback, 521 pages
Collections:Your library, Illinois library

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Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado (1966)


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English (20)  Portuguese (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Undoubtedly one of the best novels I have ever read about the duality of the human spirit. This novel reached into my heart and mind and drew me into its mystical, magical, superstitious Brazilian tale. Jorge Amado starts by tickling the reader's fancy with a romance between a good girl, Flor, and a lovable, sensual gambler, Vadinho. He is the classic villain we hate to love. That is the skeleton of the story.

Amado proceeds to people the Bahian city with fantastic and fantastical characters. The reader meets the literati, the illiterate, the pagan and the prudish, the rich and the poor,the gossips, the whores, the matriarchs and more. Eventually, the reader finds it harder and harder to surface for air. All the while, Amado, while weaving a marvelous, prototypical Brazilian melodrama, is laying the complex groundwork for what I consider to be the primary theme of the novel. Just when I thought I was in the groove of the story of duality within our protagonist, Flor, Amado's tale erupts in primordial chaos of mind, body, and spirit. Mystical upheaval ensues as the gods become transparent in their own duplicity. Social class inequity, personal destiny, loyalty and love.....no topic remains off limits in this sweeping psychological story. Amado is an absolute master in his ability to create a culture and to reel in the reader using hooks baited with marvelous plot, engaging prose, absolutely wonderful character development and more.

In the end, what can one believe in? Peace comes with acceptance of duality? Or, as the final sentences purports, "And with this we come to the end of the tale of Dona Flor and her two husbands, set forth in all its details ad mysteries, as clear and dark as life itself. All this took place in Bahia, where these and other acts of magic occur without startling anybody. If anyone has his doubts, let him ask Cardoso e Sa., and he will tell him whether or no it is the truth. He can be found on the planet Mars or on any poor corner of the city. ( )
  hemlokgang | Aug 31, 2015 |
Although I've been reading lots of Amado in the recent past, I have somehow neglected his most famous novel which has been on my TBR for decades. And what a delightful read it turned out to be.

Flor is a naive young girl, already a cooking instructor, who is swept off her feet by the charming scoundrel, Vadinho, and marries him. But, although their sex life is fabulous, he is an inveterate gambler and womanizer, stays out all night at casinos and whorehouses, and runs through Flor's money (but not what she hides away). Then, suddenly, after seven years of marriage, he drops dead, and Flor is a widow. Despite the fact that her cooking school has always been successful and that she has various friends who support her emotionally, she misses Vadhino and is tormented by her sexual desire. Finally, after her year of mourning is up, she discovers that the local druggist, Teodoro, is in love with her, and they eventually marry. Teodoro is the opposite of Vadhino: reliable, good with money, monogamous -- and boring, especially sexually, where he has a schedule of Wednesday night and twice on Saturday night, and always conducts his sexual activity beneath the sheets and with some of their night clothes on. While Flor sincerely appreciates his other good qualities, she knows she's missing something. Then, lo and behold, Vadinho appears, initially only to her, and uses all his power of persuasion to attempt to convince her that he is still married to her and so it wouldn't be a sin for them to resume their wild and wonderful sex life.

If this were all there was in this book, it would still be a delightful sex farce. But Amado goes on digressions -- oh, how he goes on digressions. The reader learns about gambling, and cooking, and the process of making drugs by hand (and the controversy about manufactured drugs), and music (Teodoro is a serious amateur bassoon player), and African gods, and corruption in government, and the criminals behind gambling, and on and on on. Sometimes it gets a little much, but mostly it is very enjoyable. Amado also creates many wonderful secondary characters, both good and bad and in between, all of whom spring to life. All in all, this was a fun read.
5 vote rebeccanyc | Aug 1, 2015 |
Sexy, South American, and supernatural. The plot is pretty straightforward, and I’ll outline it here (spoiler alert). Dona Flor, a shy young cooking school teacher, is swept off her feet by Vadinho, an attractive young man who is also unfortunately a gambler and a womanizer. He is very open about the lifestyle he leads, and is often out late drinking and partying, sleeping around, and throwing away their money; despite all this, Flor is completely devoted to him.

One day, while dressed up as a woman and dancing in the street during Carnival, Vadinho keels over dead, leaving Flor a young widow. She mourns him but after a year or so finds herself needing physical passion again, and comes to be courted. She narrowly avoids a few con men and low-lifes, eventually marrying Teodoro, a pharmacist who is the antithesis of Vadinho: stable, respectful, trustworthy, and a hard worker – in short, a very solid guy who would never cheat on her.

In one of the more memorable scenes, Dona Magnolia attempts to seduce Teodoro into adultery first by regularly appearing in her window with full cleavage on display, turning on every other man of all ages in the neighborhood except Teodoro, and then later by visiting his pharmacy and requesting a shot “not in the arm, doctor, not in the arm”, before lifting her skirt for him. True to form, however, and much to Magnolia’s chagrin (“for nobody had ever insulted her to the point of resisting the sight of her ass ready for combat”), Teodoro remains professional and does not come close to giving in to her charms.

Flor loves Teodoro for all of his virtues, and while their time in bed is far more structured than how it had been with Vadinho (every Wednesday and twice on Saturday at 10pm, as Amado regularly reminds us), they do enjoy each other in “that” way too; their relationship is not platonic by any means. And yet … and yet … she does remember the fire that was Vadinho, and one day somewhat absentmindedly conjures him up with an idle wish.

Vadinho then appears again on the scene in ghost form. Flor can see him but others can only hear him, or (in the case of the ladies he gropes), feel him. Yes, Vadinho hasn’t changed a bit, and uses his abilities to cheat at gambling, and actively begins trying to seduce Flor. She resists as an upright wife to a virtuous man, but Vadinho is relentless, relentless. Does she give in? Ok on this very last part, I leave it to you to find out.

It may seem like a somewhat simple study in the conflicting choice between the typical “nice guy” and the “bad guy” in monogamy (and the feeling of why oh why can’t there just be elements of both in the “perfect” guy), but it doesn’t read as simple, it reads as sophisticated. Amado’s prose is lyrical and flowing, though there were occasions where I suspect the translation could have been improved. Regardless, the elements of Brazilian culture were of interest, as were the characters, such as Rozilda, Flor’s cantankerous and unpleasant mother. The book is a bit on the long side, but the supernatural, fanastical storyline in the final major sections and the conflict Flor feels kept it enjoyable to the end.

On Brazil:
“Why all this scandal, when one of the most admirable things about Brazil, according to the opinion of the gringa, was its capacity for understanding and coexistence? It was such a common thing for married women to raise spurious children of their husbands; she herself had known of several cases, among poor as well as rich people.”

On gossips:
“Who is going to take the trouble to bear good tidings? For that there is no hurry or impatience. Nobody goes running into the street for that. Only when there is bad news. To carry that there is no shortage of messengers; there are those who are willing to make the greatest sacrifices, give up their work, interrupt their rest, sacrificing themselves completely. To bring bad news – what a delightful treat!”

On love, conflicted:
“What could she say? Why is everybody two different people? Why is it necessary to be torn between two loves? Why does the heart hold at the same time two emotions, contradictory and opposed?”

“I know I will only be happy if you are not here, if you go away. I realize that with you there can be no happiness, only dishonor and suffering. But without you, however happy I might be, I do not know how to live, I cannot live, oh, never leave me.”

On the meek/timid:
“Vadinho knew her weaknesses, brought them out in the open: that banked-down desire of the timid person, that restraint which turned violent and positively unbounded when given free rein in bed.”

“Mirandao was acquainted with gentle, meek persons of that sort; once they had been taken advantage of, they walled themselves around with stubborn pride, and there was no changing them.”

On the news:
“Why this disdain of the press for culture? Why such limitation of space? Dr. Teodoro protested, when there were pages and pages for the most revolting crimes, the nudistic scandals of movie stars, their absurd divorces, setting a deplorable example to our youth?”

On old age:
“Dona Dinora, queen of busybodies and fortuneteller, passed the Scientific Pharmacy every day; twice a week she uncovered her flaccid bottom (ah, how fleeting the vanity and grandeur of this world: that same withered backside which had inspired the satanic verses of Master Robato, when he was an adolescent bard of the diabolic school, and the sight and touch of which had cost checks, real shell-outs, by rich business men)…”

On passion:
“Not only did he undress her completely, but as though that was not enough he touched and played with her body, the long curves and deep angles where light and shadow crossed in mysterious play. Dona Flor tried to cover herself up. Vadinho pulled off the sheet between laughs, revealing firm breasts, her handsome backside, her belly almost hairless. He took her as though she were a toy, a toy or a closed rosebud which he brought into bloom each night of pleasure. Dona Flor began to lose her timidity, giving herself over to that lascivious union, growing in response, turning into a heartsome, spirited lover. She never, however, completely lost her modesty or shame; she had to be conquered anew each time…”

“…As though an irresistible avalanche were dragging her along, he dominated her and decided her fate. Flor understood, after those brief and perfect days in Rio Vermelho, that is was no longer possible for her to live without the warmth, the gaiety, the mad presence of that charmer. She did whatever he asked of her: at the parties she danced with nobody else; hand in hand they went down from the kermess of the Square to the dark beach, where in the blackness of the night they could kiss better, as he suggested; she shivered as she felt his caressing hand make its way under her dress, setting her thighs and haunches afire.”

“Prone on the iron bed, Dona Flor shuddered. That night the gall turned to honey, once more pain became supreme pleasure; never had she been a mare so in heat covered by her potent stallion, such an eager bitch, a slave submitting to her own debauchery, a woman pursuing all the paths of desire, fields of flowers and sweetness, forests of damp shadows and forbidden ways, to their final conclusion. A night to enter the narrowest, most tightly closed doors, a night to surrender the last bastion of her modesty, Glory hallelujah! When gall is turned into honey and suffering is strange, exquisite, divine pleasure, a night to give and to receive.”

“What do I care about what people think of me? What do I give for my honor as a married woman? Take all this in your burning mouth, which tastes of raw onion, burn in your fire my innate decency, rend with your spurs my former modesty: I am your bitch, your mare, your whore.”

And this one, after being a widow:
“As a rule, her untroubled sleep was only a brief beginning. Then the dreams began and led her to the infamy of obscenities, tossing about on the mattress, her breast aching, her womb mad. Every night, her period of sleep and rest diminished, and the dreaming and desire grew.”

On secrets in marriage:
“’We are never going to quarrel. Nor hide anything from one another, no matter what it is. We will tell each other everything, everything.’
He kissed her lips softly.
‘Everything,’ Dona Flor repeated in a whisper.
Dr. Teodoro smiled, completely satisfied, got up and went to turn off the light. ‘Everything, Teodoro? Do you think that is possible? Even the most hidden thoughts, those which a person hides even from himself, Teodoro?’ …. ‘Not everything, Teodoro. You do not know what a dark pool the heart is.’”

Lastly, some humor, on the unpleasant Dona Rozilda; this one relative to her husband:
“On departing this for a better world, the aforementioned Gil, the nincompoop without any backbone, had left his family in a very tight spot, in a precarious situation. In his case the phrase ‘departing this for a better world’ is not just a cliché, but the literal truth. Whatever the mysteries that might await him in the beyond – a paradise of light, music, and glowing angels; a murky hell with boiling cauldrons; damp, limbo; circling through sidereal space; or nothing, simply not being – anything would be better by comparison than his life with Dona Rozilda.”

And this from Vadinho, her son-in-law, who pretty quickly sizes her up:
“Nobody but Jesus Christ could stand living with Dona Rozilda, and I am not even sure He could; we’d have to see if the Nazarene had the patience. Maybe not even He could take it.” ( )
4 vote gbill | May 7, 2013 |
"Vadhino, Dona Flor's first husband, died one Sunday of Carnival, in the morning, dressed up like a Bahian Woman, he was dancing the samba, with the greatest enthusiasm, in the Dois de Julho Square, not far from his house." That is the first sentence and it partially sums up the fun loving, roving gambler that was Dona Flor's first husband.

This book is about Dona Flor coming to terms with the men in her life and appreciating what each has to offer (unlike me who would have offered Vadhino a boot out the door). It is well written and humorous. Lots of colorful personalities gossiping in the streets and prying into each others lives.

I think this book could have benefited from a fair amount of editing- but I still enjoyed it. ( )
  aylin1 | Mar 31, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jorge Amadoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
de Onis, HarrietTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grechi, ElenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph in first Portuguese edition - Deus é gordo.
(revelação de Vadinho ao retornar)

A terra é azul.
(confirmou Gagarin após o primeiro vôo espacial)

Um lugar para cada coisa e cada coisa em seu lugar.
(dístico na parede da farmácia do dr. Teodoro Madureira)

(suspirou dona Flor)

In English -
God is fat.
(revelation of Vadinho upon his return)

The Earth is blue.
(confirmed Yuri Gagarin after the first space flight)

A place for everything and everything in its place.
(Motto on the wall of the pharmacy of Dr. Teodoro Madureira)

(sighed dona Flor)
Dedication in first Portuguese edition - "Para Zélia, na tarde quieta de jardim e gatos, na cálida ternura deste abril; para João e Paloma, na manhã das primeiras leituras e dos primeiros sonhos.

Para minha comadre Norma de Guimarães Sampaio, acidentalmente personagem, cuja presença honra e ilustra estas pálidas letras. Para Beatriz Costa, de quem Vadinho foi sincero admirador. Para Eneida, que teve o privilégio de ouvir o Hino Nacional executado ao fagote pelo dr. Teodoro Madureira. Para Giovanna Bonino, que possui um ólio do pintor José de Dome - retrato de dona Flor adolescente, em ocres e amarelos. Quatro amigos aqui juntas no afeto do autor.

Para Diaolas Riedel e Luiz Monteiro.

(In English) For Zelia, in the quiet afternoon of garden and cats, in the warm tenderness of this April; for João and Paloma, in the morning of first readings and of first dreams.

For Norma dos Guimarães Sampiao, an accidental character, whose presence honors and illuminates these pale words. For Beatriz Costa, of whom Vadinho was a sincere admirer. For Eneida, who had the privilege of hearing the National Anthem played on the bassoon by Dr. Teodoro Madureira. For Giovanna Bonino, who owns an oil painting by José de Dome - a portrait of the adolescent dona Flora, in ochres and yellows. Four friends united here in the affection of the author.

For Diaulas Riedel e Luiz Monteiro.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307276643, Paperback)

It surprises no one that the charming but wayward Vadinho dos Guimaraes–a gambler notorious for never winning—dies during Carnival. His long suffering widow Dona Flor devotes herself to her cooking school and her friends, who urge her to remarry. She is soon drawn to a kind pharmacist who is everything Vadinho was not, and is altogether happy to marry him. But after her wedding she finds herself dreaming about her first husband’s amorous attentions; and one evening Vadinho himself appears by her bed, as lusty as ever, to claim his marital rights.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:42 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A woman, remarried after her first husband's untimely death, summons her first husband from the grave.

(summary from another edition)

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