Brazilian Academy of Letters (ABL): what is it?

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THE Brazilian Academy of Letters (ABL) is a cultural and literary entity created in 1897 by important names in Brazilian literature, such as Machado de Assis, and aims to recognize the Portuguese language and national literature. Its creation was inspired by the French Academy of Letters. The ABL is made up of 40 members.

See too: cultural historical heritage the cultural relevance of the material and immaterial goods of peoples

Abstract about the Brazilian Academy of Letters

  • The Academia Brasileira de Letras is a cultural and literary entity founded in 1897.

  • It aims to cultivate the Portuguese language and national literature.

  • It does not accept foreigners among its members, only native Brazilians.

  • In all, there are 40 members who occupy a chair at the academy for life, therefore, until the end of their lives.

  • Empty seats are occupied through an election in which members choose who will occupy the seat in question.

What is the Brazilian Academy of Letters?

The Academia Brasileira de Letras, also known by its acronym “ABL”, is a

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institution cultural and literature aimed at watch overPortuguese language and national literature. This institution was founded on July 20, 1897, establishing itself as one of the main cultural and literary institutions in the world. Brazil.

This entity is considered responsible for acting in the unification of the Portuguese language and also for editing relevant literary works. It was created with the intention of being a meeting point for Brazilian writers of the late 19th century, an idea inspired by the French Academy of Letters.

Entrance to the building of the Academia Brasileira de Letras, in Rio de Janeiro. [1]
Entrance to the building of the Academia Brasileira de Letras, in Rio de Janeiro. [1]

is headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, and the building that houses this entity, called Petit Trianon, was a gift given by the French government through its ambassador, Raymond Conty. In 1987, this building was listed by the State Institute of Cultural Heritage, which is linked to the Municipal Secretary of Culture of Rio de Janeiro.

Interesting: The motto of this institution is an expression in Latin ad immortalitatem, which in translation into Portuguese means “Towards immortality”.

Creation of the Brazilian Academy of Letters

It is considered that you main founders of Brazilian Academy of Letters were Machado de Assis, Lúcio de Mendonça and Medeiros and Albuquerwhat. Other names like Grace Spider, Alfonso Celso, Rui barbosa, Viscount of Taunay, Teixeira de Melo, Joaquim Nabuco, Olavo Bilac and Inglês de Sousa, had great importance in the foundation of the institution. Together they decided to establish a meeting place for the writers and started discussions for the founding of ABL.

From the moment the discussions began, Machado de Assis established himself as the president of this institution, nominated by acclamation. The meetings for the formation of the ABL were held between 1896 and 1897, and the entity was founded with 30 members, but, months later, that number was expanded to 40, because it was the same number of members that existed in the French Academy of Letters.

A big difference between the academies of Letters in Brazil and France is that the Brazilian only accepts members who are native Brazilians, while the French one accepts members from other countries, as long as they speak the French language. The board of directors of ABL, during its foundation, was formed by five people:

  • President: Machado de Assis.

  • General secretary: Joaquim Nabuco.

  • First Secretary: Rodrigo Octavio.

  • Second Secretary: Silva Ramos.

  • Treasurer: Souza's English.

Read too: National museum — another important Brazilian institution

How are members of the Brazilian Academy of Letters elected?

The 40 chairs of the Academia Brasileira de Letras are each occupied by one member, respectively, and each member of the ABL is considered effective and permanent. Thus, a member occupies a chair until death, and only then this chair is occupied by other person.

For the vacancy to be occupied again, ABL announces the opening of the vacancy occupation process and waits for interested parties to send their applications. A while later, an election is held among the academy members, and they decide which of the candidates will be chosen to fill the vacancy in question. After the election by the members, the new chosen person earns the right to occupy the chair until the end of his life.

Women were only allowed to participate in the Brazilian Academy of Letters in the 1970s. The first woman to occupy a chair was Rachel de Queiroz, in 1977. Despite this permission, the discrepancy between genders is still large. In 2022, of the 40 seats, only five are occupied by women. In addition, throughout the history of ABL, only two women have held the position of president: Nélida Piñon and Ana Maria Machado.

An interesting aspect about ABL members is that, in 2021, a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters could receive around ten thousand reais a month if he participated in all the meetings organized by the institution monthly.

Awards from the Brazilian Academy of Letters

Currently, the Brazilian Academy of Letters organizes some events and distributes an awardYearly. The Academy had a large number of awards, but many of these awards had their distribution closed for financial reasons.

Nonetheless,in 2021, the Machado de Assis Award was resumed. The winners of this award, named after the ABL's patron, are chosen by the members of the academy, and it is given to authors who stand out for their work as a whole.

image credit

[1] Wikimedia Commons (reproduction)

By Daniel Neves Silva
History teacher

Source: Brazil School -
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