Academia Brasileira de Letras

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Coordinates: 22°54′39″S 43°10′23″W / 22.91083°S 43.17302°W / -22.91083; -43.17302

Academia Brasileira de Letras
ABL logo.svg
Motto Ad immortalitatem (To immortality)
Formation 20 July 1897
Headquarters Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
40 members
Official language
Geraldo Holanda Cavalcanti

Academia Brasileira de Letras (ABL) (Portuguese pronunciation: [akadeˈmiɐ bɾaziˈlejɾɐ dʒi ˈletɾɐs] English: Brazilian Academy of Letters) is a Brazilian literary non-profit society established at the end of the 19th century by a group of 40 writers and poets inspired by the Académie Française. The first president, Machado de Assis, declared its foundation on December 15, 1896, with the by-laws being passed on January 28, 1897. On July 20 of the same year, the Academy entered into operation.

The Brazilian Academy of Letters is, according to its statutes, charged with the care of the "national language" of Brazil (the Portuguese language) and with the promotion of Brazilian literary arts. The Academy is considered the foremost institution devoted to the Portuguese language in Brazil. Although it is not a state institution and no law grants to it oversight over the language, by its prestige and technical qualification it is the paramount authority on Brazilian Portuguese. The Academy's main publication in this field is the Orthographic Vocabulary of the Portuguese Language (Vocabulário Ortográfico da Língua Portuguesa) of which there were five editions. The Vocabulary is prepared by the Academy's Commission on Lexicology and Lexicography. If a word is not included in the Vocabulary, it is considered not to exist as a correct word in Brazilian Portuguese.

The Orthographic Vocabulary, however, is not a dictionary, as it contains words and their grammatical categories, but not the definition or meaning of the words listed. Thus, unlike the French Academy, the Royal Spanish Academy and other foreign institutions dedicated with the care of a national language, the Brazilian Academy of Letters, until recently, published no official dictionary. Although it still stopped short of publishing a full official dictionary, the Academy issued its first dictionary in 2009, the School Dictionary of the Portuguese Language (Dicionário Escolar da Língua Portuguesa), with students as its target customers.

The Academy does plan to publish a full and official Dictionary of the Brazilian Academy of Letters in the future. For the time being, however, other dictionaries such as the Aurélio and the Houaiss remain more prestigious than the School Dictionary, in spite of the fact that the latter is sometimes marketed by booksellers as the "ABL's Dictionary", due to its being authored by the Academy. Both the Houaiss and the Aurélio Dictionaries, however, were first compiled by members of the Academy (Antônio Houaiss and Aurélio Buarque de Holanda Ferreira, respectively) in their private capacities and as personal professional enterprieses. The preparation of an official dictionary of the Portuguese language is a stated goal of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.[1]

The Academy is composed to this day of 40 members, known as "immortals", chosen from among the citizens of Brazil, who have published recognized works or books of literary value. The position of "immortal" is awarded for the recipient's lifetime. New members are admitted by a vote of the Academy members when one of the "chairs" become vacant. The chairs are numbered and each has a Patron: the Patrons are 40 great Brazilian writers that were already dead when the Academy was founded; the names of the Patrons were chosen by the Founders and they were honored post mortem by each being assigned patronage over a chair.

Thus, each of the 40 chairs is associated with its current holder, with the predecessors of the current holder who occupied it before him, and, in particular, with the Founder who occupied it first, but also with the seat's Patron.

The academicians use formal gala gilded uniforms with a sword (the uniform is called "fardão") when participating in official meetings of the Academy. During periods of dictatorship and military régime, the Academy's neutrality in choosing proper members dedicated to the literary profession was compromised[citation needed] when it elected politicians with few or no contributions to literature, such as ex-president Getúlio Vargas. The Academy, which was a purely male affair until the groundbreaking election of novelist Rachel de Queiroz in 1977 for chair No. 5, now has four women members (10% of its total membership), one of which, Nélida Piñon, served as president in 1996–97.

The Academy, thanks to revenues in excess of $4 million a year, is financially stable. It owns a skyscraper with 28 floors (Palácio Austregésilo de Athaide), in the center of Rio, which the Academy rents for office space, generating 70% of its current revenue. The rest comes from rental of other buildings, which were legated by book editor Francisco Alves, in 1917, and from financial investments. This comfortable situation allows for paying a "jeton" to each academician. The ABL is located just by its side, in a neoclassical building, which is named "Petit Trianon". It was donated by the government of France in 1923 and is so named because it is a copy of the Petit Trianon palace in Versailles, near Paris, France.

It has recently inaugurated one of the largest public libraries in Rio, with 90,000 volumes and a multimedia center.

The Academy annually awards several literary prizes: the Prêmio Machado de Assis (the most important literature prize in the country, awarded for lifework), and the ABL prizes for poetry, for fiction and drama, for essays, critic and history of the literature, and for children's literature. Sometimes, an extraordinary commemorative prize is also awarded, such as the José Lins do Rego prize, in 2001, and the Afonso Arinos prize, in 2005.

The Academy also publishes a literary periodical, the Brazilian Review (Revista Brasileira), with quarterly editions.

Original patrons[edit]

  1. Adelino Fontoura
  2. Álvares de Azevedo
  3. Artur de Oliveira
  4. Basílio da Gama
  5. Bernardo Guimarães
  6. Casimiro de Abreu
  7. Castro Alves
  8. Cláudio Manuel da Costa
  9. Gonçalves de Magalhães
  10. Evaristo da Veiga
  11. Fagundes Varela
  12. França Júnior
  13. Francisco Otaviano
  14. Franklin Távora
  15. Gonçalves Dias
  16. Gregório de Matos
  17. Hipólito da Costa
  18. João Francisco Lisboa
  19. Joaquim Caetano da Silva
  20. Joaquim Manuel de Macedo
  21. Joaquim Serra
  22. José Bonifácio the Younger
  23. José de Alencar
  24. Júlio Ribeiro
  25. Junqueira Freire
  26. Laurindo Rabelo
  27. Antônio Peregrino Maciel Monteiro
  28. Manuel Antônio de Almeida
  29. Martins Pena
  30. Pardal Mallet
  31. Pedro Luís Pereira de Sousa
  32. Manuel de Araújo Porto-Alegre
  33. Raul Pompeia
  34. Sousa Caldas
  35. Tavares Bastos
  36. Teófilo Dias
  37. Tomás António Gonzaga
  38. Tobias Barreto
  39. Francisco Adolfo de Varnhagen
  40. José Maria da Silva Paranhos, Sr.


  1. Alexandre de Gusmão
  2. António José da Silva
  3. Manuel Botelho de Oliveira
  4. Eusébio de Matos
  5. Francisco de Sousa
  6. Matias Aires
  7. Nuno Marques Pereira
  8. Sebastião da Rocha Pita
  9. Santa Rita Durão
  10. Vicente do Salvador
  11. Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira
  12. Antônio de Morais Silva
  13. Domingos Borges de Barros
  14. Francisco do Monte Alverne
  15. Joaquim Gonçalves Ledo
  16. José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva
  17. Odorico Mendes
  18. Manuel Inácio da Silva Alvarenga
  19. Sotero dos Reis
  20. José da Silva Lisboa


Current members[edit]

The members of the Brazilian Academy of Letters (October 2014):[2]

  1. Affonso Arinos de Mello Franco
  2. Alberto da Costa e Silva
  3. Alberto Venancio Filho
  4. Alfredo Bosi
  5. Ana Maria Machado
  6. Antonio Carlos Secchin
  7. Antônio Torres
  8. Arnaldo Niskier
  9. Candido Mendes de Almeida
  10. Carlos Heitor Cony
  11. Carlos Nejar
  12. Celso Lafer
  13. Cícero Sandroni
  14. Cleonice Berardinelli
  15. Domício Proença Filho
  16. Eduardo Portella
  17. Evaldo Cabral de Mello
  18. Evanildo Bechara
  19. Evaristo de Moraes Filho
  20. Fernando Henrique Cardoso
  21. Ferreira Gullar
  22. Geraldo Holanda Cavalcanti
  23. Helio Jaguaribe
  24. Ivo Pitanguy
  25. José Murilo de Carvalho
  26. José Sarney
  27. Luiz Paulo Horta
  28. Lygia Fagundes Telles
  29. Marco Lucchesi
  30. Marco Maciel
  31. Marcos Vinicios Rodrigues Vilaça
  32. Merval Pereira
  33. Murilo Melo Filho
  34. Nélida Piñon
  35. Nelson Pereira dos Santos
  36. Paulo Coelho
  37. Rosiska Darcy de Oliveira
  38. Sábato Magaldi
  39. Sergio Paulo Rouanet
  40. Tarcísio Padilha
  41. Edmar Bacha (joined in 2017)[3]

Gallery of the Immortals[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Língua portuguesa | Academia Brasileira de Letras" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2015-08-01. 
  2. ^ "Membros | Academia Brasileira de Letras" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2015-08-01. 
  3. ^ "A Brazilian inflation fighter becomes immortal". The Economist. 12 April 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 

External links[edit]