She came from a large family of eight children. She tells us in detail of the places she lived in Macao, her road where more Indian-Chinese lived than nationals of the Motherland. She later tells of the happy friendship that united the neighbours of different race and nationality, of her dislikes, of her daily experiences, of the type of education she received with her Chinese governess, which were found in most Macanese households. Her parents should be thanked for her multi-cultural and ethnic openness and acceptance.
The whole family is referred to in her writings. Her mother, who was from Macao, 8 married very young and brought up numerous offspring. Her Chinese governess, or amah, did not just fulfil the role she was expected to, she also left an important legacy in the form of Chinese Language, habits and customs, stories and songs from the opera and theatre and even from the rich tapestry of everyday life.
Alda's inquisitive and intelligent mind knew how to judiciously organise 'places, times and cultures'. She puts all this across to the reader in a lively and familiar style, while recreating scenes and events from life. A Brazilian influence can be seen in the Language; the way she expresses herself, the constructions she uses and even perhaps in the spontaneity. Everything can be found in this work full of understanding and humanity: the very personal or the very intimate; the very general or the very particular; reflections of an ethnographical nature on a variety of aspects to do with Macanese and Chinese traditional cuisine, dress, customs and habits , of historical, meteorological and demographical nature.
After having lived in the East for nearly thirty years, between the Cidade do Nome de Deus de Macau, Hong Kong and Kowloon, with either friends or relations or on her own, she became known as a writer, translator and contributor to monthly publications in Brazil, her adopted Country where she emigrated to in about She distinguished herself in a number of fields and was interested in many areas especially the theatre, in this South American Country. She was a member of various professional societies of journalists, writers and theatre people. But none of this seemed to have any resonance in Macao.
The distance between Alda and her Homeland and compatriots would not have helped to strengthen links with the other side of the World, the East. And so she escaped notice in this land. There has been a great deal of dispersion from Macao, but the majority of its 'children' do not forget their Homeland: some return, others visit on nostalgic trips, others still write about Macao and dedicate their intellectual studies to it.
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Her work shows many different, interesting sides, from translations to a collection of papers that indulge in reflections on the different aspects of Macanese and Chinese life and how these cultures are perceived. At times she also refers to Indian life and culture, but not in such depth.
With these two books the reader will be faced with two problems that are still relevant today: translation and cultural exchange. Due to the complexity of the Language, Chinese Literature was only ever read in translation. The translations are imperfect today and were even more so thirty years ago. It was not the same for the English Language. Thanks to the initiative of Chinese publishers and English intellectuals, like Gladys Yang, who belonged to Hong Kong society, the reader has had at his disposal, for a long time, an enormous repertoire of Chinese books on a diversity of subjects.
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Contrary to this, it would appear that the Portuguese and Chinese communities' need or enthusiasm to deepen their knowledge of each other was minimal. Neither Portuguese nor Chinese Literature were extensively translated into foreign Languages. As I have mentioned elsewhere, 11 the Chinese and Portuguese, despite being such close neighbours, made there own separate ways in Macao. Efforts have since been made to rectify this situation which is so damaging for both sides. By about , a slight increase in translation work in China can be seen, despite the true cultural opening only taking place around Publications are appearing that cover politics, Literature, history, martial arts, children's Literature, chronography of the People's Republic of China, etc.
Curiously, it is at about the same time in Portugal, the Seventies, that a period of a substantial increase in translations of Chinese Literature begins. Oddly, traditional Literature also took up a key position in both Countries. Many Chinese books of a fictional nature were translated at this time, in China, as well as in Portugal. If, however, this was the most important period in the history of translations from Chinese to Portuguese, previous endeavours that added to the understanding and knowledge of traditional Chinese Literature can not be ignored.
For example, Silvina Gomes, helped by a Chinese Ambassador, considers herself amongst these pioneers. Her contribution, along with those of a few others, kept countering the progressive lack of interest and contact with the other. Other publications followed. The most recent is entitled Contos chineses 13 Chinese Tales and is part of the Universidade de Bolso collection of World anthologies and short stories.
The various different publications illustrate the interest for this type of Literature in Latin America, but we do not know if they are all identical. It was very difficult to find out their 'history', seeing as we have still not received the relevant information which was requested from the Biblioteca Nacional [Brazilian] National Library and the Sindicato Nacional dos Editores de Livros do Brasil National Union of Book Publishers in Brazil.
Despite this, we pieced together this 'history' of the publications of the Contos chineses with the facts available. There seems to have been at least one other edition in-between the first one and the one published by Ediouro - Tecnoprint, since Editora Cultrix gave Ediouro the reproduction rights, and this makes us think that there were at least three editions. The first one which is not linked to any publishing house, is probably the author's own edition and the responsibility of the people who work for her organisation.
On the other hand, the edition which is thought to be the penultimate one, published by Cultrix, appears to have reproduced the original volume to the last detail. Pearl Buck received the Nobel Prize in It was translated into Portuguese by the publishers Livros do Brasil, but exactly when is unknown, since the publishing house omitted any bibliographical information. They try to give an idea of the entire Chinese novelistic tradition. Fernando Correia da Silva, who wrote the preface, appears to be aware of the importance of such an undertaking and the problems that must be overcome in order to bring two completely different cultures closer together.
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