Lygia Fagunda Telles
Lygia Fagundes Telles (Governa do Estado de São Paulo, 2017) via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

Lygia Fagundes Telles was born in São Paulo on 19 April 1918. During her childhood and youth she lived in various cities in São Paulo state and in Rio de Janeiro. In 1941, Telles entered the University of São Paulo’s law school as one of only six women in a class of more than 100 students. There she became friends with Hilda Hilst, who would also become an acclaimed Brazilian author. 

Dubbed ‘the great dame of Brazilian literature’, Lygia Fagundes Telles is one of the most important and prolific Brazilian writers of all time. Her literary production includes novels, short stories, stage and television adaptations, and even a film script: Capitu (1968), an adaptation of Machado de Assis’s Dom Casmurro (1899) written in partnership with her then husband and renowned Brazilian cinema critic, Paulo Emílio Sales Gomes. 

Her literary style is known for its intimate tone, with an emphasis on characters’ inner lives, focusing on human relationships against various socio-political backgrounds. She is known for the use of first-person stream of consciousness as a main feature of her narratives. In that sense her style bears similarities with that of Clarice Lispector, who was a close personal friend: both authors were pioneers (in Brazil) in depicting female characters as protagonists, not to mention approaching old age.

Telles published numerous collections of short stories, as well as four novels: Ciranda de Pedra (1954), Verão no Aquário (1963), As Meninas (1973) and As Horas Nuas (1989). As Meninas won the Jabuti Prize, the most prestigious literary award in Brazil, in 1974, and has been translated into eight languages. The novel recounts the story of three very different young women living together in a boarding house during Brazil’s military dictatorship (which ran from 1964 to 1985). The book’s narrative style is innovative as it moves between first- and third-person points of view. 

Her works are often hard to define according to specific genres, because they blur generic boundaries. Critics have read her writing as a blend of fantasy, horror and magical realism as well as foregrounding female characters, portraying contemporary society and experimenting with language. Towards the end of her career, she published texts which combine memoir, history and fiction, such as Invenção e Memória (2000).

In 1975, she began collecting documents and manuscripts with the aim of creating a Museum of Brazilian Literature, a project which was never realised. The documents were donated to the Instituto de Estudos Brasileiros, and recently re-discovered, digitalised, and made available on the internet ( ).

Lygia Fagundes Telles was widely recognised and celebrated during her lifetime. She won numerous literary awards, including the Jabuti Prize on four occasions (1966, 1974, 1996 and 2001) and the Camões Prize, the most important literary accolade in the Lusophone world, in 2005. She was the third woman to be elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters, in 1985, after Rachel de Queiroz in 1977 and Dinah Silveira de Queiroz in 1980. Her complete works (revised by the author) came out with São Paulo publisher Companhia das Letras in 2009, including essays by literary critics and cover art by Beatriz Milhazes. The same publisher collected all her short stories together in the volume Os Contos in 2018.

Over her long career, several of her short stories and novels have been adapted to other media. As Meninas was developed into a play (in 1988 and 1998) and a film (1995), Ciranda de Pedra became a TV Globo telenovela in 1981 and 2008.

In 1992, the Brazilian Union of Writers (UBE) nominated her for the Nobel Prize of Literature, calling her 'the greatest Brazilian writer alive'. Lygia Fagundes Telles would hold this accolade for another decade, until she passed away on 3 April 2022, aged 98.

Compiled by Roberta Gregoli (Oxford)



Ciranda de Pedra (Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, 1954; São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2009)

Verão no Aquário (São Paulo: Martins, 1963; São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2009)

As Meninas (Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, 1973; São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2009)

As Horas Nuas (Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1989; São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2009)

Short Story Collections

Porão e Sobrado (São Paulo: Companhia Brasil, 1938)

Praia Viva (São Paulo: Martins, 1944)

O Cacto Vermelho (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Mérito, 1949)

Histórias do Desencontro (Lisbon: Livros do Brasil, 1958)

Histórias Escolhidas (São Paulo: Boa Leitura, 1961)

O Jardim Selvagem (São Paulo: Martins, 1965)

Antes do Baile Verde (Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, 1970)

Seminário dos Ratos (Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, 1977)

Filhos Pródigos (São Paulo: Livraria Cultura, 1978 [republished in 1991 as A Estrutura da Bolha de Sabão: Contos]) 

A Disciplina do Amor: Fragmentos (Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1980)

Mistérios: Ficções (Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1981)

Venha Ver o Pôr do Sol e Outros Contos (São Paulo: Ática, 1988)

A Estrutura da Bolha de Sabão: Contos [republication of Filhos Pródigos] (Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1991)

A Noite Escura e Mais Eu (Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1995)

Oito Contos de Amor (São Paulo: Ática, 1996)

Invenção e Memória (Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 2000)

Durante Aquele Estranho Chá: Perdidos e Achados (Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 2002)

Conspiração de Nuvens (Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 2007)

O Segredo e Outras Histórias de Descoberta (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2012)

Um Coração Ardente (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2012)

Os Contos (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2018)

Essays and Memoirs

Invenção e Memória (Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 2000)

Durante Aquele Estranho Chá: Perdidos e Achados (Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 2002)

Conspiração de Nuvens (Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 2007)

Passaporte para a China: Crônicas de Viagem (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2011)

Translations into Foreign Languages


Před zeleným bálem [Translation of Antes do Baile Verde by Pavla Lidmilová] (Prague: Odeon, 1984)

Temná noc a já [Translation of A Noite Escura e Mais Eu by Pavla Lidmilová] (Prague: Mladá fronta, 2003)


De meisjes [Translation of As Meninas by Kitty Pouwels] (Breda: De Geus, 1998)


The Girl in the Photograph [Translation of As Meninas by Margaret A. Neves] (New York: Harper Collins, 1982; Champaign, IL: Dalkey Archive, 2012)

Tigrela and Other Stories [Translation of Seminário dos Ratos by Margaret A. Neves] (New York: Avon Books, 1986)

The Marble Dance [Translation of Ciranda de Pedra by Margaret A. Neves] (New York: Avon Books, 1986)


La structure de la bulle de savon [Translation of A Estrutura da Bolha de Sabão by Inès Oseki-Dépré] (Aix-en-Provence: Alinéa, 1986)

Un thé bien fort et trois tasses (nouvelles) [Translation of Antes do Baile Verde by Maryvonne Lapouge] (Aix-en-Provence: Alinéa, 1989)

L’heure nue [Translation of As horas nuas by Maryvonne Lapouge-Pettorelli] (Aix-en-Provence: Alinéa, 1991; Paris: Serpent à Plumes, 1996)

La discipline de l’amour [Translation of A Disciplina do Amor by Maryvonne Lapouge-Pettorelli] (Paris: Rivages, 2002)

Mémoires et Inventions [Translation of Invenção e Memória by Maryvonne Lapouge-Pettorelli] (Paris: Serpent à Plumes, 2003)

Les pensionnaires [Translation of As Meninas by Maryvonne Lapouge-Pettorelli] (Paris: Stock, 2005)

La nuit obscure et moi [Translation of A Noite Escura e Mais Eu by Maryvonne Lapouge-Pettorelli] (Paris: Payot et Rivages, 1998)


Die Struktur der Seifenblase: unheimliche Erzählungen [Translation of A Estrutura da Bolha de Sabão] (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1983)

Mädchen am blauen Fenster [Translation of As Meninas] (Berlin: Verlag Volk u. Welt,1984)

Nackte Stunden [Translation of As Horas Nuas] (Berlin: Rütten und Loening, 1994)


Le ore nude [Translation of As Horas Nuas by Adelina Aletti] (Milan: La tartaruga, 1993; Rome: Cavallo di Ferro, 2006)

Ragazze [Translation of As Meninas by F. Pesante] (Rome: Cavallo di ferro, 2006)


Sannin no onnatachi [Translation of As Meninas by Yoshiko Eguchi] (Tokyo: Suiseisha, 2022) 


W kamiennym kręgu [Translation of Ciranda de Pedra by Elżbieta Reis] (Kraków: Wydaw. Literackie, 1990)


Рука на плече : рассказы / Ruka na pleche : rasskazy [Translation of As Meninas by M. Volkova] (Moscow: Izvestii︠a︡, 1986)


Okamenjeni krug [Translation of Ciranda de Pedra] (Belgrade: Narodna knjiga Alfa, 1998)

Devojke iz Sao Paula [Translation of As Meninas] (Belgrade: Štrik, 2017)


Pridi in si oglej sončni zahod : kratka radijska igra [Translation of Venha Ver o Por do Sol  by Alenka Bole-Vrabec] (Ljubljana: Radiotelevizija, 1990)


Las Meninas [Translation of As Meninas] (Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, Buenos Aires, 1978)

La fuente de piedra [Translation of Ciranda de Pedra] (Barcelona: Planeta, 1987)

Las horas desnudas [Translation of As Horas Nuas by Basilio Losada] (Barcelona: Paradigma, 1991; Barcelona: Plaza y Janés, 1991)

La confesión de leontina [Translation of ‘A Confissão de Leontina’ (1949) by Jessica Ocampo and Isaac Ramos] (Mexico City: FCE– Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2020)


Nakna timmar [Translation of As Horas Nuas by Margareta Ahlberg] (Stockholm: Natur och kultur, 1991)


Almeida, Elizama: ‘Como nasce um museu: Lygia Fagundes Telles e os bastidores do desconhecido Museu da Literatura Brasileira’ (Manuscrítica: revista de crítica genética, 42, 2020 pp. 10-21)

Almeida, Sandra Regina Goulart: ‘Castration and Melancholia in Lygia Fagundes Telles’s As Horas Nuas’ (Romance Languages Annual, 3, 1991, pp. 339-343)

Aquino, Midiã Ellen White de: ‘O trágico em “Natal na barca”, de Lygia Fagundes Telles, e “Noite de Natal”, de Maria Judite de Carvalho’ (Estudos de literatura brasileira contemporânea, 56, 2019)

Andrade, Émile Cardoso: ‘A democracia brasileira entre ratos e vampiros: relendo Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Estudos de literatura brasileira contemporânea, 56, 2019)

Brown, Richard L.: ‘Lygia Fagundes Telles: Equalizer of the Sexes’ (Romance Notes, 32.2, 1991, pp. 157-161)

Câmara, Yls Rabelo and Yzy Maria Rabelo Câmara: ‘Os dissabores amordaçados da velhice em Lygia Fagundes Telles e Clarice Lispector’ (Estudos de literatura brasileira contemporânea, 56, 2019)

Carrozza, Elza: Esse incrível jogo do amor: a configuração do relacionamento homem-mulher na obra de Maria Judite de Carvalho e Lygia Fagundes Telles (São Paulo: Hucitec, 1992)

Carvalho, Alfredo Leme Coelho de: A fascinante ficção de Lygia Fagundes Telles: seis estudos críticos (São José do Rio Preto: Vitrine Literária, 2016)

Chagas, Pedro Dolabela: ‘Lygia Fagundes Telles e o Bildungsroman no Brasil’ (Estudos de literatura brasileira contemporânea, 56, 2019)

Coelho, Nelly Novais (ed.): Seleta, Lygia Fagundes Telles (Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, 1971, pp. ix-xiv)

Dimas, Antonio (ed.): Caderno de Leituras: Lygia Fagundes Telles (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2010)

Connor, Anne Pocatello: ‘Taking the Bite out of the Vagina Dentata: Latin American Women Authors’ Fantastic Transformation of the Feline Fatale’ (Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, 24.1 [87], 2013, pp. 41-60)

Finazzi-Agrò, Ettore: ‘Amor, humor e terror na ficção de Lygia Fagundes’ (Estudos de literatura brasileira contemporânea, 56, 2019)

Gomes, Carlos Magno Santos: ‘A culpa na ficção de Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Estudos de literatura brasileira contemporânea, 30, 2007, pp. 41-51)

─: ‘A paródia da autobiografia em Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Acta Scientiarum. Language and Culture, 30.1, 2008, pp. 79-84) 

─: ‘A Circularidade da Escrita de Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Alea : estudos neolatinos, 19.3, 2017, p. 557-570)

Krause, James: ‘Undermining Authoritarianism: Retrofitting the Zombie in ‘Seminário dos ratos’ by Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Alambique, 6.1, 2018, pp. 1-22)

Lamas, Berenice Sica: O duplo em Lygia Fagundes Telles: um estudo em psicologia e literatura (Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, 2004)

Leal, Virgínia Maria Vasconcellos: ‘Trajetórias femininas e ziguezagueantes: relações de gênero em As meninas de Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Estudos de Literatura Brasileira Contemporânea, 4, 2000, pp. 7-20)

─: ‘A atriz em busca do espelho em As horas nuas’ (Água Viva: Revista de Estudos Literários, 1, 2002, pp. 67-74)

Lisboa, Maria Manuel: ‘Here Be Dragons: She-Devils and Little Boys: The Annihilation of the Male in Lygia Fagundes Telles’ in Other Women's Voices/Other Americas ed. by Georgiana Colville (Lewiston, NY/Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press,1996, pp. 119-144)

─: ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Boys? Motherhood and Death in Lygia Fagundes Telles’ in Hers Ancient and Modern: Women's Writing in Spain and Brazil ed. by Catherine Davies and Jane Whetnall (Manchester: University of Manchester, 1997, pp. 111-29)

─: ‘Darkness Visible: Alternative Theology in Lygia Fagundes Telles’ in Brazilian Feminisms ed. by Solange Ribeiro de Oliveira and Judith Still (Nottingham: University of Nottingham, 1999, pp. 133-154)

─: ‘De Onde Menos se Espera: A Disciplina do Terror em Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Portuguese Literary & Cultural Studies, 30/31, 2018, pp. 225-274)

Lucena, Suênio Campos de (ed.): Lygia Fagundes Telles: Entre ritos e memórias (Aracaju: Criação, 2013) 

─: ‘O fracasso familiar no romance Ciranda de pedra, de Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Revista de letras, 22.39, 2020, pp. 117-136)

Martins, Ana Paula dos Santos: ‘Entre espelhos, máscaras, palcos e memórias: o jogo da representação em As horas nuas, de Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Estudos em Literatura Brasileira Contemporânea, 56, 2019)

Matsuoka, Sayuri Grigório: ‘A personagem e o espaço na ficção de Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Estudos em Literatura Brasileira Contemporânea, 56, 2019)

Neto, Miguel Sanches: ‘O lugar da memória em Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Navegações, 10.1, 2017, pp. 53-58)

Nielsen, Rex P.: ‘Socially Rooted Authoritarianism in Lygia Fagundes Telles’ As meninas’ (Hispania, 100.1, 2017, pp. 125–36)

Oliveira, Katia: A Técnica Narrativa em Lygia Fagundes Telles (Porto Alegre: Ed. da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, 1972)

Pereira, Helena Bonito and Ascensión Rivas Hernández (eds.): Releitura de Lygia Fagundes Telles (Salamanca: Universidad de Salamanca, 2014)

Pereira, Maria do Rosário A.: ‘Corpo feminino e envelhecimento na obra de Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Estudos em Literatura Brasileira Contemporânea, 56, 2019)

Pimentel, Davi Andrade: ‘A impossibilidade da morte na literatura: Lygia Fagundes Telles e Maurice Blanchot’ (Estudos em Literatura Brasileira Contemporânea, 56, 2019)

Pinto, Cristina Ferreira: Gender, Discourse, and Desire in Twentieth-Century Brazilian Women’s Literature (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2004)

Quinlan, Susan Canty: ‘Revisando/revisualizando gêneros: A noite escura e mais eu e Invenção e memória de Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Revista iberoamericana, 71.210, 2005, pp. 275-287)

Resende, Nilson: ‘“Anão de jardim”: o “conto total” de Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Estudos em Literatura Brasileira Contemporânea, 56, 2019)

Ribeiro, Marília Scaff Rocha: ‘A constituição do realismo psicológico em As Meninas, de Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Hispanófila, 172.1, 2014, pp. 127-135)

Riter, Caio, ‘A memória da dor: imagens e recorrências em Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Revista Ciências & Letras, 34, 2003, pp. 105-118)

Santos, Silvana Maria Pantoja dos and Ethylla Suzanna Corrêa Santos: ‘Lembranças do existir: narrativas de memória em A disciplina do amor, de Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Estudos em Literatura Brasileira Contemporânea, 56, 2019)

Schwertner, Márcia Regina and Roseli Bodnar: ‘Trapos que aconchegam: o envelhecimento feminino em Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Estudos em Literatura Brasileira Contemporânea, 56, 2019)

Silva, Vera Maria Tietzmann: A metamorfose nos contos de Lygia Fagundes Telles (Rio de Janeiro: Presença, 1985)

─: A ficção intertextual de Lygia Fagundes Telles (Goiânia: CEGRAF/UFG, 1992)

─: Dispersos & inéditos: estudos sobre Lygia Fagundes Telles (Goiânia: Cânone Editorial, 2009)

Tolentino, Eliana da Conceição and Laís Maria de Oliveira: ‘Despindo a narrativa: uma poética felina (apontamentos acerca da alteridade)’ (Estudos em Literatura Brasileira Contemporânea, 56, 2019)

Wasserman, Renata R. Mautner: ‘Lygia Fagundes Telles: Political and Intimate’ in Central at the Margin: Five Brazilian Women Writers (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2007, pp. 82-102)

Interviews/in the Media

‘A disciplina do amor’ (Cadernos de Literatura Brasileira, 5, 1998, pp. 27-43)

Betella, Gabriela Kvacek: ‘Contos quase feitos de silêncio’ in Caderno de Leituras: Lygia Fagundes Telles ed. by Antonio Dimas (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2010, pp. 13-33) 

Carneiro, Bruno: ‘Lygia Fagundes Telles, a Inventora de Memórias’ [Documentary] (2007) available online at 

‘Encontro com a Autora Lygia Fagundes Telles’ (Academia Brasileira de Letras, 28 5 2009 available online at

'Roda Viva' (TV Cultura, 1996) available online at

Szoka, Elzbieta: ‘Interview with Lygia Fagundes Telles’ in Fourteen Female Voices from Brazil (Austin, TX: Host, 2002, pp. 19-30)

Vasconcelos, Ana Lúcia: ‘Lygia Fagundes Telles – crio um livro como uma colcha de retalhos’ available online at