“Many people of Portuguese descent take pride in claiming that the word “saudade” is untranslatable. In reality, we come close with a melding of bittersweet nostalgia, bone-deep longing, and an endless yearning for what one can never have again—or indeed may never have had. Adelaide Freitas dipped her pen in saudade to tell of family separation and bonds that never loosen. In her authentic Azorean voice, she recounts the immigrant experience and centrifugal impulses that force people apart in spite of their desperation to cling to one another. In their sensitive rendering, the translators have captured the nuances of Freitas’s novel Smiling in the Darkness, with special care for those who have her native language in their heritage and heartfelt saudade for its loss.” Anthony Barcellos
Maria Adelaide Correia Monteiro de Freitas was born in the village of Achadinha, county of Nordeste, on the island of São Miguel on April 20, 1949, and died on June 6, 2018. She studied at the former Liceu Nacional of Ponta Delgada and at New Bedford High School in the United States, where she acquired fluency in English, which was decisive to her professional trajectory.
She earned her first two university degrees in America: a Bachelor’s in Portuguese (Bilingual Teaching) at Southeastern Massachusetts University (now UMass Dartmouth), and a Master’s in Comparative Literature at City College of New York (CUNY), where she would also complete her doctoral course work in the same field. In 1978, she returned to Portugal and was invited the next year to join the faculty of the University of the Azores, where she taught North American Literature, Society, and Culture until her retirement.
For two years she conducted research at the University of Coimbra library (on a fellowship from the Instituto de Alta Cultura). At the University of the Azores, she created the Center for English Speaking Cultures, and was the Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. She earned her Ph.D. in North American Literature at the University of the Azores in 1987 with a thesis on the work of Herman Melville, “Moby-Dick: A Ilha e o Mar, Metáforas do Carácter do Povo Americano” [Moby-Dick: The Island and the Sea, Metaphors on the Character of the American People].
Under the name of Adelaide Batista, she published several works, including, among others: De Emigração Tecido [Woven from Emigration] (prose poetry); João de Melo e a Literatura Açoriana [João de Melo and Azorean Literature] (essays); Viagem ao Centro do Mundo [Journey to the Center of the Earth] (poetry); Regresso a Casa: Uma Proposta de Intervenção Social [Homecoming: A Proposal for Social Intervention] (essays); Nordeste: E no Princípio Era a Ilha [Nordeste: And in the Beginning Was the Island] (prose poetry). Under the name of Adelaide Freitas, she published Nas Duas Margens: da Literatura Norte-Americana e Açoriana [On Two Shores: North American and Azorean Literature] (essays).
In collaboration with husband Vamberto Freitas, she prepared the study “Women’s literary contribution in the Portuguese region of the Azores.”
In 1989, Adelaide Freitas was appointed by the Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region of the Azores as representative of the Azores on the Conselho Nacional de Educação [National Council of Education]. Between 1991 and 1996, she also served on the city council of Nordeste, and was President of the Instituto de Ação Social dos Açores [Institute of Social Action of the Azores].
On May 21, 2018, she was awarded the Autonomous Insignia of Recognition from the Regional Government of the Azores as part of the annual celebrations of the Day of the Azores.