Fearless in his cultural pursuit, this intellectual dared to publish
Karl Marx in the late ’60s, the most repressive phase of Brazil’s military dictatorship.
He was an ilumnist and one of the fathers of the Brazilian intelligentsia. Almost
single-handedly he created the social sciences library of modern Brazil and for 40 years
maintained and enriched it. Every student of humanities in Brazil encountered in the books
they studied his last name, which was also the name of his publishing house. This man was
publisher and editor Jorge Zahar, who died in Rio, on June 11 at age 78, during a surgery
to change a mitral valve.
He was behind the Portuguese-version of such luminaries as Sigmund Freud, Marshall
McLuhan, Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Wilhelm Reich, Melanie Klein, Jean Piaget, Jacques
Lacan, Rosa Luxemburg, and Leon Trotsky. He was also the one who gave a literary presence,
among others to Brazilian leftist thinkers like economist Maria da Conceição and
President Fernando Henrique in his pre-politician phase.
Fearless in his cultural pursuit, this intellectual dared to publish Karl Marx in the
late ’60s, the most repressive phase of Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1985).
Between 1965 and 1969 Zahar Editores published O Capital (Das Kapital) and A
Ideologia Alemã (German Ideology) by Karl Marx as well as Literatura e
Revolução (Literature and Revolution) by Trotsky and the 1848 Manifesto
Comunista (Communist Manifesto), from 1848, besides several works by French
existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre. He specialized in publishing books that most of his
colleagues would not touch due to its political explosiveness and high commercial risk.
A self-made intellect, Zahar, who was born in Campos, state of Rio de Janeiro, from a
Lebanese father and French mother, never finished second grade. This didn’t prevent him
from being an avid reader and a true intellectual. "What matters to me," he once
said, "is not essentially the profit, but the bigger pleasure of publishing works for
college students and intellectuals."
One of the most successful works published by Zahar was Leo Huberman’s A História
da Riqueza do Homem (Man’s Worldly Goods). First published in 1962, this work
that became the vade mecum of Brazilian revolutionaries, has already had more than 300,000
copies printed, a feat in a country where some bestsellers sell as little as 3,000 copies.
It was in 1947 that Jorge Zahar and brothers Ernesto and Luciano founded, in downtown
Rio, Livraria Ler (Read Bookstore). Zahar Editores would appear 9 years later. Their first
book: Manual de Sociologia (Sociology Manual) by Runney and Meier, soon followed by
Otto Maria Carpeaux’s Uma Nova História da Música (A New History of Music). Along
40 years he would publish close to 2000 titles by foreign and Brazilian authors.
After selling his interest on Editora Zahar in 1983, the publisher started Jorge Zahar
Editor with his children Ana Cristina and Jorge Júnior with the same philosophy of his
old publishing house.
He was the last of a generation of publishing idealists that also included Alfredo
Machado and Ênio Silveira. Zahar was still a French wine lover and connoisseur and a
movie buff, who started a film magazine in the ’40s: Filme.
Zahar Main Titles:
Uma Nova História da Música by Otto Maria Carpeaux (1958)
História da Riqueza do Homem by Leo Huberman (1962)
O Eu Dividido by Ronald Laing (1963)
Psicopatologia da Vida Cotidiana by Sigmund Freud (1964)
As Fontes do Inconsciente by Melanie Klein (1964)
A Ideologia Alemã by Karl Marx (1965)
O Capital by Karl Marx (1967)
Análise Crítica da Teoria Marxista by Louis Althusser (1967)
Eros e Civilização by Herbert Marcuse (1968)
Revolução na Comunicação by Marshall McLuhan (1968)
Arte e Alienação by Herbert Head (1968)
Literatura e Revolução by Leon Trotsky (1969)
Reflexões de um Cineasta by Sergei Eisenstein (1969)
O Teatro Engajado by Eric Bentley (1969)
Vida e Obra de Sigmund Freud by Ernest Jones (1970)
Dependência e Desenvolvimento na América Latina by Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Rebeldes Primitivos by Eric Hobsbawn (1970)
Capitalismo Dependente e Classes Sociais na América Latina by Florestan
O Seminário, Livro 1 by Jacques Lacan (1979)
Carnavais, Malandros e Heróis by Roberto Damatta (1979)
O Riso by Henri Bergson (1980)
O Suicídio by Emile Durkheim (1983)
Dicionário de Música Zahar (1984)
Os Anos de Autoritarismo with text by Paulo Francis, Paul Singer, Yan Michalski
and others (1985)
Dicionário do Pensamento Marxista by Tom Bottomore (1988)
Dicionário do Balé e Dança by A. J. Faro and Luiz Paulo Sampaio (1989)
O Processo Civilizador (9 volumes) by Norbert Elias (during the ’90s)
Sobre a Televisão by Pierre Bourdieu (1997)
Escritos by Jacques Lacan (1998)
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