Brazilian Journal

From 1957-1959, PK accompanied her husband, Arthur Irwin, to Brazil, where he was serving as Canada’s ambassador. While there, she kept a diary. Almost thirty years later, she revised it for eventual publication by Lester & Orpen Dennys as Brazilian Journal (June 27, 1987). A second printing was done sometime after the first publication but before 1991, when Lester & Orpen Dennys folded. Key Porter Publishing acquired Lester & Orpen Dennys’s backlist and in 1998, Key Porter began publishing books in their new “L&OD Editions” line, which featured L&OD backlist titles that had been either out of stock or unavailable in trade paper format. A third printing of Brazilian Journal was one of the first five books published under this new imprint. In 2011, a critical text of Brazilian Journal, edited and annotated by Suzanne Bailey and Christopher Doody, was published by the Porcupine’s Quill.

Brazilian Journal has the most complex genesis of any of PK’s writings. In Brazil, PK’s procedure, in her own words, was to “write what [she] wanted, making 3 copies and editing each of the copies with an eye to the person it was being sent to and keeping the unexpurgated version for [her]self” (P.K. Page fonds [MG30 D311/R2411]), container 113, file 20, Feb. 23, 1958). The “unexpurgated version” is preserved in the P.K. Page fonds along with notebooks containing scattered observations, sometimes intermingled with poetry; and intermediate holographs in which PK has begun to work the material up in preparation for the typescript.

PK revised the “unexpurgated version”extensively for publication. This process is recorded in nine surviving drafts and in three excerpts which were published in periodicals. The final result, Brazilian Journal, incorporates thousands of revisions, minor and major, involving wording, organization, additions and deletions. At every stage of composition we observe PK feeling her way towards a new form of writing, blurring the private and the public. The published version, for example, contains much less material on PK’s volatile physical, psychological and spiritual states throughout this period, and on her response to the social conditions around her; while it tends to retain, and even elaborate on, the sensual aspect of her Brazilian experience and her relationship to nature.

The Digital Page edition of Brazilian Journal aims to document as fully and as clearly as possible the genesis of Brazilian Journal from preliminary notes to polished prose, and all the variations in between. To this end, the edition reproduces, both in facsimile and transcript, each iteration of Brazilian Journal, documenting the various authorial changes that took place both within each version, and across all versions of the text.


  • notes (1957–59)
  • “unexpurgated” diaries (1957–59)
  • “Extracts from a Brazilian Journal.” The Art of Autobiography. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 90 (Autumn 1981): 40-59
  • “Extracts from a Brazilian Journal.” Travel Issue. Spec. issue of Descant 44-45 (Spring–Summer 1984): 187–197
  • draft 1 of Brazilian Journal (late 1985)
  • draft 2 of Brazilian Journal (c. 1986)
  • draft 3 of Brazilian Journal (c. 1986)
  • draft 4 of Brazilian Journal (c. 1986)
  • draft 5 of Brazilian Journal (c. 1986)
  • draft 6 of Brazilian Journal (c. 1986)
  • draft 7 of Brazilian Journal (c. 1986)
  • draft 8 of Brazilian Journal (c. 1986)
  • draft 9 of Brazilian Journal (c. 1986)
  • “A Brazilian Journal.” Brick: A Journal of Reviews 26 (Winter 1986): 47–55
  • Brazilian Journal. Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1987
  • Brazilian Journal. The Porcupine's Quill, 2011