Andrade, Carlos Drummond de (1902–1987)

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Andrade, Carlos Drummond de (1902–1987)

Carlos Drummond de Andrade (b. 31 October 1902; d. 17 August 1987), considered Brazil's most important twentieth-century poet. Drummond (or "The Master," as he is best known) was an active poet and writer through several literary generations—from modernism through concretism—and influenced many contemporary Brazilian poets. Born in Minas Gerais and intimately associated with that state in his poetry, Drummond spent most of his life in Rio de Janeiro where, like many other Brazilian writers, he earned his living as a bureaucrat—in the education ministry—and a journalist. He contributed poetry to major literary reviews and translated many of the classic writers of French and Spanish literature. He also wrote hundreds of crônicas (journalistic sketches) about daily life that reveal a genuine, kind soul.

Drummond was not an original member of the group that "founded" Brazilian modernism in São Paulo in 1922. Nevertheless, under their influence, he, along with other contemporary young mineiro (that is, of Minas Gerais) writers (e.g., Emílio Moura [1901–1971]), founded A Revista, the leading literary review of mineiro modernism in 1925. It was not until his 1928 collaboration on Oswald de Andrade's journal Revista de Antropófagia (Review of cannibalism) that he attained national acclaim. His poem "No meio do caminho" (In the middle of the road) established the characteristics he pursued in all his poetry: a rejection of traditional forms and structures; a conversational tone and a highly colloquial language reflecting actual Brazilian speech; and an interest in everyday affairs of life, often from a satirical point of view.

Collections of poems published in the 1930s and early 1940s reflected contemporary political upheavals. He debated leftist ideologies and anti-bourgeois sentiments in A rosa do povo (1945), but the volume ends on a note of a search from within for resolution of these dilemmas. Later collections would turn to his sense of isolation from his smalltown roots and a growing displeasure with big-city life. A vida passada a limpo (1959) reviews his perennial interests within a new light. Here, the elegy on the destruction of Rio's Hotel Avenida assumes several levels of symbolic meaning: society's change, the "endurance" of a work of art (be it one of architecture or poetry), and the role of the artist. Among his other important collections are Lição das coisas (1962), which includes experimental concretist verse, and As impurezas do branco (1973), which examines modern technology.

Drummond was a friend of the American poet Elizabeth Bishop, who spent some twenty years in Brazil. His reputation in the United States was a consequence of her translations of his works, often published in the New Yorker, and also of later translations by Mark Strand, among others. Drummond's influence on modern Brazilian poetry has been immense.

See alsoLiterature: Brazil .


Collected translations include: The Minus Sign, translated by Virginia de Araújo (1981), and Travelling in the Family, translated by Thomas Colchie et al. (1986). Irwin Stern, "A Poet for All Brazilians," in Review 32 (1984): 16-17, offers a brief critique. Frederick G. Williams and Sergio Pachá, eds., Carlos Drummond de Andrade and His Generation (1986) and The Unquiet Self: Self and Society in the Poetry of Carlos Drummond de Andrade are the major studies in English.

Additional Bibliography

Cançado, José Maria. Os sapatos de Orfeu: Biografía de Carlos Drummond de Andrade. São Paulo: Scritta Editorial, 1993.

                                          Irwin Stern

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Andrade, Carlos Drummond de (1902–1987)

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