Andrade, Mário de (1893–1945)

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Andrade, Mário de (1893–1945)

Mário de Andrade (b. 9 October 1893; d. 25 February 1945), Brazilian writer. Mário Raul Moraes de Andrade was a man of multiple talents and immensely varied activities. From a relatively modest background, especially compared with his modernist counterparts, he was born in São Paulo and, after graduating from the Ginásio Nossa Senhora do Carmo, studied music and piano at the Conservatorio Dramático e Musical in São Paulo, and was professor of piano. Widely acknowledged as the leading figure—or "pope"—of the Brazilian modernist movement of the 1920s, he was arguably Brazil's most important and versatile literary personage during the first half of the century. He was involved in almost all of the literary, artistic, and cultural movements of the period. He wrote novels, short stories, and poetry; he was a literary, art, and music critic and theorist; he was also a musicologist, a folklorist, and an ethnographer. As director of São Paulo's Department of Culture from 1935 to 1938, he fostered many activities that promoted the development of modern social science in Brazil.

One of the governing concepts of Andrade's cultural and artistic activity, along with his insistence on freedom of artistic expression and experimentation, is what has variously been called his "sense of commitment" or his "quasi-apostolic consciousness." Especially important in this regard is his extensive research into the specific characteristics of Brazilian speech and popular culture, research intended to help forge a more authentic cultural identity. Andrade conceived of nationalism as the first step in a process of self-discovery that would eventually contribute to universal cultural values, to the extent that it was authentic and faithful to itself. His ultimate goal was the integration of Brazilian culture into universal culture, not the closure implied by the more xenophobic currents of nationalism that also found expression within the Brazilian modernist movement. Andrade recognized the difficulty of creating an authentic national culture in a country permeated by European values and standards. He expressed this theme as early as 1922 in the poem "Inspiração," which opens the collection Paulicéia desvairada (Hallucinated City), when he wrote: "São Paulo! comoção de minha vida …/ Galicismo a berrar nos desertos da América!" (São Paulo! tumult of my life …/ Gallicism crying in the wilderness of America!). In "O trovador" in the same volume, he wrote, "Sou um tupi tangendo um alaúde!" ("I am a Tupi Indian strumming a lute!").

Andrade's artistic answer to this dilemma was to use popular forms of expression structurally—not merely ornamentally—in elite cultural forms. He began by systematizing errors committed in everyday speech as a means of capturing an authentically national social and psychological character through language itself. By bringing those errors into educated speech and writing, he hoped to help in the formation of a Brazilian literary language. His interest in popular culture as a means of understanding Brazil evolved into the systematic study of Brazilian folklore and the re-creation of popular forms on an erudite level. Knowing and incorporating the foundations of Brazilian popular thought, he felt he could help lead Brazil to self-knowledge and contribute to its passage from nationalism to a universal level in the higher arts. The 1928 novel Macunaíma, which David Haberly has described as both an etiological myth of national creation and an eschatological myth of national destruction, represents the artistic culmination of Mário de Andrade's research in Brazilian folklore and popular forms of expression.

See alsoModernism: Brazil .


Thomas R. Hart, "The Literary Criticism of Mário de Andrade," in The Disciplines of Criticism: Essays in Literary Theory, Interpretation, and History, edited by Peter Demetz (1968), pp. 265-288.

Haroldo De Campos, Morfologia do Macunaíma (1973).

Joan Dassin, Política e poesia em Mário de Andrade (1978).

Randal Johnson, "Cinema Novo and Cannibalism: Macunaíma" and "Lesson of Love," in Brazilian Cinema, edited by Randal Johnson and Robert Stam (1982), pp. 178-190, 208-215.

David T. Haberly, Three Sad Races: Racial Identity and National Consciousness in Brazilian Literature (1983), pp. 123-160.

João Luiz Lafetá, Figuação de intimidade: Imagens na poesia de Mário de Andrade (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Hühne, Leda Miranda. A estética aberta de Mário de Andrade. Rio de Janeiro: UAPE, 2002.

Rosenberg, Fernando J. The Avant-garde and Geopolitics in Latin America. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006.

                                      Randal Johnson

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Andrade, Mário de (1893–1945)

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