Cruz e Sousa, João da (1861–1898)

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Cruz e Sousa, João da (1861–1898)

João da Cruz e Sousa (b. 24 November 1861; d. 19 March 1898), Brazilian poet. Born in Santa Catarina to freed slaves, Cruz e Sousa became one of the most notable men of letters of his time. His protector, the former master of his parents, sent him through high school (1874) and tutorials. After brief experiences in teaching and journalism, Cruz e Sousa joined a touring dramatic troupe in 1881. His travels around Brazil revealed to him the abject conditions of his fellow blacks. From 1882 to 1889, he collaborated on a pro-republican, abolitionist periodical that he published. In 1884 he was appointed to a government post in a provincial city but was barred from assuming his duties because of his race. At that time he issued his first books of verse, which reflect the dominant realist rhetoric of the period. In 1890, he moved to Rio to work in journalism and later in the archives of the railroad company. He soon launched symbolism in Brazilian letters, becoming the leader of the new aesthetic movement.

Cruz e Sousa suffered several tragedies: two of his four children succumbed to tuberculosis while the two that remained died of other causes, his wife went mad, and he himself became consumptive. The poet retired to a country home in Minas Gerais but soon passed away. While personal misfortune is reflected in his verse, Cruz e Sousa's awareness of the condition of blacks is historically more significant. His leadership role in symbolism is outstanding and important in terms of black participation in elite cultural production.

See alsoLiterature: Brazil .


Raymond Sayers, "The Black Poet in Brazil: The Case of João da Cruz e Sousa," in Luso-Brazilian Review 15 (suppl.) (1978): 75-100.

David Brookshaw, Race and Color in Brazilian Literature (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Almeida, Sandra Regina Goulart. "'Beyond the Frontiers of the Word': Cruz e Sousa and the Concept of Symbolist Poetry." Durham, NC: Duke University, Duke University of North Carolina Program in Latin American Studies, 1992.

Firmino, Carmen Lúcia Zambon. "A imagística sensoral de Pessanha e Cruz e Sousa." Revista de Letras 33 (1993): 129-140.

Montenegro, Abelardo Fernando. Cruz e Sousa e o movimento simbolista no Brasil. Florianópolis: FCC Edições, 1988.

                                        Charles A. Perrone

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Cruz e Sousa, João da (1861–1898)

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