Melo Neto, João Cabral de (1920–1999)

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Melo Neto, João Cabral de (1920–1999)

João Cabral de Melo Neto (b. 9 January 1920, d. October 1999), Brazilian poet. Born in Recife, Pernambuco, Melo Neto spent his childhood on a sugarcane plantation and attended Catholic schools. In 1942 he published his first collection of poems and moved to Rio de Janeiro to study for the foreign service. During his long diplomatic career, he resided in England, France, Switzerland, and Senegal, as well as in Spain and Spanish America. From the late 1940s his literary reputation grew steadily, and near the end of the twentieth century he was widely regarded as the most important Brazilian poet of the century's second half.

A unique figure in the cultural sphere, Melo Neto has commanded respect both for pure aesthetic principles and for the social perspectives of his work. He has influenced such diverse genres as concretism, regional verse, literature of commitment, and the poetry of song (Música Popular Brasileira). His is not a conventional lyricism of self-expression but rather a controlled objective discourse, often connected to the actual settings and human realities of the northeastern region. In 1968, he was elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters. He received the prestigious Camões Prize in 1990 for lifetime literary achievement in Portuguese and two years later the Twelfth Neustadt International Prize for Literature (sponsored by World Literature Today). When he lost his sight in 1994, he stopped writing poetry. In 1995, his Selected Poetry, 1930–1990 was published in English. He died in October 1999 in Rio de Janeiro.

See alsoLiterature: Brazil .


Selected Poetry, 1937–1990 (various translators), edited by Djelal Kadir (1994). See also Antônio Carlos Secchin, João Cabral: A poesia do menos (1985).

Marta Peixoto, "João Cabral de Melo Neto," in Dictionary of Brazilian Literature, edited by Irwin Stern (1988).

Additional Bibliography

Baptista, Abel Barros. O livro agreste: Ensaio de curso de literatura brasileira. Campinas: Editora Unicamp, 2005.

Castello, José. João Cabral do Melo Neto: O homem sem alma; Diário de tudo. Rio de Janeiro: Bertrand Brasil, 2006.

Suttana, Renato. João Cabral de Melo Neto: O poeta e a voz da modernidade. São Paulo: Scortecci Editora, 2005.

                                  Charles A. Perrone

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Melo Neto, João Cabral de (1920–1999)

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