Morais, Vinícius de (1913–1980)

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Morais, Vinícius de (1913–1980)

Vinícius de Morais (b. 19 October 1913; d. 9 July 1980), Brazilian writer and songwriter. Born in Rio, Morais studied in Jesuit schools. He graduated from law school with a bachelor's degree in 1933, when he published his first book of poetry. Influenced by Catholic intellectuals, his first efforts were in the Christian mystical vein of the second generation of Brazilian modernism. He wrote film criticism and worked as a government film censor before spending an academic year at Oxford (1938–1939), where he studied English literature. In the 1940s, with increasingly secular and material texts, he established a literary reputation. He entered the diplomatic corps in 1943. Serving in Los Angeles, he was able to cultivate further interests in film and jazz. On assignment in Paris, he wrote his widely read books of sonnets and the verse play Orfeu da conceição (1955), whose film adaptation by Marcel Camus, Black Orpheus (first place award, 1959 Cannes Film Festival), brought worldwide attention to Brazil, to Brazilian popular music, and to Morais as a lyricist.

In the early 1960s, Morais participated in a movement for sociopolitical awareness in poetry and began to perform as a vocalist. He gained wide public attention as the leading cowriter of bossa nova compositions, including "Garota de Ipanema" (The Girl from Ipanema). While his increasing involvement in popular music and bohemian lifestyle led to his departure from diplomatic service (he served in Montevideo until 1969), his application of his literary skills to song-writing and his support of song as an essential manifestation of national culture helped impart a new status and dignity to popular music. In the 1960s and 1970s, he published new books of poetry and crônicas (journalistic prose pieces) and made two dozen recordings. His standing as a cultural hero was enhanced by his criticism of the military regime.

See alsoBossa Nova .


Ashley Brown, "Vinícius de Morais, 1913–1980: A Tribute," in World Literature Today 56 (Summer 1982): 472-473.

David W. Foster and Virginia Ramos Foster, Modern Latin American Literature, vol. 1 (1975), pp. 78-80.

Charles A. Perrone, Masters of Contemporary Brazilian Song: MPB, 1965–1985 (1989).

Additional Bibliography

Castello, José. Vinicius de Morais: O poeta da paixão: uma biografia. São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 1994.

Castro, Ruy. A onda que se ergeu do mar: Novos mergulhos na bossa nova. São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 2001.

Garcia, Walter. Bim bom: A contradictção sem conflitos de João Gilberto. São Paulo, Brazil: Paz e Terra, 1999.

                                                  Charles A. Perrone

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Morais, Vinícius de (1913–1980)

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