Born in São Paulo in 1890, de Andrade was the son of a wealthy family whose business was in coffee. In 1912 he visted Paris, coming under the influence of F. T. Marinetti's Futurist writings. On his return to Brazil he studied law, and received his degree in 1919. But over these years, he increasingly involved himself the writers and artists, and sought to rebel against the traditions society of Brazilian culture. In 1920, he founded the magazine Papel e tinta, and with other young poets and critics organized the Week of Modern Art in São Paulo in 1922, which is said to have been the beginning of Brazilian modernism.
In 1923, de Andrade published his first important work, the novel Memórias sentimentais de João Miramar (The Sentimental Memoirs of João Miramar), a book written in telegraphic style he had discovered in the Italian Futurists. But the fragmentation of the narrative into brief chapters, the numerous puns and linguistic associations, and the poetic style and diction have caused the book to be compared with the work of James Joyce.
A second trip to Paris solidified his involvement in the avant garde, and in 1925 he published Pau Brasil (Brazilwood), in which he propounded the ideas of "primitive" writing free of the influences of other languages and cultures, and a discarding of meter and rhyme, all of which were to the foundations of the Brazilian modernist movement. In a manifesto of 1928, Anthropological Manifesto, de Andrade furthr developed his aesthetic doctrine, with its emphasis on cannabalism and the native language. In it he continued his advocation of a return to the primitive and an eschewing of European influences.
His second important fiction, Serafim Ponte Grade, was written during the 1930 revolution that brought Getulio Vargas to power, and helped to make de Andrade aware of the brutal realities of Brazilian life. His preface to that book is a angry statement, satirizing some of his modernist friends and denouncing his own participation in the movement. Henceforward, de Andrande refocused his literary activities on social commitment.
De Andrade also published plays such as the 1937 O rei da vela and numerous books of poetry, collected in 1945 Poesias reuidas. He died in 1954, completely out of tune with the modernism he had help to create.
BOOKS OF POETRY
Memórias sentimentais de João Miramar (1924 [mixed genre); Pau Brasil (1925); Primeiro Caderno do Aluno de Poesia Oswald de Andrade (1927); Poesias reunidas (1945).
from Sentimental Memoirs of João Miramar
Crones sails cicadas
Mists on the Vesuvian sea
Geckoed gardens and golden women
Between walls of garden-path grapes
Of lush orchards
Gnawing matchboxes in the trouses pocket
In the blue crepe of Neapolitan waters
Distant city siestas quiet
Amidst scarves thrown over the shoulder
Dotting indigo grays of hillocks
An old Englishman slept with his mouth open
like the blackened mouth of a tunnel beneath civilized
Vesuvius awaits eruptive orders from Thomas Cook & Son.
And a woman in yellow informed a sport-shirted individual
that marriage was un unbreakable contract.
Sal o May
The cabarets of São Paulo are remote
And the intelligent signal lights of the roads
One single soldier to police my entire homeland
and the cru-cru of the crickets creates bagpipes
And the toads talk twaddle to easy lady toads
In the obscure alphabet of the swamps
Street lamps night lamps
And you appear through a clumsy and legendary fox trot
Delenda lovely Salomé
Oh tawdry dancing girl
Full of ignorant flies and good intentions
The javá is a piggish polka with the blue dust
But the purple enpurples the procession of pink curtains
"I don't give a damn."
"I want to know about the nonsense of waiting with
the revolver on the road."
"That black thug gave her a punch and the woman took
"In the belly."
The saxophone persists in an ache of frenzied teeth
Which the maxixe spasms
Between shots and tips
But the open leakage of gas escapes
Into the penitentiary night
"Lord grant us the illumined spongecake of redemption"
The tieté rools heaps of bricks
Water-colored and pink.
—Translated from the Portuguese by Jack E. Tomlins
(from Memórias sentimentais de João Miramar, 1924)
Cabralism. The civilization of the donées. The Willing and
The Carnival. The Hinterland and the Slum.
Brazilwood. Barbaric and ours.
The rich ethnic formation. The richness of the vegetation.
The minerals. The food, The vatapá, the gold and the dance.
All history of Penetration and the commerical history of America.
Against the fatality of the first white man who entered the port
and diplomatically dominated the savage jungles. Citing Virgil to the
Tupíníquím people. The bachelor.
Country of anonymous pains. Of anonymous doctors. Society of erudite
From where the never exportation of poetry. The poetry tangled in the
culture. In the lianas of the versifications.
Twentieth century. A burst in the learning. The men who knew everything
were deformed like rubber babels. They burst free of enclopaedism.
The poetry for the poets. Happines of the ignorance that discovers.
The suggestion of Blaise Cendrars:—You have the locomotives full, you leave.
A black man turns the handle of the rotary where you are. The smallest carelessness
will make you leave, in a direction opposite to that of you destiny.
Against cabinetism, the tramping of the climates.
The language without archaisms. Without erudition. Natural and neo-logic. The
millionaire contribution of all of the mistakes.
From naturalism one had passed to domestic pyrography and the the excursionist
All the girls talented. Virtuosos of the player paino.
The processions went out the bulge of the factories.
It was necessary to un-do. Deformation through impressionism and
the symbol. The lyricism brand-new. The presentation of the materials.
The coincidence of the first Brazilian construction in the movement of general
reconstruction. Brazilwood poetry.
Against the naturalistic subtlety, the synthesis. Against the copy, the
invention and the surprise.
A persepctive of an order other than visual. The correspondent to the physical miracle in
art. Closed stars in the photographic negatives.
And the wise solar laziness. The prayer. The silent energy. The hospitality.
Barbaric, picturesque and credulous. Brazilwood. The orest and the school. The food, the
minerals and the dance. The vegetation. Brazilwood.
—Translated from the Portuguese by Flavia Vidal
When the Portuguese came
In a heavy rain
He dressed the Indian.
If it had been a sunny morning
The Indian would have stripped
—Translated from the Portuguese by Régis Bonvicino and Douglas Messerli
I am round, round
Round, round I know
I am a round island
Of the women I have kissed
Because I died for oh! love
Of the women of my island
My skull will laugh ha ha ha
Thinking of the roundel
—Translated from the Portuguese by Jean R. Longland
Ballad of the Esplanade Hotel
Late last night
To see if I
Before I got
To my hotel
Of life alone
To stay with you
At the Esplanade
Cover this paper
With lovely phrases
It's so good
Passing this way
It's the hotel
of the minstrel
I open windows
I must construct
Of the Esplanade
And end up
Being the minstrel
Of my hotel
But there's no
Poetry in hotels
They're Grand Hotels
In the hummingbird
In the traitor
In the elevator
Who knows what
If some day
—Translated from the Portuguese by Thomas Colchie
Four hundred years ago
you landed in the Tropic of Capricorn
on the carbuncular plank
steered by dark stars
the pale beetle
of the seas
Every exile was a king
skinny, insomniac, colorless
You will create a world
from coarse laughter
from sterile glues
from coarse laughter
You will plant insurgent hatreds side by side
You will invoke humanity, mist and frost
Among the lianas you will build a palace of termites
and from a tower circled by hills
bleating with sincere cincerre-bells
you will rise toward the moon
Space is a prison.
—Translated from the Portuguese by Flavia Vidal
(Poesias reunidas, 1945)
"from Sentimental Memoirs of João Miramar"
"Babbling" and "Good Luck"
Reprinted from Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology, edited by Stephen Tapscott, Oswald de Andrade trans. by Flavia Vidal (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996). Copyright ©1996 The University of Texas Press. Reprinted by permission of Stephen Tapscott.
Reprinted from Nothing the Sun Could Not Explain: 20 Contemporary Brazilian Poets, edited by Michael Palmer, Régis Bonvicino and Nelson Ascher, Oswald de Andrade trans. by Régis Bonvicino and Douglas Messerli (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1997). Copyright ©1997 by Sun & Moon Press. Reprinted by permission of Sun & Moon Press.
Reprinted from An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Brazilian Poetry, edited with an Introduction by Elizabeth Bishop and Emanuel Brasil, Osward de Andrade trans. by Jean R. Longland (Hanover, New Hampshire: University Press of England/Wesleyan University Press, 1972). Copyright ©1972 by Wesleyan University. Reprinted by permission of the University Press of New England.
Cannibalism unites us. Socially. Economically. Philosophically.
The unique law of the world. The disguised expression of all individualisms, all collectivisms. Of all religions. Of all peace treaties.
Tupi or not tupi that is the question.
Against all catechisms. And against the mother of the Gracos.
I am only interested in what’s not mine. The law of men. The law of the cannibal .
What dominated over truth was clothing, an impermeable layer between the interior world and the exterior world. Reaction against people in clothes. The American cinema will tell us about this.
Sons of the sun, mother of living creatures. Fiercely met and loved, with all the hypocrisy of longing: importation, exchange, and tourists. In the country of the big snake.
It’s because we never had grammatical structures or collections of old vegetables. And we never knew urban from suburban, frontier country from continental. Lazy on the world map of Brazil.
Against all the importers of canned conscience. For the palpable existence of life. And let Levy-Bruhl go study prelogical mentality.
We want the Cariba Revolution. Bigger than the French Revolution. For the unification of all the efficient revolutions for the sake of human beings. Without us, Europe would not even have had its paltry declaration of the rights of men.
The golden age proclaimed by America. The golden age. And all the girls.
Filiation. The contact with the Brazilian Cariba Indians. Ou Villegaignon print terre. Montaigne. Natural man. Rousseau. From the French Revolution to Romanticism, to the Bolshevik Revolution, to the Surrealist Revolution and the technological barbarity of Keyserling. We’re moving right along.
We were never baptized. We live with the right to be asleep. We had Christ born in Bahia. Or in Belem do Pata.
But for ourselves, we never admitted the birth of logic.
Against Father Vieira, the Priest. Who made our first loan, to get a commission. The illiterate king told him: put this on paper but without too much talk. So the loan was made. Brazilian sugar was accounted for. Father Vieira left the money in Portugal and just brought us the talk.
The spirit refuses to conceive spirit without body. Anthropomorphism. Necessity of cannibalistic vaccine. For proper balance against the religions of the meridian. And exterior inquisitions.
We can only be present to the hearing world.
We had the right codification of vengeance. The codified science of Magic. Cannibalism. For the permanent transformation of taboo into totem.
Against the reversible world and objectified ideas. Made into cadavers. The halt of dynamic thinking. The individual a victim of the system. Source of classic injustices. Of romantic injustices. And the forgetfulness of interior conquests.
Screenplays. Screenplays. Screenplays. Screenplays. Screenplays. Screenplays. Screenplays.
Death and life of hypotheses. From the equation I coming from the Cosmos to the axiom Cosmos coming from the I. Subsistence. Knowledge. Cannibalism.
Against the vegetable elites. In communication with solitude.
We were never baptized. We had the Carnival. The Indian dressed as a Senator of the Empire. Acting the part of Pitt. Or playing in the operas of Alencar with many good Portuguese feelings.
We already had communism. We already had a surrealist language. The golden age.
I asked a man what was Right. He answered me that it was the assurance of the full exercise of possibilities. That man was called Galli Mathias. I ate him.
The only place there is no determinism is where there is mystery. But what has that to do with us?
Against the stories of men that begin in Cape Finisterre. The world without dates. Without rubrics. Without Napoleon. Without Caesar.
The fixation of progress by means of catalogues and television sets. Only with machinery. And blood transfusions.
Against antagonistic sublimations brought over in sailing ships.
Against the truth of the poor missionaries, defined through the wisdom of a cannibal, the Viscount of Cairo – It is a lie repeated many times.
But no crusaders came to us. They were fugitives from a civilization that we are eating up, because we are strong and as vindictive as the land turtles.
Only God is the conscience of the Uncreated Universe, Guaraci is the mother of all living creatures. Jaci is the mother of vegetables.
We never had any speculation. But we believed in divination. We had Politics, that is, the science of distribution. And a socio-planetary system.
Migrations. The flight from tedious states. Against urban scleroses. Against Conservatives and speculative boredom.
From William James and Voronoff. Transfiguration of taboo into totem. Cannibalism.
The pater familias is the creation of the stork fable: a real ignorance of things, a tale of imagination and a feeling of authority in front of curious crowds.
We have to start from a profound atheism in order to reach the idea of God. But the Cariba did not have to make anything precise. Because they had Guaraci.
The created object reacts like the Fallen Angel. Ever since, Moses has been wandering about. What is that to us?
Before two Portuguese discovered Brazil, Brazil discovered happiness.
Against the Indian de tocheiro. The Indian son of Mary, the godson of Catherine of Médicis and the son-in-law of Don Antonio de Mariz.
Happiness is the real proof.
No Pindorama matriarchy.
Against Memory the source of habit. Renewed for personal experience.
We are concrete. We take account of ideas, we react, we burn people in the public squares. We suppress ideas and other kinds of paralysis. Through screenplays. To believe in our signs, to believe in our instruments and our stars.
Against Goethe, against the mother of the Gracos, and the Court of Don Juan VI.
Happiness is the real proof.
The struggle between what we might call the Uncreated and the Created – illustrated by the permanent contradiction of man and his taboo. Daily love and the capitalist modus vivendi. Cannibalism. Absorption of the sacred enemy. To transform him into a totem. The human adventure. Earthly finality. However, only the pure elite manage to realize carnal cannibalism within, some sense of life, avoiding all the evils Freud identified, those religious evils. What yields nothing is a sublimation of the sexual instinct. It is a thermometric scale of cannibalist instinct. Once carnal, it turns elective and creates friendship. Affectivity, or love. Speculative, science. It deviates and transfers. We arrive at utter vilification. In base cannibalism, our baptized sins agglomerate – envy, usury, calumny, or murder. A plague from the so-called cultured and Christianized, it’s what we are acting against. Cannibals.
Against Anchieta singing the eleven thousand virgins in the land of Iracema – the patriarch Joa Ramalho the founder of Sao Paulo.
Our independence was never proclaimed. A typical phrase of Don Juan VI – My son, put this crown on your head, before some adventurer does it! We expel the dynasty. We have to get rid of the Braganza spirit, the ordinations and snuff of Maria da Fonte.
Against social reality, dressed and oppressive, defined by Freud – in reality we are complex, we are crazy, we are prostitutes and without prisons of the Pindorama matriarchy.
*“The New Moon, or the Lua Nova, blows in Everyman remembrances of me” in The Savages, by Couto Magalhaes.
Reprinted by permission of Mary Ann Caws.