Brazilian Authors Series: Mario de Andrade

08/10/2021

Born on October 9, 1893, Mário Raul de Morais Andrade was one of the greatest names in the Brazilian modernist movement. And Brazilian Publishers – a partnership between the Brazilian Book Chamber (CBL) and the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil) – could not miss the opportunity to celebrate one of the greatest authors of his time, who is among the protagonists of the Modern Art Week of 1922.

Mário de Andrade worked as a music teacher and wrote critical columns for several Brazilian newspapers before publishing what would be one of his most iconic works and one of the bedrocks of Brazilian literature: “Macunaíma”, in 1928. The novel narrates the life of the indigenous hero of the same name, interacting with exaggerated aspects of Brazilian culture and folklore. The image of the “hero without any character” has been engraved in the Brazilian imagination, reflecting the identity of the average citizen who alternates between cleverness and an exaggerated lack of formal education.

Furthermore, Mário was one of the Brazilian artists who represented the apex of national modernism: Grupo dos Cinco (The group of five), formed by him, Oswald de Andrade, Menotti del Picchia, Tarsila do Amaral, and Anita Malfatti. The Modern Art Week, which took place between February 10th and 17th, 1922, included painting exhibitions, readings and lectures on art, music, and literature. 

Mário was the central figure of the Week, and gave lectures on the principles of modernism and his work in Brazilian folk music. In addition, he read “Pauliceia Desvairada” (Whacky Pauliceia) one of his books of poems that most challenged the formal poem metrics of the time. Brazilian modernism entered an artistic effervescence just over a week after the publication of “Ulysses”, by James Joyce, and a few weeks before “Sodoma e Gomorra” (Sodom and Gomorrah), by Marcel Proust.

Today, the author’s direct legacy can hardly be measured. His anthropological experiment, “O turista aprendiz” (The apprentice tourist), a travel diary published in 1927, was another example of his work as a polymath (in this case, in photography and journalism). And his research in the musical field still echoes in the repertoire of the Brazilian Academy of Music (ABM), as well as in studies carried out in the field of music theory in schools such as the University of São Paulo.

The writer died at his home in São Paulo (his hometown) of a heart attack on February 25, 1945, at the age of 52. His last major work was “Meditação sobre o Tietê” (Meditation on Tietê), a semi-autobiographical epic as dense and difficult as it is significant for the artist’s repertoire. São Paulo’s municipal library was later renamed Mário de Andrade Library, one of the largest and most important in the country.

About Brazilian Publishers

Created in 2008, Brazilian Publishers is a sectorial project to foster exports of Brazilian publishing content, the result of a partnership between the Brazilian Book Chamber (CBL) and the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil). The initiative aims to promote the Brazilian publishing sector in the global market in a targeted and articulated manner, contributing to the professionalization of publishers.