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Volume 50 / Humanities

LITERATURE: BRAZIL


Poetry

RALPH E. DIMMICK, General Secretariat, Organization of American States

THE MID 1980S WERE A PERIOD of doldrums for poetic development in Brazil. No radical tendency aroused the hackles of the establishment; no budding genius brought a fresh breath of life to the literary scene.

There was, to be sure, no lack of activity on the part of renowned writers. Carlos Nejar (items bi 89002162, bi 89002163, and bi 89002164) was particularly prolific, bringing out three new collections of verse, while the melancholy reflections evoked by advancing age filled two volumes by Alphonsus de Guimaraens Filho (items bi 89002135 and bi 89002136). Melancholy was also - as usual - the dominant note in a new publication by Nauro Machado (item bi 89002157). Paulo Bomfim continued to cultivate the sonnet, with particularly rewarding results (item bi 89002108), while Neide Archanjo (item bi 89002106), Hilda Hilst (item bi 89002138), and Henriqueta Lisboa (item bi 89002156) reaffirmed the high quality of the feminine contribution to Brazilian poetry. In a new departure, Lêdo Ivo drew inspiration from colonial history for his Calabar (item bi 89002143).

Reeditions of works by three poets associated with the Concretist avant-garde - Décio Pignatari (item bi 89002169), Augusto de Campos (item bi 89002113) and Haroldo de Campos (item bi 89002114) reveal a surprising degree of concern with, and translation into Portuguese of, classics in other languages. The backward view was also taken by Thiago de Mello (item bi 89002159) and Cassiano Nunes (item bi 89002166) in reissues of previous compositions.

The multi-volume edition commemorating the centennial of the birth of Martins Fontes (item bi 89002127) leaves one wondering at the universal admiration once accorded his facile production. Considerably more rewarding is the anthology of verse by another Parnassian, Luis Delfino (item bi 89002123).

A note of historical novelty was provided by the first publication in book form of compositions by Luis Aranha (item bi 89002105), who abandoned a promising career as a member of the first modernist generation for a more conventional one of public service. Finally, students and aficionados of folk poetry will rejoice at the reappearance of Literatura popular em verso, an anthology regrettably long out of print (item bi 89002170).

It is with regret that one records the death, in 1987, of two of the best-known figures in 20th-century Brazilian letters. Gilberto Freyre - essayist, poet, novelist, historian - was usually identified with the field of sociology, but even there his writing was addressed to the general public, and his classic Casa Grande e Senzala was a best-seller throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Carlos Drummond de Andrade had one of the longest, most varied, and productive careers in Brazilian poetry, in addition to being a cronista of distinction. His passing marks the end of an epoch which began with the celebration of Modern Art Week in São Paulo in 1922.


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