The magazine Verde, from Cataguases

Image: Lucio Fontana


Author introduction to newly released book

On March 3, 1926, some astonished inhabitants of Cataguases watched, on the premises of Teatro Recreio, the historic screening of one of the first Brazilian feature films, in the spring of life, by Humberto Mauro and Pedro Comello. The fact, so unusual, aroused immediate enthusiasm and interest in the nascent film industry based in Rio de Janeiro.

In 1927, lost treasure, the beginning of Humberto Mauro's individual trajectory, won the title of best national film of that year. Also in 1927, Cataguases experienced another daring initiative, the founding of a literary magazine, entitled Verde, which embraced the avant-garde aesthetic proposals of the São Paulo group that promoted the 1922 Modern Art Week.

The so-called Cataguases Cinematographic Cycle would also feature two other feature films, Sleeping ember e mining blood, before Humberto Mauro moved, in 1930, to the then capital of the Republic, where he would develop a successful career – rough denim, from 1933, is always cited among the 20 best Brazilian films of all time. In total, there were 11 feature films, more than 100 short films, documentaries and semi-documentaries, as well as participation in productions by other directors as a photographer, screenwriter, screenwriter and actor. Humberto Mauro's extensive battle for national cinema is richly documented, and his pioneering spirit is unquestionably highlighted by researchers and scholars in Brazil and abroad.

The same is not true of the Verde. A relevant enterprise in the dissemination and consolidation of modernism, the magazine, until today, has not had its importance properly assimilated, and the bibliography about it is meager. Edited, with interruptions, between 1927 and 1929, Verde deserves only light references in literature history manuals, despite the fact that, at the time, it was honored and praised by the greatest names in the movement.

In 1932, Mário de Andrade, in a comparative balance between Verde e The magazine, from Belo Horizonte, points to a very positive balance for the Cataguases journal: “The two groups from Minas Gerais, the one from Belo Horizonte and the one from Cataguases, are enormously distinguished as collective psychology. Cataguases certainly could not present figures of personal value as remarkable as Carlos Drummond de Andrade in poetry and João Alphonsus in prose. However, it had a much brighter reality, and mainly a much more interstate and fruitful action. Deep down, Belo Horizonte artists were much more capitalist than they might have thought. And in fact the group dissolved into individualism, and had only the bourgeois function of introducing us to at least two writers of great value. The Cataguases group did not produce anyone who compares with these, but with the magazine Verde succeeded at the same time in centralizing and enlisting the modern movement in Brazil, something that Magazine from Belo Horizonte had not been able to. […] A Verde called to arms, while the Magazine appointed generals.[I]

Francisco Inácio Peixoto, one of the main members of the Verde group, tells that, in a meeting during the 1945st Brazilian Congress of Writers, in São Paulo, in January XNUMX,[ii] Oswald de Andrade insisted with him on the importance of Cataguases for the São Paulo group: “It came as a great surprise to me when Oswald [de Andrade] – who I thought was inaccessible – revealed to me the good that we had done to the São Paulo group. with our membership here. I still asked: - You're kidding, Oswald. - No. I'm serious. You cannot calculate what that movement by Cataguases represented for us. And I started to believe”.[iii]

Mário de Andrade also highlighted the relevance of the Green movement:

There is influence of that writer from São Paulo on the young men from Cataguases as there is influence of the young men from Cataguases on this writer from São Paulo. Bigger than you think, much bigger. And mainly higher, not summed up to a simple and unimportant acceptance of grammatical quips. This reciprocal influence was the beauty of sincere, card-carrying friendships, full of sincerity, even rough, certain feats. This is what the world could see and not enjoy. However, what the world did not see and could see is that the writer from São Paulo also spent a lot of time studying the creators of Verde. She picked up on them the syntactic idioms and popular voices that these guys were the first to register, and when the occasion came, she used them all in his writings”.[iv]

However, the attempts to analyze the journal Verde always come up against a commonplace: Cataguases is an “inexplicable phenomenon”, and this argument, repeated to exhaustion, unveils a veil on the subject. Little by little, the Verde it became a kind of literary exoticism.

As early as 1929, in an article published in The newspaper, from Rio de Janeiro, Tristão de Athayde asked himself, astonished: “Why was Divine Providence born on the edge of a stream called Meia-Pataca […] a group of interesting poets who will leave a certain mark on the poetic moment what are we living?”.[v][vi]

The members of the Verde group themselves contributed to elevating the fact to the category of the unknowable, such as Francisco Inácio Peixoto, answering a questionnaire by José Afrânio Moreira Duarte: “Cataguases has always been, and now more than ever, a mistake”;[vii] or Henrique de Resende,[viii] in an interview with Walmir Ayala: “Verde it was a miracle. And miracles cannot be explained!”;[ix] or even Rosário Fusco, in an interview with The Quibbler: " Verde it is folklore and its representatives, an episodic (although for Cataguases, flattering but unidentified) mistake”.[X]

To make things even more confusing, in testimonials they minimized the socioeconomic importance of the city and amplified the meaning of their own activities – thus making, by contrast, the idea of ​​“phenomenon” even more credible.

Guilhermino César, for example, at the opening of the Gramado Film Festival (RS), on February 22, 1978, states: “Imagine an urban agglomeration crossed by a river 80, 100 meters wide, with the metal bridge made by the English, two squares with two illustrious names that we called “the square above” and “the square below”, to simplify things, and about five alleys.

Here is Cataguases. Inhabitants in the 20s/30s, the local vanity said 5.000 – but the statistics said 3.500 inhabitants. And in this city of 3.500 inhabitants, they did amazing things for the time, the place and the cultural environment”.[xi]

Now, in 1927, the city had neither 3.500 nor 5 inhabitants, but 16 in the municipal seat alone, distributed in 1.300 houses built on 30 streets, served by a water and sewer network and electric lighting, an economy based on textile industry, varied trade, enviable educational system and direct connection to Rio de Janeiro by railroad[xii] – just to give you an idea, at the same time, Belo Horizonte had 110 inhabitants.[xiii]

Hence the establishment of strange reasoning, such as this one by Heitor Martins: “Almost unbelievable for today that in the 20s a serious group of young artists was formed in the small town of Cataguases, in the interior of Minas Gerais, umbilically linked to the modernist movement of 22. It was something even more astonishing than, for example, just the appearance today of a group, more or less artistically aware, of concrete theorists in any small town on the coast and with little more than 5 thousand inhabitants”.[xiv]

On the other hand, they exaggerated the relevance of their initiatives. They date the beginning of contact with the new modernist aesthetic ideas back to 1923 or 1924, and cite the dissemination of “futurist” poems in the pages of newspapers such as The student, Mercury, The Echo e jazz band, all in circulation between 1926 and 1927, when a simple consultation of these periodicals is enough to come across texts still linked to symbolism, or, worse, to the most unruly romanticism, and it is possible, from them, to endorse what the newspaper editor Cataguases said about The student: “it can be read by everyone without fear, even by the most prudish maiden”.[xv] As an example, I highlight the first of the four quatrains found on the cover of the newspaper jazz band, a single issue released by Rosário Fusco on August 28, 1927, less than a month before the start of publication of the magazine Green: “'Elsa Zignago'// She even looks like a figurine from France/ this delicate and strange little girl…/ With the air of a girl and a child/ among all the girls at school she is the prettiest”.[xvi] The other three blocks follow the same path…

Therefore, with these two complementary aspects – the depreciation of the environment in which they lived and the exaggeration of their individual virtues –, almost a legend was created that in Cataguases, in the 1920s, there occurred, as Francisco Marcelo Cabral stated, an “astonishing literary enterprise without any sociological justification”.[xvii][xviii] current thesis even among scholars.

Now, if we start from the assumption that the emergence of the magazine Verde in Cataguases – and also in the cinematographic cycle, contemporary to the literary movement – ​​is an “inexplicable phenomenon”, we will throw to the ground the conception that History is the set of human actions, determined by an infinite range of components, be it economic, social, political, moral or aesthetic, or, according to Georg Lukács: “The existence and essence, the genesis and effectiveness of literature can only be understood and explained in the general historical framework of the whole system. The genesis and development of literature are part of the general historical process of society. The essence and aesthetic value of literary works, as well as the influence exercised by them, form part of that general and unitary social process through which man appropriates the world through his consciousness”.[xx]

Thus, in this essay, I propose a reflection on how the circumstances that made possible the existence, in a small town in the interior of Minas Gerais, of an avant-garde literary movement with an important role in the development and consolidation of Brazilian modernism.

How, in the mid-1920s, Cataguases ceased to be an indistinct dot on the map of Brazil to become a center radiating new ideas. Or, as Guilhermino César states: “our little movement, like what happened, likewise, in other places, on the same occasion, foreshadowed [19]30, fomenting concerns that would lead to a wide literary and political estuary”.[xx]

* Luiz Ruffato is a writer. Author, among other books, of Late summer (Company of Letters).



Luiz Ruffato. The magazine Verde, from Cataguases: ccontribution to the history of Modernism. Belo Horizonte, Autêntica, 2022, 190 pages.



[I] ANDRADE, Mario de. Cataguases. In: Taxi and chronicles in the Diário Nacional. Text establishment, introduction and notes by Telê Porto Ancona Lopez. São Paulo: Two Cities Bookstore; Secretary of Culture, Science and Technology of the State of São Paulo, 1976. p. 550.

[ii] ROMANELLI, Katia Bueno. Revista Verde: contribution to the study of Brazilian modernism. 1981. Dissertation (Master's in Literature) – Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, 1981. p. 197-198.

[iii] PEIXOTO, Francisco Inacio. I live in Cataguases, outside Cataguases.

Totem, Cataguases, 5 Apr. 1979. [sp].

[iv] ANDRADE, Mario de. Influences. In: Taxi and chronicles in the Diário Nacional, P. 81

[v] ATHAYDE, Tristan de. Poetic provincialism. The newspaper, Rio de Janeiro, p.

[vi] , 10 Feb. 1929.

[vii] DUARTE, José Afrânio Moreira. word pull word. São Paulo: Editora do Escritor, 1982. p. 62.

[viii] Throughout his life, Henrique de Resende remained undecided between using Henrique or Enrique as his first name to sign his works. In order not to cause confusion, throughout this essay I will use only the Henrique de Resende form.

[ix] AYALA, Walmir. Henrique de Resende: an echo of the week of 22. Culture Magazine, Brasilia, year 2, n. 5, Jan-Mar. 1972. p. 94.

[X] WERNECK, Ronaldo; WHITE, Joachim. Rosário Fusco: “The Brazilian writer is a super street vendor”. The Quibbler, Rio de Janeiro, n. 351, p. 12, 19-26 Mar. 1977.

[xi] CAESAR, Guillermo. A cinematic lecture. In: WERNECK, Ronaldo. Kiryrí rendáua toribóca opé: Humberto Mauro reviewed by Ronaldo Werneck. São Paulo: Arte Paubrasil, 2009. p. 64.

[xii] See the chapter “Coffee and cotton”.

[xiii] MATOS, Ralfo Edmundo S. Urban evolution and economic formation of Belo Horizonte. Belo Horizonte: UFMG; Cedeplar, 1992. p. 16.

[xiv] TESTIMONIALS about “Green”. Minas Gerais Literary Supplement, Belo Horizonte, year II, n. 19, 7 Jan. 1967. p. two.

[xv] CATAGUASES. Cataguases, 26 Sept. 1926, p. two.

[xvi] apud MENEZES. “Cartoadeira” friendship: Mário de Andrade’s epistolary dialogue with the Grupo Verde de Cataguases, P. 433.

[xvii] CABRAL, Francisco Marcelo. Not dispassionate. Totem, Cataguases, n.

[xviii] , 5 Apr. 1979. [sp].

[xx] LUKÁCS, Georg. Introduction to the aesthetic studies of Marx and Engels. Translation by Leandro Konder. In: KONDER, Leandro (org.). essays on literature. Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Civilization, 1965. p. 13.

[xx] CAESAR, Guillermo. The greens of Verde. In: GREEN. São Paulo: Metal Leve, 1978. [sp]. Facsimile edition.

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