Euclid da Cunha

Image: Marcelo Guimarães Lima


Entry from the “Dictionary of Marxism in America”

Life and political praxis

Euclides Rodrigues Pimenta da Cunha (1866-1909) was born in Santa Rita do Rio Negro, today Euclidelândia, municipal district of Cantagalo, in the interior of the state of Rio de Janeiro, the son of Manuel Rodrigues Pimenta da Cunha and Eudóxia Moreira da Cunha.

At the time, Brazil was involved in the Triple Alliance War against Paraguay (1864-1870). It was a period of intense social, economic and political transformations – driven, for example, by the “Eusébio de Queiroz” laws, responsible for the end of the slave trade, and “Lands” (1850), fundamental for the expansion of land concentration in the country , thus preventing the democratization of access to land, especially for immigrant and formerly enslaved workers. With this process, the legalized control of the agrarian monopoly under the control of a few was guaranteed, as well as the availability of cheap labor, often subject to non-salaried work, as was common on large properties (with their waves of squatters, sharecroppers and households). It was the Brazil of the beginnings of industry and urbanization, of political liberalism, positivism, naturalism; of abolitionism and republicanism; the expansion of railways and coffee in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, especially in Oeste Paulista (which since 1880 surpassed the production of Vale do Paraíba), driving the agro-export economy until the 1930s.

Euclides da Cunha's childhood was troubled, losing his mother at just three years old; As his father did not believe that he would be able to raise him alone, he began to live with his sister in the house of his maternal aunt, in Teresópolis, a mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro. Shortly afterwards, the aunt passed away, forcing the brothers to move to another uncle's house, in São Fidélis, a city in the same state.

His training took place in the then federal capital (Rio de Janeiro), where he studied at Colégio Aquino, the Escola Politécnica and the Escola Militar da Praia Vermelha, from the 1880s until the mid-1890s. Eminent figures from the Empire, military, politicians and scientists, such as Marshal Francisco Carlos da Luz, Viscount of Rio Branco – father of the future baron of Rio Branco (a friend of Euclides) – and Joaquim Gomes de Souza, well known at the time for his remarkable knowledge in mathematics, physics and astronomy . Furthermore, between 1878 and 1885, liberals took a leading role in the imperial cabinet and the consecration of the “Recife School” – by Tobias Barreto, Sílvio Romero, Clóvis Beviláqua, Farias de Brito, Graça Aranha, Araripe Júnior, the so-called “ Generation of 1870”. It was in this context that Euclides attended, from 1885 to 1893, the Military and Polytechnic schools, becoming a student and friend of Benjamin Constant, one of the notables of the republican movement and positivism in Brazil.

Euclides da Cunha was one of the main representatives of the Brazilian republican movement, an intense agitator in the barracks and newspaper and magazine offices – having written frequently, between 1884 and 1909, in periodicals in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In 1888 he wrote about “social questions”, making an apology for democracy as being the characteristic of the political regimes of that century. Throughout 1889, he promoted intense agitation in the press in defense of the Republic, alluding to the centenary of the French Revolution and its heroes. In these years of republican mobilization, he wrote frequently in The Province of Sao Paulo, which would become, after the Proclamation of the Republic, the newspaper The State of S. Paul.

At this time of sociopolitical unrest and transformation, the “social issue” gained centrality in Euclid’s thinking, who saw it as a result of the country’s fundamental problems, aggravated with the consolidation of capitalism, such as: the contradictions that arose with the end of slavery, the demand for free wage labor, access to secular and universal education, the increase in foreign immigration, industrialization and urbanization. For him, the 1891 Constitution had not ensured the political, economic and social transformations that the rising proletariat desired – dissatisfaction that worsened with the closure of Congress by Deodoro da Fonseca (1891), the authoritarianism of Floriano Peixoto (the “marshal of Ferro”) and the repression against the Armada and Federalist revolts.

Disillusioned with the republican government (at that time ideologically inspired by positivism), Euclides left the Army and began working as a civil engineer, completing an internship at the Central do Brasil Railway, until he was discharged and abandoned his uniform definitively in 1896. At the time, railway workers were already a very conscious category, being organized and combative – their first major strike occurred between 1891 and 1892, in Rio de Janeiro, and was brutally repressed. This did not go unnoticed by young Euclides, who realized the importance of these workers' struggles for the Brazilian labor movement.

In 1896, Euclides was hired by the Public Works Superintendence of the State of São Paulo, having worked in Santos, Bertioga, São José do Rio Pardo and São Paulo, among other cities – an experience that put him in direct contact with the young urban proletariat, predominantly anarchist and socialist.

During these years, he tried a few times to join as a teacher at the recently created Escola Politécnica de São Paulo (founded in 1893). To this end, he had the recommendation of prominent professors from the Polytechnic, such as Theodoro Sampaio, Garcia Redondo and Ramos de Azevedo. However, it was not successful due to controversies with Francisco de Paula Souza, director of the institution – Euclides had published in The state of Sao Paulo articles critical of the school project. Still, he would persist in his attempts to become a professor until 1904, when, after another refusal from the institution, he left for the Amazon on a diplomatic mission.

Still in this period at the end of the century, an event would mark the life of Euclides: the beginning of the conflict in the village of Canudos, backlands of Bahia (November 1896), when peasants led by the blessed Antônio Conselheiro – spiritual and community leader of the village –, they revolted against local landowners and traders, starting a confrontation that would involve state police forces and the Army. Mainly land-based in nature (although also with a messianic appeal), this movement greatly disturbed the local elites (agrarian, commercial and ecclesiastical). It was an autonomous and quite self-sufficient rural community, in which the land was collectively owned (only houses and a few goods were admitted as possessions) and which attracted thousands of poor people who roamed the interior of the Bahian backlands. Thus, at a historical moment in which the Republic asserted itself and reinforced the power of the colonels, the Canudos uprising would become, in the course of the confrontations, a movement anti-republican. Initially, after the first clashes between the country people and the police forces, local elites appealed to the state governor, who in turn requested support from Union troops; soon, with the defeat of the army's second expedition (composed of more than 600 men, with a view to dismantling the camp and capturing the seditionists), panic broke out in the Republic - the conviction spreading through the press that it was of a “monarchist restoration” movement.

In this sense, the journalist Euclides da Cunha contributed to understanding the episode, with two articles entitled “Our Vendéia”, published in The State of S. Paul (mar. 1897); For this reason, in August, he was sent to Canudos by the newspaper to follow events and produce reports. He arrived in Canudos accompanying the fourth and final expedition, commanded by the Minister of War, Marshal Carlos Machado Bittencourt, in September 1897. This experience would result in his fundamental work, launched in 1902, The backlands: Canudos campaign, which he called his “avenging book”, with which he sought to do justice to the history of the country town massacred by the Republican Army, through a detailed record and blunt denunciation of the facts.

In 1898, as an engineer, Euclides da Cunha set out to rebuild a bridge in São José do Rio Pardo, which had collapsed the previous year. It is in this city that, over the course of almost four years (until the inauguration of the work), he wrote a large part of the sertões. There, he became friends with Mayor Francisco Escobar, known as a “former red republican” and owner of the largest library in the region. During his stay in the city, he founded, with the mayor, intellectuals and workers, on May 1899, XNUMX, the newspaper The Proletarian. The following year he created the International Club Filhos do Trabalho, with an open socialist inspiration, following the principles of the II International (1889), having been responsible for writing the group's program and a manifesto in honor of May Day 1901.

In 1902, the II Socialist Congress took place in Rio de Janeiro, and it was on this occasion that, in December, the sertões was published. With the book's recognition by the public, Euclides was elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters (ABL), being accepted in September 1903 to fill Valentim Magalhães's place. In November of the same year, he became a member of the Brazilian Historical and Geographic Institute (IHGB).

The following year, Euclides da Cunha accepted an invitation made by the Baron of Rio Branco (then Minister of Foreign Affairs) to head a Brazilian diplomatic mission in the Amazon – as, at the time, there was a dispute over the establishment of borders between Brazil and the Peru. Appointed head of the Alto Purus Commission, he embarked for Manaus in December 1904.

Two years later, when he returned to Rio de Janeiro from the north of the country, he was appointed as an attaché at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, attached to the office of the baron of Rio Branco. And at the end of this year, 1906, he would finally take office at ABL, being welcomed by the writer and literary critic Sílvio Romero.

In 1907, it came to light Contrasts and clashes, collection of his writings published in various periodicals (from 1894 to 1907). This year, he also published Peru versus Bolivia, about the diplomatic mission tasked with resolving border issues – and animosities – between the two countries and Brazil. And, in December, he gave the conference “Castro Alves and his time”, at the Faculty of Law of Largo de São Francisco in São Paulo, invited by students from the XI de Agosto Academic Center.

The following year, Euclides began preparing the work The margin of history, released posthumously (in 1909, after his death). He also wrote the preface to Green Hell, work by Alberto Rangel about the Amazon; and prefaced the work Poems and Songs by Vicente de Carvalho.

Finally, in 1909, Euclides da Cunha was determined to establish himself professionally. The life of an engineer, diplomat and wandering journalist had become incompatible with his family responsibilities and, mainly, with his fragile health and the desire to dedicate himself and survive from his intellectual profession. The professional instability that led him, from job to job, to a nomadic existence, had shaken the harmony of his family, marital, economic, intellectual and physical life. Thus, he decided to compete for a place in the Logic subject at Colégio Pedro II, in Rio de Janeiro, having placed second; however, despite the first place of the philosopher Farias de Brito, it was Euclides who was nominated – due to the recommendation of the baron of Rio Branco. He taught, however, for less than a month (between July and August) when he was murdered.

On the morning of August 15, 1909, he broke into the house of his wife's lover, Dilermando de Assis, a young army cadet, resident of the Piedade neighborhood (Rio de Janeiro); ready for a life or death duel, Euclides was shot four times and died on the spot. He was only 43 years old.

Contributions to Marxism

Euclides da Cunha's theoretical-political maturation took place in the midst of socio-political agitations and transformations, in the midst of the end of the old monarchist-slavery regime and urbanization - which gave rise to contradictions and latent conflicts, both between fractions of the dominant classes, as between these and the proletariat in formation. It was in this environment that his ideas matured, permeated on the one hand by his bourgeois academic training, on the other by his political praxis in the process of consolidating capitalism.

Graduated as a military engineer and, by vocation, working as a journalist, the author acquired solid intellectual training, insertion and protagonism in the national political scene – experiences that were decisive in his theoretical and political development.

The brief life of Euclides da Cunha can be divided into two parts: that of the military and that of the civilian. Looking at them separately, one can capture with nuances and complexity what their political actions and ideas represented for society at the end of the XNUMXth century and beginning of the XNUMXth century in Brazil. The military Euclides was a radical republican and positivist, agitator, idealist and nationalist; paradoxically, it was the Republic itself and the Florianist military “Jacobinism” (marked by the violent repression of the Armada and Federalist revolts) that led him to dislike the regime and the barracks – so that, right at the beginning of the Republic, he distanced himself from the Army. The civil Euclides, in turn, was an intellectual-militant, sensitive to social demands and engaged in defending the causes of the oppressed classes.

Rio de Janeiro in the 1890s saw the emergence of workers' parties – one founded by a black typographer, Luís França, and the other by an Navy lieutenant, José Augusto Vinhaes –, as well as the 1892st Brazilian Socialist Congress (XNUMX) .

From 1894 until the end of his life, as a civil engineer and journalist, Euclides da Cunha became increasingly closer to the urban proletariat and peasants, closely following the deleterious effects of accelerated industrialization and urbanization, resulting from the development of capitalism in Brazil. From the 1891-1892 strike of workers on the Brazilian Central Railway, which was heavily repressed, through the massacre of peasants in Canudos and their socialist militancy in São José do Rio Pardo, at the beginning of the 1904th century, until the registration and denunciation of the exploitation and misery experienced by rubber tappers in the Amazon, between 1906 and XNUMX, Euclides matured his critical reflection, advancing from the so-called utopian socialism (idealist) to Marxist socialism (scientifically based) – moving from the influences of Proudhon and Fourier to those of Marx and Engels.

Euclides' work is part of and reflects the country's transformation process resulting from the development of capitalist relations and the emergence of the urban proletariat, as the “social question” and class struggle intensified. This complex process, full of contradictions, highlighted and opposed the two Brazils that coexisted at the end of the XNUMXth century: one “archaic” – seigneurial and slave-owning – and the other “modern” – liberal and capitalist. The clash between the fundamental classes of capitalism would definitely mark the development of its thought and political action.

Paradoxically, his masterpiece, the sertões, tells us very little about the intellectual-militant who, from the 1880s onwards, flirted with utopian socialism, gradually approaching the working class (on the rise since the 1890s) and the peasants (in the Brazilian backlands), until the end of your life. This is because, throughout the analysis developed in his most famous book, influences from positivist, evolutionary thinking can be noted. At this point, it is worth noting that, in Brazil at the time, the conception of science was predominantly anchored in natural sciences – social sciences were little developed here. In the humanities, only theories such as determinism or evolutionism were recognized as “science”, while socialism or liberalism were treated as philosophical doctrines – supposedly abstract. The separation, typical of the bourgeois order, between manual and intellectual work was also reflected in the division between political theory and practice. Furthermore, the socialism that arrived in Brazil (at the end of the XNUMXth century and beginning of the following) was that of the Second International – the Socialist International –, tainted by positivism, determinism, colonialism. Therefore, an eclectic and idealistic socialism prevailed in the country, referenced in authors such as Saint-Simon and Proudhon, and dialoguing without measure with Darwin, Friedrich Ratzel or Hippolyte Taine.

Thus, initially, Euclidean political articles and writings were based on the idealist conceptions of utopian socialism – asserting generic, reformist, moralist demands, distorting the class struggle and the antagonism between capital and labor, in short, neglecting the necessary confrontation to capitalism. Later, however, his more properly “scientific” writings (attentive to concrete social reality, such as the sertões) began to consolidate – even though at first they were conditioned and dialoguing with positivist, determinist and evolutionary theses (which dominated the intellectual environment). As for the sertões, however, it is worth noting that, despite the character still scientist – marked by determinism and social evolutionism and, therefore, to a certain extent conservative – predominant in the work, Euclides’ political positioning is resoundingly on the side of the defeated: the peasants oppressed by latifundia and massacred by the Republic’s army (with positivist inspiration).

Euclid's passage from utopian socialism towards the calling scientific socialism (o marxist socialism), that is, socialism conceived as “science” – as opposed to the previous idealist socialism – is a gradual process, which has as one of its landmarks the article “An old problem” (1904), published in The State of S. Paul. In this text, using concepts from Marxism, the author states that “the wealth produced must all belong to those who work”, and that “capital is plunder”; denounces as a “theft” the appropriation by the bourgeoisie of the means of production and work, since “the only source of production and its immediate corollary, value, is work”, and “neither land, nor machines, nor capital, still linked together, produces them without the hand of the worker”; and also states, categorically, that “Malthus’s law has been debunked, before which civilization could not even be explained”, and “its opposition has been demonstrated”, namely, that “each man always produces more than consumes, the fruits of its effort persisting beyond the time necessary for its reproduction”, which “manifests the unfair trait of the economic organization of our time”.

Noting that “capitalist exploitation is hauntingly clear”, placing the worker “at a level lower than that of the machine”, Euclides conceives that “revolution is not a means, it is an end”, asserting that the “triumph” of workers is “inevitable ”. He thus renounces “Saint-Simon’s utopias” and “Proudhon’s alienations”, as it was with Karl Marx, “Proudhon’s inflexible opponent, that scientific socialism began to use a firm, understandable and positive language”. He thus demands the “socialization of the means of production and circulation” and states that the “revolutionary character of socialism is only in its radical program”, that is: “revolution” is the same as “transformation”. Therefore, to achieve this, it would be enough to “raise the conscience of the proletarian and – according to the norm outlined by the Paris Socialist Congress in 1900 – revive the political and economic regimentation of the workers”, therefore, “to shake the entire earth”, by It is enough for the proletariat to “perform a very simple act: crossing their arms”.

The transformations between the man who went to Canudos and the man who went to the Amazon are therefore notable, considering his political praxis within the resurgence of the class struggle and the “social question” – as the development of capitalism and of the antagonism between capital and labor. The ethnic struggle manifests itself in the sertões gave way to class struggle. This is because contact with the reality of workers and country people demanded a theoretical conception – historical materialism – that was capable of explaining the ills and contradictions of capitalism, pointing out alternatives for confronting them through the training, mobilization and organization of workers.

The rupture that was imposed, resulting from the disappointment with the Republic, deepened due to the realization of the abandonment of the “social question” and the repression imposed on the popular classes – both in the hinterland, against the peasants, and in the cities, against the working class. In this task of disseminating Marxism (understood by him in a bias still marked by evolutionism, as “scientific socialism”), of mobilizing and raising the consciousness and organization of workers, a task he carried out from the end of the XNUMXth century until the beginning of the following , Euclides da Cunha left us with a relevant contribution – especially considering the current conservative environment –, vehemently denouncing the exploitation, oppression and repression of the “social issue” in cities and in the countryside.

Considered one of the inaugurators of social sciences in Brazil, it is also worth highlighting that the author influenced everyone from conservative intellectuals (Alberto Torres, Oliveira Vianna), to the classics of the “1930 generation” (Caio Prado Júnior, Gilberto Freyre, Sérgio Buarque de Holanda) and later generations (such as Florestan Fernandes, Antônio Cândido, Darcy Ribeiro).

Comment on the work

Euclides da Cunha was an intellectual and political activist from the XNUMXth century, having debated with the main political and social interlocutors of his time, looking at the dawn of the XNUMXth century. A subject of broad erudition and prolific intellectual production, we see in his work ranging from classics of world literature – Homer, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Dante, Cervantes, Shakespeare – to great names in literature of the time, such as Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Leo Tolstoy, Fiódor Dostoevsky, Castro Alves and José de Alencar, as highlighted, at the launch of the sertões (1902), some literary critics (Araripe Júnior, José Veríssimo, Sílvio Romero). Furthermore, in Euclid's work, we can see his debate with some of the great representatives of the social and natural sciences of the XNUMXth century, such as Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer, Friedrich Ratzel, Arthur de Gobineau, Louis Agassiz, Auguste Comte, Gustave Le Bon , Thomas Carlyle, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Charles Fourier, Saint-Simon and, especially, Karl Marx. The eclectic character and theoretical syncretism that define his production from this period correspond to the diversity of our social formation, the demands imposed by national unity added to the literary and scientific effervescence resulting from the country's urbanization. His literary, historical and cultural essays, therefore, articulating various theories, tried to adapt to the demands of the current political, social and cultural debate.

That said, the renowned intellectual who went on a diplomatic mission to the Amazon and wrote On the sidelines of history (Porto: Livr. Chardron de Lello e Irmão, 1909), Contrasts and clashes (Porto: Empresa Literária e Tipográfica, 1907) and the preamble of Green Hell (by Alberto Rangel, 1908), and who denounced the violent exploitation of the rubber tapper is the same man who, shortly before, on May 1904, XNUMX, published “An old problem” (The State of S. Paul) – thus moving away from idealism towards a conception of socialism as science (although with an understanding of Marxism still limited by certain determinism) –, and not that young idealist, republican and positivist author who denounced the Canudos massacre through his “avenging book”, The backlands: straw campaign (Rio de Janeiro: Laemmert and C., 1902).

Em the sertões, Euclides da Cunha inaugurates reflection on our historical process, social formation and the “social issue” from a scientific perspective. Although, at this time (prior to his conversion to “scientific socialism”), he was still full of influences from a scientism quite conservative – determinist, positivist, racist –, its ideological position is clearly in favor of the exploited classes: denouncing the ills, contradictions and abandonment of the country people, in opposition to the opulence of the civilized, urban, developed coast. Dividing the work into three chapters – “The Earth”, “The Man” and “The Struggle” –, the author highlights, in the first, the influence of the environment (climate and geography) on the human being. Under the influence of Ratzel's determinism (one of the founders of modern geography), Euclid denounces the inhospitable climate, the scourge of drought and the hostile and scarce vegetation as factors that attack and kill men and animals; Drawing on the Enlightenment philosopher Montesquieu, he maintains that, in the tropics, due to the supposed demands of “adaptation”, “natural selection” would have consequently forged individuals endowed with “maximum organic energy” and “minimum moral strength”. In the second chapter, he criticizes miscegenation (which he considered a degeneration), and seeks to explain the gens of the backcountry, seen as a legitimate Brazilian product, the result of miscegenation between the three peoples that made up our formation: the European, the indigenous and the African. It is worth explaining here that the Euclidean view of the countryman is a contradictory mixture of idyll and aberration: on the one hand, he states that “the countryman is, above all, a strong man”; on the other, that he is a “retrograde” subject, a “physically strong type, with a developing psychic evolution”. A believer in determinism and social evolutionism, the author always relies on nature and the climate to justify human behavior; thus, he maintains that the countryman “reflects the oscillation of the very nature that surrounds him”. Finally, in the third chapter, he denounces the “social issue” in the countryside and the brutal repression of the Republic against poor, backward, exploited and abandoned peasants for three centuries by the nation – stating that the village of Canudos “was a hiatus, isolated in time and in space, allowing a retreat in the history of civilization into barbarism.”

As in Canudos, his experience in the Amazon was the basis for critical works such as those already mentioned Contrasts and clashes e On the sidelines of history  (this is incomplete, due to his tragic death in 1909). In these writings, especially in the last one, Euclides shows the contrast between the natural exuberance and human degradation that made up the Brazilian depths. He emphasizes his attention to the “social issue”, expressed in the blunt denunciation of the misery, exploitation and abandonment of the rubber tapper, migrant from the northeastern backlands, highlighting “the complete paralysis of the people who have wandered there, for three centuries, in a tumultuous and sterile agitation”. He points out the enormous contradiction between the rubber tapper and “the opulent boss”, emphasizing that “the rubber tapper performs a tremendous anomaly: he is the man who works to enslave himself”, according to “the disastrous unilateral contract, which the boss imposes on him”; and concludes, highlighting that the “rubber plantation regulations are painfully expressive in this regard” – that when reading them “one sees the rebirth of a subdued and dull feudalism”.

Yes, Contrasts and clashes is a collection of articles and other writings published in various media, between 1894 and 1907, in which the author deals with the most varied topics related to Brazil. There, Euclides presents an overview of the first years of the Republic and its protagonists, reflecting on social issues that crossed the country and characterized the contradictions of its historical development – ​​a precise and incisive record of Brazilian history, in the light of critical reflection.

Between 1884 and 1909, he wrote for important periodicals, such as: The Democrat, Democracia, The Province of Sao Paulo, The state of Sao Paulo, Commerce Newspaper, the father, News Gazette, among others of lesser impact.

The work of Euclides da Cunha can be found on the portal Life and work of Euclides da Cunha ( It is a very complete and accessible website, a space that brings together several of his writings and documents, from poems from his romantic phase, his time as a high school student (in which he praised in verse the French revolutionaries Robespierre, Marat, Danton, Saint -Just and Madame Roland, including Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo and Louise Michel), to reports, interviews, speeches, chronicles, correspondence and journalistic articles from various periodicals to which he contributed throughout his life - in which he discusses national and foreigners of his time, dialoguing with the most varied and important intellectuals in the natural and social sciences, literature and philosophy. At this address you can also find her main books (the sertões, Peru versus Bolivia, etc.), in addition to his inaugural article in The Province of Sao Paulo, in which he argues in favor of education and science as inherent to democracy – understood here, beyond its political-partisan dimension, as a kind of civilizational evolution (text signed with the pseudonym “Proudhon”, in reference to the anarchist shoemaker French).

Already on the portal Estadão, you can find his journalistic production and his records of Canudos as a correspondent for this São Paulo newspaper (

Recently, collections of the author's texts were released, including unpublished writings, such as: Essays and unpublished (São Paulo: UNESP, 2018); On the sidelines of history (S. Paulo: UNESP, 2019); It is Socialist Euclid: forgotten works (S. Paulo: Autonomia Literária, 2019).

When it comes to works by scholars about Euclides da Cunha, there is an abundant bibliography, especially in the areas of social sciences, history and literature. Among the works produced, those by Walnice Nogueira Galvão, Roberto Ventura, José Calasans, Francisco Foot Hardman, José Carlos Barreto de Santana, Leopoldo Bernucci and Berthold Zilly are worth highlighting.

Finally, in the field of arts, it is worth highlighting that the book the sertões inspired films, documentaries, opera and dramas – with emphasis on the theatrical production brought to the stage, between 2002 and 2007, by playwright José Celso Martinez Corrêa, director of the historic Teat(r)o Oficina Uzyna Uzona (São Paulo): an epic play with almost 30 hours long, divided into five parts (“A Terra”, “O Homem I”, “O Homem II”, “A Luta I” and “A Luta II”) and with around a hundred participants; the dramatization was also filmed by several film directors, who recorded it in a hybrid language (cinematic-theatrical), producing a series of feature films entitled The backlands: the films. It is also worth recording the poetic album Straws (Canudos), by Bahian musician and composer Gereba Barreto, released in 1997 – a tribute to the centenary of the historic conflict, as well as to the Euclidean classic.

*Mario Miranda Antonio Junior is a PhD student in World Political Economy (UFABC).

Originally published on the Praxis Nucleus-USP.


ANTONIO Junior, Mario Miranda. “Euclides da Cunha and the sertões: 'social issue', authoritarianism and capitalism in the Oligarchic Republic”. Critical Convergence Magazine, v. 1, 2022. Available:

BARRETO DE SANTANA, José Carlos. “Euclides da Cunha and the Polytechnic School of

Sao Paulo". Magazine of Advanced Studies, v. 10, no. 26. São Paulo: EDUSP, 1996.

CALASANS, José. “Canudos: origin and development of a messianic camp”. USP Magazine, n. 54 (“Dossier the sertões: one hundred years"). São Paulo: 2002. Available:

FOOT HARDMAN, Francisco. “Ancient brutality: on history and ruin in Euclides”. Magazine of Advanced Studies, v. 10, no. 26.São Paulo: EDUSP, 1996.

GALVÃO, Walnice Nogueira. “Interview: fact and fiction in the work of Euclides da Cunha”.  History science. health, Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro, v. 5 (suppl.), jul. 1998.

______. Euclides da Cunha: militant of the Republic. São Paulo: Popular Expression, 2010.

KOVAL, Bóris. History of the Brazilian proletariat: 1857 to 1967. São Paulo: Alfa Omega, 1982.

ROSSO, Mauro. “Euclides da Cunha, politician”. Whale in the network – Research Group Magazine. of Cinema and Literature at the Filos Faculty. and Sciences (Unesp-Marília), v. 1, no. 6, Dec. 2009. Disp.:

SODRÉ, Nelson Werneck. The ideology of colonialism. Rio de Janeiro: ISEB, 1961.

VENTURA, Roberto. Tropical style: cultural history and literary controversies in Brazil. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1991.

______. Euclides da Cunha and the Republic. Magazine of Advanced Studies.v. 10, no. 26. São Paulo: EDUSP, 1996.

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