Mário de Andrade in the Week of 1922

Niki de Saint Phalle, the DANCE


Today and as in 1922, social contradictions reach historic heights

In this essay, I seek to point out the crucial issues of that moment, intertwining it with our present, and I make two suggestions. Making February 25th, the date of Mario de Andrade's death, Macunaíma Day, with cultural activities discussing the work and life of one of the greats of Modernism, and inspired by the outcome of the book Pauliceia Desvairada (“Enfibraturas do Ipiranga”) hold a large demonstration on September 7th.


1922 – The context

1922 was a busy year in Brazil and elsewhere. The contradictions of Brazilian society shook the country. From the 13th to the 18th of February, the Modern Art Week took place at Theatro Municipal, São Paulo. Inaugurated Modernism. March 25 saw the founding of the Communist Party in Niterói. On July 5th, the eighteen of the Copacabana Fort rose, triggering the Tenentism.

As far as is known, apart from synchronicity, these events were not directly related to each other. They were expressions of when history was heating up and the grains of society were popping. Or, better said, the sharpening of social contradictions and a rise in the class struggle.

The occurrences in Terra Brasilis interrelated with events in other parts of the planet, especially in Europe, seat of colonizing empires. The causal relationship between the expansion of European-imperialist-capitalism at the turn of the XNUMXth century and the misfortunes of the world wars is well known.

Impelled by systemic forces, riding steam engines, holding the reins of telegraphs, plundering peoples on all continents, blinded by money, the ruling classes led European nations into disaster and increased exploitation of colonies. They did poorly in these episodes. In the Soviet Union they saw their powers extirpated. Long dynasties were defended in Austria, Germany, Italy, elsewhere. And, where they were not defenestrated, they saw their powers of parasitism, land rentiers and public coffers reduced. They fared poorly, but they didn't give up the war.

Such were the winds that blew in 1922 when the outbreaks of the Spanish flu cooled. The historical upheavals of class struggles are reflected in the field of arts and vice versa. That 1922 in Brazil was special.


Mário de Andrade 20 years later – the trigger, the explosion…

In February 1942, Mário de Andrade would recall the period prior to the 1922 Week: “the truth is that preconscience first, and then the conviction of a new art, of a new spirit, for at least six years had been defining itself in the … feeling of a small group of intellectuals, here. From the first, it was a strictly sentimental phenomenon, a divinatory intuition, a… state of poetry. Indeed: educated in “historical” art, knowing at most the existence of the first impressionists, ignoring Cézanne, what led us to unconditionally adhere to Anita Malfatti's exhibition, in the middle of the European war, showing expressionist and cubist paintings? It seems absurd, but those paintings were a revelation for me. And we raved about the Yellow Man, the Russian Student, the Woman with the Green Hair. And I dedicated a parnassian sonnet to the Yellow Man… We were like that”.

Anita Malfatti. The Yellow Man (1st Version), 1915[I]

The “Exhibition of Anita Malfatti” took place at the end of 1917. His works evoked revolutionary and modern European painters, a style that caused astonishment. Monteiro Lobato, then almost forty years old, a hillbilly from the Paraíba Valley, a strong intellectual with access to the media, criticized the painted forms, even though he recognized the artist's talent.[ii]

The only public response seems to have been from Oswald de Andrade, who in his memoirs stated: “Anita Malfatti's exhibition provoked a monumental kick from Monteiro Lobato, wholly ignorant and malicious. Am I the only one to shyly defend Anita for the Commerce Newspaper".[iii] Lobato's kick helped form the spirit of the group that carried out the Week[iv] and influenced the works of that period.

Mário de Andrade follows by narrating the beginnings: “Shortly after [Anita's Exhibition], [poet] Menotti del Picchia and Osvaldo de Andrade discovered [sculptor Vitor] Brecheret in his exile from the Palácio das Indústrias. And we made realreverie” symbols in front of the exasperated symbolic and decorative stylizations of the “genius”. Because Brecheret was for us at least a genius. This was the least we could be content with, such were the enthusiasms to which he stirred us. And Brecheret would soon be the trigger that would make Paulicéia Desvairada explode”.[v]

After the trigger, the burst of the book produced by a blossoming artist. Mário says that, around December 1920, he was much criticized in the family for paying a handsome sum for a Head of Christ with braids, made by Brecheret and cast in bronze, which he was enchanted with and which the family's staff loathed.

“I was hallucinated, word of honour. I wanted to kill. I dined inside, in an unimaginably shattered state. Then I went up to my room, it was evening, with the intention of getting ready, going out, relaxing a bit, dropping a bomb in the center of the world, I don't even know. I know that I reached the balcony, looking without seeing my Largo do Paissandu. Noises, lights, open talk rising from hired chauffeurs. He was apparently calm. I don't know what came over me… I arrived at the office, opened a notebook, wrote the title I had never thought of, Paulicéia Desvairada. The explosion had arrived at last, after almost a year of questioning anguish”.

Some poems were presented to friends and commented on by them before the publication of what would be his first book signed with his own name.[vi]

Years later, recording the adventures of the production and publication of Pauliceia Desvairada, he would write about a meeting with Monteiro Lobato, to whom he had given the originals for publication: “he sent for me, welcomed me very well, and frankly expressed his thoughts on the book, or rather, his non-thinking, as he confessed not understanding any of it all. And he said to me: “Could you not write a preface, an explanation of your verses and your poetics?” The idea was splendid, and it was at the request of Mr. Lobato that I wrote the “Interesting Preface”, the best part of the book, in the opinion of those who wasted time and truth, liking me a lot”.[vii]

The book would only be published in June 1922 financed by the author himself.

Cover of the 1st edition[viii]

“The cover is dressed in the costume of the Harlequin from the Italian commedia dell'arte, irregular lozenges, in white, yellow, red, green, blue and black, randomly combined. Overlapping the colorful geometric outline, centralized, advancing slightly at the top, the rectangle, thick dark frame, rounded corners, surrounds the light background, in which the author's name and the title of the book stand out: “Mário de Andrade/ PAULICEA/ DISTRACTED”. The fourth cover, white, resumes, on a smaller scale, the game of multicolored patches, on which the Latin editorial vignette “In Labor Honor”. On the spine, in black, the author's name, the title and the year “1922” are stamped. Opening the brochure, on the title page, one also discovers the designation of the publisher from São Paulo, Casa Mayença, and the dates “December 1920/ to/ December 1921”.

On page 41, the drawing in brownish colors by Antonio Moya catches the eye, like the pictorial portico in the poems. The index, placed on the last page, arranges the order of the “Dedication”, the “Interesting Preface”, the title of the 21 collected poems and “As Enfibraturas do Ipiranga”. On page 144, the last one, the colophon indicates the end of the volume's printing on “July 21, 1922/ 100th of the Independence of Brazil”.[ix]


The theory and practice

After the cover there is an intriguing dedication to himself followed by the “Most Interesting Foreword”. In it Mário de Andrade presents artistic, poetic, political positions and biographical data. Ironic. Provocative. Text that needs slow reading and careful apprehension. Sometimes enigmatic. But certain points are quite clear. He reports that at the age of ten he already metered and rhymed verses. It shows a poem from that time, called Artist. In it (in addition to mastering rhyme and syllables) he reveals his desire to be a painter, which he concludes with this verse in solidarity with the sad and the unfortunate:

“…I will live where Misfortunes live;
and I will live by coloring smiles
on the lips of those who curse or who cry!”

In 1922, at the age of twenty-nine, the artist had already grown up, having given up painting (although his series of drawings on the historic cities of Minas Gerais show a good command of the technique[X]) reveals that he no longer saw “any fun in that of people submitting commotions to a Procrustean bed so that they obtain, in a conventional rhythm, a conventional number of syllables…. Now I also free myself from that prejudice”.

And, how can you not agree with his synthesis in which, after denying the dictatorship of meters and rhymes, he says he does not disdain: the “dancing swings of rounds and decasyllables… The commotion happens to fit in them. Therefore, they sometimes enter into the rhythmic cabaret of my verses”.

Beautiful that of the "rhythmic cabaret". Commotion and its synonyms, exaggerations, there are innumerable states of mind referred to and expressed in the verses of Pauliceia Desvairada, often associated with landscapes. “Inspiração” is the title of the first verse that begins and ends with: “Sao Paulo! commotion of my life…”.

He writes words, phrases, paragraphs as fragments that form mosaics in which he reflects urban landscapes (“My London of fine mists”), cacophonies of salespeople and accents of immigrants, offering clues to the inner landscape of the harlequin soul of the artist who considers himself “… a Tupi playing a lute” and uses São Paulo as a metaphor for himself.

the author of Pauliceia Desvairada he is someone who is already conscious of the unconscious, in himself a forerunner. Quotes Freud. It cites an astonishing number of authors and works.[xi] Responds to criticism. He asserts in counterpoint: “When one of the poems in this book was published, many people said to me: “I don't understand”. There were people, however, who confessed: “I understood, but I didn't feel it”. My friends… I realized more than once that they felt, but did not understand. Evidently my book is good.

Name writer said of my friends and me that we were either geniuses or beasts. I think you're right. We feel, both I and my friends, the yearning of the lighthouse. If we were such sheep as to have a collective school, this would certainly be “Lighthouseism”. Our desire: to illuminate. The extreme left in which we stand does not allow for compromises. If geniuses: we will indicate the way forward; beasts: shipwrecks to avoid”.


challenge to the establishment

I underlined “my friends and me” to highlight the group that influences Mário de Andrade and identifies with his work[xii]. Oswald de Andrade, in a published article, called Mário a futurist, praising his poetry. Mário answers him in the Preface Interestingly[xiii].

The concatenation between elaboration of Pauliceia Desvairada and realization of the Modern Art Week can be compared to the smoke from a volcano erupting. Beneath appearances, in the depths of social contradictions, profound forces were at work.

Modernism was an expression of that society where enslaved and abandoned people, newly arrived migrants and native peoples attacked in their territories approached the historical proscenium. The Week of 1922 was one of the rumbles through which new contingents of the people would be represented over the subsequent years, spreading across the various artistic forms of painting, music, sculpture, theater, influencing what came later. From then on, he would be recognized as an inescapable reference in the field of arts, national culture and history, “illuminating paths”.

Those “castaway beasts” suffer from grotesque parochialism who claim the glory of the Week for São Paulo or, on the contrary, struggle to reduce its protagonism. Earthquakes have epicenters. The parochial arguments are easily annulled by the fact that both in the Week itself, and before and after, the protagonists in the proscenium, among other non-Paulistas, are the Bahian painter Di Cavalcanti[xiv], maestro Villa Lobos, from Rio de Janeiro (a giant whose work of synthesizing nationality in music fraternizes with that of Mário de Andrade in literature).

Worse than grotesque are those who oppose Mário de Andrade and Oswald de Andrade as if it were necessary to take sides between the Sun and the Moon, or between two great stars of the cultural galaxy of those years. They foster a sterile provincialism. They could recognize that the modernists as a whole, and each one in their own specific way, expressed and elaborated a work on Brazil that, far from being monolithic and uniform, would establish a movement with reverberations and unfolding.

Instead of mapping out the realities that brought the Brazilian peoples to the forefront, the flafluzist cri-critics[xv] how could you call them Odorico Paraguassu[xvi] exalt the “who shines more?”, dispute of vanities. they do gossip[xvii] in the relationship between the Andrades, how, why and when they left; Of course, it is a relevant subject for understanding the personal relationship, the reciprocal influences and influences with third parties, of a social group that played a leading role in culture in a necessary and innovative revolution.

The “Interesting Preface” is followed by twenty-one verses and Pauliceia Desvairada ends with “Oratório Profano: Enfibraturas do Ipiranga”, a critical satire of society one hundred years after “independence” and thirty something years after the “abolition” of “slavery” and the founding of the “republic”.


premonition, presentiment, premeditation, planning

There is premeditation on the part of Mário de Andrade and his friends. It is important to understand the organicity and the movements. “Who came up with the idea for the Week? I don't know who it was, I can only guarantee that it wasn't me. The most important thing was to decide and be able to carry out the idea. And the real author of the Modern Art Week was Paulo Prado. And only a figure like him and a city like São Paulo could make the modernist movement and objectify it in the Week”.[xviii]

During 1921, with society pulsing contradictions that would flow into the following year, the Week of February 1922 and the verses of Pauliceia Desvairada were incubated, to which Mário de Andrade was giving light, inspired by the city, in a revolutionary language in form and rich in content.

The characters in “As enfibraturas do Ipiranga (Oratório Profano)” have ironic names that represent the people, the bourgeoisie, the academics, the modernists (“Auriverde youth”), classes and social groups and Mario himself through the character called “Minha Craziness" [xx], has an orchestra and the evidently absurd number of five hundred and fifty thousand singers. It was inspired by the celebrations of the “Centenary” of independence and can be read as a buffalo opera or a succession of amusing sketches or inspiration for the future.

I won't give spoilers here, but wouldn't it be fun to participate in the 7th of September 2022 - one hundred years later, in the “Enfibraturas do Ipiranga”, reenacted? It could look like this:

The show opens with the scene “At the dawn of the new day”.

We add our voice to the 550.000 singers in Anhangabaú, we sing hymns of the organized supporters, we go walking and singing the old and new revolutionary songs, and finally, in unison, marching “hey Bolsonaro will take it in the ass”. Then we left for Planalto, organized into blocks of samba schools, platoons and bands.


Viva Mário de Andrade: other commemorative rockets

It is impossible to read the “Interesting Preface” without suspecting the existence of an extremely organized person, who records and catalogs. Such suspicions are confirmed by compilations of texts from which details are extracted of when and how he made the cards and how he would have used them, when he would have started[xx] etc. and for the enormous presence of the files in the legacy now housed at Brasiliana USP and at the House-Museum.[xxx] In addition to the published andradian, they keep letters and other objects that are in themselves a representative collection of a culture where past and future merged, and he, Mário de Andrade, was both mason and mason for this work.

From an early age, he responded to an inner call that led him to write and become interested in artistic manifestations. He is an organic intellectual to the same extent that the permanence of his work speaks of the validity of the searches he carried out, whether as an artist who wrote masterpieces, or as a researcher, who stood out in the constitution of relevant collections, playing in the first team, along with Câmara Cascudo and with others. His praxis included, in addition to writing, acting in State bodies that, in 1935, founded the Department (which would later become the Secretariat) of Culture of the City, sowing libraries and kindergartens and, later, in the Federal government, in the Historical Heritage Service National. Besides, a human being with many friends; affectionate son and nephew, assiduous and prolific correspondent, careful with his files.

The reader who feels the urge to copy it informs at the opening of the Preface Interestingly: “Reader: Desvairism is founded” and ten pages later ends with: “And the poetic school is finished. “Devairism”. Next book I will found another. And I don't want disciples. In art: school = the imbecility of many to the vanity of one. I could have quoted Gorch Fock. I avoided the Very Interesting Preface. "Every song of freedom comes from prison".

Thus ends Mário de Andrade's Desvairismo, which assumes, in the first person singular, the risks of ridicule and affirms positions that will be adopted by the political and aesthetic vanguard of his time. Brave person. The following years would show a trajectory of tireless and qualified contribution to the cause of culture and the arts.

So great is his work and so many scholars are dedicated to it that I am forced to reveal myself as a newcomer amateur. Even so, I ask connoisseurs permission to recommend the 1927-28 vintage in which, among other publications, To love: intransitive verb,[xxiii] the apprentice tourist,[xxiii] and the (never celebrated, read and known enough, how funny and multifaceted it is) Macunaima.[xxv]

He died in 1945, on the 25th of February, in the midst of the elaboration of Meditations on Tietê. Well, we could make this next 25th Macunaíma Day…

* Robert Regensteiner is a professor, writer, and consultant in Management & Information Technology.



[I] Charcoal and pastel on paper, cid; 45,50 cm x 61,00 cm;

Visual Arts Collection of the Institute of Brazilian Studies – USP https://enciclopedia.itaucultural.org.br/obra1372/o-homem-amarelo-1-versao

[ii] https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranoia_ou_Mistifica%C3%A7%C3%A3o%3F

[iii] Paiva, Theotonio, Introductory Note In: https://outraspalavras.net/sem-categoria/a-exposicao-anita-malfatti/#sdendnote2sym.

[iv] “The “against” article by Monteiro Lobato, although it was just an angry banter, shook a population, changed a life”, https://outraspalavras.net/sem-categoria/a-exposicao-anita-malfatti

[v] https://outraspalavras.net/poeticas/o-movimento-modernista-20-anos-depois/.

[vi] I underline to emphasize the psychological underlying between a pseudonym and the name itself. In 1917 he had published There's a drop of blood in every poem under the pseudonym Mario Sobral.

[vii] “The short typewritten message [from Monteiro Lobato] on letterhead, dated September 17, 1921, exaggerates in justifying the refusal. He praises it in a biased, strategic way, getting rid of the worded commitment: “I didn't have the courage to edit it. This is something so revolutionary that it is capable of angering my bourgeois clientele and making them cast a terrible anathema on all the productions in the house, causing us to go bankrupt. I'm not one of the less courageous people, but I confess that in this case, courage fails me completely... I think it's best for you to edit the red war cry yourself” (p.180). In: Moraes, Marcos Antonio de. Pauliceia lost in the meshes of memory. In The axis and the wheel, Belo Horizonte, pp 178-179. v. 24, n.2, p. 173-193, 201

[viii] https://livreopiniaoportal.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/baud_pauliceia.jpg.

[ix] Moraes, Marcos Antonio de. Same, same

[X] V. http://casamariodeandrade.org.br/morada-coracao-perdido/# unmissable site with excellent organization of material about Mario, including drawings and photos of the artist and with him.

[xi] Magalhães, Hilda Gomes Dutra. Tradition and modernism in Preface Interesting by Mário de Andrade (UFMT) in: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/229911964.pdf

“As can be seen, Mário de Andrade's aesthetics are engendered through a highly dialogical process, in which artists and theorists of Literature, Music and Painting are rescued with the aim of serving to legitimize the poet's avant-garde work. Whether through allusions or quotations, the pages of the “Very Interesting Preface” populate the pages of Delacroix, Whistler, Raphael, Ingres, Grecco, Rodin, Debussy, Palestrina, João Sebastião Bach, Mohammed, Alá, São João Evangelista, Walt Whitman , Mallarmé, Verhaeren, Leonardo, Laurindo de Brito, Martins Fontes, Paulo Setúbal , Vicente de Carvalho, Francisca Júlia, Marinetti, Oswald de Andrade, Watteau, João Epstein, Edislas Milner, Shakespeare, Taine, Luis Carlos (Prestes), Anita Malfatti , Emílio Bayard, Rafael, Beethoven, Machado de Assis, Fichte, Musset, Pedro Álvares Cabral, Virgílio, Homero, Adão, Victor Hugo, Rigoletto, Galli, Pitágoras, G. Migot, Bilac, Gorch Fock, Heine, Gonçalves Dias, Rostand , Amadeu Amaral, Ribot, Renan, Wagner, Freud, Nun'Alvares, Gourmont, Rui Barbosa, João Cocteau. Also remembered are the works Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas, I-Juca-Pirama, Promenades Littèraires, La noce massacrèe, Tarde and Só quem ama. (Olavo Bilac).

In addition to the references above, it is worth mentioning that theories of Futurism, Impressionism, Modernism, Parnassianism, Surrealism are discussed in the preface, as well as already known concepts about the ugly and the aesthetic beautiful”.

[xii] “And there were those frantic escapes into the night, in Osvaldo de Andrade's green cadillac, to go and read our masterpieces in Santos, in Alto da Serra, on Ilha das Palmas... And our meetings in the afternoon in the editorial office of Papel e Ink… And the phalanx thickening with Sérgio Milliet and Rubens Borba de Morais, who had arrived from Europe… And the accession, in Rio, of a Manuel Bandeira… And the convulsions of idealism to which Menotti del Picchia’s Man and Death took us… And the astonished discovery that there were paintings by Lasar Segall in São Paulo, already very popular in German art magazines… And Di Cavalcanti, one of the most intelligent men I have ever met, with his drawings already possessing a destructive acidity. All geniuses, all brilliant masterpieces... Only Sérgio Milliet put a certain uneasiness in the fire with his balanced serenity... And the philosopher of the group, Couto de Barros, dripping islands of conscience in us, when in the middle of the discussion, he asked mansinho: – But what is the criterion you have for the word “essential”, or – 'But what is the concept you have of the “beautiful horrible”…” In: https://outraspalavras.net/poeticas/o-movimento-modernista-20-anos-depois/

[xiii] “I am not a (Marinetti) futurist. She said and I repeat it. I have points of contact with futurism. Oswald de Andrade, calling me a futurist, was wrong. That's my fault. I knew about the existence of the article and I let it out…” and further: “Marinetti was great when he rediscovered the suggestive, associative, symbolic, universal, musical power of the word in freedom. By the way: old as Adam. Marinetti made a mistake: he made her a system. It's just a very powerful helper. I use words freely. I feel that my cup is too big for me, and I still drink from other people's cups.”

[xiv] What would São Paulo be without Bahians? Thank you Tom Zé for “…my love”, thank you Caetano for the song, thank you Gilberto Gil and all the people from Bahia that arrived here.

[xv] An example of this lowered posture is the text by Ruy Castro: https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/colunas/ruycastro/2022/01/a-semana-um-menos-um.shtml

[xvi] Immortal character of Dias Gomes incarnated by the incomparable Paulo Gracindo.

[xvii] Standing out in this area is Mr. Ruy Castro with his articles on p. 2 am Folha de São Paulo where it gives way to shallow comments more appropriate to the Journal Faces.

[xviii] https://outraspalavras.net/poeticas/o-movimento-modernista-20-anos-depois/ Cap.1.

[xx] “Minha Loucura” is a voice that is also present at various times, in the verses that precede this gran finale which closes the book of the artist who is careful with details.

[xx] Figueiredo, Tatiana Longo “The first files of the modernist Mário de Andrade” Mário de Andrade “determined, in a letter-will to his brother, that the correspondence he received be closed and sealed for fifty years after his death, which occurred in 1945 The writer's archive, library and art collection were acquired by the University of São Paulo in 1968 and kept at the Instituto de Estudos Brasileiros. From 1995 onwards, after the ban had expired, the team coordinated by Prof. Telê Ancona Lopez carried out the archival processing of the Correspondência Series by Mário de Andrade, in view of its extroversion, in research subsidized by the IDB, VITAE, CAPES and FAPESP

[xxx] Excellent care, maintenance and education observed in the visit to the House-Museum on Rua Lopez Chavez in Barra Funda, as well as the site itself http://casamariodeandrade.org.br/ with excellent integration of subjects and fantastic photographs. very useful to Chronology Mário de Andrade: life and work, by Telê Ancona Lopez and the Mário de Andrade Team from IEB-USP, integrating the facts and recovering their reference within the work.

[xxiii] To love – intransitive verb A good novel that made a good movie. The title is provocative (Does the verb to love not need an object? What kind of love is this that Mário de Andrade talks about?). The plot exposes a faithful portrait of behaviors that he collected inside the well-to-do houses of the families with whom he lived in the houses on Rua Aurora, Largo Paissandu, Barra Funda in the early XNUMXth century, and in German classes with a young lady. Maybe she told him stories. Be that as it may, the plot exposes the scenes and situations in which a Fraulein is hired by a respectable bourgeois to sexually initiate his firstborn son in order to prevent him from being easy prey to some self-interested and marriageable adventurer who threatens his property. Such initiation would take place under the guise of being a private teacher. The novel brings abundant material to verify the hypocrisy that dissociates love and sexuality in the name of patrimonial interest, which characterizes a certain macho capitalism in which the man wants to submit the woman through the use of money, but this is a conversation for another chapter.

[xxiii] the apprentice tourist, also from 1927, reporting trips to Rio Grande do Norte, Pará, Amazonas . In RN, he fraternized with Câmara Cascudo, another champion of culture, who put into dictionary and historicized everything from gestures to mythology, including food with his wonderful History of Food. The meeting of those two must have been one of hunger and the desire to eat. It is said that Camara took him everywhere and he could not be a better guide.

On his travels, the avant-garde Mário de Andrade experimented with photography and sound capture. I saw somewhere that, much later, in the second half of the 1930s, during or after his tenure as SP culture secretary, Mário de Andrade would donate what was then the largest record collection in the southern hemisphere (where it will be being cared for such a precious thing?). O Tourist it was first published as a newspaper column, then as a book. It portrays, in text and photographs (an activity in which he was a precursor) the trip to Pará, to the (wonderful Market) Ver-o-Peso, the weeks trip along the Amazon by boat to Peru, the riverside populations, the indigenous children , collecting photos, registering files, being very attentive to the surroundings, a prospector of words, their etymologies and pronunciations.

[xxv] About Macunaima. I am not sure when MdA came into contact with the work of the German Theodor Koch-Grunberg, who “traveled several times through Brazil, the first of which was in 1896, as a member of the expedition led by Hermann Meyer, who sought to reach the mouth of the Xingu River. Between 1903 and 1905 he explored the Rio Japurá and Rio Negro, reaching the border of Venezuela. This trip is documented and illustrated with numerous photographs in the two volumes of the work Zwei Jahre Unter Den Indianern. Reisen in Nord West Brasilien, 1903-1905. (Two Years Among the Indians. Travels in Northwest Brazil, 1903-1905). His second important expedition began in 1911, departing from Manaus to Rio Branco and from there to Venezuela. In 1913 he arrived at the Orinoco River after exploring, on foot and by canoe, several regions that are still difficult to access today. Upon returning to Manaus, he wrote his most important book, Vom Roraima Zum Orinoco (From Roraima to the Orinoco), published in 1917.

His contribution is fundamental to the study of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, their myths and legends. His observations and travel reports constitute an important source for anthropology, ethnology and indigenous history”. In: https://www.oexplorador.com.br/theodor-koch-grunberg-foi-um-grande-etnologo-e-explorador-da-america-do-sul/.

I know that in 1923 MdA had private lessons in German and before that he started reading in that language. He was interested in several authors, as can be seen from the 1922 Preface Interesting. The fact is that Macunaíma is a masterpiece. Each one who reads and chooses the layers of the plot and its narratives within a dense universe of interpretative possibilities. My reading is that of a synthesis character, a Brazilian mythological being in which MdA amalgamated strong fragments of the multifaceted nationality, of the various and mixed cosmogonies, with emphasis on the indigenous ones; that travels through all biomes, exposes shameless sexualities and goes on baring the soul and speech.

The icing on the cake is the hero of our people and his catchphrase “Oh, what a sloth!”, a representation of an ancestral people brilliantly personified by Grande Otelo in the 1969 film. a character in formation, of the constitution of an ideal Brazilian people. Macunaíma offers a feast of topics for reflection. It shows a high standard of author excellence. There is no shortage of reasons why we have “Mário de Andrade weekends” just as there is an annual celebration of Joyce.

I make a caveat to MdA, when he claims to have written Macunaíma in 6 days at Tio Pio's farm, in Araraquara, where he had taken only the essentials, that he had written that book with more than one hundred pages in a single spurt... It's hard for me to believe in so much productivity even considering that I had many files ready, including very tasty collections of synonyms sprinkled throughout the book like tasty seasonings.

Here, as an aperitif, to readers, synonyms of money (some still in vogue despite inflation and currency changes) offered to the reader when Macunaíma and his brothers enter: “…lands of the Tietê creek where bourbon vogued and currency traditional it was no longer cocoa, instead it was called wire contos counts milréis borós tostão twozentorréis fivehentorréis fifty sticks, ninety bagarotes and pelegas snakes xenxéns caraminguás owl-billed seals massuni hefty limestone gimbra siridó fagot and pataracos like that, where even call sock nobody bought nor for twenty thousand cocoa. Macunaíma was very upset. Having to work, he, hero…. He muttered desolately: -Ai! what laziness!…” (Chapter V).

For those who like synonyms and Brazilian jargon, Macunaíma has plenty of dishes.

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