Oswald de Andrade – cultural mediation, faits divers and national literature

Image: Ermelindo Nardin


Chapter of the recently released book “Press, history and literature: the journalist-writer”, organized by Isabel Lustosa and Rita Olivieri-Godet

The newspaper was an omnipresent reference during the XNUMXth century for any writer. From the middle of that century onwards, everyday news began to fill the pages of the most varied communication vehicles and gained increasing space over the years. The Brazilian periodical press at the beginning of the XNUMXth century echoed this trend, despite its modest print runs when compared to countries with a greater tradition in printing activity. In Paris, where the dynamics of the press was remarkable, at all levels, including a prolific popular press filled with scandalous cases, the dialogue that was established between media culture and erudite art fully reached the varied spectrum of modernist movements. In a singular way, but as part of the same inevitable context, the Brazilian intelligentsia was also not unharmed by the language, the rhythm, the format that the newspaper imposed on writing.

This article deals with a striking example of São Paulo modernism in which the language of the newspaper, especially that of variety notes and police sections, contaminated literary language: the case of Oswald de Andrade. Oswald was up to date with artistic procedures adopted by the vanguard of European modernism, among them this intense dialogue between everyday references present in periodicals and erudite art, which did not always go down well with the local conservative taste. The aim is also to show how it can be considered a cultural tour by acting as an intermediary between foreign trends, especially from the French intellectual milieu with which he established solid contacts, and the debates around the issue of identity and nationality in our literature.

He was certainly a multiple intellectual and a perfect example of a writer-journalist as he moved easily through these instances of writing. A literate man, he used the platform to publish literature, criticism and engaged opinion, a man between cultures, capable of acting as a mediator between different worlds and codes. The aspect that stands out in this article is, however, that of the intellectual whose literary text admittedly allowed himself to be contaminated by the language of the newspaper. The most emblematic, perhaps inaugural, moment of this author's march towards experimentation and the assumed and purposeful absorption of the newspaper's writing in his literary work found its best expression in The condemned, poorly received by critics and considered a minor work precisely because of the distance it took from the literary canon.

The extensive critical fortune that deals with Brazilian modernism in general and the literary legacy of Oswald de Andrade in particular does not establish such relationships, not directly at least. The work of Vera Chalmers[1] discusses his work in journalism, which supported some of the arguments defended here, but does not explore the contamination between newspaper writing and artistic writing in the work referred to here. Classics on São Paulo modernism referenced throughout this text will deal with the issue of the apparent contradiction between internationalism and the pursuit of nationality, but do not go directly through the problematization of this aspect in The condemned.

A few years after we presented this article in the form of a communication in the colloquium “Press, history and literature: the writer journalist”,[2] an exhibition in Paris entitled “Oswald de Andrade: Passeur Anthropophage” highlighted the role that this author played as a cultural mediator between Brazil and France without, however, mentioning the book highlighted here, a book that, as we argue, is not only inspired by in the language of the newspaper, but also attests to the persistent presence of Francophilia in Brazilian artistic movements, even within modernism, whose search for “local color”[3] could imply the rejection of foreign heritage, including the French cultural reference.

The proposal, therefore, is to analyze the context in which the book The condemned was written, its repercussion in specialized critics, the aesthetic atmosphere of which it was the result, including the cultural exchanges established with European groups, mainly French, and how the writing of the newspaper was decisive in the style adopted there, mainly writing (and reading) in various facts by a generation of which Oswald is one example.


The condemned

1922. Municipal Theater of São Paulo. On stage, Oswald de Andrade, Menotti del Picchia, Mário de Andrade, Sérgio Milliet, among others. The curtain goes up, Menotti introduces the “new writers” to the full audience and Oswald begins reading the first pages of his unpublished novel The condemned. He didn't even open his mouth and boos and more boos. Finally, after a few minutes, silence reigns again. She tries to start over and the boos rumbled again. On the third attempt, he managed to read the passage in which the prostitute Alma “shows her white breasts stained with squeezes in the mirror of her room”,[4] immersed in feelings of love and hate for her lover and pimp Mauro Glade. In an article entitled “O Modernismo”, from 1954, Oswald recounts his memories of that day when he found himself exposed to wild boos: “I should have read low and moved. What interested me was playing my role, finishing quickly, leaving if possible. At the end, when I sat down and Mário de Andrade succeeded me, the booing resounded again”.

Oswald had actually read an excerpt from the first part of the Exile Trilogy, subtitled Web thickness and that “it had nothing excessively modern or revolutionary”,[5] as the author himself testifies. Web thickness was written between 1917 and 1921 and finally together with the two other parts, absinthe star, by 1927, and staggered, from 1934, formed the novel The condemned reissued in full edition in 1941.

The first publication of the trilogy dates back to 1922, after the reading described above at the Municipal Theater, at the event considered by Paulistas as the founder of the modernist movement in Brazil, the Semana de Arte Moderna. Critical reception of the book was generally dismal.[6] Paulo de Freitas[7] wrote that Oswald: "was meticulous in the technology of the lupanar, and a master, consummate master, in the property of midnight slang",[8] that he had “a talent for handling the slang of hidden places, with which street scribblers cover the walls of sewers”. Still in the words of Freitas, his use of “argot” (slang), his exploration of the “canceriness of human turpitude” and the “purulent gushing from the vein of prostitution” is inadmissible as art, and the critic cries out: “if this is what where art resides, open wide the doors of prostitution, and let the depravities that are done there be made clear, so that the proselytes of the New art".

The critic's indignation is as unbridled as the Municipal's boos and is filled with harsh words against the “new” – the self-proclaimed modernists – whom he calls “vandals of bad taste and literary and social depravity!”, “cynical cabotinos, disheveled cabotinos, (...) detractors of morality” to finish, in an agonizing tone “behind us; (…) we, the passistas; we, the retrograde ones in art, will be here, in defense of São Paulo society (…)!”. The critic referred to above did not hide it: he represented the conservative society of São Paulo against the novel The condemned, which he considered immoral.

Terms like “scandalous”, “unforeseen” and “combustible” served to describe the romance that takes place in São Paulo's bohemian nights, among prostitutes, pimps and common types of bas-fonds from Pauliceia. Oswald showed the dark side of that society that so asserted itself as beautiful, clean, sanitized, healthy, rich, white, white, which saw itself as superior, in short, regenerated.

Em The condemned we do find a history from São Paulo, full of its typical types, with themes of worldliness, but also of poverty, of the poorly frequented streets, of drunks, of the old houses with kneecaps, of carnival, of the circus and of the processions, alongside the trams, cars, factories, locomotives, modern viaducts, cinema and everything that dictates the rhythm of the chaotic city in expansion. Its main characters, however, personify what was then seen as the “scum”, starting with the protagonist, Alma, a prostitute in love with the pimp Mauro Glade. A beautiful woman arousing passion in men like the telegraph operator João do Carmo or his sculptor cousin, Jorge d'Alvelos, who appears at the end of the first volume, but only gains space in the last part of the trilogy.

What caused such a fuss, we suppose, was the uneasy presence of these characters and situations that seemed to have come straight out of various facts of the newspapers. But it wasn't just a moral issue. What bothered about foul language was not only the debasement caused by the use of realism, the fact that it stamped on the “noble” pages of a book those people who should not have existed except on the pages of a “mean” newspaper or in police and criminal cases. which in no way personified the yearnings of a civilized Brazilian. Discomfort also came from the aesthetic innovation that Oswald embarked on in his debut novel: the intense use of slang, as highlighted by his detractor critic, but above all the discontinuous action with many cuts, the telegraphic writing suggesting simultaneous actions that translated the compass hectic metropolis. Such resources tainted the concepts of what was considered good literature, to break into the field of art with that so despised language that was the language of newspapers, a phenomenon that was not exclusive to Brazil.[9]

If the Oswaldian experience was not as radical as in other works that he wrote concurrently with Exile Trilogy - Sentimental Memories of João Miramar (1919) Pau-Brasil manifesto (published in Correio da Manhã in 1924) or Seraphim Ponte Grande (1932) – it was undoubtedly definitive. And not because of its technical or aesthetic refinement, which can even be put to the test, but because of the bold use of newspaper language by this one who was, in fact, a true writer-journalist “committed to the new times”.[10]

Some of his contemporaries perceived this maneuver as something positive, even if they were less numerous than his critics. Oswald was considered ultra-futuristic by Carlos Drummond de Andrade: “a cry of novelty”, he said as early as 1922. Monteiro Lobato was sympathetic to his attempt to reproduce the “cinematographic process” in language.[11]

But the keynote of the reaction to the work was scandal and displeasure. And, without a doubt, it was the interference of the footnotes of everyday pages in the sacred literary language that shook the first pillars of Tupiniquim canonical erudition. This broke with the linearity of the prose of local literature, even the so-called modern one, which had characterized the ambiguity of the beginnings of modernism in São Paulo, between regionalism and nationalism.[12].

Like the Dadaists, the experience of The condemned is collage, superimposition, assembly that we notice in his syncopated writing. The reference to the newspaper, the automobile and the cinema is a consequence of this search for the incorporation of realism and the exaltation of technology so typical of futurism.[13], among other “isms” of the moment. The search for the “native element” took place in the Indian and in the black, but also in the “rehabilitation of our everyday speech that the pedantry of grammarians has wanted to eliminate from our written language”, as Paulo Prado stated in a preface to Pau Brasil Poetry.[14]

Form and concept presented themselves, thus, as issues for Oswald,[15] an elaboration still in progress that in The condemned applied in deliberate dialogue with the reader – a provocation of the sensibility of the time, which sounded aggressive to some readers, as can be seen by certain reactions. In its plastic expression, the first phase of Brazilian modernism presented the singularity of articulating the incipient aesthetic discourse and media culture, according to Annateresa Fabris's thesis that fits the purposes defended here. Oswald translated into his literature a modern reflection, which faced the traditional concept of art, but could not abandon the form and theme of nationality, of local color. This apparent contradiction between the dissolution of identity, proposed by the European vanguards, and the assertion of Brazilianness, is what distinguishes a modernism devoid of modernity, according to the author.

The caricature – the one that the social types portrayed in The condemned refer to – the everyday, mundane themes, the syncopated writing are elements that in everything refer to this precursory phase of Brazilian modernism. The newspaper was, as we know, a privileged means of expression for an entire generation. In its pages, public support was gained, either through the promotion of open controversy, or by using the space for didactic explanation of avant-garde proposals.[16] Em The condemned the option for polemics and the use of newspaper language come together in a deliberate and impetuous attitude that sounded provocative to an outdated art critic.

It matters little in this logic that the works presented were immature or approximately modern. What mattered was challenging a consolidated taste, announcing the future based on a restless and questioning present, a strategy that is undoubtedly uncomfortable, as demonstrated by the boos reserved for writers at the second festival and the controversy that took hold of newspapers during the event. and in some cases even a month later. What must be underlined is that such manifestations, although not modern in purist terms, are perceived as modern by the environment to which they are directed.[17]


The group from São Paulo

The São Paulo group sought to update the “opposition nationalist discourse”[18] linked to naturalism and realism. Despite the limitations, the quest was to free oneself from realism without giving up painting popular types, capturing the light of the interior, rebelling against bourgeois and National School themes.[19], which in itself already constituted a rupture, albeit very different from that promoted by the European modernists. It was a “remodeling” more than an overcoming or denial.

Looking at the surroundings, could not our moderns at the same time break with the “representation of external reality”,[20] from abroad. But while some denied the radical movements as Mário de Andrade did in relation to Cubism, others, like Oswald, saw in this reference from abroad the only possible meaning. the national game versus abroad was still incipient in The condemned, although it is possible to notice the attempt to capture the scenes of the real, in their physical and social aspects, “bringing in their interior realistic/naturalistic substrates of the XNUMXth century”,[21] alongside the experimentalism of the form, the rhythm dictated by the technical reality of the presses, the cars, the flow of people, vehicles and goods in the city.

Early on, nourished by the poetry of newspapers, Oswald painted a vigorous picture of our society exposed to the contradictions of a limping modernity. As in the painting by Tarsila do Amaral, Almeida Junior or Di Cavalcanti, the characters of The condemned they are realistic, albeit of a stylized, “modernized” realism.

A similar experience was carried out by Alcântara Machado in his Brás, Bexiga and Barra Funda e Pathe Baby[22] with its portrait, according to Mário Guastini, of “some aspects of the hardworking, intimate and daily life of these new national and nationalist mestizos. (...) But in fixing these aspects, the author (...) went to pick up his types very much at the ground floor. He plunged, perhaps, into most.”[23]

Or, as Mário de Andrade said, responding to criticisms against the Brás, Bexiga and Barra Funda: “People are saying that the book is regionalist, and I am delighted with certain easy criticisms. The book is about stories set in São Paulo, it deals with an ethnic phenomenon that is also taking place in São Paulo and takes advantage of the peculiar patuá of certain people of São Paulo, there is no doubt. However, the inspiring source, the moving force (of) the book is in the racial struggle, in telling the fatal ethnic fusion arising from the factors that provoke and fatalize the adaptation, struggle and fusion that are not peculiar to São Paulo, but something of many lands and all living lands.”[24]

Not by chance, Alcântara Machado opens his book with the prologue “This book was not born a book: it was born a newspaper”. We could still cite many other examples of this promiscuous relationship between newspaper and literature, from Machado de Assis to João do Rio, greatly admired by Oswald (including many other authors cited here). Not to mention Sylvio Floreal or Nelson Rodrigues, one rejecting and the other shamelessly and proudly assuming these aesthetic connections. But it was as an act of precursor and, above all, of conscious modernism that Oswald, like Alcântara Machado, rushed to the footnotes of newspapers to translate the Brazilianness into his plot. It is neither Dostoyevsky's piety nor Aluísio Azevedo's picturesqueness, it is the “national element” from the modernist perspective.

Years after the first experience with Web thicknessOn To Escada, the last part of the trilogy published in 1934, the suicide of the sculptor Jorge d'Alvelos in his studio at the Palácio das Indústrias, a character inspired by Victor Brecheret, appears in the book starring in a newspaper article. It was Carnival Tuesday. Jorge, a petty-bourgeois, bohemian, traveled around Europe, in love with Alma (whom he had seen die from a beating by a pimp), in short, misunderstood in his avant-garde art by narrow-minded society in São Paulo, fantasized about Pierrot and killed himself. The following day, his musician friend Torresvedras read about his suicide in the newspaper: “Torresvedras woke up on Wednesday at four o'clock in the afternoon. (…) A newspaper vendor passed by, shouting. He bought an evening sheet. He unfolded it at the window and suddenly read: “Dawn of ashes – A strange suicide” (…) Outside at the Palace of Industries. “In the pre-morning, surrounded by slender lamps, the Florentine portent was enveloped in a great coat"..."Pierrot  in silk and white” [Torresvedras] … he wanted to know the name… “in dorsal decubitus, feet facing a broken statue”… It was him… the musician friend despairs in his eager reading of the newspaper. He wanted to tear up the newspaper (…) And he read at the end: “Pierrot, who was now resting peacefully on the marble of the morgue, was nothing more than a Brazilian sculptor, Jorge D'Alvelos, thirty-two years old, recently arrived from Pomegranate. The reason for the tragic fate was broken love”.[25]

And the narrator (Oswald) continues: “The police serial in the São Paulo gazette did not tell the excruciating truth that it was for [friends] Carlos Bairão and Bruno de Alfenas to find (…) the stiff body of Jorge”.[26]

Examples like this abound throughout the book, from the first to the third part. Citations to newspapers are recurrent. Many characters read newspapers, especially the news section. various facts, in a metalinguistic feedback loop. Writing seen as loathsome, banished by good literati, condemned in court reports as contagious for its bad examples,[27] describing an underworld rejected by good taste, the news seems to have been what inspired the modern young Oswald in search of the national “type”. Amid the attempt to define identity dominated by racist rhetoric and Parnassian aesthetics, Oswald seeks the “primitive and pure”[28] of our identity in the most genuine realism, which the language of everyday newspapers translated so well.


Oswald journalist

Oswald, before writing The condemned, had already worked in journalism. Born in 1890, in 1909, aged just 19, the same year he entered the prestigious Largo São Francisco Law School, he wrote for the São Paulo newspaper popular newspaper[29], in the “Theaters and Halls” section, leaving the activity in 1912, to do the tour by Europe.

Before, however, he had known the editor's experience with the periodical the brat which he founded in 1911. A satirical weekly newspaper, it was aimed at the more affluent, welcoming contributions from Parnassian literature[30] alongside names that emerged as important in the consolidation of the modern movement[31]. Back from abroad, he brought a Frenchwoman, Henriette Boufleur, to Kamiá (with whom he would have his first child) and the Futurist Manifesto by Marinetti. From this trip, he drew what would be the founding experience of his modernism: contact with the avant-garde, especially the French.[32]

Cultural exchanges with France set the tone for South American, or even worldwide, intellectuals, and it was not surprising that, even in a movement marked by the search for the “primitive”, for the “national element”, French predominated – the language of that region. which was the cultural capital of the planet since the XNUMXth century. Francophonie in Brazil, notable during the XNUMXth century, was still pronounced with vigor at the beginning of the century in a series of manifestations that ranged from the abundance of Gallicisms in prose or poetry to the intense circulation of printed material in French, from books to magazines specialized in all fields of knowledge, equally privileged vehicles for the influx of new ideas. There are several examples of South American artists who chose this language or homeland for their avant-garde ventures, such as the Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro or the Peruvian César Moro.[33]

In this regard, Paulo Prado said: “Oswald de Andrade, on a trip to Paris, from the top of an atelier in Place Clichy – the navel of the world – discovered, dazzled, his own land. The return to the homeland confirmed, in the enchantment of the Manueline discoveries, the surprising revelation that Brazil existed.”[34] And Oswald himself admitted that being a modernist “was for men who had suffered Paris in the skin like me”.[35] He returned to Paris in 1923, when he also traveled to Africa with Tarsila, met Blaise Cendrars and wrote about the European intellectual scene for the newspaper Sao Paulo Post.

Thus, the radical break with colonialist patterns proposed by the Semana de Arte Moderna is easily contested. And this goes well beyond the adoption of the French language in national artistic expression, which was noted – and ironized – by Blaise Cendrars, one of Oswald's famous foreign friends and who had yielded good results in these transnational dialogues. “It was Oswald de Andrade, the prophet of modernism in São Paulo, who came to pick me up in Paris… (…). Those young modernists had crazy talent, spirit, grace, a popular, slang-filled, black vocabulary, and a keen sense of provocation and polemic, of the present time. But what would be left after two, three decades? Anything (…). As practiced, all this Modernism was nothing but a vast misunderstanding.”[36] As avant-garde proposals matured and Brazilian modernists refined the conceptual issues that would provide conditions for the aesthetic rupture here only completed in the 1950s, the more they distanced themselves from the search for a Brazilianness of realistic standards. What was a mistake for Blaise Cendrars was, in fact, the characteristic of local modernism, even if it seems paradoxical.

Regardless of the excessive cultural reverence for the foreigner, Oswald stood out as a true cultural tour. He synthesized the figure of a cultural translator, who establishes a connection between two different poles, creating points in common and enabling their effective communication. He opposed the literature that was still dominant, brought people together, served as a radiating and encouraging center for novelties and, above all, tried to impress the conquests of the European vanguards on Brazilian soil in a pioneering way, being himself innovating to a great extent,[37] contradicting the version that Brazilian modernism was a mere copy. Not being the radical break that people wanted to believe, it was not a mere parrot either.

This ambiguity between the search for writing with a local color and openness to foreigners, therefore, has nothing wrong with it and would be well justified in the anthropophagic movement (1928 and 1929, 1a and 2a dentitions, respectively – with the publication of the Anthropophagy, with Raul Bopp and Alcântara Machado). From this time, an attempt was made to bring the Brazilian artistic experience to the Parisian stages, in a typical operation of round trip. In 1916, our future modernist leader wrote two entire pieces in French in partnership with another modern icon, Guilherme de Almeida, Mon Coeur Balance e Leur Âme. But as Jorge Schwartz rightly observed, “In a period when what is now known as the publishing market did not yet exist, printing Latin American books in Paris or even writing in French is not a reason to consider this an effect of the absence of nationalism, as even came to be pointed out at the time”[38]. The plays were not staged in Paris, but were published in worldly Brazilian magazines such as The Cicada and arrived on stage discreetly in São Paulo.[39]

It is in this whirlwind of events and comings and goings of national artistic life, among erudite references, radical avant-garde experiences and predominance in intelligentsia Brazilian tradition of traditionalism in its broadest sense, that Oswald wrote the first part ofThe condemned, which occurred after his return from Europe, a year after the partnership with Guilherme de Almeida in the first two pieces written in French, when he was already the editor of another important Brazilian daily life, the Commerce Newspaper[40]. The work in this newspaper, as well as in the popular newspaper and Brat, undoubtedly exerted influence on the Oswaldian style. From an assiduous reader of newspapers – as, incidentally, this whole generation of writers was – he became a writer-journalist himself.

And his experiences in journalism multiplied. Still in 1916, he started to write in the worldly magazine Modern Life. In 1917, when he resumed his course at the Faculty of Law, he settled in a waiter in the center of São Paulo, which became a place for discussion of new aesthetic trends and a bohemian spot for young people chic. It was frequented by Guilherme de Almeida (with whom he edited the magazine Paper and Ink in the 20s), Menotti del Picchia, Mário de Andrade, Di Cavalcanti and others[41]. In February 1918, the brat closed its doors, after having lost its satirical strength, not before having excerpts from Oswald's new novel published, Sentimental Memories of João Miramar. His sense of modernism was in full swing. He reacted to Monteiro Lobato's harsh criticism of his colleague, the painter Anita Malfatti in a well-known episode. Also, published in the magazine Horn from 1922.

And it was in this same year that he began collaborating with the newspaper The Gazette, which lasted only a year, when he passed the position to an unemployed friend. This afternoon paper, which began publication in 1906, was the most sensationalist newspaper in São Paulo at the time, despite the efforts of the new editor, Cásper Líbero, to reform it from 1918 onwards, when it entered the newspaper.[42].

Founded by Adolpho de Campos Araújo, it implanted a modern air with its bold layout, bold headlines that crossed columns. It started with six pages. It went through several crises, which was reflected in a sequence of changes in owners and collaborators. Your various facts they were long and very dramatic, with the use of headlines, wax noses, many subheadings and, early on, photographs.

He had Voltolino as a caricaturist, with almost daily production, always making puns with the themes that were highlighted in the newspaper. Read by more than fifteen thousand people[43] it went into crisis after the change of ownership at the end of 1916 and under the new administration it took several libel suits, ending 1917 with print runs of two thousand copies. During all these years sensationalism was intense in his columns. In 1918, Cásper Líbero entered[44] with a policy of modernizing the newspaper.

It is in this context that Oswald became a reporter – would Oswald be the author of the sensational various facts of this newspaper? Difficult to know, since they were not signed articles and there is no reference to this in his autobiography, in which, by the way, he mentions his experience with the Gazeta succinctly. Regardless of writing or not the daily notes, ever more numerous in various vehicles of the time, this was the atmosphere that also nourished the avid readers of newspapers that were the modernists, including Oswald. This publishing phenomenon certainly affected the young modernist and the language of his debut novel inspired by sections such as Blood Scenes, Last, Last hour, The sensational crimes, The passionate tragedies[45], Crimes of passion[46] and others.

It should be noted that the afternoon newspapers, in general, brought more various facts than the morning ones, where the “serious” news of the day came out. It is not by chance that Oswald highlights the fact that it is an afternoon paper that announces the suicide of Jorge d'Alvelos. In the following years, there were several periodicals of the great press in which he would write, such as Paulista Post Office, Mail in the morning, which also gave great space to sensationalism, among other newspapers and magazines in which he published and edited, even engaging in the communist press after 1930, when he joined the PC and published, with Pagu, the newspaper the man of the people. Although not having been “a career journalist. (...) This deed of circumstance has an importance that is not always just of secondary importance in the set of his work”, as noted by Vera Chalmers.[47]

At the very moment I was writing The condemned, Oswald was himself the subject of a scandal, widely reported in the newspapers he read and wrote. It was the Carmem Lydia “case”, emblazoned in bold letters on the front pages and sections of police scandals. The girl was a young dancer she met on her trip to Europe (from where she brought Kamiá) and who was tutored by her grandmother and Amadeu Amaral. With modernist techniques learned in her studies in London and Italy, Carmem Lydia soon left Oswald in love, according to reports.[48], but as far as is known nothing was ever consummated. The fact is that he promoted the girl and her innovative techniques for the time in the provincial artistic milieu of São Paulo and accused her grandmother of exploiting her, which resulted in a lawsuit and her name and photo were exposed in the newspapers.[49]

O news stamped The Gazette January 20, 1917 (among other pages) that featured Oswald's photo in prominence (Fig. 01). The echoes of that a can be felt during the condemned, as if to sublimate the intrusive, uncomfortable and noisy writing of the news with his libertarian prose. To what extent these elements played a role in the work highlighted here is difficult to say. But it is possible to perceive that the thematic constellation was not foreign, even less the melodramatic tone of a journalism still in the process of becoming professional.

Fig. 01. The case of the dancer – Carmen Lydia. In detail, photo by Oswald de Andrade
The Gazette, São Paulo, 20/01/1917.

Oswald's experiences in Brazilian press vehicles, added to his function as a cultural mediator, were essential factors for his aesthetics and for the central role he played in Brazilian modernism. At that founding moment, the language of the newspaper, including that of various facts, is the one that best seemed to translate the desire for literary renewal of an entire generation and he fearlessly allowed his writing to be contaminated by it.

*Valéria dos Santos Guimaraes is a professor of history at Unesp. She is the author, among other books, of Miscellaneous news: suicides for love, contagious readings and popular culture in São Paulo in the 1910s (Mercado de Letras).



Isabel Lustosa and Rita Olivieri-Godet (orgs). Press, history and literature: the journalist-writer, vol. 2, To be or not to be a journalist: the end of the romantic era. Rio de Janeiro, 7 Letters / Casa de Rui Barbosa Foundation, 2021.



[1] CHALMERS, Vera. Three lines and four truths – the journalism of Oswald de Andrade. São Paulo: Two Cities Bookstore/Secretary of Culture, Science and Technology of the State of São Paulo, 1976.

[2] Held at Fundação Casa de Rui Barbosa in early August 2014.

[3] Oswald de Andrade: Passeur Anthropophage. Curatorship: José Leonardo Tonus and Mathilde Bartier. Center Georges Pompidou, Paris, January/2016.

[4] ANDRADE, Oswald (1927 [1970]). The condemned. São Paulo: Círculo do Livro, 1970, p. 39.

[5] ANDRADE, Oswald. “Modernism”. Anhembi Magazine, São Paulo. n. 49, 1954.

[6] “But when its first volume appeared, traditional critics – or those who gave opinions about books through newspapers and magazines – were perplexed, even stunned. Practically only generation mates and a few more open minds understood it, among the intelligentsia that held literary and cultural power”. BRITO, Mário da Silva, Preface to the book The condemned: “The novel student Oswald de Andrade”, in ANDRADE, Op. cit., 1970, pp. 9-10.

[7] Perhaps the pseudonym of Moacyr Chagas, a renowned journalist at the time. BRITO, Idem, P. 11.

[8] Apud Brito, Idem, Ibidem.

[9] THÉRENTY, ME, VALLAINT, Alain (right). Presse et plumes – journalism and littérature in the XNUMXth century. Paris : Nouveau Monde editions, 2004.

[10] COAST, Christina. Rent penalty – journalist writers in Brazil (1904-2004). Sao Paulo: Cia. das Letras, 2005, p. 92.

[11] For a summary of the criticisms, see Brito, Op. cit., P. 18.

[12] PINTO, Maria Inês Machado Borges. Industrialized cities: modernism and pauliceia as an icon of Brazilianness. Brazilian Journal of History. Sao Paulo, vs. 21, nº 42, 2001, p. 440.

[13] HUMPHREYS, Richard. Futurism. São Paulo: Cosac & Naify editions, 2001.

[14] whose predecessor text had been published in the newspaper Correio da Manhã on March 18, 1924. PRADO, Paulo. Preface to Pau-Brasil Poetry, Facsimile edition, Paris: Sans Pareil, 1925, p. 10.

[15]  Annateresa Fabris observes how, since Impressionism, conceptual reflection has taken precedence over form, a process that only matured with Marcel Duchamp: “It is by thinking of art as a process of self-analysis and impressionism as an exploration of pictorial possibilities far beyond verisimilitude that such anticipation can be postulated. This process of self-identification, still shy and ambiguous, in the words of Joseph Kosuth, is questioned by Duchamp, who shows the need to build 'another language' for modern art.”, FABRIS, Annateresa, “Modernidade e Vanguarda: o Brazilian case” In FABRIS, A. (org.), Modernity and Modernism in Brazil. 2a ed., Porto Alegre, RS: Zouk, 2010, p. 11.

[16] Ditto, p. 21.

[17] Ditto, p. 23.

[18] CHIARELLI, Thaddeus. “Between Almeida Jr. And Picasso” In: FABRIS, A. (org.), Modernity and Modernism in Brazil. 2a ed., Porto Alegre, RS: Zouk, 2010, p. 55.

[19] Former Imperial Academy of Fine Arts.

[20] Same, Ibid.

[21] Same, Ibid.

[22] MACHADO, António de Alcântara. Pathé-Baby, São Paulo : Official Press of the State of São Paulo: Division of Archives of the State of São Paulo, facsimile edition, 1982 [1926] and Brás, Bixiga and Barra Funda – news from São Paulo. São Paulo: Official State Press/State Archive, facsimile edition, 1982 [1927].

[23] GUASTINI, Mario (Stiunirio Gama). Review of the book by Antônio de Alcântara Machado in MACHADO, 1982, Op. cit., P. 89.

[24] ANDRADE, Mário de (1927 [1982]). Review of the book by Antônio de Alcântara Machado. Brás, Bixiga and Barra Funda – news from São Paulo. São Paulo: Official State Press/State Archive, facsimile edition, p. 105.

[25] ANDRADE, O. The condemned, op cit, P. 205.

[26] Same, same.

[27] See: RUBIÃO JR., José Alvares (1895). Report of the Secretariat of Justice presented to the President of the State by the Interim Secretary of Justice Affairs of São Paulo on 31/12/1894. Sao Paulo: Typography

Espíndola steam engine. Siqueira & C. In: GUIMARÃES, Valéria. Miscellaneous news: suicides for love, contagious readings and popular culture in São Paulo in the XNUMXs. Campinas, São Paulo: Mercado de Letras, 2013.

[28] HARRISON, Charles. The Primitive and the Pure. São Paulo: Cosac & Naify editions, 1998.

[29] It was founded in 1884 by José Maria Lisboa (former manager of The Province of St. Paul predecessor of State St. Paul) and Américo de Campos (Sodré 1999, p. 228). According to Affonso A. de Freitas, the popular newspaper, was a republican organ and was considered “the most popular of all periodicals in the capital, especially among the less favored classes” (Freitas 1915). The “old Dipo”[29], as it was known, was in circulation for over a hundred years. It maintained a sober presentation during the first decades of the XNUMXth century, even when other newspapers were already daring both in terms of layout and language. had a section news with headlines like Crime and Murder – One Stab (DP, 29/01/1910) but it is themes about politics, arts and shows, official notes, all without much criteria, that dominate the newspaper that cannot be considered sensationalist.

[30] CHALMERS, Vera. Op. Cit.

[31] In addition to literary columns and a society column, it has satirical columns, and the magazine can be considered “irrevenent” without going beyond “the limit of decorum” (CHALMERS, Op. Cit., 1976, p. 45). In it, Oswald creates a section of letters in macaronic Portuguese “that imitate the speech of Italian immigrants” under the pseudonym Annibale Scipione, which will be continued by Juó Banannere (João Bananeiro). The parodies also include the imitation of the caipira “dialects”, of the Portuguese or German immigrants. Oswald's anarchist sympathies were already notorious, but his "socialism was more about feeling and ideas, not about action" (CHALMERS, Op. Cit., 1976, p. 49) as of this generation that came out of the arcades of San Francisco.

[32] Although the manifesto came out in Italian, it was published in Paris, ville-carrefour where the vanguards converged.

[33] SCHWARTZ, George. Preface. ANDRADE, Oswald e ALMEIDA, Guilherme. Mon Couer Balance/ Leur âme and ANDRADE, Oswald. History of the Fille du Roi. São Paulo: Globo, 2003, p. 9.

[34] PRADO, Paul. Preface to Pau-Brasil Poetry, Op. Cit., P. 5.

[35] ANDRADE, O. “Modernism”, Op. Cit.

[36] CENDRAS, Blaise. Etc…, Etc…(A 100% Brazilian book). Sao Paulo: Ed. Perspective, 1976, p. 98.

[37] Anticipating the counterpoint writing of Aldous Huxley or guidelines of the Surrealist Manifesto, with his Pau-Brasil Manifesto.

[38] SCHWARTZ, Op. quote, p. 9.

[39] A new attempt is made in 1924 with La fille du Roi – Ballet Brésilien (sets by Tarsila do Amaral and music by Villa-Lobos) made with the intention of being staged on the stages of the city of lights by the leader of the Swedish Ballets, Rolf de Maré. Surely Oswald's intention was impacted by Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes' dazzling visit to Rio de Janeiro in 1917, and to São Paulo (where he received him, according to his diary) which, in turn, inspired Paul Claudel to write l'Homme et son desir “Brazilian thematic work to be danced by Nijinsky himself” (SCHWARTZ, Op. cite, P. 10) that premiered in Paris years later “But without the legendary Russian dancer, who was already ill”.

[40] In which it remained until 1922. A very traditional Rio newspaper, founded by the Frenchman Pierre Plancher in 1827, it sheltered important names of the national intelligentsia. Although sober, he was the first to adopt the serial. made no concessions to news despite having columns like Various News (1890) or rubric Varieties (1880, 1890), which consolidates itself as a serial space. One or another case was told in more detail, but with language that was always very objective, descriptive, without flourishes. At the time that Oswald became its editor, in 1916, this newspaper remained without major editorial changes.

[41] ANDRADE, Oswald. A man without a profession: under mother's orders. Sao Paulo: Brazilian Civilization, 1974.

[42] See: HIME, Gisely. The time and turn of progress: Cásper Líbero and the exercise of journalism in the pages of A Gazeta. Masters dissertation. São Paulo: ECA, USP, 1997.

[43] The Gazette, São Paulo, 12/11/1916.

[44] The Gazette, 16/05/1918.

[45] The Gazette, 12/10/1916.

[46] The Gazette, 15/01/1920.

[47] CHALMERS, Op. cit., P. 18.

[48] She inspires him to write Mon Coeur Balance. See: “Chronology” In: ANDRADE, Oswald. Serafim Ponte-Big. With two studies by Saul Borges Carneiro and Haroldo de Campos, p. 217

[49] AMARAL, Aracy A. Tarsila: her work and her time. Sao Paulo: Ed. 34, Edusp, 2003, p. 76. See especially note 19.

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