Pagu – the indomitable



Considerations on the intellectual and political trajectory of Patrícia Galvão

Whoever listens to the beautiful and lively song that Rita Lee and Zélia Duncan dedicated to Pagu, wonders who this person would be – queen of the platforms and champion of women who spend their hands washing clothes – to deserve such homage.

It's just that a good deal of time passed before Pagu (Patrícia Galvão, 1910-1962) began to be removed from the ostracism she had been immersed in for decades. The renewal of interest in this great libertarian dates back to a few years ago, when several unpublished pieces of her began to be published. Her incomplete memories came to light; the 1929 album; the sketches; the detective stories printed in 1944 in the magazine Detective, directed by Nelson Rodrigues; and the facsimile edition of man of the people, newspaper he produced together with Oswald de Andrade.

A late and growing popularity led to critical studies, re-editions, foundation of cultural and research centers, fiction films, documentaries, theater shows, television programs, names of magazines and schools, songs, carnival parade plots. And also, a more than complete exhibition at the Lasar Segall Museum.

A survey of her many pseudonyms includes, apart from Pagu, Mara Lobo, Pat, Pt, Ariel, Patsy, Gim, Solange Sohl, Peste. Among other instances, the State University of Campinas opened a research center on gender that bears its name; and edit the magazine Pagu Notebooks.

His texts appear in an anthology of Marxism in Latin America, alongside Mariátegui, Luiz Carlos Prestes, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Marighella and subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatista Army. And it is an entry, among other icons of social struggles, such as Caio Prado Jr. and João Pedro Stédile, in a Dictionary of Latin American Izquierda, (Buenos Aires, Planeta, 2010).

His two sons contributed to the rescue, editing texts, publishing unpublished material, installing a website. One of them, Geraldo Galvão Ferraz, in partnership with Lucia M. Teixeira Furlani, a Pagu enthusiast, with a doctoral thesis and book about her, organized the website The other, Rudá de Andrade, directed a film, the documentary Pagu – free in imagination, space and time (2001)

Paulista from the interior, Pagu was created in the capital. In 1929 he graduated from the Escola Normal da Praça da República, a diploma that enabled him to teach children in primary school. A then-recent phenomenon in the Brazilian panorama, the “normalist” opened the perspective of female emancipation through work. The girls flocked in droves, gaining an aura of less rigid customs and not-so-corset manners. The statutory ban on getting married before obtaining a diploma intensified fantasies and inspired popular music. Their navy blue and white uniform brightened up the downtown urban landscape. The works of the modernists, especially those from São Paulo, are full of allusions to them.

Pagu was presented by Raul Bopp to Tarsila do Amaral and Oswald de Andrade, leading figures of Modernism and its most illustrious couple. Pagu rocks the modernist scene with his youthful good looks, charm and unconventional demeanor. The exuberance of her hair, her plump mouth, her wide eyes – from the famous poem Raul Bopp dedicated to her, a sample of which is shown here – which can be seen in photos and drawings, became her trademark:

“Pagu has soft eyes
Eyes that hurt (...)
Pass and pull me with your eyes
most provocatively
shimmy hula hoop
to mess with everyone”

In 1929, Pagu and Oswald de Andrade started to live together. From this union, which lasted five years, would result in a son, Rudá de Andrade. Pagu would intensely participate in the anthropophagic phase of Modernism and would provide two drawings to the Anthropophagy Journal.

The economic crisis of 1929 paved the way for a reconfiguration of forces, with the radicalization of intellectuals, on the right and on the left. The decade of emergence and glory of Modernism comes to an end, with its happy fusion of vanguardists with coffee-growing patrons. In this process, Oswald and Patrícia joined the Communist Party in 1930 and became activists of the revolution.

In the same year, Pagu made a quick trip to Buenos Aires, with the intention of looking for Luiz Carlos Prestes, who lived there in exile; but he would only find him later in Montevideo. On the ship, he befriended Zorrilla de San Martin. He made contacts in the literary area with the magazine's cenacle South: Jorge Luis Borges, Victoria Ocampo, Eduardo Mallea.

In 1931, the couple founded the tabloid the man of the people, which lasted only eight issues. Hostilized by students from the neighboring Faculty of Law, who invaded the newsroom and tried to jam it, it ended up being banned by police order. Pagu wrote the column “A Mulher do Povo”, in a pamphleteer tone, in which he lashed out at the bourgeoisie and institutions, reserving greater virulence for wealthy women and other idle women. He created a comic book whose protagonist was a revolutionary girl named Kabeluda.

Her first arrest took place in Santos – Brazil's largest port and outlet for her main wealth at the time, coffee – in 1931, when, working as a factory worker, she participated in a dockers' strike.

In 1933 he publishes Industrial park - proletarian romance, under the pseudonym Mara Lobo. An example of modernist aesthetics, the text is arranged in writing blocks, with flashes and flagrants of extreme synthesis, almost telegraphic and impactful language, interspersed use of the colloquial. Its setting is Brás, in São Paulo, a working-class neighborhood and stronghold of Italian immigration. Pagu takes advantage of the experience of her own proletarianization: in Brazilian literature there is nothing similar in her feminist and communist activism. The entrecho takes care of poor workers, who allow themselves to be seduced by the siren of rich donjuans, circulating around in their huge luxury cars, and who will end up degraded into prostitutes.

Soon he would begin his great tour (1933-1934), which would become legendary in oral tradition, until his (partial) memoirs were published in 2005. He would visit the United States, Japan, China, from where he would have brought the first soybean seeds, Manchuria and Russia. Then she would go to Europe, from where she would be repatriated. On the itinerary, she contacts Freud, the last Chinese Emperor Pu Yi, the French Surrealists.

Once again imprisoned in the repression that followed the Communist Intent of 1935, when she was released five years later, she was exhausted and weighed 44 kilos. Break with the Party. From that same year she dates her union with Geraldo Ferraz, writer and journalist, with whom she would live until the end of her days. Another son, Geraldo Galvão Ferraz, was born to the union in 1941.

One more book, The famous magazine, Written jointly with Geraldo Ferraz, it would be published in 1945. Already more distant from the modernist aesthetic, it abandons the fragment in favor of continuous discourse, while maintaining an innovative and incisive language, demolishing commonplaces. Satire to the Communist Party, denounces its vices, such as authoritarianism, bureaucracy, and more the pretext of clandestinity that covers personalism, dishonesty and manipulation by others.

He resumes in 1942, never to abandon it, journalism, his livelihood and channel of expression. He starts working at the France-Presse news agency in 1945, staying there for a decade, and joins the editorial staff of the socialist vanguard, founded by Mário Pedrosa, which would bring together the cream of the anti-Stalinist leftist intelligentsia.

Pagu transferred with her utopian ideals to the small Socialist Party, for which she ran as a candidate for state deputy in 1950. During the campaign, she published the pamphlet truth and freedom, exposing the reasons that led her to break with the Communist Party, already criticized in fictional terms in The famous magazine.

From then on, he would write for several major press newspapers and would end up settling in Santos, where he lived until his death. He follows the cultural scene, attending exhibitions, theaters, concerts, reading new and old books, water for the mill of his writings. He would produce chronicles, poems, literary criticism, translations of fragments, commentaries on visual arts and theater, articles on national and international politics. She would remain nonconformist and faithful to the avant-garde, demanding, sarcastic, adept at fulminating formulas.

As if that were not enough, always insubmissive in defending modernist advances and contesting in denouncing setbacks, whether aesthetic, political or behavioral. An example of the authors and works covered reveals a preference for poets and playwrights – but invariably unconventional: Arrabal, Ionesco, Ubu King by Alfred Jarry, Brecht, Lolita of Nabokov, whose defence, Becket, Valéry, André Breton, Philippe Soupault, Octavio Paz, St. John Perse, Dylan Thomas, Artaud, Dürrenmatt, Ghelderöde, Ibsen, Fernando Pessoa, Peking Opera, the Brazilian premiere of The Rite of Spring, by Stravinsky. He writes about national and foreign avant-garde music. Expands the range of subjects when starting to register notes about television. He founds the Association of Professional Journalists of Santos.

His attachment to the theater, which would set the tone in those years, would erupt in 1952, when he attended the School of Dramatic Art in São Paulo, where he presented translation and study of The bald singer, by Ionesco. A relentless fighter, she took over the coordination of Teatro Universitário Santista (1956) and the presidency of the Union of Amateur Theaters in the city (1961). From 1957 onwards, she maintained the column “Stages and actors”, in The Tribune, local newspaper. Combative, his column would be a trench in the relentless struggle for experimental dramaturgy and creative freedom. directs Fando and Lis, de Arrabal, which received several awards. Later, she would also stage Rapaccini's daughter, by Octavio Paz.

After his death in 1962, the city where he settled and worked so hard in the last phase of his life paid him a just tribute, by consecrating and naming the Casa de Cultura Patrícia Galvão, in the city of Santos.

*Walnice Nogueira Galvão is Professor Emeritus at FFLCH at USP. She is the author, among other books, of The warrior maiden: a gender study (Senac).

Originally published in the book Reading and rereading (Senac/Gold over blue).


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