Pay goes to fight



A recent phenomenon in the Brazilian panorama at the time, the “normalist” opened up the perspective of female emancipation through work

Anyone who likes books and Pagu feels rewarded by forcing the publication of Industrial park,[I]given birth by Linha a Linha, from São Paulo. The commemorative reissue celebrates its 85th. birthday.

To begin with, the reader is pleased with the extremely careful graphics. The scarlet cover matches the contents of the book well, and exactly copies the cover of the original 1933 edition, with the exception of the color, which was a neutral black and white. The subtitle is now added below the title, undisguised: “Proletarian Romance”. The original cover reproduced, by the great engraver Lívio Abramo, who, in addition to being a renowned artist, shared Pagu's political options, is very modernist, with aggressive diagonal lines that intersect and oppose each other.

Contributing to the general effect, the engraving not only visually operates the summary of a factory, but also, in all its economy, manages to suggest the concentrationary universe that it constitutes. This universe is made verbally present from the back cover, which features a formulaic and very avant-garde quote from Pagu: “In the great social penitentiary, the looms rise and march with a shriek”. Miguel Estêvão is responsible for the graphic design and layout.

The publisher was careful to include, in addition to the preface by Augusto de Campos, discoverer of Pagu, two works by foreign hands, but specialists: one by the North American critic K. David Jackson, entitled “A dialectic Industrial park", which served as a presentation for the translation into English signed by him,[ii] and another by the Frenchman Antoine Chereyre: “An excellent debut – the arrival of the proletarian novel in Brazil”. The latter is also the translator of the French version, and his instructive and clarifying notes are used in this edition.

The fact of including these two translators/critics gives Pagu's work another reach, now accessible in two other languages ​​of prime importance, expanding its more than deserved impact. We also owe the North American critic a monumental work, the complete survey of Pagu's journalism, which yielded four volumes and will be published shortly by Edusp, the publisher of USP.

The renewal of interest in this great libertarian dates from a few years ago, when several of her scattered and unpublished articles began to be published. After the seminal book by Augusto de Campos, Life-Work Pay, on 1982,[iii] 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 The Man of the People, newspaper he produced together with Oswald de Andrade.

A late and growing popularity led to critical studies, re-editions, the founding of cultural and research centers, fiction films, documentaries, theater shows, television programs, magazine and school names, songs, carnival parade plots, a wider exhibition. than complete at the Lasar Segall Museum and numerous events. Among other instances, the State University of Campinas opened a research center on gender that bears his name; and edit the magazine Pagu Notebooks.

His texts appear in an anthology of Marxism in Latin America, alongside Mariátegui, Luis 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,[iv]in preparation by the Argentines.

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, an enthusiast of Pagu, with a doctoral thesis and book about her, also organized a photobiography and the website . The other, Rudá de Andrade, co-directed a film, the documentary Pagu – free in imagination, space and time (2001). Her grandson Rudá K. de Andrade, son, as the name implies, of Rudá de Andrade, talks about her grandmother's extraordinary trajectory in a recent book entitled The art of devouring the world – Gastronomic adventures of Oswald de Andrade (2021)[v]

The grandfather, a gourmet whose palate had been refined in Paris, where he learned more than avant-garde, appreciated the rich table. The book, bringing photos of delicacies and providing recipes, adds a hitherto unexplored aspect of the modernists.

The author is called Rudá like his father, except that his father's complete name is Rudá Poronominare Galvão de Andrade. As is known, it was Oswald who chose the two indigenous first names.

It is easy to confuse son and grandson, given that both are namesakes, bearing the same and rare first name of Rudá. Contemporary detractors of Oswald spread the villainy that he was so crazy that he had given his son the name “Lança-Perfume Rodo Metálico” – the most popular brand at carnivals at the time, when ether was sniffed at will, as one reads in the poems by Manuel Bandeira. The advantage of the Rodo Metálico was the armored tube, as the name implies, while the others were made of glass and shattered in the mischief of the party. But the slander is repeated to this day.

It is known that the modernists prized conviviality and, apart from each other's residences, frequented the salons of their patrons, who received them on an appointed day. Paulo Prado's house on Av. Higienópolis was open for lunch on Sundays. The Modern Pavilion, by Olívia Guedes Penteado at Rua Duque de Caxias with Conselheiro Nébias, in the gardens of his house built by Ramos de Azevedo, “had its day”, as Proust said, on Tuesdays. And on Rua Domingos de Morais, Vila Kyrial de Freitas Valle mixed pastistas and modernists, while promoting conferences and gatherings.

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 marrying before obtaining a diploma intensified male fantasies and inspired popular music.[vi]

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. The theme had already yielded a naturalist novel that bordered on sensationalism: the normalist (1893), by Adolfo Caminha. As in literature, the label of independent and transgressive applied to these young women appears in carnival, popular music, revues, cartoons and caricatures.

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, the son Rudá de Andrade would result. 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, based on a 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 Public chat: Jorge Luis Borges, Victoria Ocampo, Eduardo Mallea.

In 1931, the new 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.

His first arrest took place in 1931 in Santos, the largest port in Brazil and an outlet for the main wealth at the time, coffee. Working as a factory worker, she took part in a dockers' strike and was arrested when she helped a demonstrator who had been shot.

In 1933, he published the novel we are dealing with here: 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 to 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 journey (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, according to witness Raul Bopp in Pagu – Life-Work, Manchuria and Russia. Then she would go to Europe, from where she would be repatriated. On the itinerary, contacts with Freud, the last Chinese emperor Pu Yi, the French surrealists.

Imprisoned again in the repression that followed the Communist Uprising of 1935, when released five years later she was exhausted and weighed 44 kilos. Break with the Party. That same year 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, maintaining, however, 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 would live until his death. But he would attend the São Paulo School of Dramatic Art, to which he would bequeath his theater library,[vii] and he would accompany the cultural scene, visiting 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 non-conformist 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 Igor 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.

After the modernist and militant phase, after many arrests and an experience of both proletarianization and clandestinity, the communist and feminist author of the novel Industrial park, as we have seen, it would break party ties. However, a libertarian spirit, he would continue to wield the banner of Modernism and attack everything that was retrograde, in art or in life.

*Walnice Nogueira Galvão Professor Emeritus at FFLCH at USP. She is the author, among other books, of Reading and rereading (Sesc\Ouro over Blue).

Originally published in the magazine opinions, No2, 2023.


[I] Mara Lobo (Pagu), Industrial park – proletarian novel. São Paulo: Line by Line, 2018 (

[ii] Industrial park: A proletarian novel, trans. Elizabeth Jackson and K. David Jackson. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993 (

[iii] Augusto de Campos, Life-Work Pay. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1982 (

[iv] Dictionary of Latin American Izquierda. Buenos Aires: Planet.

[v] Rudá K. de Andrade, The art of devouring the world – Gastronomic adventures of Oswald de Andrade. São Paulo: doburro, 2021.

[vi] normalist, samba by Benedito Lacerda and David Nasser, recording by Nelson Gonçalves.

[vii] “A Pagu da EAD”, in Alfredo Mesquita, The theater of my time, Nanci Fernandes et al. (org.). São Paulo: Perspective, 2023 (

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