Image: Reproduction YouTube/Ater


Considerations on one of the most controversial female figures in Brazilian history in the XNUMXth century

Pagu systematically defended the avant-garde and artistic experimentation, dedicating his pen to the propaganda of the main figures and highlighting Fernando Pessoa. Although it is rarely mentioned, Pagu has tirelessly publicized it since a first article in fanfulla, in 1950.

The recent rescuing of his journalistic production by K. David Jackson, as will be seen below, came to emphasize the leading role he played in the critical reception of the poet. From his pen came out, linked to Pessoa, reports, chronicles, critical analyses, book reviews, articles, including a testimony of the “Recital Fernando Pessoa” in the voice of Os Jograis, in 1955, which he personally attended. To assess the relevance of his choices: he commented, each in his own time, the Studies on Fernando Pessoa by Casais Monteiro (1958), the Poetic work by Aguilar and the anthology by João Gaspar Simões published in Brazil (1961). Attentive to the international plan, in 1960 he noted the inclusion of Pessoa in the series Poètes d´aujourd´hui by Editora Seghers, in a translation by Armand Guibert that included the “Maritime Ode”.

And he would found in Santos, the city where he would live for the rest of his life and where he would be a first-rate cultural agitator, the Centro de Estudos Fernando Pessoa (1955). Her friendship with the great Pessoa critic Casais Monteiro – recipient of the famous “Letter of heteronyms” – when in the Brazilian phase, would guarantee communion in the cult of the poet. Later, Casais Monteiro would sign the preface to the second edition of doramundo (1959), novel by Geraldo Ferraz

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 [I], in which he presents a 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 the staging of the play 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.

This last phase of professional and assiduous journalistic militancy is unfortunately still little known, although it has already been the object of a rigorous survey. Only then could we think of a true biography of this great woman. But perhaps this possibility is already in sight, as the work of the aforementioned specialist in Brazilian Modernism and professor at Yale University, K. David Jackson, also a translator of Industrial park [ii], is already being edited at Edusp.

It is a monumental work, in four volumes, bringing all of Pagu's journalism. The abundant material is distributed in this way over the four volumes, according to thematic criteria, verifiable in the explanatory titles that the organizer attributed to them:

Vol. 1 - Patrícia Galvão's journalism. The accused complains: Pagu and politics (1931-1954).

Vol. II –  On the need for literature (On Art & Literature / Literature Lessons).

Vol III – Stages and Actors: Contemporary world theater.

Vol. IV – Anthology of foreign literature: The great world authors.

We owe the same specialist two works already published, namely: “The defendant alleges – Pagu and politics, 1931-1954", In Literature and Arts of the Americas. Issue 73, Vol. 39, No. 2, 2006; and “An underground evolution: Patrícia Galvão’s journalism”, in IEB Magazine, São Paulo: No. 53, Mar/Sep 2011. He also authored a valuable study that accompanies the reissue of Industrial park that we have been quoting, entitled: “The negative dialectic of Industrial park".No one is more authorized than him to speak about it, since he is the translator of this novel into English, as we have seen. The 4 volumes will come out in the form of an e-book, with another volume of an anthology printed.



In 2009, Pagu gained a well-deserved exhibition, in which she appeared flanked by two decisive figures in her life, hence the title: Pagu, Oswald, Segall. The show is due to Gênese Andrade in the curatorship and Jorge Schwarz in the direction of the Lasar Segall Museum. Both curator and director are literary critics specializing in Modernism. It consisted of 60 works, including paintings, drawings, documents, photographs and iconography in general, including pieces by Portinari, Di Cavalcanti, and the house's eponym.

Expanding the context, and giving an unprecedented inflection to the angle of approach, now influenced by the new feminist movement, which has elevated Pagu to the rank of precursor and icon in behavior above the conventional, very ahead of its time, fruitful analyzes have emerged. The trend is corroborated by the brand new book by Ana Paula Cavalcanti Simioni, Modernist women – Strategies of consecration in Brazilian art  [iii]Arguing that the prominence of Anita Malfatti and Tarsila do Amaral is rare, in the midst of male hegemony among the avant-garde, it will study the reasons for the exceptions. Another turn towards women, and by a woman.

If an increase in popularity led Pagu to samba-school plots, on the other hand it also took her to television. She had already appeared, years ago, in a miniseries about Modernism, entitled One heart. Now much more appeared, due to the celebrations of the Centenary of the Week of 22. Although too young to participate in it, Pagu would already enter the scene at full speed in Antropofagia, including in its magazine. Among the new appearances, a short film for TV, entitled Pagu muse-jellyfish, miniseries episode Republic of Poetry, with 45 minutes [iv].

In a special statement for this film, Sérgio Mamberti, a great man of the theater, tells that he was 14 years old when he met Pagu in Santos, the city where she would live her last phase. They became friends and started to work together, she a model of engaged acting. She would found, as we have seen, the Teatro Universitário de Santos, the Centro de Estudos Fernando Pessoa and the Association of Professional Journalists of Santos – among other feats. It opened space and stimulated people who came from the docks, such as Plínio Marcos, a future first-class playwright. Highly educated and giving high value to culture, Mamberti considers her one of the greatest Brazilian intellectuals of the XNUMXth century.

Another decisive testimony is that of José Celso Martinez Correa, from Teatro Oficina, in a clipping of archival material. At the end of one of his grandiose cannibal spectacles, an impulsive stranger advances and envelops him in a long hug of thanks. He, who had not yet been introduced to Pagu, was stunned. Since then, he thinks that she transferred something to him, that she was something similar to a shaman and passed on to him a virtue or power.

The short also features unpublished photos, many of them, and handwritten letters talking about the children, already mentioned, Rudá de Andrade from his first marriage and Geraldo Galvão Ferraz, Kiko, from his second. Both have works on their mother: Rudá co-directed a documentary and Geraldo co-authored a photobiography and a website. The episode spares no deserved praise for Geraldo Ferraz, his devoted companion until the end.

Specialists such as Thelma Guedes, author of Pagu – Literature and revolution. Who else? There is also an interview with his grandson, Rudá K. Andrade, son of Rudá, author of  The Art of Devouring the World [v], that talks about her grandmother's extraordinary life.


Re-release of a classic

As no one ignores, we owe the discovery of Pagu to the well-known concrete poet Augusto de Campos. As early as the 70s, he already divulged his work and his biographical traits, always expressing admiration, dedicating himself to in-depth research. His book about it is from 1982 [vi], bringing findings, studies and an anthology.

About half a century later, the poet presents us with a new edition [vii], which may fairly be called definitive. Revised and expanded, it has a total of 472 pages, bringing abundant iconography and new texts. Materially, it is a beautiful book, showing itself to be worthy of its author and its object of study.

The volume is enriched by some useful additions, such as an Index, but the most notable of which is the “Five flashes of Pagu”, which were three previously. They now include an interview with the organizer and your text about The Man of the People, provocative political tabloid experience that would culminate in jamming. And a decisive introductory study entitled “Re-Pagu” gives an account of what happened between the two editions.

The anthology includes books, the most important pseudonyms and periodical columns, constituting a rich and reliable sample.

Regarding Pagu by other authors, we have gems, which already appear in the first edition in the “Testimonials” and “Critical Reviews” sections. One can assess the value of testimonies from people who deprived him of his intimacy and his deeds, such as sister Sidéria, a faithful ally. Some stand out, such as Carlos Drummond de Andrade's lament for his passing. Or the vignette in which the diplomat Raul Bopp recounts the outrageous saga of the smuggling of soybean seeds, personally obtained from Emperor Pu-Yi by Pagu and brought to Brazil by Pagu at the diplomat's request, in violation of the Chinese government's prohibition.


Industrial park

Pagu's book, a classic of the “proletarian novel” signed by the pseudonym Mara Lobo, receives an impeccable re-edition by Linha a Linha, which honors the author and the work. Open it, noblesse obligation, a preface by Augusto de Campos, who rediscovered Pagu in the 1970s and 1980s. Until then, there was a vague notion of a Pagu associated both with modernist fantasies and with the saga of the left.

The layout kept the distribution in blocks, emphasizing the conception of the fragmented narrative, in snapshots or snapshots that are arranged in short and incisive chapters. The prose, somewhere between expressionist and cubist, is certainly avant-garde. It aims at synthesis, relying on ellipses and sudden cuts, emphasizing the speed of speech that wastes no time in explanations or transitions. A little tending to what was then called “telegraphic style”.

The narrative – which takes place in Brás, at the time a working-class stronghold of Italian immigrants in São Paulo -, as it moves towards a crescendo towards the outbreak of a strike, brings evidence from the outset: it is a women's romance. They are girls of various types and instances of social life, although united by class, as they all belong to the proletariat. There are few exceptions, like the one who rose in life by marrying a man of means; or another who reached the abyss of the most helpless prostitution, for not having the health to face the exhausting work day. Moreover, they are more politicized or more alienated workers, more determined to face the hardships of life or more desperate. The daily life of young workers is shown in their tasks, social life, loves, militancy. Pagu's immersion in his own proletarianization and work in the factory is humus for the fictional elaboration. Her activism is the starting point, and more years in prison were to come.

It also shows the harassment that female workers suffer from boys driving automobiles, for whom they are meat merchandise, which is actually disposable. Neither brides nor prostitutes, they are not eligible for marriage and do not require payment – ​​so they are highly convenient, if only because they are cheap. In that same year, 1933, Noel Rosa composed the samba “Três Apitos”, in which – a rare thing both in literature and in popular music – he talks about factory workers and this harassment, only through a benign and sentimental idealization, not at all predatory, of the owner. of the automobile.

Our most important proletarian novel is authored by Pagu, and beside him almost all the others in this vogue – with some honorable exceptions – conservative and orthodox, far from avant-garde, pale. Her novel, communist, feminist and modernist at the same time, is unique in Brazilian literature.


Uma cancao

Pagu's ever-expanding popularity has propelled her into the pop sphere, enthronement enshrined not only in samba school plots, but also in the rousing chords of ceiling [viii], by Rita Lee and Zélia Duncan, re-recorded several times by both the authors and other performers. That's homage. Here is the transcription of the lyrics, which one by one demolish the pejorative clichés with which women are treated, or rather, mistreated:


I stir, I stir in the inquisition
Only those who died at the stake
Do you know what it's like to be charcoal?

I'm jack of all trades
God gives wings to my snake
My strength is not brute
I'm not a nun, I'm not a whore

Because not all witches are hunchbacked
Not all Brazilians are asses
My breast is not silicone
I'm more male than most men

I'm queen of my tank
I am Pagu indignant on the platform
Crazy motherfuckin' fame, alright
My mother is Maria Nobody

I'm not an actress, model, dancer
My hole is higher

*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: Magazine opinions, Brazilian Literature, USP, n. 2, 2023.


[I] “A Pagu da EAD”, in Alfredo Mesquita, The theater of my time, Nanci Fernandes et al. (org.). São Paulo: Perspective, 2023 (https://amzn.to/3YSfSI8).

[ii] Industrial park: A proletarian novel, trans. Elizabeth Jackson and K. David Jackson. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993 (https://amzn.to/3YN2sNt).

[iii] Ana Paula Cavalcanti Simioni, Modernist women – Strategies of consecration in Brazilian art. São Paulo: Edusp, 2022 (https://amzn.to/44rQmKC).

[iv] Pagu muse-jellyfish, screenplay and production by Yara Amorim, direction by Claudia Priscila and Mariana Lacerda. Canal Curta!, 2022.

[v] Rudá K. de Andrade, The Art of Devouring the World – Gastronomic Adventures of Oswald de Andrade. São Pauloo: doburro, 2021.

[vi] Augusto de Campos, Pagu – Life-Work. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1982.

[vii] Augusto de Campos, Pagu – Life-Work. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2014 (https://amzn.to/3QZj0A1).

[viii] Rita Lee and Zelia Duncan, Paid, Album 3001 (2000)



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