Portrait of Brazil – essay on Brazilian sadness

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By JOÃO CARLOS BRUM TORRES*

Preface to the new edition of Paulo Prado's book

O portrait that Paulo da Silva Prado left us was immediately and pioneeringly included in the list of the main works committed to identifying the determining elements of Brazil's identity. This list is long and heterogeneous. Those born in the 19th century make up the first generation of renowned interpreters who dedicated themselves to this task, a group in which Paulo Prado is alongside Sílvio Romero, Euclides da Cunha, Sérgio Buarque de Holanda and Oliveira Vianna. It was not in the same way that each of them approached the issue of Brazilian identity, just as those who, in subsequent generations, returned, directly or indirectly, to the same theme, such as Gilberto Freire, Vianna Moog, Caio Prado Júnior, followed their own paths. , José Honório Rodrigues, Nélson Werneck Sodré, Darcy Ribeiro, Celso Furtado, Raimundo Faoro, Roberto da Matta and José Murilo de Carvalho.

Within the framework of these efforts to go beyond the surface formed by the countless and open series of events that make up the history of a country, in the reflective work to reveal what, latently and indistinctly, structures its long duration, to use the expression Braudel's consecrated work, Paulo Prado distinguished himself by his unexpectedness, by his originality, in the effort to understand the ultimate origin of our identity deficiencies, turning to the little explored terrain of the peculiar affective and behavioral dispositions of the Brazilian people. Distributions that, he claims, would typically be repeated in the regional and ethnic plurality of our people and that were what led our Brazil to the brink, or to a worse fate, to put it more finely. But that's not all the book did and that's why before presenting it, we say a word about much more that is involved in it, starting with the remarkable personal trajectory of its author and the context in which it was written. : Brazil at the end of the first quarter of the 20th century.

In 1928, when Retrato had its first edition, Paulo Prado was 59 years old. He was, then, in his most complete maturity, carrying not only the gifts of heir to one of the most traditional, wealthy and influential families in São Paulo and Brazil, starting with his father, Councilor Antônio da Silva Prado ‒ deputy , senator and minister of the Empire, abolitionist, intendant and mayor of São Paulo for twelve years –, but adding to this both the lasting refinement and culture of the seven years of his youth in Paris (1890-1897), as well as the already thirty- One year of a successful business life, which included the production and export of coffee, investments in road infrastructure, industry and even financial services, from which the immense fortune was a natural result.

However, these antecedents, to which it would be appropriate to add the modernizing role of the entire Prado family in the political institutions, urbanism and cultural development of São Paulo, do not explain the writing of Retrato do Brasil, as it is valid here, mutatis mutandis, Sartre's saying: Valéry is certainly a petit bourgeois, but not every petit bourgeois is Valéry. That is to say: being well-born, educated, elegant, well-read, rich and cosmopolitan does not sufficiently account for what reserved for Paulo Prado the necessary inclusion in the list of the most recognized interpreters of Brazilian civilization, despite his book being, as he himself recognizes, a book of impressions, even if backed by broad and relevant historiographical knowledge. To better understand the justification for the unavoidable emphasis given to this bold and extravagant essay, it is necessary to examine the unexpected and radically critical way in which the history of Brazil was seen, experienced and thought by its author in the complex and troubled environment in which the country found itself. at the end of the first three decades of the 20th century. To this end, reading the book is essential, and this presentation only provides some anticipations of its content, and some indication on how to approach it.

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Open it Essay on Brazilian sadness the phrase: In a radiant land live a sad people. It is clear, therefore, why it was said above that Paulo Prado distinguished himself by paying attention to certain affective dispositions e behavioral of our people. The thing is, to be more explicit, unlike what other interpreters of nationality do, Paulo Prado will not follow the most usual ways of inspecting our history. His attention will not focus on studies of the economy, of institutions, nor will he focus on surveying typical figures of Brazilian society, such as the farmer, the countryman, the caipira, the gaucho. Nor will it matter to him to describe, to reconstitute in detail well-specified sociological and cultural anthropology formations, as Gilberto Freire will later do when speaking of big slave house, or, in another key, the estate,Faoro's way. And outside his concern was also the effort to show that in our anthems, flags, monuments, holidays commemorating institutional events, such as independence or the proclamation of the republic, there is the place in which we, Brazilians, learn and subjectively we fix what, historically and socially, constitutes our identity, as José Murilo de Carvalho, much more recently, came to do.

In view of so many exclusions, readers will rightly ask: but then, what did this Paulo Prado really do? Well, if we go to the book's index, what we read there is that, if we want to understand what we are, we need to pay attention to passions, such as Lust and Greed, and certain emotional dispositions, such as Sadness and Romanticism, a set This would constitute our figure, the sad figure, it is true to say, and which is reflected in the names given to the chapters that organize the book. The hermeneutic party is, therefore, that, if we want to truly understand ourselves, it is certain dominant traits of the national character, of the character of the Brazilian people, that we must pay attention to. Such traits are not taken by Paulo Prado as innate properties, but as the result of the interrelation of the different historical-cultural characteristics of the populations that live over time in the same territory, with the conditions prevailing in the natural environment in which they find themselves and of the institutional context of the different eras in which they lived and developed. Hence the fact that the book is, if not historiographic in the strictest sense of the term, in some way historical, an effort to penetrate the dark jungle of the history of Brazil, as stated in the preface to Paulista etc.[I], another of Paulo Prado’s works.

As stated above, within the limits of this presentation there are only some indications of how this socio-historical characterology essay unfolds, it is worth warning, however, that the privilege given by the summary to the main lesson of each chapter leaves aside what is seductive and brilliant in the book, the elegant and clean prose, the vivacity of the paintings in which we see ourselves portrayed, what is persuasive in the selection of testimonies and sources on which they are based and the courageous audacity to present without fuss theses of acute polemicism, constructed like a kind of long epitrope, this figure of rhetoric through which we make insistence on a horrible situation a stimulus and reason for us to be willing and strive to change it.

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Open the test, The lust, chapter dedicated to the presentation of the addiction that, according to the Essay, since its discovery, would come to constitute an essential and constant feature of Brazilian social life. The basis for justifying the thesis lies in an erudite, careful, fine, but probably not sufficiently critical, selection of reports and testimonies from travelers, religious people, traders, government men who would attest to the predominance in the early times of the occupation of the territory of absolutely dissolute sexual mores. The consequence, more suggested than explicitly stated in the text, is that, although this extreme profligacy may have been somehow modulated after the inaugural moment, lust would remain an indelible mark of the Brazilian character.

Paulo Prado's analysis highlights three conditions for this extreme and perverse sexual liberality, typical of the first stages of colonial life. Firstly, the naturalness and cultural freedom with which the indigenous population viewed and treated sex, combined, as the text says, with “the lasciviousness of the white man loose in the paradise of a strange land"[ii], these factors – introduced without a trace of hesitation, modesty and care that would be imposed in our days – which, the text also tells us, the childish passivity of the black African heartened. In the first half century of colonial occupation, the absolute absence of white women ‒ that is, Christians, at least externally subjected to the restrictions of Catholic morality ‒ was another condition of this general profligacy; later, at least until the beginning of the 17th century, their scarcity continued to fulfill this same inductive role. Thirdly, it would have pushed the social, psychological and cultural profile of those who formed the first waves of settlers in the same direction: “the cloudy scum of old civilizations", you "corsairs, filibusters, youngest daughters of old noble families, ruined gamblers, rebellious or remiss priests, poor devils (...) vagabonds from the Mediterranean ports, anarchists”, that is: adventurers without a country and without roots, eager of enjoyment and free life, as the text will say later, for whom the moral restrictions of the customs of their homelands were no longer worth much and were of no use.  

The greed continues with the presentation of the second of the passions that, born in colonial Brazil, would persist as constitutive traits of Brazilian identity. In this case the origin of the deformation would be found in the generalized gross, invariable and practically exclusive desire for gold, silver and precious stones and in the risky and obsessive effort to find them on the part of those who, first, came to occupy this part of the newly discovered green land that, much later, would become Brazil. Almost two centuries later, we are told that this same desire for material wealth reached its paroxysm and then, finally, a worthy reward, since, at the turn of the 17th century to the 18th century, mines were discovered on the Doce River and in the region of Ouro Preto. The social disarray then caused by population displacements and their social and psychological effects was our version of the typical gold rush scenarios. In view of this, and also the disincentive to development produced by the bureaucratic and restrictive centralization of the initiatives of the people of the colony imposed by the government of Portugal, Paulo Prado found himself led to declare: “For Brazil, this 18th century was also the century of its martyrdom”. However, as he had done in previous studies, he does not fail to emphasize that in the midst of the rampant greedy ambitions and in the midst of delay, discouragement, regressive and helpless poverty of the majority of the people, it is worth recognizing the admirable figure of the bandeirantes, especially those of São Paulo,[iii] who, encouraged by courage, obstinacy, resistance and a spirit of enterprise, when diving into the far reaches and corners of the still unexplored land, at the same time as they preyed on Indians, they came to conquer it and give rise to the scattered centers of mixed-race population that would become the land and people of Brazil. These are people in whom the positive aspects of the action and the bandeirante profile would also be marked, albeit to a lesser extent, restricted and underlyingly,[iv] in the character of our country.

A Sadness It does not begin by repeating the phrase that opened the book: In a radiant land live a sad people. It begins with a contrast, evoking the landing of the English pilgrims in Massachusetts on December 22, 1620, whose austerity, resilience to intense and dangerous cold, organized work, sense of individual autonomy and, at the same time, community spirit is then contrasted with the way “on the Atlantic coast of the southern continent” the new occupants arrived. These were already lacking the qualities “from heroic Portuguese of the 15th century”, morally disfigured and diminished as they were by the very success of imperial rule, which had formed and consolidated in them the spirit of pure exploitation and the degeneration of customs that is associated with those who live off the wealth of others. Or to put it in the author’s own words: “Because of these people, already infected with the germ of decadence, Brazil began to be colonized."

Sadness, which the essay presents as being the most characteristic state of soul of our people, a synthetic designation of their identity, is a less simple chapter than one might think from this initial reference to a bad seed. It actually articulates two orders of explanation. The first takes the wide social prevalence of sadness as a combined consequence of venereal abuse ‒ under the assumption of the veracity of the Latin saying Sad is omne animal post coitum ‒ with the inevitable disappointments of excessive greed, a natural consequence of the high frequency of “futility of effort and (the) aftereffect of disappointment”. The second explanation of Brazilian sadness, Paulo Prado finds it also combined: on the one hand as the result of an original disaffection for the land on the part of the native Portuguese and mazombos, both having as their dominant desire to return to their homeland as soon as possible. homeland beyond the sea; on the other hand present in the character itself "of mestizo”, which, the text tells us, “already accustomed to the contingency of the backlands, the danger, the climate, he limited his effort to greed for easy enrichment, or to unbridled polygamy".

The survey of the distribution of this mental picture across the regions ‒ in Pernambuco, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro and even in São Paulo ‒ varies emphases and distinguishes the descriptions with special attention to racial issues, then very present in historical-sociological discussions, in record , but in everything different from its revival in the current identity agenda. What was of interest at that time in racial variation was not the denunciation of abuses and violations of rights, as we see today, but simply the assessment of the good and bad effects of the miscegenation process on the general state of the country. More specifically, the main concern of this work was to reconstruct the way and proportion in which whites, blacks, mamelucos and mulattos combined in each place, the analysis taking care, above all, to inventory the bad results caused in the profile of Brazilians formed in the ethnic melting pot in that our people merged. In the desolation of the picture thus presented, Paulo Prado only concedes that, “spread across the backlands, from north to south"still persisted"the ancestral virtues: slow simplicity in courage, resignation in humility, sober and disinterested men, sweetness in women.” The general conclusion will be, however, that in “when starting century of its Independence" the colony "it was an amorphous body, of mere vegetative life, maintained only by the tenuous bonds of language and worship,”

Romanticism, the shortest of the chapters, closes the body of the book. The essay combines two criticisms: that of political rhetoric of Rousseauian origin, the origin of democratic excesses and the submission of realism to rhetorically well-presented ideals, and the analogous love for mirages of romanticism, combined with the melancholic feeling that true life is absent, whose harmful effect is to lead not only to daydreams, but to the dissipation of life and pessimism. This second line is accentuated in the concluding observations, in which the fact that our main romantic poets died young is taken as a representation of asthenia of the breed, weakness attributed to obsession with death and, again here, to a mind-blowing eroticism. The conclusion then being that “In Brazil, from the madness of our poets and the grandiloquence of orators, we are left with the imbalance that separates romantic lyricism from the positivity of modern life and the living and intelligent forces that constitute social reality."

It is certainly necessary to make a critical assessment in view of such a charged criticism of our history and our people, of this heavy pessimism, strengthened by a diagnosis according to which our deformations, insufficiencies and losses are not accidental, but essential, constitutive because rooted in the mixture of lineages of a decadent people, in whose ethnic composition interracial relations are seen as frequently bringing together the worst of the mixed breeds, and, furthermore, after Independence, subjectively misled by an ideological construct of ideals with no other density than that of romantic rhetoric. However, it is not possible to do so without taking into account the Post-Scriptum, a part in which the book reflects, albeit very partially, on itself and its circumstances, on its position in relation to the time in which it is inscribed.

The self-reflection of Post Scriptum begins with a question of method, declaring that the portrait of Brazil was composed as an impressionist painting, free from the obsession with dates, with quotes and records that prove nothing, And “not to focus on the tabelioa prose of simple fact-gatherers”, as he rightly notes, not Paulo Prado himself, but Agripino Grieco, one of his first reviewers. But the impression of modesty raised by the recognition of this limitation of focus is soon corrected by the indication of what should be put in its place, “what the Germans would call the pragmatic history of Brazil”, the execution of which would imply, however, exactly what the essay, albeit in an impressionistic way, seeks to do: the study of the three races – the Portuguese colonizer, the indigenous populations and the black African – that produced “the new ethnic type that will be the inhabitant of Brazil”. Recognizing, but leaving in the background the study of socioeconomic and cultural inequalities associated with the enslavement of indigenous and black people, Paulo Prado asks the question that previous chapters had already answered: “What influence could this mixture of races have on the future??”. His response will repeat what consequences of this would have been the “more anarchic and disordered individualism" and the "indolence and passivity of populations”, although, in the latter case, these characteristics made it easier”the preservation of political unity”, a feat produced, also paradoxically, by “vices and defects of the Portuguese state bureaucracy."[v]

To reach the conclusion of the book, Post-ScrIptum allows itself, however, to change its register and look at the time in which it was written, at the state of Brazil in that third decade of the 20th century. The description of what Paulo Prado sees remains bitterly critical. It begins with the observation that “Of the human groups of medium importance, our country is perhaps the most backward (...). It does not progress: it lives and grows, like a sick child grows and lives.“Our population, distributed across the territory in uncertain human groups, living loose in the common land, especially on the coast - in a clear sign of the disorganization of territorial occupation and the poor use of land resources - continues to have semi-ignored the interior of the country, which remains abandoned to indolence, disease, beliefs and subjected to the tradition of   local bossiness. In turn, what is most developed in Brazil, the “mantas of material civilization in the plateaus of Serra do Mar, Mantiqueira and the southern fields”, are seen as fragile and dependent, as they are exploited by foreign capital, and are also weakened by the inertia of public administration, whose main focus is the extent and effectiveness of tax collection. Added to this, the text also tells us, what is seen alive in the private order continues to be weakened and counter-impelled by the general rule of prioritization and preference given to imports and the related imitation from abroad, whose macroeconomic consequences are debt in currencies strong and repeated exchange rate crises. Completing this unfortunate picture, the portrait also tells us, there is a hypertrophy of attention to the political sphere as if the country's enormous and unattended problems were reduced to it. “For such great evils”, concludes the Post-Scriptum and with it the book, only two solutions can avoid the dismemberment of Brazil: war or revolution, so that, as the last line reads, the only thing left is as comforting thought, “confidence in the future, which cannot be worse than the past".

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In view of this Portrait of Brazil, whose writing was immediately recognized by everyone as extraordinarily sober, elegant and engaging, but whose portrait is presented to us with a monstrously deformed and ugly figure, it is worth seeing how it was received.

The truth is that the book's immediate repercussion was enormous and the critical reception was large, rich, diverse and controversial. In some voices bluntly negative, in others, enthusiastic about the style and admired by what they actually saw in the rehearsal and also in agreement with its purpose and opportunity. However, in all the reviews and examinations of the book, in addition to admiration for the text, there was no shortage of notes on partialities, omissions, anachronism of the methodological approach and even fundamental misunderstandings regarding the way in which the book represents the Brazilian reality.

In December 1928, immediately after the publication of the book, Alceu Amoroso Lima, among us, the most important Catholic thinker of the XNUMXth century, at the time not yet converted, titled his review as follows: Portrait or Caricature?[vi] His response was that it is typical of pamphlets, exaggerate the paints and eliminate all intertones, so that, in his opinion, what Paulo Pardo had done was a caricature, constructed, albeit, with the spirit of a healthy patriotism and, therefore, worthy of attention and admiration, even if critical. For those who were then approaching Catholicism, the condemnation of the harmful effects of lust, so emphasized in the essay, was certainly among the most important points of the book. Of the modernists of 22, Oswald de Andrade, although he emphasizes that the book would have woken up many people by shouting that Brazil existed, and despite the fact that he also praises him for having brought to Brazilian public opinion the signal that there was a world revolution in progress, does not hesitate to accuse him of judging lust with the morals of Ignatian convents, nor in stating that anyone who knew the author would see the book as a betrayal of themselves.[vii] Oswaldo Costa in Oswald de Andrade's magazine, Antropofagia, radicalizes the point by saying that, “in Freud's time”, Paulo Prado He dresses up as a visitor to the Holy Office, takes the paddle, opens the catechism and preaches morals to the Brazilian from Fusarca, insisting on putting into his head the despair of the European rotten with civilization."[viii] Mário de Andrade is more sinuous, his article is titled Farmer Intelligence, ignores portrait content. and he says that his merit is having announced the rain that would come, that is, the great crisis of the 30s.[ix] Still in 1928, Agripino Grieco, in the most elegant of reviews and, at the same time, taking the book's content seriously, admired “the civilized, the fine epicure of letters who is its author", like this "the distinction, the politeness of the phrase”, and, attributing the character of a work of art to the essay, does not recognize its demonstrative power. This would have the status of an implausible hypothesis, as Agripino's opinion is that “we are sour not for racial reasons, but for social and economic reasons, because we feel weak, not only in the city, where we are unable to face the foreign invasion, monopoly capital (...) but also in the interior, where we suffer for being part of the most unprotected of the proletariats, the rural proletariat (...)."[X]

         Later, apart from many other demonstrations about the Portrait of Brazil, historians would come to him. In 1949 Werneck Sodré published a detailed evaluation of the book, praising his profound knowledge of our history, his accusatory tone of the regrettable and unacceptable state in which the country had been led at the time, and also praising his sensitivity in anticipating the great crisis of 1929. , but insists that lust, greed and romanticism were not the cause, but rather the effect of the country's economic and social structure. Wilson Martins, in 1969, in his History of Brazilian Literature, attributes great value to the book, considering that although it should be considered as a work of art, of which “There is no point in disagreeing, just accepting or rejecting”, credits him not only with the honor of having opened “the royal road to Brazilian studies”, but having created “in high style, properly modern essayism."[xi] In 1978, Francisco Iglésias, a professional historian, pointed out the unscientific nature of the work, the uncritical use of the sources, recklessly taking the risk of generalizing evidence taken from the Inquisition processes in which the focus of attention precisely included cases of lust and greed. He also reproaches him for his psychologism, but he does not fail to recognize that the Portrait of Brazil is “harmonious book, admirably written, one of the highlights in Brazilian bibliography."[xii] In the same year that Iglésias wrote, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who, of course, is not exactly a historian, published his Amateur Photographer, a page in Senhor Vogue magazine.[xiii] There, after noting that Gilberto Freire, by culturalizing the analyzes on the constitution of Brazilian identity, had broken “with what there was prejudice about the 'inferior races''” and to observe that despite it being the Portrait “the consecration of romantic subjectivism” Fernando Henrique insinuates that, to this extent, it should be taken as a clumsy version of “transfiguration of the ugly into the beautiful” of pride in what, although defective, was ours, the greatest feature of the Week of 1922, whose emblem isMacunaima. At the end of the 1997th century, in XNUMX, Fernando A. Novais, on the occasion of the ninth edition of the book, in a column in Folha de São Paulo, exalts it as 'a privileged moment of this resumption of awareness of ourselves (…)”, a concern that would constitute precisely the dominant feature of Brazilian culture from the end of the 20s onwards and whose main merit was to open us up to a critical view of ourselves.[xiv] Finally, almost now, in 2022, in “Modernist ideology – the Week of 22 and its consecration"[xv], Luis Augusto Fischer reopens the process of critical evaluation of Retrato do Brasil and makes the least condescending, in fact the most merciless and radical of accusations: “Paulo Prado hides behind quotes from travelers to reproduce, at this point, the following horrors, which are racist but are, perhaps even worse, the kind that blames the oppressed for oppression, the raped for rape, the enslaved for slavery."

*******

          Now, practically a century later, in the light of so many qualified previous evaluations, what can still be said and what should be said about the Essay on Brazilian sadness?

          To answer this question, perhaps it is best to start with another question: does this diagnosis that we are a sad people have any plausibility, does it happen that, when we look at our country as we approach the end of this first quarter of the century XXI, do we see ourselves sad?

          Sad, sad in the proper and exact sense of the term, I don't think we are. But I don't think it's unreasonable to say that we are hurt, frustrated, confused, divided and quite disillusioned with ourselves. We certainly did not fulfill the prediction made by Dom Pedro I at the dawn of our Independence: no, we did not become the “wonder of the new and old world”. Far from it, as can be seen in the data on emigration, in which the participation of our most promising young people is increasing. Our society still continues to compete for the championship of the most unequal in the world, a state visible in the urban landscape of our cities where those who live off garbage, homeless people, drug addicts multiply and where middle and upper class neighborhoods are surrounded by a huge favela, by these large communities, as they say today, in which the honorable and hard-working people, absent the State, are subjected to the clandestine and perverse authority of drug trafficking captains and militias, almost as pernicious as the city itself. traffic. Our economy, despite the extraordinary success of agribusiness, clearly deindustrializing, is also absolutely incapable of integrating with any autonomy into the world's centers of technological innovation. And politics, which Paulo Prado complained seemed to be the only social concern considered relevant in the country, continues more or less like this. For this to not be the case, we would need to have and see the forces of public order added to those of the private sphere, both committed to social solidarity and articulately committed to building a country at the height of the richest and most developed century that human history has known. provides.

          Therefore, a partial and cruel critical diagnosis like that of Paulo Prado continues to provoke and challenge, although not because it accounts for the state our country finds itself in today, nor because its diagnosis of the causes of our insufficiencies and sorrows provides a balanced and fair vision of our country, but because he calls us to look at the panorama we see today with the same critical disposition with which he turned to our past. We do lack someone who has the verve, the finesse of spirit to show how the structural evils of our country are reflected in our passions, moods and reflective consciousness. This writing, the portrait of Brazil in 2023, remains to be done.

          I hope that if and when this new criticism comes to light, it will also be attentive to the positive qualities and virtualities of our people, who, just as they can be sad, can also be joyful, and with the same alternation, vicious and virtuous, discouraged and hopeful. I hope it is also accompanied by a call to convergence, to the willingness to give up undue privileges, to patience without which perseverance on the path is impossible and the aspiration that, despite the anger and hatred of the time, is unrealizable. in pectoris we all have: to ensure that this Brazil, unfortunately split by political-ideological differences, lost and weakened by economic, social and cultural wounds that reopen as soon as they are thought of, finds itself again and thereby gains the necessary strength to truly heal them . Perhaps then, even if we do not become the amazement of the new and old world that Dom Pedro predicted for us, we will no longer have to brood and be ashamed of the ills that, even if exaggerated and biasedly described, as Paulo Prado did, still disfigure us today and humiliate.

*Joao Carlos Brum Torres is a retired professor of philosophy at UFRGS. Author, among other books, of Transcendentalism and Dialectics (L&PM). [https://amzn.to/47RXe61]

REFERENCES

Paulo Prado. Portrait of Brazil: Essay on Brazilian Sadness. L&PM, 176 pages. [https://amzn.to/4bggEnX]

Notes


[I]       V. Paulo Prado, Paulística, etc., Companhia das Letras, São Paulo, 2004, p. 55.

[ii]      Lascivia, says the text, favored by everything: « the impulses of the race, the coolness of the physical environment, the continuous spring, the lightness of clothing, the complicity of the desert, and, above all, the easy and admiring admiration of the indigenous woman, more sensual than the man as in all primitive peoples and who , in his loves he gave preference to the European (…. »

[iii]     No artigo Flag, Paulo Prado writes: «   For this superhuman struggle, the circumstances of environment, race, and education had admirably prepared and shaped the 'providential hero' in the type of the São Paulo bandeirante. (…(All these factors combined created an admirable human example, as beautiful as a purebred animal, and which only the men of the Italian Renaissance, when Caesar Borgia seduced the genius of Machiavelli, could achieve in this physical perfection.   » In Paulista etc. 4th edition, organized by Calos Augusto Calis, Companhia da Letras, São Paulo, 2004, p. 147.

[iv]     But it never completely disappeared, as attested, according to Paulo Prado, in the modern-day economic renaissance, the day in which he wrote, in 1925, as stated in his preface to the first edition of Paulística, etc. Cf., ob. cit., p. 59.

[v]      At this point it is worth noting that although Paulo Prado has the issue of the ethnic character of the Brazilian people as an important point in his essay, he does not approach it from racist theories. By the way, in Post-Scritum, writes that “The issue of racial inequality, which was Gobineau's workhorse (... It is a question that science is resolving in a negative sense. All races appear essentially equal in mental capacity and adaptation to civilization” But he is concerned about miscegenation when he says that although “the Brazilian mestizo"you have "provided undoubtedly to the community notable examples of intelligence, culture, moral value”, on the other hand notes that “populations offer such physical weakness, organisms so defenseless against disease and vices, that it is a natural question to ask whether this state of affairs does not come from the intense crossing of races and sub-races.”On this last point, it leaves aside public health studies, on the sanitary and health conditions of Brazilian populations developed by Roquete Pinto, Osvaldo Cruz, Belisário Pena, Artur Neiva, Miguel Pereira. For a reconstruction of these issues, see Thomas Skidmore, Black in White – Race and Nationality in Brazilian thought. Paz e Terra, 1976, especially chapter 6.

[vi]     V. Portrait or Caricature, in Paulo Prado, Portrait of Brazil – Essay on Brazilian sadness. 10th edition, organized by Carlos Augusto Calil, Companhia das Letras, 2012, p. 152-157. Most of the references made to the reviews and comments on Retrato do Brasil made below will be based on this edition by CA Calil, which should be considered as a critical and reference edition.

[vii]    V. Retouching the portrait of Brazil, in, id., p. 169-171.

[viii]   V. Moquém, also published in the Carlos Augusto Calil edition, p. 174-176.

[ix]     V. Farmer intelligence. In, id. P. 172-173.

[X]      V. From Paulística to Portrait of Brazil. In, id, p. 158-164.

[xi]     V. 1928: Portrait of Brazil, in, id. P. 202-210.

[xii]    V. Portrait of Brazil, 1928-1978. In, id. P. 211-222.

[xiii]   The text was recovered in Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Thinkers who invented Brazil, Companhia das Letras, 2013. I owe my friend Lucas Taufer the timely warning not to fail to include Fernando Henrique in this list of commentators on Retrato do Brasil.

[xiv]  V. Roots of Sadness, In, id. P. 229-233.

[xv]    V. Luis Augusto Fischer, Modernist ideology the Week of 22 and its consecration, However, São Paulo, 2022.


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