A magazine called Almanac



Testimony about the genesis and the 14 issues of “Almanac – Cadernos de Literatura e Ensaio”

Bento Prado Jr. in memoriam and Luis FS Nascimento who pulled the thread

to Maria Antonia

The primordial and fatal date is this: October 3, 1968. It was on that day that Maria Antonia – at Rua Maria Antonia 294, in the center of São Paulo –, our dear Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters, was vacated by gunfire, bombed and set on fire. Life and the world were never the same again.

The diaspora followed. Some chose clandestinity, others sought exile, as was the case with Bento Prado Jr., removed from the AI-5 list in early 1969. Most of the survivors had their fate determined by the authorities, who sent students, teachers and employees to end the school year in improvised classes in also improvised places, in that unlit and unguided quagmire that was then the future University City. Many other schools, and first and foremost those that were difficult (apart from ours, also the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, the Faculty of Economics and Administration, etc.) were forcibly resettled there.

Why did Maria Antonia have this fate? Why had it become the seat of the Brazilian student movement. Everything started from there: the assemblies, the marches, the decisions that compromised the whole of Brazil. National leaders lived there, that is, they had permanent and more or less secret housing in the meanders of that building. And that's where the armed struggle would come from, which, as you know, was made up mostly of university students. These, across the planet and throughout this period, were at the forefront of the historical process. Along with the workers, they constituted the social layer most sacrificed by the dictatorship. There was the headquarters, more than the national student movement, the resistance to the dictatorship.

The Maria Antonia had been occupied by students for months. A kind of utopia was established, in which students dictated to teachers what they wanted as a class and as a teaching system. Soon everyone would be committed to creating the University Reform. The aim was egalitarian and therefore the first demand was that students also teach, and it was from there that the famous “seminar” was created, in which students taught and teachers listened. You cannot imagine how revolutionary this was, because there were some centuries (since the creation of the first universities between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries – Bologna, Sorbonne, Carolus of Prague, Coimbra, Oxford) that only the professors spoke and the students listened without open your mouth: communication was in writing and the answer came in the written works. From there, wanting to reformulate everything in university education, from top to bottom, was just a step away.

A good part of the teachers joined and went headlong into this attempt to democratize teaching and to listen to what the students had to say. Some participated a little and then gave up, because the habit of the professorship and the magister says it was hard to dismiss. Many stayed until the end, including Antonio Candido, Florestan Fernandes and Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, who were there every day.

The playwright Consuelo de Castro, a student of Social Sciences, says that her mother went to help in the community kitchen, where volunteers prepared cauldrons and more cauldrons of food, because it was necessary to feed that population contingent, evidently hungry. Sérgio Buarque de Holanda got in line, but when it was his turn, Consuelo's mother looked at him and said: “No – you are not a student, you have no rights”. And he: “But I'm Chico's father…”. Chico was among the occupants of the FAU, which was also occupied. And she, who had no idea who the father or son were, replied: “And I am Consuelo’s mother!” And she refused him the plate of food...

Consuelo would write a play, her debut in the craft in which she would make a brilliant career, about the occupation of Maria Antonia, entitled Fireproof. The title came from a song by Wanderléa, from Jovem Guarda led by Roberto Carlos, then in fashion. The play, of course, was immediately banned by the censors. He would only see the stages a quarter of a century later, in the space of Grêmio da Maria Antonia, giving rise to a curious experience for the spectator: seeing a work of fiction staged in the very place of reference and evaluated by his own experience there.

The play's run sheet is typical of the times. Written and banned in 1969, it was awarded as the best Brazilian play in 1974 by the National Theater Service, therefore in the midst of the dictatorship and while it continued to be banned, only to be released at the end of it.

Important in the operation of Maria Antonia were the bars, always full, which everyone frequented daily, even if it was just for a cup of coffee. Notable among them was Bar Sem Nome, where Chico Buarque came from the nearby FAU to play the guitar and sing. The bar was famous for inventing the watercress caipirinha, which everyone drank and thought was delicious, but I don't recommend it. It was called Bar Sem Nome because, of course, it had no name. Years later they gentrified the bar and put up a huge sign: “Bar Sem Nome”. Well, the labeling is false, because, apart from the Scientist (look at the apt name), the names of the bars were given by us. Apart from the aforementioned Cientista, there was Bar do Zé, both in Maria Antonia, next to the Faculty; in the middle, between them, was what we called Bar do Meio. They were all great bars.

We cannot forget the Bar do Grêmio, which was located in the basement, next to the Gráfica – you went down a staircase, crossed the courtyard, where there was an exit through the Faculty of Economics that led to Dr. Vilanova and who was very useful to evacuate students on the day of the battle. Escaping through there, Bento was arrested, although he was released on the same day, after being registered: by this time the police had already surrounded the block.

There was the Bar do Grêmio, a focus of unrivaled sociability. It was where politics was done, day and night. The tenant of the bar was a formidable guy: Oswaldo, Oswaldo Monea, from whom cigarettes were borrowed, who made credit, lent money, ran errands, was everyone's confidant. He also kept a barbershop next door, where men shaved and had their hair cut. He left a small testimonial on White Paper cited above. And he was ruined in the battle of the Maria Antonia, because he provided all his spare bottles, a huge amount, to make Molotov cocktails with them.

It is from this milieu and from these people that the magazine Almanac – Literature and Essay Notebooks, that Bento and I were co-directors throughout its entire duration of 14 issues, and which I will now speak about. We need to keep in mind that Almanac is a resistance magazine (resistance to the dictatorship), made by survivors. Hence derive many of its characteristics. Before tackling this topic, let's see what Maria Antonia's context was and what mattered she was in the center of São Paulo.

Maria Antonia and USP

When comparing Maria Antonia with the Faculty of Law, where he also studied, Antonio Candido observes that the difference originates in our European professors, who were left-wing and were influenced by the period of Popular Front of the 30s. This interwar period, as you know, was one of intense radicalization throughout the world, intellectuals taking sides either on the right or on the left, and preferably on the left. And they transmitted this radicalism to the students.[I]

Founded to be the theoretical head of USP, its scientific novelty was non-applied science. In Brazil, there were already higher schools of Law, Medicine, the Polytechnic of Engineering, all of applied science, which provided professional training. But there was no theoretical study of the different sciences – pure and not applied science – which our Faculty came to bring.

Apart from that, another crucial factor was the importation of foreign professors, most of them very young and starting their careers, without even a doctor's degree. Rare was the one who had already published a book. These professors were more or less grouped by origin: the French took charge of the humanities (Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Politics, History, Geography, etc.), the Italians of the physical sciences and mathematics, the Germans of the natural sciences. Like Lévi-Strauss among the French, there were among the Germans and Italians several Jews fleeing Nazism, then on the rise.

Among French pioneers, in addition to Lévi-Strauss, the creator of Structuralism who would become one of the most brilliant intellectuals of the XNUMXth century, and who made his career studying indigenous myths, there was Roger Bastide, who would become the greatest authority on Afro-Brazilian religions. . In other words, the impact of Brazil was decisive in the work of both, providing them with the “epistemological epiphany” that would guide them throughout their lives. The names of future historian Fernand Braudel, professor of Politics Paul Arbousse-Bastide and geographer Pierre Monbeig also stand out.

Initially it was a heroic phase, as the new Faculty only existed ideally, that is, it did not have its own building, classes being taught in precarious places, donated by other schools not always willingly. The headquarters would be created in 1949, at Rua Maria Antonia 294, in the Center.

But in 1968, the great theme that brought together the occupation of Maria Antonia, governed by a Joint Teaching and Student Commission elected by vote, was the democratic and progressive University Reform on which students and professors were working. And that went down the drain, while the following year an authoritarian, conformist, American-inspired reform was granted, compartmentalizing knowledge, decreed from above and without democratic consultation with those affected by it. Everything we didn't want.

After 1968, all of this would be dismembered, Maria Antonia and her grandiose scientific and educational project pulverized, the different sections transformed into independent colleges, far from the city center and far from each other, in order to break the school's spirit of contestation. And the Faculty of Philosophy would be reduced to the nucleus of the humanities, having lost all the sciences. That's how it changed its name and stopped being “of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters” and became just “of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences”: the amputation that degraded it flaunted in the name.

You can already see how the living presence of the specialties all coexisting internally was like, the contagion of all, the non-compartmentalization of knowledge. According to philosophy professor João Cruz Costa, we learned more in the hallways than in the classroom. Add to this the immersion in the cultural crucible that was the Center of São Paulo, where students left classes and walked to bookstores, libraries, cinemas, theaters, operas, concerts, museums, art galleries, exhibitions , bars and everything else that the Center offered exclusively. And we will have, between the internal communicating vessels that exposed him to all kinds of knowledge, on the one hand, and the culture of the city, on the other, a very special student, who was a citizen of the polis.

Maria Antonia in the polis

The city of São Paulo, at that time, had an urban center where everything, absolutely everything, happened: it constituted a polis.

In terms of the arts, the previous decade, that is, the 50s, saw admirable initiatives such as Vera Cruz and Teatro Brasileiro de Comédia. The first was a film company, with Hollywood-like studios and ambition, which for some time produced films of the greatest relevance, taking Brazilian cinema away from the random and amateurish. The Teatro Brasileiro de Comédia, or TBC, raised art to a level of professionalism and expanded repertoire, which would lay the foundations of modern theater in our lands.

Everything converged to a hub where the Faculty of Philosophy, the Faculty of Architecture and the Faculty of Economics, all of USP, were located, as well as the School of Sociology and Politics, plus Mackenzie's secondary and university educational system, added by Colégio Rio Branco and by the Escola Normal Caetano de Campos. Nearby, sophisticated bookstores such as Pioneira, Duas Cidades, Jaraguá, Partenon, and Francesa. The set formed a complex of metropolitan urbanism.

Only after 1968 would this harmonious complex be detonated, scattering its shards throughout the rest of the city, if not annihilating them. The dictatorship would not allow the student riots of that year to be repeated and tried to transfer the schools far away, in an old tactic also used in other latitudes. When I went to teach a course at the University of Paris VIII soon after, I found it odd that it was called “Vincennes to St-Denis”, given that Vincennes and St.-Denis are two districts very far from each other, Vincennes to the east and St.-Denis on the northern periphery. Then they explained to me that, following the famous riots and occupations of May 68, the authorities had closed Vincennes, where Michel Foucault was pontificating, very active in 68 and persistent at Maria Antonia, where he had given the course that would become Les mots et les choses (Words and things). Vincennes was one of the three hotbeds of the rebellion, along with the Sorbonne and Nanterre, and so it had been transferred to a new school in St.-Denis. And my French colleagues added: “We are grounded here”… Exactly what they did to us.

Nobody had thought that the soul of the polis was the students. With the exception of those in Mackenzie, from that time onwards São Paulo became polycentric – with small partial centers distributed throughout the neighborhoods – and without a centre. The Center itself fell into disrepair, emptied of its inhabitants and became marginal, a common fate for the inner city in the Americas. After some time of abandonment, it still resists the efforts to revitalize it, in all the magnificence of its architecture.

The urban fabric of the region consisted of a high cultural concentration per square meter. There stood, and still stands, the Municipal Theater, the Theater of Artistic Culture and the Mário de Andrade Municipal Library, which can be visited daily, especially for “statue worshipers” (of which Bento was a member), who gathered at the foot of the building. in The reading in the lobby. In no more than a dozen blocks were the Artists and Friends of Art Club, affectionately called Clubinho, the Children's Library, the Leopoldo Fróis Theater and the French Alliance.

And apart from the Museum of Modern Art on Sete de Abril, with its bar and a very active Film Library, as the future Cinematheque was then called, the Center offered a constellation of majestic movie theaters, none with a capacity of less than a thousand seats. They were the Art Palace, with more than 3 thousand, built by a renowned architect of the time, Rino Lévi; and Marabá, Ipiranga, Normandie, República, Metro, among others.[ii] An art room, Cine Bijou, with sophisticated and refined programming, was right there, at Praça Roosevelt. A few years later, it would be the turn of Cine Belas Artes, on the corner of Avenida Paulista, which had the additional advantage of being opposite the Riviera bar,[iii] obligatory attendance by Maria Antonia's class.

This bar was dominated by an unforgettable figure, the waiter Juvenal, who took care of everyone (he said: "Don't go in now that she's there with someone else..."), received correspondence, warned if there were suspects of spying for the dictatorship, etc. He would end up becoming the protagonist of a comic book, thanks to artist Angeli, in the comic strip series “Rê Bordosa”, always as an invaluable waiter and with his own name. The protagonist Rê Bordosa was on the cover of the first issue of this cartoonist's magazine, Gum with banana, which sold 100 copies. Angeli and Laerte were also regulars at the Riviera, of course, as were the Caruso brothers, all frontline political humorists in resistance to the dictatorship.[iv]

Cine Morocco hosted the international film festival for the IV Centenary of São Paulo, when not only the worldliness of a delegation from the star system Hollywood to astound the bystanders, but also monuments of the seventh art such as Erich von Stroheim, Abel Gance, Henri Langlois, André Bazin. From Stroheim there was a retrospective of silent films. Also from silent cinema and one of its greatest directors was Abel Gance, who brought Napoleon, classic displayed here meeting all your requirements of various projectors. Henri Langlois, inventor of the cinematheque, was the creator of the Cinemathèque Française and its director: later, his summary dismissal by the government would trigger May 68 in Paris. In turn, André Bazin is still considered the greatest critic that cinema has ever had. This was the modest suit that came to honor the festival.[v]

The circumstance that explains such an influx of notable and serious people is the active presence of Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes as organizer of the Festival. Before, a militant who had escaped from prison, he had been forced into exile and had lived for several years in Paris, where he had researched the (silent) cinema of Jean Vigo, the great filmmaker of L'Atalante e conduit zero, publishing a book about him and winning the European Film Book Award. He would become famous there and everyone's friend.[vi] Among those who hailed the award for their book in writing were (sorry du peu) François Truffaut, and others from the incipient Nouvelle Vague, focusing on the magazine Cahiers du Cinema.

Paulo Emílio was a founding member of the prestigious magazine Climate, created by students of the Faculty of Philosophy between 1941 and 1944. This magazine was one of the deliberate models of Almanac.

Created in 1941, it comprised, apart from Paulo Emílio who would be in charge of cinema, Antonio Candido in literature, Decio de Almeida Prado in theatre, Gilda de Mello e Souza in aesthetics, Lourival Gomes Machado in visual arts. All of them were students of the European professors, the first generation of students at the Faculty of Philosophy. And in the exercise of their duties at the magazine, they would come to define their careers, in which they would stand out. Climate was, for us Almanac, model and counterpart, because, our circumstances being different, we didn't want to work in the “serious essay” genre, but rather do something else.

Returning to the center of São Paulo: in just a dozen blocks this was the most trepidating perimeter of the city. In the heart of the perimeter there was the brand new Teatro de Arena, next to the bar Redondo, always full. The Teatro de Arena, which after all was only three blocks from our Faculty, was a kind of annex to Maria Antonia, as students and teachers were always there, while theater staff were always at Maria Antonia.

It was in this theater that the ghouls premiered and remained for a long season with Recital Fernando Pessoa, making it an obligatory metropolitan program: no one could miss it. Pagu – the famous Patrícia Galvão of Modernism – was one of the fans who watched the show and later wrote about it. the ghouls were responsible for the precocious popularization of Fernando Pessoa in our country, even before Portugal. Students knew Fernando Pessoa by heart and it became a status symbol to go to college with his books, identifiable by the Pégaso vignette from Editora Ática, under his arm.

 Studies, film and theater

There are several important books about Maria Antonia, all authored by former students. Among them those of Maria Cecília Loschiavo dos Santos, Philosophy and FAU (Maria Antonia – A street against the grain); the two by Irene Cardoso, from Sociology (The University of São Paulo Communion e For a critique of the present); that of Adélia Bezerra de Menezes, from Letters (Cultural militancy – Mariantonia in the 60s); that of Benjamin Abdala, also from Letters (The world covered in young people).

We also have more works by former students. One is the aforementioned play by Consuelo de Castro, who studied Social Sciences, Fireproof, dramatizing the occupation of the College by the students. Another, more recent, film by Renato Tapajós (2014), who made Social Sciences, entitled The Battle of Maria Antonia. In 2013, or exactly 45 years after the fatal date, and directed by Cristiane Zuan Esteves, the new Tusp stages the play Present Archeologies – The Battle of Maria Antonia, based on testimonials from white paper which is mentioned below.

Two more general books are equally interesting. Rebels and Contenders – 1968: Brazil, France and Germany, organized by Marco Aurélio Garcia, addresses the student riots of 1968, putting ours in perspective. uprisings, by G. Didi-Huberman, extends its scope even further, questioning the many forms of dissidence or even civil disobedience that are expressed in these spontaneous movements, today and in the past, around the planet. In cinema, the documentary by the great Chris Marker, Le fond de l'air is rouge, walks in the same direction.

O white paper on oto the events of Rua Maria Antonia (October 2 and 3, 1968), exclusively on the battle of Maria Antonia, organized by a committee of professors with Antonio Candido as rapporteur, collects crucial testimonies from eyewitnesses. A first original, delivered by the rapporteur to the director of the Faculty, disappeared. But the professor, an elected member of the Parity Committee that governed the occupation, had kept a copy of everything, so that it was possible to publish it, even twenty years later, as the book only came out in 1988. He had it at hand in his house, and there, for a long time and in full view of everyone, was evidence that he had collected and that implicated the police-military apparatus: a tear gas bomb that had been thrown at our Faculty. This contradicted the official version that it was a mere student fight, with the participation of the CCC.

Another publication, an initiative of the USP Professors Association (Adusp) in 1978, The black book of USP – Ideological control at the University, focuses on repression throughout the University, investigating the infiltration and control carried out by security bodies installed “clandestinely” in the rectory, during the years of dictatorship.

More recent, the USP Truth Commission Report, in 10 volumes, it was published in 2018. True monument, wide and exhaustive, covers All the dictatorship period and all what happened in all the University; but volume VII is dedicated exclusively to the events of the Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters, to Maria Antonia.

dynamics of Almanac – blatant

It has to be borne in mind that we were searchers and gangsters. One day, either here or in Paris, where I periodically went to visit the exiles, Bento and I said at the same time: “What do you think about doing a magazine?”. We went to check our strengths and idealize this magazine, which the two of us would carry out jointly as co-directors, bringing together two groups: Bento for Philosophy, I for Letters and Arts. And so it was done.

An Editorial Board was selected, which did not change until the end of the magazine seven years later, formed by very dedicated volunteers. There were some quick entries and exits by a large number of contributors, but this Bureau held firm until the last issue. It composed, in alphabetical order, Haquira Osakabe, Lígia Chiappini de Morais Leite, Michel Lahud, Rubens Rodrigues Torres Filho and Vera M. Chalmers.

It took us a few months to define the shape of the magazine. Both on the side of Literature and Philosophy, together as I said, we already came from other collective experiences, including permanent seminars gathered around a book or a theme. It was a time when there were always many seminars, it was not possible to attend all of them. One day a colleague, Mary, came in, sat down, looked around and asked: “Could you tell me which meeting I am in?” This was common...

Apart from the two teams – one from Philosophy, the other from Literature -, we started to bring people together and little by little we defined some criteria. Below are the main points of this definition.

– We would make the magazine to have fun and not to suffer. Under the dictatorship, we suffered enough.

“We had every intention of continuing to survive. Therefore, the anodyne title we chose (Almanac – Literature and essay notebooks) – so as not to call attention to either censorship or repression, running the risk of being restricted to just two issues, as had happened with the magazine Apart, work of people from Maria Antonia and FAU closed by the police, a lesson that still burned in us and that we tried to incorporate. And indeed, we escaped unscathed.

– We were prepared for that. not happen. We soon agreed that, in the event of censorship or imprisonment, two other members of the Editorial Board (but always a woman and a man) would assume the direction of the magazine, without any problems. We also made sure that there were equal numbers of women and men.

– If the magazine was closed, it was already agreed in advance that we would open another one, with another title, and as covertly as possible: but we would not give up. We liked to remember that what was important in the modernist magazines was not each one, how many issues it had published, etc. There were magazines that had only taken out one issue, others two. But what mattered was the set of all modernist magazines, of which only Horn got further, with 9 numbers. One of them, the very important Anthropophagy Magazine, he had only removed two “dentities”, as Oswald de Andrade used to say, although each one had several “teeth” – in reality, it wasn't even well revised, but an insert in a newspaper. Two numbers was the case of Aesthetics, by Sérgio Buarque de Holanda and Prudente de Morais Neto.

– The magazine's spectrum would be as broad as possible. Essays, excerpts from novels, chapters from theses, research projects, short stories, poems, games and exercises, letters, interviews, parodies and pastiches, etc. There was even a horoscope – only once, and for fun, of course. It was a slightly anarchic perspective, let's face it, and could scare off the less daring. Once a guest appeared who was interested in being part of the magazine's editorial board. He was startled by the apparently chaotic content of the meeting, and began to demand “bylaws” and “organization charts”. He was not booed, but almost: the fact is that he never appeared again. It was even discussed, but we ended up not carrying out, a cartoon in which he appeared with the caption “Bode Organizatório” – because a goat was what he gave us with his bureaucratic demands. The cartoon would be a goat standing on its hind legs, its front legs full of piles of papers, spreadsheets, clipboards and folders with accounting captions, kind of losing control of them, which spilled out of its arms and spread across the floor.

– We had as a model the surrealist magazines (especially the French ones), the modernist magazines and the magazine itself Climate, from our Faculty in the 40s and made up of those who were now our professors. Climate, which was a magazine dedicated to the “university essay genre”, a genre that it raised to an unprecedented level among us, was so serious that Oswald de Andrade nicknamed its members boring-boys. Despite all our respect and recognition for her, we did not want to imitate her in this, as we were serious but not serious, on the contrary, jokers and jokers: Bento was a master of this. we didn't mean to be boring-boys.

– When I mentioned to Antonio Candido that one of our models was Climate, he more than quickly gave a very modest answer, in his nature and in the key of Minas Gerais, saying that Almanac it was much better because we were all doctors, while Climate it was just students. But what students! Those who chose their specialties and defined essayism through the magazine itself, and who would be indisputable in their respective fields.

– Of the surrealist and modernist magazines we wanted to keep the playful and the experimental.

– As you may have already noticed: from a formal point of view, we practiced an aesthetic of the unfinished, of the imperfect and the provisional, of the fragment and intertextuality.

– Another non-negotiable point: the agenda meetings would be held in a bar, only exceptionally in our homes. What bars? Especially ChicChá, ​​on Av. Angélica, and Bora-Bora, in Faria Lima; sometimes the Paribar in Praça D. José Gaspar, behind the Mário de Andrade Library; and the Riviera, opposite the Cine Belas Artes, which I mentioned earlier. Much later, already in full Opening, Pirandello in the Center, in Pinheiros 22 and Quincas Borba, which would soon become the most popular. With the loss of Maria Antonia, we had also lost the bars around her. Our advisor in terms of bars was Bento, who knew the virtues of all of them – had he not been the author of the article “The Library and bars in the 50s” [vii].

A word about ChicChá, ​​where we used to meet. It was Bento who discovered the bar, as it was close to his house. He became friends with some people who worked there, like César and Otto Hopf, from FAU, among others. They, captivated by Bento, whom they respected and called “Professor”, surrendered to the charms of that gentleman in impeccable manners: the natural and unpretentious leadership, the courtesy he committed to listening to the other, the bluntness of treatment he extended to anyone, the seriousness when scrutinizing a reasoning and the grace when X-raying a silliness. Even his bow tie was flawless.

That's why, because of Bento, they ended up going to Maria Antonia and participating in the marches. In these, they were irreplaceable, because they practiced karate and were in front, like security guards. The ChicChá gang was known for being “heavy duty”, as they said at the time. Because of this rather fortuitous coincidence, some got into political trouble, and Otto went into exile in Sweden for many years, only returning with the Overture in 1978. When he returned, he didn't tell many things, but he sang songs in Swedish, with his beautiful voice. baritone.

Otto was big and not pretty. But, within the new masculine standards that the French Nouvelle Vague proposed in cinema, the Greek statue model was losing its validity. It then turned out that Otto was the look-alike of Jean-Paul Belmondo, a rising star, who was precisely no beauty but embodied the less perfect, more rustic charm of a certain type of man, who brought a spark of danger in his pupil. And no one ever thought Otto was ugly again.

– We decided in the magazine that there would also be a lot of criticism of the previous issue, either openly or in the form of pastiches and jokes. The idea is that it was not an institutional magazine – again to circumvent not only censorship but any control. That's why I spoke with Caio Graco, from Editora Brasiliense, a good left-wing activist, a great friend and editor of several of my books. He said he was putting together a magazine with these characteristics and he immediately offered to edit it. It was a good solution, because with it we wouldn't earn a penny, but in return all the expense (as well as any possible profit) would be borne by the publisher. We would also be freed from the work of editing, which is no small feat. With a publisher in hand, nothing was missing.

– We asked Cláudio Tozzi, from FAU, one of the most notable visual artists to emerge at the time, to provide us with one of his wonderful engravings for the cover – the one evidently alluding to the times, in which you can see a huge screw going through a brain. Which he readily accepted. And that was the cover of the first issues. Unfortunately, the editor decided at a certain point that he should vary the cover illustration for each issue, and my favorite cover, the one by Cláudio Tozzi, no longer appeared. But it was so significant that it hung in the editor's living room for many years.

– Cláudio Tozzi also appointed Júlio Abe Wakawara, also from FAU, to do the layout. And nobody ever charged anything.

– Bento's enthusiasm for the magazine was such that he insisted on a festive release for each issue – in a bar, of course. He provided everything and, becoming more and more excited, distributed the copies, if necessary collected the payment himself, made the change, signed autographs, with the greatest detachment.

– At a certain point, he invented and spread the word that ChicChá was going to include a snack called “Miolos a Almanac”. The delicacy, he said, consisted of pieces of fried brains that, instead of being skewered on sticks as usual, would be served... with screws.

– Another example of Bento's style, who came out with this one when he gave his opinion on a linguistics article on “existential statements”, which we approved and published. Someone said that he still did not understand what an existential statement was, to which the rapporteur, instead of explaining again, preferred to exemplify, saying: “What a cesspool!”

– There were a total of 14 issues, between 1975 and 1982, with periodicity between quarterly and four-monthly; but in the last year the magazine was already reduced to half-yearly. And I still have the impression that the magazine died “from the Opening”. With the Overture, magazines and the like began to swarm, and ours lost relevance: it was no longer the only outlet for this left-wing production.

– But it is good to remember that the first issue was already ready when Vlado Herzog, our colleague and friend, also from Maria Antonia where he studied Philosophy, was murdered under torture in the infamous Doi-Codi. We barely had time, in the midst of the horror that gripped us and that almost made us give up everything, to insert a small poem of my own authorship, but anonymous, dedicated to him – quite hermetic and without a title that would denounce him: Ides of October. But it was strange to have a dated poem, and with the date so in evidence, so that everyone but the censor knew what that poem was about. In order not to get the wrong impression that it was all a party, I record this fact.

– The magazine was soon a success – and the biggest problem of a magazine, which is the lack of articles to publish, never occurred. We were sought after from all quarters and even from abroad by people who sent us their productions. Did the magazine have a parochial (Maria Antonia plus FAU) and us-with-us air? Yes, there was. But our main requirement was quality and for that we were very attentive. We worked hard with this goal in mind, reading, discussing and selecting manuscripts. We also commissioned texts on subjects that we felt were rarely addressed.

– Among the many things we published, apart from what the exiles sent us from abroad, was the first chapter of a novel about torture, Four eyes. Torture suffered by its author, Renato Pompeu, and novel that no one wanted to publish. It was historically the first to appear, but later with the Overture they would become numerous – in fact, even today, so many decades later, they still come out. Even if it were just for that, the magazine would have been worth it. Once it came to light, it found a publisher easily. The author was Maria Antonia, a student of the Social Sciences course. And the censorship did not realize what had appeared in the magazine.

– But just to show that the dictatorship was no joke: Renato Tapajós, our dear filmmaker, would in the future be the great documentarian of the labor movement on ABC and recently made a film called The Battle of Maria Antonia (2014). A former student of Social Sciences, he had already served five years in prison for his participation in the armed struggle, but was arrested again when his testimonial book came out. in slow motion (1977), this time for “incitement to subversion”.

our poem

Finally, I leave you with one last episode about Bento. As you may know, Bento, who had the soul of a poet and was also a poet in his spare time, had a poet in his heart and that was Carlos Drummond de Andrade, whom he practically knew by heart. In one of the meetings of Almanac, we decided to celebrate ten years of 1968 by republishing a poem by Drummond alluding to us, those of May 68. This poem, “Relatório de Maio”, was published in the newspaper Correio da Manhã on the 26th of this month, therefore, at the height of the student movement taking to the streets and occupying schools around the world. It's a beautiful poem, needless to say.

When it appeared in the newspaper, it was duly appreciated by us, who revered the poet and were in need of support in the face of the dictatorship at that time. However, ten years had passed, the poem had not been collected in a book by the author himself and we already considered it lost. We considered this to be “our poem” – because it showed a unique understanding of what was happening to us – and we wanted to rescue it.

Written and printed in a newspaper in the month of May 68, “Relatório de Maio” is therefore not a reminiscence (according to Wordsworth's famous formula: “emotion recollected in tranquility”) but a spurt of poetic inspiration at the last minute, carrying the energy and liveliness of first-hand testimony.

We wrote a letter to Drummond, asking permission to republish it. He responded immediately, authorizing. Of course, we disputed the possession of the letter between us, but who won was Bento, for whom it was indeed a treasure, and who carried it in his wallet for many years.

The poem, in its 67 verses, speaks of the events of that May, when our country and the world were taken by surprise by the sudden student uprising. A good synthesis of the contradictions involved (but there are others) is launched with irony right at the beginning, talking about “guitar and violence”. Afterwards, “cobblestones flew / demanding a critical university”.

Privileging high points in the perception of that moment, the poem talks about Lire le Capital and of MacLuhan, showing how well informed the poet was. There is no lack of present repression (“the police chief went out arresting/cutting hair”) (“a man came / in uniform outside or inside”), the fear of chaos, the disconnected electricity darkening everything “as a prefix of death”.

And yet the poem ends with a beautiful metaphor of hope:

“and yet in the darkness a dizzy bird

crossed the sky that May.”

I like to think we made the poet think twice about the poem because he later included it in the book. Love is learned by loving (1985), organized by Ivan Junqueira almost twenty years later, when he had already released about a dozen poetry books after publication in a newspaper in 1968, without including him. And so, because we claimed its publication in number 6 of Almanac (1978), maybe the poem was saved from oblivion.

*Walnice Nogueira Galvão is Professor Emeritus at FFLCH at USP. She is the author, among other books, of reading and rereading (Senac/Gold over blue).


[I] Antonio Candido wrote several times about Maria Antonia. See, among others, “The world covered in young men”, cutouts. Rio de Janeiro, Gold over Blue, 2004, 3rd. ed. He remembers that our Faculty covered a wide spectrum of knowledge, going, in his words, “from Mathematics to Education”. There were the offices of Geology, with classes in Alameda Glete, as well as those of Pedagogy, Physics, and others.

[ii] Inimá Simões, Movie theaters in São Paulo. saneo Paulo: Municipal Secretariat of Culture/State Secretariat of Culture, 1999.

[iii] Founded in 1949, it lasted until 2006; it would remain closed until 2015, when it reopened for old fans and patrons.

[iv] In Rio de Janeiro, the class of The Quibbler.

[v] 1954 International Film Festival. São Paulo: Centro Cultural São Paulo, 2004.

[vi] the awardee Jean vigo after all, it was just a part of the research, which would take close to half a century to be published in full. To see Vigo, aka Almereyda. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras/Edusp, 1991, about the political trajectory of the anarchist militant father of the filmmaker.

[vii] Bento Prado Jr., “The Library and the bars of São Paulo in the 50s”, Magazine of the Mario de Andrade Library, at the. 50, 1992. Francesc Petit, São Paulo from bar to bar. São Paulo: Siciliano, 1994. Lúcia Helena Gama, In the bars of life: cultural production and sociability in São Paulo. São Paulo: Senac, 1998. Nirlando Beirão and Rômulo Fialdini, Original – Stories from an ordinary bar. São Paulo: DBA, 2007.


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