Oswald de Andrade

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Publisher: Gale
Series: Dictionary of Literary Biography
Document Type: Biography; Critical essay
Length: 5,790 words

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About this Person
Born: 1890
Died: 1954
Occupation: Writer
Other Names: De Andrade, Oswald



  • Théâtre Brésilien: Mon coeur balance (comédie en 4 actes); Leur âme (pièce en 3 actes et 4 tableaux), by Andrade and Guilherme de Almeida, Théâtre Brésilien (São Paulo: Asbahr, 1916).
  • A trilogia do exílio: Os condemnados (São Paulo: Monteiro Lobato, 1922); revised as Alma, Os condenados, volume 1 (Pôrto Alegre: Globo, 1941).
  • Memórias sentimentaes de João Miramar (São Paulo: Independência, 1924); translated by Albert G. Bork and Ralph Niebuhr as Sentimental Memoirs of John Seaborne, Texas Quarterly, 15, no. 4 (Winter 1972): 112-160.
  • Pau Brasil: Cancioneiro de Oswald de Andrade, preface by Paulo Prado (Paris: Sans Pareil, 1925).
  • Os romances do exílio: A estrêlla de absyntho (São Paulo: Hélios, 1927); revised as A estrêla de absinto, Os condenados, volume 2 (Pôrto Alegre: Globo, 1941).
  • Primeiro caderno do alumno de poesia Oswald de Andrade (São Paulo: Mayença, 1927).
  • Serafim Ponte Grande (Rio de Janeiro: Ariel, 1933); translated by K. David Jackson and Albert G. Bork as Seraphim Grosse Pointe, afterword by Haroldo de Campos (Austin: New Latin Quarter, 1979).
  • O homem e o caválo: espetáculo em 9 quadros (São Paulo: Edição do Autor, 1934).
  • A escada vermelha (São Paulo: Editora Nacional, 1934); revised as A escada, Os condenados, volume 3 (Pôrto Alegre: Globo, 1941).
  • Teatro: A morta; O rei da vela (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1937).
  • Marco zero, 2 volumes (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1943, 1945)--comprises volume 1, A revolução melancólica; and volume 2, Chão.
  • Poesias reunidas, preface by Paulo Prado (São Paulo: Gaveta, 1945).
  • Ponta de lança (São Paulo: Martins, 1945).
  • A arcádia e a inconfidência (São Paulo: Revista dos Tribunais, 1945).
  • A crise da filosofia messiânica (São Paulo: Revista dos Tribunais, 1950).
  • Um homem sem profissão, memórias e confissões, volume 1: Sob as ordens de mamãe, 1890-1919, preface by Antonio Cândido (Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1954).
  • A marcha das utopias (Rio de Janeiro: Ministério de Educação e Cultura, 1966).
  • O perfeito cozinheiro das almas deste mundo: diário coletivo da garçonnière de Oswald de Andrade, introduction by Mário da Silva Brito and Haroldo de Campos, transcription by Jorge Schwartz (São Paulo: Ex Libris, 1987).


  • Oswald de Andrade: Trechos escolhidos, edited by Haroldo de Campos (Rio de Janeiro: AGIR, 1967).
  • Obras completas, 10 volumes (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1970-1974).
  • Obras completas de Oswald de Andrade (São Paulo: Secretaria de Estado da Cultura de São Paulo, Globo, 1990-).


Brazilian writer and intellectual Oswald de Andrade is one of the principal figures of literary modernism. Especially important is his authorship of the most important manifesto in twentieth-century Latin American letters and intellectual history, the "Manifesto Antropófago" (1928; translated as "Cannibal Manifesto" in Obras Completas de Oswald de Andrade, 1991). Andrade is normally referred to in Brazil as "Oswald," both because given names are preferred in Brazilian culture and because of the many "Andrades" who were active in the modernist movement. A graduate of the Faculdade de Direito de Sâo Paulo (São Paulo Law School), Andrade used his wit to promote a program of national modernization beginning with the Semana de Arte Moderna (Modern Art Week) of 1922, a gathering of young, innovative artists in São Paulo. Andrade's works and ideas were shaped by his contact with Europe, particularly the Parisian vanguard of the 1920s, and by his radical revision of the relationship between Europe and Brazil. According to the "Manifesto Antropófago," Brazil will invert its colonial position, changing from a peripheral country to an industrial center of production and exporter of aesthetic materials. A complex man whose life mirrored the major artistic and cultural trends of his day, Andrade saw his life as a dramatic series of opposites, alternating episodes of Nietzschean risks and Dostoevskyian suffering. He was known for his wit and unforgiving humor, which he aimed at friend and foe alike, particularly during his long career as a journalist. Examples of Andrade's sense of humor may be seen in his pocket dictionary, in which he took "famous names" and morphed them into satirical descriptions: the Brazilian critic Tristão de Ataíde is "Tristinho de Alaúde" (Sad Little Coffin), and Swiss-French poet Blaise Cendrars , who was wounded in World War I, is "Blaise Sans Bras" (Blaise Without Arms).

Andrade first came to public attention as a journalist for O Pirralho (The Short Kid) between 1911 and 1917, then as a promoter and participant in the Modern Art Week of 1922. In the 1920s Andrade wrote manifestos and geographical, lyrical, and concise poetry in the style of Cendrars, and he introduced the Cubist fragmentary novel. In vanguard magazines he attacked vestiges of patriarchal, colonial society and promoted a radical reordering of sociopolitical thought. Becoming a Marxist in the 1930s, Andrade wrote plays exposing decadence and corruption, employing vanguard language that foreshadowed a new national theater. In polemical essays and journalism throughout the 1940s he continued to defend the aesthetic and social program of the modernist vanguard and to promote a national project of modernization in letters, arts, architecture, and design.

In plans for his memoirs, which he began along with a diary on 19 June 1948, Andrade divided his life into four major phases of intellectual development. The general title he chose for his memoirs was Um homem sem profissão, memórias e confissões (A Man Without a Profession, Memoirs and Confessions), but he only wrote the first of the four intended volumes: volume one, Sob as ordens de mamãe, 1890-1919 (1954, Following Mother's Orders, 1890-1919); volume two, "O modernismo, 1920-1930" (Modernism, 1920-1930); volume three, "Nas fileiras de Marx, 1930-1945" (In Marx's Columns, 1930-1945); and volume four, "Antropofagia, 1945-" (Cannibalism, 1945-). The title of his last planned volume emphasizes the fundamental importance of modernist aesthetics and avant-garde social thought in his life and works.

José Oswald de Sousa Andrade was born in São Paulo at noon on 11 January 1890. His father was José Oswald Nogueira de Andrade, from Baependi, Minas Gerais. After moving to São Paulo in 1881, he married Andrade's mother, D. Inês Inglês de Sousa, who was born in Óbidos, Pará, and raised in Pernambuco. Andrade was the second of their nine children. Andrade's recollections of his introverted early years involve a pious, strict, and traditional family life. The moral basis for Andrade's later criticisms of society perhaps lies in a combination of this rigid formative period and his early strong Catholicism. Brazilian scholar Benedito Nunes traces Andrade's interest in philosophy to São Bento academy, which he began attending in 1903 and where he first became interested in writing, especially rhymes and children's songs. During these years in São Paulo he also became fascinated with the novelties of the new century, including the "light" (that is, electric) company and streetcars. Furthermore, an early visit to the circus deeply impressed him and perhaps inspired the sense of spectacle that informed his works. A model for a literary career was immediately available to Andrade in his famous maternal uncle, novelist Herculano Marcos Inglês de Sousa. After graduating from São Bento in 1908, Andrade wrote his first journalistic articles for the Diário Popular (Popular Diary). He entered law school in 1909 and in 1911 founded his first magazine, O Pirralho, featuring caricatures of local personalities and a satirical style. The magazine continued through 1917.

With a voyage to France, England, and Italy in 1912, Andrade discovered the social and literary activity of Paris, with its Cubist salons and vanguard poetry. He read the "Manifeste Futuriste" (Futurist Manifesto), the statement of Italian author and critic Filippo Tommaso Marinetti , and became acquainted with the works of French composer Erik Satie, French writer and artist Jean Cocteau , and Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. He was impressed by the sexual and social freedoms of Paris, and he returned to Brazil with a young student named Kamiá, who gave birth to his first son, Oswald de Andrade Jr. (Nonê), on 14 January 1914.

Writing in O Pirralho, Andrade took up the topic of a national art style, wrote satires in Italian-Paulistano dialect, and in 1916 published two plays in French that he co-authored with Brazilian poet Guilherme de Almeida. That year he also began a diary of his European trip using the name João Miramar, a pseudonym that he used off and on for years, especially in the 1920s. In 1916 excerpts from these memoirs appeared in several magazines, and during that year Andrade met American dancer Isadora Duncan in São Paulo. In 1917 Andrade made the acquaintance of Mário de Andrade, who later became the humanist voice and intellectual conscience of the modernist movement. Andrade introduced Mário de Andrade in the influential newspaper article "O meu poeta futurista" (My Futurist Poet), which appeared in the Jornal do Commercio on 27 May 1921. Andrade also defended from a negative review by prominent author and journalist Monteiro Lobato the 1917 individual art exhibit of Anita Malfatti, a young painter influenced by German expressionism and recently returned from the New York Independent School of Art. Andrade graduated from law school in 1918 and publicly announced the existence of his modernist group. In 1919 he discovered the sculptor Victor Brecheret at the Palácio das Indústrias, whose works played an important role in the development of modernist aesthetics.

During these years Andrade maintained a garçonnière (Gentleman's Club) as a meeting place for a premodernist group. These meetings were frequented by a witty young student from the interior called "Deisi," who charmed the group with her quick, satirical iconoclasm. After a turbulent romance, Deisi and Andrade were married shortly before her death on 24 August 1919. The diary of the garçonnière, titled O perfeito cozinheiro das almas deste mundo: diário coletivo da garçonnière de Oswald de Andrade (The Perfect Cookbook of the Souls of this World: The Collective Diary of the garçonnière of Oswald de Andrade), has become one of the major documents of early literary modernism after the publication of a meticulous facsimile edition in 1987. Composed between 1918 and 1919, the scrapbook-size volume of more than two hundred pages contains poems built with rubber stamps, objects, postcards, and witticisms expressing an incipient modernist outlook. Anyone who passed through the gargonnière could contribute to the open book. In 1920 Andrade was editor of the bimonthly magazine Papel e Tinta (Paper and Ink), which was dedicated to satire and caricatures and helped form a modernist group of artists and writers.

At the São Paulo Week of Modern Art in February 1922, Andrade read portions of his first novel, Os condemnados (1922, The Condemned), the first book in A trilogia do exílio (The Trilogy of Exile), a panoramic story of premodern life in São Paulo. Later that year he contributed a column, "Escolas & Idéias" (Schools & Ideas), to the short-lived vanguardist magazine Klaxon (Car Horn). In June 1922 he met painter Tarsila do Amaral, a plantation owner's daughter, and the couple left for Paris, where she had studied, in December. In her studio near the Place Clichy, Tarsila introduced Andrade to artists such as Cendrars, Satie, Cocteau, Ferdinand Léger, André Lhote, Albert Gleizes, Jules Supervielle , Valéry Larbaud, and Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky, as well as visiting Brazilian artists such as Heitor Villa-Lobos.

In an important lecture at the Sorbonne in 1923, Andrade served as an official representative of the Brazilian embassy in discussing the international dimension of what his title refers to as "L'effort intellectuel du Brésil contemporain" (The Intellectual Contribution of Contemporary Brazil). Returning briefly to Brazil at the end of the year, Andrade and Tarsila were introduced to Olívia Guedes Penteado, a patron of the arts--including the modernist group--who had constructed a special salon where sculptures and paintings by artists such as Léger, Picasso, Lhote, Georges Braque, Constatin Brancusi, Lasar Segall, Victor Brecheret, and Tarsila, were displayed. In March 1924 Cendrars arrived for a first visit to Brazil, and in a symbolic voyage of rediscovery Andrade and Tarsila drove him to the colonial cities of Minas Gerais. The trip involved the recovery of the colors, styles, and baroque forms of the colonial interior, features Brazilian artists and poets began incorporating into their works.

The five-year period from 1923 to 1928 was the most intense and significant phase of Andrade's intellectual development and artistic production. His first "invention" in the Cubist style, the novel Memórias sentimentae de João Miramar (1924; translated as Sentimental Memoirs of John Seaborne , 1972), was revised in Italy in 1923 and published in São Paulo with a cover illustration by Tarsila. Based on Andrade's diary of his voyage to Europe, this fragmented memoir of his literary persona provides a portrait of the artist as a young Brazilian man. Written in 163 prose fragments with satirical titles, the book describes the infancy, European travels, and return to Brazil of a sensitive youth who narrates with an equal sense of discovery and alienation. Memórias sentimentae de João Miramar is particularly critical of the generic experiences and attitudes of his generation. Composed in Cubist syntax, full of displacements and language play, the novel requires active reader participation. Andrade's playful experimentation also involves a mixing of literary genres, as the numbered fragments take the form of letters, diaries, interviews, speeches, and poems. Humor and parody are the main vehicles that convey social criticism. The novel is composed with self-conscious satire, beginning with a preface composed by one of the characters who represents a school of conservative literary taste associated with Brazilian statesman-author Rui Barbosa. The theme of the novel is the formation of a new national artistic consciousness through the hero's changing critical perspectives and self-awareness.

Andrade's first major manifesto, the "Manifesto da Poesia Pau Brasil," was published in the Correio da Manhã (Morning Mail) in Rio de Janeiro on 18 March 1924. The manifesto was the principal document to establish an aesthetic for national modernism in the aftermath of the 1922 Week of Modern Art. The modernists saw in their own moment a dividing line between the colonial Brazil of the past and an as-yet-undefined future, and they found in their daily environment and culture sufficient aesthetic materials to promote social happiness and sustain a modern national identity. For them the future was embedded in contemporary aspects of Brazilian culture. For example, Andrade's manifesto finds "aesthetic facts" in the colors of the slums, Afro-Brazilian recipes and dances, carnival, speech, and the poetry of everyday life. In a country of immigrants the Brazilian language is described as "a contribuição milionária de todos os erros" (the millionaire-contribution of all the errors). To be modern is to place the newspaper and the skyscraper alongside the energy of shamans, legends, and the Museu Nacional (National Museum). The modern Brazilian of the times should be "sentimental, intelectual, irônico, ingênuo" (sentimental, intellectual, ironic, ingenuous). Brazilwood, which was the first colonial product exported to Europe, and other vegetation evoked in the manifesto constitutes the background for paintings in a "Pau Brasil" (Brazilwood) style by Tarsila and Segall. "Pau Brasil" is also used as an aesthetic term, applied to Tarsila's colorful geometric Cubist "portraits" of Brazilian life in this period.

In 1924 Andrade published poems in the Revista do Brasil (Journal of Brazil) that became part of his major collection of poetry, Pau Brasil (1925, Brazilwood). This book was published in Paris at Au Sans Pareil and features a cover based on the Brazilian flag, illustrations by Tarsila, and a dedication to Cendrars. Andrade uses documentary, ready-made, and objet trouvé techniques in his streamlined, synthetic verse. Structured as a concise history of Brazil, the volume begins with a program-manifesto, taken from the "Manifesto da Poesia Pau Brasil," featuring guidelines for aesthetic and national modernization. The first section of poetry, "História do Brasil" (History of Brazil), quotes passages from Pero Vaz de Caminha's letter of discovery of Brazil (1500) and select other chronicles of discovery, reproduced for ironic and satirical effects. Andrade became fond of such uses of copy and referentiality in his compositions. The chronological historical sequence of Pau Brasil continues with poems about colonization, a section on carnival, an excursion through urban São Paulo, a voyage to the colonial cities of Minas Gerais, and the return to Brazil of a transatlantic passenger, the poet himself arriving at a customs post in Santos. Beginning with the theme of carnival, the poems derive from Andrade's personal experiences with the modernist group, particularly the 1924 automobile excursion to the colonial cities of Minas Gerais. Throughout the collection Andrade maintains an aesthetic of surprise and invention in poems that are "snapshots" of a synthetic reality, conveyed with humor and satire. The point is to see things with "new eyes" in an attitude of creative innocence. In a few poems Andrade uses extreme semiotic concision, producing works of only two or three lines in which, for example, a train divides Brazil "como un meridiano" (like a meridian).

At this time Andrade was in contact with Portuguese modernists, and a polemical description of his Parisian agenda sent to the young Portuguese writer António Ferro, who had lectured in Brazil in 1922, was published in the Lisbon magazine Contemporânea in 1925. In 1926 Andrade and Tarsila married, and the couple, jointly called "Tarsiwald" by Mário de Andrade, received many celebrated artists, writers, and composers and traveled frequently between São Paulo and Paris. Visitors in São Paulo included Le Corbusier, Josephine Baker, and Benjamin Péret. Tarsila moved her Parisian studio to 19 boulevard Bertheir. In 1926 she had her first individual exhibit at the Galérie Percier, rue de Boétie (Percier Gallery, Boétie Street). At this time Andrade met Valéry Larbaud, translator of James Joyce into French, and became acquainted with Joyce's novel Ulysses (1922). Visitors to Tarsila's atelier included Léger, Cocteau, Supervielle, Jules Romains , and Brancusi, who dedicated to the couple a catalogue for his 1926 New York exposition. A Thomas Cook trip to the Middle East that year with Tarsila and others is reflected in Andrade's second "novel of invention," Serafim Ponte Grande (1933; translated as Seraphim Grosse Pointe, 1979), which he composed in fragments. Although belonging aesthetically to the 1920s, the work was published with a Marxist preface rejecting much of the novel as the "sentimental barometer of the bourgeoisie." Serafim is an antiheroic character, more aggressive and cynical than João Miramar, whose travel adventures enact some principles of Andrade's "Manifesto Antropófago." He is a modest employee of a federal public department who suddenly becomes rich with funds taken from a group of revolutionaries. He sets sail on a libertine voyage to Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, consisting of a series of burlesque adventures. Serafim's satirical humor culminates in an outright rebellion against social norms and conventions in the final fragment, "Os antropófagos" (The Cannibals). While traveling the oceans by transatlantic liner, Serafim claims there is a plague onboard and puts in at port only to take on supplies. Although Andrade had used ironic fragments in the Memórias sentimentaes de João Miramar, his approach in Serafim Ponte Grande was more experimental. The fragments of the novel are written as parodies, each section mocking a different literary style from the past such as travel narratives, romantic cloak- and-dagger stories, realist novels, and several subgenres such as diaries, letters, telegrams, and postcards. The novel also includes an "Errata" in which the author condemns the book and gives written permission for it to be "deformado en todas as línguas" (deformed in all languages). An adaptation for theater was performed in Rio de Janeiro by Pessoal do Cabaré in the 1980s.

In 1927 Andrade published a second volume of poetry, Primeiro caderno do alumo de poesia Oswald de Andrade (First Notebook of the Poetry Student Oswald de Andrade), in an ingenuous, simple style. The cover, designed by Tarsila, is based on a Parisian grade-school notebook. Some of the poems are based on children's rhymes, and classics of Romantic poetry are parodied. Andrade begins the volume with what has been called the shortest poem in the Portuguese language: the title is "Amor" (Love), printed in red ink in the first edition, and the text is one word, "Humor" (Humor). This collection of poems continues the national theme of Pau Brasil, but with a self-conscious and self-deprecating style, mixing personal reflections and experience with national material. During this time Andrade finished the second novel of A trilogia do exílio, A estrêlla de absyntho (1927, The Star of Absinthe).

The first half of 1928 was the high mark in Andrade's achievements as a modernist. On his birthday in January he received a gift of Tarsila's celebrated painting "Abaporu," which means "Man Who Eats" in Tupy, the language of the Tupinambás, and in May he published his renowned "Manifesto Antropófago" in the first issue of the Revista de Antropofagia (Cannibal Magazine), a publication edited by Antônio de Alcântara Machado. The theme of cannibalism had already appeared in Brazil with a canvas by Rego Monteiro titled "O Antropófago" (1921, The Cannibal) that depicts an Indian chewing on a femur, and it also appeared in the Revista de Antropofagia and in a Portuguese edition of the sixteenth-century memoirs of Hans Staden titled Meu captiveiro entre os selvagens do Brazil (1925, My Captivity among the Savages of Brazil), edited by Monteiro Lobato, who was a close acquaintance of Andrade. Staden's memoirs were illustrated by forty woodcuts printed in black and red that depicted life among the Tupinambás, and those featuring cannibalism are reproduced in the Brazilian magazine.

"Manifesto Antropófago" was eventually recognized as the most significant expression of Latin American intellectual autonomy in the twentieth century. The modern Brazilian is cast in the guise of a Tupinambá cannibal who devours arriving Europeans, absorbing their values and transforming them into native material. The manifesto offers a new calendar, dated from the ingestion of Bishop Sardinha by the Caetés in 1554. The rite of ritual consumption is the broad metaphor Andrade chooses for his view of society and his critical revision of Western ethics and religion. Unlike the European intellectual's search for primitivism, the Brazilian claims a direct relationship to a cannibal reality. The natural legal, religious, and economic systems of the tribe are promoted as utopian solutions to the problems plaguing Western society, such as crime, repression, and poverty. Andrade finds Surrealist language in a Tupy poem to the full moon, quoted in Couto de Magalhães's O selvagem (1881, The Savage). Borrowing language from Sigmund Freud and William Shakespeare , Andrade proposes that Brazil's indigenous primitivism will totemize the taboos of Western culture, invoking the slogan "Tupy or not Tupy, that is the question." A more radical second "dentição" (dentition) of the Revista de Antropofagia, printed as a special page in the Diário de São Paulo (São Paulo Daily) from March to June 1929, features attacks on the Catholic Church as well as on the legal code of patriarchal society. Among the ambitious works based on European models that Andrade planned at this time but never completed was the "Ballet Brésilien," which was to have a text by Andrade, setting by Tarsila, and music by Villa-Lobos, and for which a four-page précis survives. At some point in 1929 Andrade and Tarsila divorced.

In 1930 Andrade began an experiment with Marxism and the Partido Comunista do Brasil (Brazilian Communist Party), following his intense, dynamic companion Patrícia Galvão, known as Pagu, whom he married in April 1930. In Pagu's radical novel Parque Industrial (1933; translated as Industrial Park, 1993), Andrade appears as a character who converts from the bourgeoisie to the working class. In 1931 the couple had a son, Rudá, and they collaborated on the eight issues of the journal O Homem do Povo (Man of the People). The political agenda and militant avant-garde tone of the journal caused it to be attacked and closed by law students. Each issue featured a questionnaire asking "Who is the biggest living bandit in Brazil?" followed by names of politicians, priests, and well-known national figures. In the journal Andrade wrote provocatively that the most profound mental activity ever produced by the São Paulo Law School was hazing. Pagu contributed a column, "Mulher do povo" (Woman of the People), in which she deftly attacks the dominant sexual morality. Andrade attacks the government of President Getúilo Vargas, whom he calls the "anão Vargas" (dwarf Vargas), and the labor policies of minister Lindolfo Collor, whom he calls the "Sinistro do Trabalho" (Sinister of Labor). In a 1933 speech to the union of bakers Andrade criticized the Brazilian policy to nationalize labor for its effects on poor foreign workers and its evisceration of union and management relations. In 1931 Pagu and Andrade traveled to Montevideo to visit the leader of the Brazilian Communist Party, Luiz Carlos Prestes, and in 1933 Pagu left Brazil to travel around the world as a reporter, via China, Moscow, and Paris. During this period Andrade finished the final volume of A trilogia do exílio, A escada vermelha (1934), and he published three innovative and challenging plays, O homem e o caválo (1934), full of disjointed characterization, violence and social attacks, followed by A morta and O rei da vela (1937, The Candle King).

Andrade next began writing a series of novels titled Marco zero, which he likened to a social mural, of which two were later published, A revolução melancólica (1943) and Chão (1945). After an affair with pianist Pilar Ferrer, Andrade married the writer Julieta Bárbara in 1935. The financially limited couple received in their home foreign intellectuals such as French sociologist Roger Bastide and the Italian poet Guiseppe Ungaretti, who had arrived in São Paulo as professors at the recently created university. Andrade also traveled with Bastide and Claude Lévi-Strauss . During this time Andrade supported a group of young Brazilian intellectuals led by Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes in the creation of the journal Movimento (Movement). The circle expanded into a "Clube do Quarteirão" (Block Club) that included such figures as Flávio de Carvalho, Malfatti, Sérgio Milliet, Geraldo Ferraz, and Décio de Almeida Prado. Andrade remained active as an irreverent journalist during this period, defending modernism and attacking the fascist Integralists of Vargas's "Estado Novo" (New State). With his finances depleted, Andrade offered for sale the last properties that he owned in the district of Cerqueira Cesar. He also owned paintings by Giorgio de Chirico and Picasso that he attempted to sell at bargain prices.

Published in 1937, the play O rei da vela illustrates how Andrade continued to use a modernist aesthetic in the realm of Marxist criticism. The title refers to the transfer of the landed coffee aristocracy's wealth to the incipient industrialization and raw capitalism of the city. The play concerns the world of pawnshops and usury, illustrating the bankruptcy, misery, and desperation of a class that has to borrow to survive. The main character, Abelard I, is a loan shark who has cut the supply of electricity, forcing the population to buy candles, for which he has the monopoly. Andrade's reliance on underlying literary and historical references is seen in the allusion to the fourteenth-century French romance of Abelard and Heloise, a story featuring a tragic, grotesque denial of Eros that is directly related to the decadent situation in Brazil. The rural aristocracy has estates but no money, and the urban capitalists have cash but no social standing. Thus, Abelard I arranges a marriage to Heloisa, daughter of a colonel, notwithstanding her lesbianism. The decadence of institutions is revealed through economic and sexual deviance, and Abelard casts debtors into a large cage in his office. The layered relationships between urban decadence and the dependency of a mortgaged class involve people who are ultimately revealed to be puppets of foreign capital in the person of an American businessman, the homosexual Mr. Jones, who is responsible for Abelard's suicide and whose only line in the play is "Good Business!" O rei da vela became one of the most famous plays in Brazilian drama after it was produced by Teatro Oficina in São Paulo in 1967.

In 1939 Andrade sailed with his wife for Stockholm as a representative of the PEN Club, but the voyage was interrupted by World War II. The couple had a close escape from France and returned to Brazil via Portugal, where Andrade was interviewed in the press. In 1940 Andrade became a candidate for a vacancy in the Academia Brasileira de Letras (Brazilian Academy of Letters) but lost to poet Manuel Bandeira. During this time Andrade entertained many young critics, including Antônio Cândido, and attempted a reconciliation with Mário de Andrade, which was rebuffed.

In the early 1940s Andrade, disillusioned with organized causes, left the Communist Party and began a prolific period dedicated to poetry, essays, and philosophical studies. He published a major book of essays, Ponta de lança (1945, Tip of the Lance), followed by several essays and even university theses. With his essay of sociopolitical theory titled A arcádia e a inconfidência (1945, Arcadia and the Uprising in Minas), he unsuccessfully competed for a chair in literature at the Universidade de São Paulo and became a livre docente (Doctor of Letters), although he never taught. The last great love of his life, Maria Antonieta d'Alkmin, was hired as a secretary for the publication of Marco zero, and the couple was married on 19 June 1944 in a ceremony that Andrade described as "últimas núpcias" (last nuptials). Andrade's long poem "Cântico dos cânticos para flauta e violão" is dedicated to Maria. In 1946 the couple had a daughter, Antonieta Marília, and in 1948 they had a son, Paulo Marcos, who died in an accident at age nineteen. Andrade's complete poetry, titled Poesias reunidas, was published in a luxurious edition in 1945. The title parodies the advertisement for the Indústrias Reunidas (United Industries) of the industrialist Matarazzo in São Paulo. In the summer of 1949, Andrade hosted Albert Camus and traveled with him in southern Brazil. Camus left his positive impressions of Andrade and expresses enthusiasm for "Antropofagia" in his diary.

Andrade's longest poem, O santeiro do Mangue , begun in 1935, is written in the form of an opera set in Rio de Janeiro. It is an imaginative work that may be considered a companion to Mário de Andrade's grandiose poem-oratorio "As enfibraturas do Ipiranga" (1922, The Moral Fibrature of Ipiranga). Because of its ideological aggression and linguistic obscenities, the poem was censored, although a mimeographed version circulated in the late 1960s. The poem is set in the Mangue, a zone of prostitution and decadence that had been the subject of many well-known Brazilian works, including poems by Bandeira and Vinícius de Moraes and paintings by Emiliano Di Cavalcanti. Once again Andrade constructs a theatrical text that refers to many literary, historical, and religious antecedents. His biting view of society in the Mangue produces characters styled after English poet George Gordon, Lord Byron ; Gustave Flaubert 's Madame Bovary; Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Gomes; and Brazilian writer Antônio de Castro Alves, with the statue of Christ of Corcovado directing from on high. The poem contains scatological language and violent attacks on organized religion and imperialism, while it celebrates popular culture through the work of a poor sculptor of wooden saints.

In 1950 Andrade became a candidate for a chair in philosophy with a second thesis, A crise da filosofia messiânica (The Crisis of Messianic Philosophy). In this essay he develops a theory of man and society with an emphasis on utopian thought and the production of social leisure and happiness, ideas derived from the "Manifesto Antropófago." One of Andrade's final philosophical essays, A marcha das utopias (1966), is a study of societies and utopian thinkers as seen from the perspective of the natural, autochthonous philosophy of "Antropofagia." Against the repressed world of patriarchy, Andrade proposes for Brazil an open matriarchal society. Citing Michel de Montaigne's essay on Brazilian cannibals titled "De Cannibales" (The Cannibals), published in his Essais de Messire Michel Seigneur de Montaigne (1580; translated as The Essays, or, Morall, Politike and Militarie Discourses of Lo: Michaell de Montaigne, 1603), Andrade finds examples in primitive man for the renewal of Western society, particularly the absence of illness and dementia as well as the open expression of revenge and affection. In the messianism of the colonizers of Brazil, Andrade sees the origin of all the illusions that lead to slavery, whereas the revolt and stoicism of the tribe show a new path to the modern discovery of the "technological primitive" and the conquest of leisure and social happiness. In 1950 Andrade was an unsuccessful candidate for the state legislature. The memoirs, begun in 1948, appeared with the first volume of Um homem sem profissão: Sob as ordens de mamãe. After a long illness, Andrade died on 22 October 1954 in São Paulo. He was buried in the Cemitério da Consolação.

Although largely forgotten or ignored at the time of his death, Oswald de Andrade's works were rediscovered in the 1960s. With the revival of studies of the modernist movement in the 1970s, influenced by the seminal essays of Haroldo de Campos, Antônio Candido, Décio Pignatari, and other prominent intellectuals, Andrade became almost universally known in Brazil. Andrade's irreverent satire and striking conceptual originality stem from a complex personality thought now to belong to an audacious genius who created a lasting model for national modernization. Two complete editions of Andrade's works appeared in the 1970s and 1990s, and there were also significant performances of his plays, stage adaptations of his novels, and short movies and videos based on his life and works. Among his works, the "Manifesto Antropófago" in particular has reached an international readership and is esteemed an influential document of postcolonial thought. A United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization Archives volume of scholarly editions and studies titled Oswald de Andrade: Obra Incompleta (Oswald de Andrade: Incomplete Works) is scheduled to appear in 2005. Additionally, in the 1990s two biographies were published, Maria Augusta Fonseca's Oswald de Andrade, 1890-1954: biografia (1990, Oswald de Andrade, 1890-1954: Biography) and Maria Eugênia da Gama Alves Boaventura's O salão e a selva: uma biografia ilustrada de Oswald de Andrade (1995, The Salon and the Jungle: An Illustrated Biography of Oswald de Andrade). These treatments of Andrade's life and works highlight his acceptance as one of the most original and unforgettable figures in early-twentieth-century Brazilian social, political, and literary history.


A collection of Oswald de Andrade's papers is held at the Fundo Oswald de Andrade (Oswald de Andrade Foundation), Centro de Documentação Cultural Alexandre Eulalio, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, at Campinas, São Paulo.




  • Maria Augusta Fonseca, Oswald de Andrade, 1890-1954: biografia (São Paulo: Secretaria de Estado da Cultura, Art Editora, 1990).
  • Maria Eugênia da Gama Alves Boaventura, O salão e a selva: uma biografia ilustrada de Oswald de Andrade (São Paulo: Ex Libris / Campinas, Brazil: Unicamp, 1995).


  • Adria Frizzi, "Life and Letters of a Chameleon: The Carnival of Memoirs in Serafim Ponte Grande," Luso-Brazilian Review, 23, no. 2 (1986): 61-69.
  • David George, Anthropophagy and the New Brazilian Theater, dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1981.
  • Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, "Biting You Softly: A Commentary on Oswald de Andrade's Manifesto Antropófago," Nuevo Texto Crítico, 12, nos. 23-24 (1999): 191-198.
  • K. David Jackson, "Three Glad Races: Primitivism and Ethnicity in Brazilian Modernist Literature," Modernism and Modernity, 1, no. 2 (1994): 89-112.
  • Jackson, ed., One Hundred Years of Invention: Oswald de Andrade and the Modern Tradition in Latin American Literature (Austin: Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Texas at Austin/ Abaporu Press, 1990).
  • Richard Morse, "Triangulating Two Cubists: William Carlos Williams and Oswald de Andrade," Latin American Literary Review, 14, no. 27 (1986): 175-183.
  • Benedito Nunes, Oswald, cannibal (São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1979).
  • Luciana Stegagno Picchio, "Brazilian Anthropophagy: Myth and Literature," Diogenes, no. 144 (Winter 1988): 116-139.
  • Marcos Reigota, "Brazilian Art and Literature, Oswald de Andrade's Contribution to Global Ecology," in Literature of Nature: An International Sourcebook, edited by Patrick D. Murphy, Terry Gifford, and Katsunori Yamazato (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998), pp. 359-365.
  • Jeffrey Schnapp, "Biting the Hand that Feeds You: On the 70th Anniversary of the Manifesto antropófago," Nuevo Texto Crítico, 12, nos. 23-24 (1999): 243-247.
  • Vicky Unruh, "From Idle Pursuits to Critical Voracity: Memórias Sentimentais de João Miramar and Serafim Ponte Grande," in Latin American Vanguards: The Art of Contentious Encounters (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), pp. 114-122, 197-205.
  • Beth Joan Vinkler, "The Anthropophagic Mother/Other: Appropriated Identities in Oswald de Andrade's 'Manifesto Antropófago,'" Luso-Brazilian Review, 34, no. 1 (1997): 105-111.


Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|H1200012348