Authors: Mário de Andrade

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Brazilian poet, essayist, and ethnomusicologist

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Amar, verbo intransitivo, 1927 (Fräulein, 1933)

Macunaíma: O, Heroi sem nenhum caracter, 1928 (English translation, 1984)

Short Fiction:

Belazarte, 1934

Contos novos, 1946


Há una gota de sangue em cada poema, 1917

Paulicéia desvairada, 1922 (Hallucinated City, 1968)

Losango cáqui, 1926

Cla do jaboti, 1927

Remate de males, 1930

Lira paulistana, 1946

Poesias completas, 1955


A escrava que nao é Isaura, 1925 (criticism)

Ensaio sobre a música brasileira, 1928

Música, doce música, 1933

Aspectos da literatura Brasileira, 1943 (criticism)

Popular Music and Song in Brazil, 1943

O empalhador de passarinho, 1944 (criticism)

Danças dramáticas do Brasil, 1959

Aspectos da música brasileira, 1965


Obras completas, 1959-1976 (20 volumes)


Mário Raul de Morais Andrade (ahn-DRAH-thay) is regarded as the consummate writer of twentieth century Brazil for the breadth of his creative, critical, and investigatory work. His spiritual leadership placed him at the forefront of Brazilian modernism. Andrade lived all his life in Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo, where he studied, worked, and founded several important cultural institutions. He received a classical Catholic secondary education and took a degree in piano from the São Paulo Conservatory in 1917, the same year he published his first book of poems, which reflect on the pain and suffering of World War I.{$I[AN]9810001332}{$I[A]Andrade, Mário de}{$I[geo]BRAZIL;Andrade, Mário de}{$I[tim]1893;Andrade, Mário de}

In the early 1920’s Andrade became an advocate of literary renovation. In 1922 he was a principal figure in the polemical Week of Modern Art, which officially launched artistic modernism in Brazil. As a collaborator in literary reviews, a creative author, and an essayist, Andrade was essential to the development of the literary movement that championed the use of natural language and national cultural awareness as well as formal innovation in the light of changes in European literatures. In 1922 he published the combative volume of poetry Hallucinated City, an extravagant free-verse collection that celebrated the Brazilian urban experience and mocked staid traditionalists. He formalized his arguments for change in subsequent influential essays.

In 1924 Andrade became professor of musical history at the São Paulo Conservatory, a position he maintained while pursuing literary interests. He took numerous research trips around Brazil, on which he absorbed the colonial heritage and explored the vast and rich systems of folk culture in the northern regions of the country. The 1927 collection of poetry Cla do jaboti (a tribal clan) reflects this characteristic preoccupation with folk traditions and nonacademic, popular language.

The author’s broad ethnographic knowledge and his philosophy of “Brazilian-ness” emerge in what is often regarded as his most important work, Macunaíma: O, Heroi sem nenhum caracter. First called a story, then a novel, and finally a rhapsody, this unusual work of fiction is subtitled “the hero with no character,” a phrase that connects the author’s literary concern with the multifaceted Brazilian cultural identity. In the elaboration of this pseudo-epic, Andrade draws on the legends and myths of Amazonian natives, Afro-Brazilian folklore, and a vivid imagination. Rejecting the spirit of normative linguistic practice, the author blends all manners of speech and parodies the gap between official written Portuguese and the actual forms used by the people, educated and uneducated alike. At the same time he questions the Eurocentric view that dominated New World thinking. Establishment critics were perplexed by the work when it appeared, and it remained unappreciated for many years until later readers came to regard it as a central contribution to Brazilian modernism and as a landmark in New World literature.

In the 1930’s Andrade was noted for outstanding achievements in teaching and cultural development. He sat on the commission charged with reforming the National School of Music, where he helped to organize the first congress focusing on the employment of Brazilian Portuguese in erudite vocal music. Andrade’s essay on this topic is one of the many studies he published on classical, popular, and folk music. He was director of the municipal department of cultural affairs of São Paulo, where he created the first children’s parks as well as the Municipal Archive of Sound Recordings, an important research source. Andrade also conceived a law establishing the National Service for Historical and Artistic Patrimony, and he declared the first historical monuments in São Paulo in 1936. The following year he founded the Brazilian Society for Ethnography and Folklore. His pioneering research and writing earned for him recognition as the first ethnomusicologist in Brazil. As for academic contributions, Andrade was instrumental in bringing the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss to teach and do research in Brazil. Andrade taught aesthetics from 1938 to 1939 at the University of the Federal District, Rio de Janeiro, where he was a high-ranking official of the National Book Institute and a major force behind the development of the first encyclopedia of Brazilian affairs.

Andrade undertook further travels around Brazil in the 1940’s, but he returned to São Paulo, where he labored indefatigably until his sudden death. He left much research, several critical essays, and many creative pieces unpublished. The collected poems were published in 1955. The complete works, exclusive of letters and journalism but covering fiction, poetry, literary criticism, art history, musical history, folklore, and even medicine, were published in twenty volumes. Given his vast production in different disciplines, Andrade must be regarded as one of the major forces in Brazilian intellectual history. In literature he is remembered for his fundamental contributions to technical and thematic renovation of fiction and poetry as well as for an exemplary attitude toward national language and cultural manifestations.

BibliographyBehague, Gerard. Music in Latin America: An Introduction. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1979. An appreciation of Mário de Andrade the musicologist.Foster, David William. “Some Formal Types in the Poetry of Mário de Andrade.” Luso Brazilian Review 20 (December, 1965). Criticism in English.Foster, David W., and Virginia R. Foster, eds. Modern Latin American Literature. New York: Ungar, 1975. Includes translated highlights of the body of Portuguese-language criticism of Andrade’s work, which is voluminous.Johnson, Randal. Cinema Novo × 5: Masters of Contemporary Brazilian Film. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985. Provides a discussion of Macunaíma and the 1969 film based on it.Johnson, Randal. “Macunaíma as Brazilian Hero: Filmic Adaptation as Ideological Radicalization,” Latin American Literary Review 7 (Fall/Winter, 1978). Provides a discussion of Macunaíma and the 1969 film based on it.Nist, John. The Modernist Movement in Brazil. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967. Includes a chapter on Andrade.
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