Manifesto Pau-Brazil 1

In the last week or so, I’ve been working to translate and annotate two manifestos by Brazilian poet Oswald de Andrade: “Manifesto Pau- Brasil” (1924) and “Manifesto Antropófago” (1928). I do not read Portuguese, nor do I know anything about Brazil’s history – two painful reasons to undertake this task. Both manifestos present important post-colonial positions and this is simply a modest effort to “digest” them more thoroughly. However, I will not include an interpreation of the text until i complete this first task. So, if you have an interpretation of any of the paragraphys, please comment! I will be presenting what I find little by little on this blog and I hope if anyone has any advice or info or sources or suggestions to please let me know (this is a work in progress).

note: Portuguese text (in bold) will be followed by English translation in parenthesis, and then annotation in brackets and italics. This will continue paragraph by paragraph. (this post only covers the first 4 paragraphs).



(Manifesto Wood-Brazil)

[Brazilwood is a common name for wood which yields a red dye called brazilin, which oxidizes to brazilein. The name is said to come from brasa, Portuguese for “ember”, owing to its red hue.

Portuguese explorers used the name Pau-Brasil for such a wood from a South American tree, which led to the name Brazil for its land of origin. The orange-red wood, which takes a high shine, is also used for making violin bows, and is the premier wood for that purpose.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, brazilwood was highly valued in Europe and quite difficult to get. Coming from Asia, it was traded in powder form and used as a red dye in the manufacture of luxury textiles, such as velvet, in high demand during the Renaissance, When Portuguese navigators discovered present-day Brazil, on April 22, 1500, they immediately saw that brazilwood was extremely abundant along the coast and in its hinterland, along the rivers. In a few years, a hectic and very profitable operation for felling and transporting by shipping all the brazilwood logs they could get was established, as a crown-granted Portuguese monopoly.

Excessive exploitation (it has been estimated that in the last two centuries, more than 50 million trees were destroyed) finally led to a steep decrease in the number of brazilwood trees in the 18th century, causing the collapse of this economic activity. Presently, the species is practically extinct in most parts of the country.]

A poesia existe nos fatos. Os casebres de açafrão e de ocre nos verdes da Favela, sob o azul cabralino, são fatos estéticos.

(Poetry exists in the facts. The saffron and ochre shacks in the greens of the Favela, under the blue cabralino, healthy aesthetic facts.)

[1. Favela: Commonly used in Brazil to describe the shantytowns primarily on the hills of Rio de Janeiro. The term favela comes from a species of plants that often grows on the hillsides of Rio de Janeiro, where freed slaves first established a community of squatters in the 1890s.

A favela is fundamentally different from a slum or tenement, primarily in terms of its origin and location. While slum quarters in other Latin American countries are generally started as poorer residents from the countryside come to larger cities in search of work, favelas are unique in that they were created as a large population becomes displaced. Another important distinction is that in a typical favela there is an anomalous form of social life that diverts from mainstream culture and way-of-life. Such a state of things is recognised as early as 1940.

It is generally agreed that the first favela was created in November 1897 when 20,000 veteran soldiers were brought to Rio de Janeiro and left with no place to live. The former soldiers used to compare the shanty towns to the favela plant because, just as the thorny plant, they managed to carve their meagre existences in spite of unfavourable conditions. Some of the older favelas were originally started as quilombos (independent towns for refugee African slaves) among the hilly terrain of the area surrounding Rio, which later grew as slaves were liberated in 1888 with no place to live. Most of the current favelas began in the 1970s, as a construction boom in the richer neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro initiated a rural exodus of workers from poorer states in Brazil. Heavy flooding in the low-lying slum areas of Rio also forcibly removed a large population into favelas, which are mostly located on Rio’s various hillsides.

Shanty towns are units of irregular self-constructed housing that are occupied illegally. They are usually on lands belonging to third parties, and most often located on the urban periphery. Residences are built without a license and with little or no sanitation. Favelas are often characterized by an almost total absence of numbered streets, sanitation networks, electricity, telephone service, or plumbing. Most favelas are inaccessible by vehicles, the houses being randomly built, circulation provided by stairways, passageways or simply tracks.

These areas of irregular and poor quality housing are often crowded onto hillsides. Landslides in such areas, caused primarily by heavy rainfall but worsened by deforestation, are frequent. In recent decades, favelas have been troubled by drug-related crime and gang warfare.

The most well known favelas are those in and around Rio de Janeiro, where they provide a dramatic illustration of the gap between poverty and wealth, positioned side-by-side with the luxurious apartment buildings and mansions of Rio’s elite. Rocinha, Pavãozinho, Parada de Lucas, Cidade de Deus, Maré and Turano are some of the most famous Rio’s favelas.

The 2002 film City of God placed a spotlight on favelas]

[2. I cannot locate the word “cabralino” – since Cabral is a common name, this brought two things – the first: Pedro Álvares Cabral, explorer who “discovered” Brazil in 1500. the second: Sacadura Cabral (1881-1924), a Portuguese aviation pioneer who, together with Gago Coutinho (1869-1959), was the first to cross the South Atlantic Ocean by air in 1922, from Lisbon, in Portugal, to Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. This coincides with the date of the manifesto, and could mean “little plane” against the blue sky. Or, something else entirely…]

O Carnaval no Rio é o acontecimento religioso da raça. Pau-Brasil. Wagner submerge ante os cordões de Botafogo. Bárbaro e nosso. A formação étnica rica. Riqueza vegetal. O minério. A cozinha. O vatapá, o ouro e a dança.

(Carnaval in Rio is the religious event of the people. Wood-Brazil. Wagner drowns before the troupes of Botafogo. Barbarian and ours. A rich ethnic formation. Vegetal wealth. The mineral. The kitchen. Vatapa, the gold and the dance.)

[1. The Brazilian Carnival is an annual celebration held forty days before Easter marking the start of Lent. Despite the Catholic inspiration, Brazilian Carnival is celebrated more as a profane feast than a religious event. Its origins are European, by a kind of carnival called Introito (Latin for entrance). The entrudo, as it was known in Brazil, could have been characterized mainly as a joke: to throw water (and later, other things) at other people, to “purify the body”.

In the late 19th Century, the cordões (literally laces in Portuguese) were introduced in Rio de Janeiro, which consisted of groups of people who would walk on the streets playing music and dancing. The cordões were ancestors of the modern samba schools.

The blocos (blocks), another name for the cordões, are some of the current representations of the popular Brazilian Carnival. They are formed by people who dress in costumes according to certain themes, or to celebrate the carnival in specific ways. The schools of samba are truly organizations that work all year in order to prepare themselves for the samba schools parade.]

[2. Botafogo is a neighborhood in Rio]

[3. vatapa: fish stew]

Toda a história bandeirante e a história comercial do Brasil. O lado doutor, o lado citações, o lado autores conhecidos. Comovente. Rui Barbosa: uma cartola na Senegâmbia. Tudo revertendo em riqueza. A riqueza dos bailes e das frases feitas. Negras de Jockey. Odaliscas no Catumbi. Falar difícil.

(All colonial and commercial history of Brazil. The side doctor, the side citations, the side known authors. Impressive. Rui Barbosa: a top hat in Senegambia. Everything reverts to wealth. The wealth of balls and made phrases. Slave traders. Odaliscas in Catumbi. Difficult speech.)

[1. bandeirante: At first, settlers tried to enslave the Indians as labor to work the fields. (The initial exploration of Brazil’s interior was largely due to para-military adventurers, the Bandeirantes, who entered the jungle in search of gold and Indian slaves.) However the Indians were found to be unsuitable as slaves, and so the Portuguese land owners turned to Africa, from which they imported millions of slaves.]

[2. Rui Barbosa, writer and liberal politician who played a part in the proclamation of the Brazilian Republic in 1889 and was elected Judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice in 1921.]

[3. Senegambia: Senegambia, a political unit composed of Senegal and Gambia, was created by dueling French and English colonial forces in the region. Competition in this region begins between the French and the English in this region in the 1500s when both begin to establish trading centers in the region – with French centered in the Senegal River and Cape Verde region and the English on the Gambia (although they was some overlapped in area of influence) (Richmond 176). This region becomes more important for both growing empires because West Africa allowed for a convenient way station for trade between Europe at their American colonies and a warehouse for the African Slave Trade. Most slaves in Brazil were imported from Senegambia.]

[4. “Negras de Jockey” literally means “blacks of Jockey” – which I perhaps mistakenly translate as “slave traders.” Jockey could also refer to the Jockey clubs in Brazil, Negras could either be black jockeys, or a last name of a Jockey…]

[5. Odaliscas: eastern belly dancers that worked in a harem]

[6. Catumbi: a poor neighborhood in downtown Rio]

O lado doutor. Fatalidade do primeiro branco aportado e dominando politicamente as selvas selvagens. O bacharel. Não podemos deixar de ser doutos. Doutores. País de dores anônimas, de doutores anônimos. O Império foi assim. Eruditamos tudo. Esquecemos o gavião de penacho.

(The side doctor. Fatality of the first white men arriving and politically dominating the indigenous people. The graduate. We cannot escape from being learned. Doctors. Country of anonymous pains, of anonymous doctors. The Empire was thus. We rationalized everything. We forgot the gavião de penacho.)

[1. More colonial history in relation to the “Fatalidade” and Empire: It is widely accepted that Brazil was discovered by Europeans on April 22, 1500, by Pedro Álvares Cabral, but there are controversies. The first permanent Portuguese settlement—São Vicente, a coastal town just south of the Tropic of Capricorn—was founded in 1532. The Dutch also established themselves in Brazil, around the city of Recife in the northeast corner of the country, in the 1630s. The Dutch were driven out of Brazil by the Portuguese in 1654.

From the 16th to the 18th centuries, Brazil was a colony of Portugal, exploited mainly for brazilwood at first, and later for sugarcane and, in the 18th century, for gold. During this period most natives were exterminated, pushed out of the way or assimilated, and large numbers of African slaves were brought in. On September 7, 1822, the country declared its independence from Portugal and became a constitutional monarchy, the Empire of Brazil. A military coup in 1889 established a republican government. The country has been nominally a democratic republic ever since, except for three periods of overt dictatorship (1930–1934, 1937–1945, and 1964–1985).]

[2. bacharel also means bachelor/graduate, but in the context, graduate seems to fit.]

[3. “selvas selvagems” literally means: jungle barbarians.]

[4.Eruditamos: seems to come from erudite: learned, scholarly – so as a verb, I thought rationalize / analyze / or academicized…any suggestions?]

[5. gavião de penacho: one of the most majestic birds in Brazil. A powerful hunting bird that is now an endangered species because of deforestation and trafficking of wild birds. Penacho means plume: the gaviao has a plume of feathers which give it a regal quality, and perhaps a reference to both indigenous ritual dress and Carnaval.]


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