The Triumph of Brazilian Modernism: The Metanarrative of Emancipation and Counter-Narratives

The Triumph of Brazilian Modernism: The Metanarrative of Emancipation and Counter-Narratives

The Triumph of Brazilian Modernism: The Metanarrative of Emancipation and Counter-Narratives

The Triumph of Brazilian Modernism: The Metanarrative of Emancipation and Counter-Narratives

Synopsis

The Triumph of Brazilian Modernism studies the first steps of the movement in Brazil and some of its texts. Its first part explains how modernists produced a meta-discourse that legitimized their own work, and how state cultural policies assured their canonization by disseminating overviews, anthologies, and histories of Brazilian Modernism throughout the educational system. From the 1950s onwards, Brazilian criticism and historiography incorporated many of these self-legitimizing arguments into a totalizing narrative of triumph and maturity of Brazilian literary expression.

The second part looks at aspects of Brazilian Modernism that were overlooked by this totalizing narrative. Its three chapters examine the ambiguous relationship with modernity expressed in themes of Paulista identity and hegemony in the works of Paulo Prado, Mario de Andrade, and Oswald de Andrade.

Excerpt

Modernism and modernity are related in complex and often conflicting ways. the cultural projects of Modernism depend on the modernization of cultural practices, but these projects must also resist aspects of modernity that may undermine their utopian ideals. This complicated relationship between Modernism and modernity has generated an equally complex academic debate. With so many definitions of modernity and so many distinct manifestations of Modernism, it is difficult to define exactly what constitutes modernity in the realm of culture.

One useful “strategy to enter modernity,” or at least to enter the debate on modernity, comes from Nestor García Canclini. Based on recent debates on the issue, the author provides an introductory list of items that emphasizes four interrelated developments associated with cultural modernity: “an emancipating project, an expansive project, a renovating project, and a democratizing project” (12). All the components that constitute the cultural project of modernity are also part of the ideals put forth by the various factions of the modernist movement in Brazil. Many manifestos of the early years of the modernist movement in Brazil favored all of these notions.

All of the manifestos of Brazilian Modernism prefigure some form of redemption through artistic renovation. the new artistic expression always works toward the end-goal of reconnecting art with other aspects of life, which represents a general and abstract objective. in most of these manifestos there is also the specific goal of national emancipation. This is not a claim to emancipate Brazilian society as a whole, but to find an authentic form of artistic expression that could capture this national spirit. It would be impossible to cite the moments when such objectives are explicitly mentioned in each of these manifestos. in Gilberto Mendonça Teles’ com-

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