Revista de Antropofagia: renovation and rift

Revista de Antropofagia, which began publication in May 1928, was the third periodical launched in São Paulo by the group responsible for the Semana de Arte Moderna, the same authors of Klaxon and Terra Roxa... e outras terras. As in Terra Roxa, the new magazine also paid heed to Oswald de Andrade's proposals, even though the writer's contributions were quantitively modest in both publications. If, in 1924, the Manifesto da Poesia Pau-Brasil guided the modernist agenda, in 1928 it was the Manifesto Antropófago, printed on the first issue along with a reproduction of the drawing Abaporu, by Tarsila do Amaral, which lent its name and meaning to the journal.

The writer's programme-manifestos undoubtedly played a decisive role in the orientation of aesthetic renewal and helped define positions, as they proposed ways to face the question of national and modern artistic creation, based on the conceptualization of local traditions and their relationships with European culture. The reception of the second manifesto was especially shrouded in not a few controversies, duly recorded by its contemporaries, namely Mário de Andrade who, in a letter to the poet Augusto Meyer, stated: “I only saw unanimity in everyone hating Osvaldo’s manifesto as much as I did. Which he and his wife Tarsila think is right..." 1.

The article list of Revista de Antropofagia’s first phase, which lasted until February 1929 and consisted of ten issues, is surprising due to the enormous variety of collaborators, who belonged to different generations and took different stances with regard to the meanings of modernity. This scenario was in line with a note by Alcântara Machado and Raul Bopp, which ended the inaugural issue and reaffirmed the characteristics of the magazine:

“At this little tail end of its first issue, Revista de Antropofagia insists on repeating what was said at the beginning:

- It is above any groups or tendencies;

- It accepts all manifestos but does not proclaim a manifesto;

- It accepts all criticism but does not criticize;

- It is a cannibal as the ostrich is a glutton;

- It has nothing to do with the views that it might convey.

The Revista de Antropofagia has no guidance or thought of any kind: it only has a stomach.”

The idea was again taken up by Augusto de Campos to underline the magazine’s “lack of theoretical and poetic definition” in this initial phase and the fact that anthropophagy had been taken, by the majority, in a very superficial way and that, in most cases, it did not go beyond the idea of the “cordial mastication” of modernism's ostensible opponents. This explains, in the critic's opinion, the presence of authors who, effectively, had not embraced the assumptions of Anthropophagy as a movement2.

There are several clues that the misconception, superficial understanding, or pure disagreement around the meanings of anthropophagy increasingly strained relations within the so-called “Paulista group” and made rupture imminent. In an interview for O Jornal, on January 21, 1929, Oswald stated: “Brazil has not yet realized the value of Anthropophagy, as a philosophical discovery and creed. It thinks it's nothing but mockery. Brazil is really a very dumb country (I mean literate Brazil)... Anthropophagy is the salvation programme, it is the national tooth’s nerve” 3.

And, in fact, the magazine provided the immediate reasons for the break between Mário and Oswald, which contributed to new and irredeemable rifts, in addition to arguably being the swansong of the stream of renovating publications started with Klaxon. The problem of Brazilianness was indeed the uniting denominator, at least during the first phase of the monthly periodical, for disparate subcurrents that, meanwhile, began to clash over the radicalization of the anthropophagic proposal, as seen in the sixteen issues of the second phase or dentition, which was published between March and August 1929. The changes exceeded the formal aspects – the publication went from magazine to one-page insert in Assis Chateaubriand’s Diário de São Paulo, a newspaper that began to circulate in January 1929 – and reached the very conception of anthropophagy which, now without any concession, claimed the avant-garde and modern monopoly and ruthlessly attacked those who did not share its radicalism. This was also expressed from a graphic point of view, by exploring the possibilities offered by the medium itself (a newspaper sheet), a task carried out by Geraldo Ferraz, who was responsible for the layout.

The direction, in turn, passed into the hands of Oswald de Andrade, Oswaldo Costa, Jaime Adour da Câmara, and Raul Bopp. The list of collaborators became narrower, and the pseudonyms multiplied – perhaps a way of hiding the scarce collaboration. In fact, the new directors sought to gather supporters. However, despite the many letters requesting contributions, most of them remained unanswered, a clear indication of the profound split. The “revenge” against the hesitant was printed weekly on the anthropophagic page, which fired off with lively comedy – and even descended into personal attacks – against those who refused to share in the enterprise.

Among the targets were the yellow-green triad, Plínio, Cassiano, and Menotti, the latter also called Menotti del Piccolo; the Catholics and their leader Tristão de Ataíde, styled Tristinho de Ataúde and presented as the director of the magazine A Horda [A Ordem], a “catholi-commensal organ”, dedicated to the defence of “Ana-tomist” interests; the staff of Festa magazine, currently being published in Rio de Janeiro, especially one of its most active members, Torquato Tasso [Tasso da Silveira], whose work Alegria Procreadora [Alegria criadora] received a pre-announcement; as well as those who until recently had been close friends: Alcântara Machado, Yan de Almeida Prado, who even sued the magazine, and, especially, Mário de Andrade, who was attacked for his Catholicism, seriousness, and professorial tone.

Among the reasons for the conclusion of the second dentition, which occupied a single page in the Sunday edition, was the subscriber’s dissatisfaction, who were not amenable to avant-garde experiences. The dissensions within the group that had organized the Semana de Arte Moderna completed Oswald’s isolation, who would from then on follow very different paths from those of his former companions.

Antonio Dimas

  1. Lygia Fernandes (org.), Mário de Andrade escreve cartas a Alceu, Meyer e outros, Rio de Janeiro, self-published, 1968, p. 57, letter dated 20/5/1928.↩︎

  2. Augusto de Campos, “Revistas re-vistas: os antropófagos”, Revista de Antropofagia, Fac-simile edition, São Paulo, Abril Cultural, Metal Leve, 1975, n.p.↩︎

  3. Apud Joaquim Inojosa, O movimento modernista em Pernambuco, vol. 1, Guanabara, Gráfica Tupy, 1968, pp. 172-173.↩︎