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Augusto dos Anjos

Virgínia Barbosa
Joaquim Nabuco Foundation Librarian
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Eu sou aquele que ficou sozinho (I am the one who stood alone)
Cantando sobre os ossos do caminho (Singing over the bones of the path)
A poesia de tudo quanto é morto!(The poetry of all that is dead!)
Poeta do Hediondo (Poet of the Hideous), Augusto dos Anjos
 
 In the late 19th Century, when profound political and social changes were underway in Brazil, such as changes in the landholding structure, the abolitionist struggle, the Paraguayan War and the end of the monarchy, the poet Augusto Carvalho Rodrigues dos Anjos was born on 20 April 1884, on Pau d’Arco sugarcane plantation, Vila do Espírito Santo, in the state of Paraiba. He was the sixth son of the plantation owner and lawyer Alexandre Rodrigues dos Anjos, and Córdula Carvalho Rodrigues dos Anjos, known as ‘Dona Mocinha’, a descendant of rural gentry, hereditary landowners.

Augusto was first taught to read and write by his father, who had dedicate much of his time to teach his children lessons in general knowledge and catechism. In this way, Augusto dos Anjosbegan his studies in the Humanities course of the Liceu Paraibano (Paraiba Lyceum) in Joao Pessoa in 1900, under the vague examination scheme, which meant he could be absent from the classroom but all the content was asked of him in exams. In this year, he published his first work, the sonnet Saudade, in the Almanac of the State of Paraíba. The following year, he began contributing to the Paraiba newspaper O Commercio.

He enrolled in law school in 1903 and graduated in 1907. During this period, he published the sonnets Vandalismo (Vandalism) (1904), A meu pai doente (To My IllFather), A meu pai morto (To My DeadFather), Ao sétimo dia do seu falecimento (Tothe Seventh Day of His Death) –in honour of his father who died on 13 January 1905 – and the most famous of his sonnets, Versos íntimos (Intimate verses).

He returned to the capital of Paraiba as a Bachelor of Law, but did not practice the profession. He became a tutor for Humanities (1907-1910), teaching for one year (1908-1909) at the Maciel Pinheiro Institute, and was appointed Acting Professor of Literature at the Paraiba Lyceum on 5May 1909. As a result of disagreement with the governor, Dr João Lopes Machado, he resigned from the Paraiba Lyceum (1910) and travelled to Rio de Janeiro with his wife, Esther Fialho, whomhe married on June 4 of that year.

In Rio de Janeiro, he was received by his brothers Odilon and Alfredo. In 1911, he gave private lessons, taught at the Normal School, later the Institute of Education, and at the National Gymnasium, today Pedro II School, where he was professor of geography, chorography and cosmography. His daughter Glória Fialho Rodrigues dos Anjos was born on 23 December.

His only book of poems,entitled Eu (Me) (1912), was fully funded by his brother Odilon dos Anjos and had a publication of 1,000 copies. Literary critics of the time commented on the book, sometimes with enthusiasm, sometimes with disgust. The following year, his son Guilherme Augusto Fialho dos Anjos was born.

In mid-1914,he moved to Leopoldina, Minas Gerais, where he was appointed director of Ribeiro Junqueira School. He died later that year, on 12 November, the victim of an pneumonia acquired on 30 October, and was buried in the Cemetery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Leopoldina.

There are reports that Augusto dos Anjos in his last moments of life,
"[...] Asked his wife that their children be educated in the Paraíba of his ancestors, said goodbye to his wife, blessed the little child and asked Dona Mocinhato be told that his last thought was in her honour: “Send my tears to my mother.’”

In Brazilian literature, the only book of Augusto dos Anjos, Eu (Me), came at a time when pre-modernist tendencies began to manifest. According to scholars of his work, to associate him with this literary school or another, however, would not be wise, since the poet revealed through his sonnets influences of different aesthetics of the 19th Century – symbolism, naturalism and Parnassianism–besides the fact his work cannotnor should not be appreciated only by its formal aspect. Thus, some argue that his style is unique, singular. Even his friend and biographer, Órris Soares, affirmed that he did notaffiliate with any literary school.

Augusto dos Anjos did not resort to the soft words or sweet sounds always used by poets of his time. His life and work will always be a challenge for intellectuals and the general public. According to Antonio Houaiss, he was and will always be considered a scientistic and philosophising poet. The characteristics of his literary works are anxiety, pessimism, scepticism about the possibilities of love, selfishness, deathand lust, which explains why he became known as the Poet of Death. However, few poets have awakened and raised so many questions and interpretations.

Augusto dos Anjos is considered the greatest poet from Paraiba, and was chosen by its people as “Paraiba person of the [twentieth]century”. To honour him, the Government of the State of Paraiba, through the Department of Education and Culture Sub-secretariat, and with funds from the Augusto dos Anjos Incentive Fund Culture - FIC - supported the installation and operation of the Augusto dos Anjos Memorial, at Guilhermina’s House – the poet’s wet nurse – located on the old sugarcane plantation where he was born.

The Memorial has a museum, library, archive, technical resources, a small space for conferences and courses, audio-visual and iconography materials, and aims to disseminate the universe of the poet Augusto dos Anjos.

Recife, 27 june 2008.

(Update 14 september 2009). 
 
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2012.
 
SOURCES CONSULTED:

ABAURRE, Maria Luiz M.; PONTARRA, Marcela N. Literatura brasileira: tempos, leitores e leituras. São Paulo: Moderna, 2005.

ARAGÃO, Maria do Socorro Silva; SANTOS, Neide Medeiros; ANDRADE, Ana Isabel de Souza Leão. Memorial Augusto dos Anjos: um roteiro cultural e poético. João Pessoa: Idéia, 2008.

______. Memorial Augusto dos Anjos: uma visita guiada. João Pessoa: Idéia, 2008.

AUGUSTO dos Anjos. Disponível em: . Acessão em: 20 jun. 2008.

______. (Foto e texto). Disponível em: . Acesso em: 20 jun. 2008.

CEREJA, Willliam Roberto; MAGALHÃES, Thereza Cochar. Literatura brasileira. 2. ed. reform. São Paulo: Atual, 2000.

NICOLA, José de. Literatura brasileira: das origens aos nossos dias. São Paulo: Scipiane, 1998.

HOW TO CITE THIS TEXT:


Source: BARBOSA, Virgínia. Augusto dos Anjos. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009. 

 

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