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Antropofagia, Brasilidade and Translation in Recent International Scholarship

. 40 minuto ler . Written by Fabiano Sei
Antropofagia, Brasilidade and Translation in Recent International Scholarship

Revisão de literatura publicada na Santa Barbara Portuguese Studies vol.3 (Digital Online Version): Theory and Practice of Translation in the Portuguese Speaking World.

O volume completo do periódico pode ser consultado aqui; o artigo integral pode ser consultado aqui, aqui e aqui.

O que segue abaixo é uma versão expandida do mesmo artigo.


Abstract: Tradução antropofágica (anthropophagic translation), proposed by brothers Haroldo and Augusto de Campos, has become a major topic in international discussions of Brazilian Translation Theory, and therefore became immediately relevant for the discussion of brasilidade (Brazilianness, Brazilian cultural identity). The present paper surveys how recent international scholarship (spanning from the 1990s on) has conceptualized and described antropofagia; it points to the little analytical efforts towards its cultural products (i.e. of traduções antropofágicas) and to problems pertaining the metaphorical status of antropofagia: its universalization (compromising its specificity) and its potential for negative use. The review of literature undertaken leads to the conclusion that antropofagia must be faced as a political speech act, and suggests its cultural artifacts be analyzed for a deeper understanding of the movement.

Keywords: anthropophagy; Haroldo de Campos; Augusto de Campos; Mário de Andrade; Translation Studies.

Resumo: A tradução antropofágica proposta pelos irmãos Haroldo e Augusto de Campos se tornou o principal tópico das discussões internacionais sobre teoria brasileira de tradução, e portanto diretamente relevante para a discussão internacional da brasilidade, ou identidade cultural brasileira. Este artigo realiza um levantamento de como a crítica internacional recente (i.e. a partir de 1990) conceituou e descreveu antropofagia; aponta ainda para a falta de análise de seus produtos culturais (i.e. as traduções antropofágicas) e para problemas teóricos relativos ao estatuto metafórico do termo antropofagia: a universalização (comprometedora de sua especificidade) e seu potencial para uso negativo. Em vista da revisão empreendida, conclui-se que a antropofagia deve ser encarada como um ato de fala político, e se solicita que seus artefatos culturais sejam analisados para uma maior compreensão do movimento.

Palavras-Chave: antropofagia; Haroldo de Campos; Augusto de Campos; Mário de Andrade; Estudos da Tradução.

As translation (seen as mediation not only between texts, but between cultures and cultural differences) becomes a rich field for the discussion of cultural/national identity issues, Translation Studies scholars demonstrate a desire to overcome national/international borders, and to hear voices speaking from peripheral centers of intellectual production. Such a desire has fostered an interest in Brazilian modernist movements, which dealt precisely with issues of cultural identity and subalternity, and did so by translation theory and practice. Antropofagia[1](or canibalismo, terms which are for the most part used as synonymous (Islam, 2012, p. 175, n. 1) is often cited as a Brazilian response to cultural and economic subalternity, and has been widely discussed both in Brazil and outside.

Discussing antropofagia seems indiscernible from (perhaps indispensable to) discussing brasilidade—that is Brazilianness, as Söderlund (2016) puts it, or Brazilian national and cultural identity. Ritual cannibalism has been considered paramount to understanding the creation of a Brazilian cultural identity, as Robert Theodore Young puts is (1998, p. 1). Edwin Gentzler, in his Translation and Identity in the Americas, is also quick to establish the relation between antropofagiaand interpretations of Brazilian cultural and national development (2008, p. 78). His claim that an original Brazilian national culture began in the 1920s(ibid.) agrees with Meagan Doud, who sees modernist movements in Brazil, starting with the Semana de Arte Moderna (February 1922), as a move towards an integrated Brazilian national identity (2010, pp. 4-5); she points to the strong nationalism in vogue around the early 1920s (1922 was the centennial of Brazilian independence from Portugal), as well as to the issue of European hegemony (brought about by World War I) as prompting a desire for an identity separation from Europe. For Gazi Islam, antropofagia surfaces in historical moments in Brazil that have been marked by “historical crisis and mixture”, i.e. when Brazilian identity is called into question (2012, pp. 163-164). He seems to agree with Sérgio Bellei, for whom identity crises seem to be central for the historical understanding of antropofagia (1998, p. 99). In the specific field of Translation Studies, Rainer Guldin relates tradução antropofágica and the working of identity issues by describing “translating cannibals” as “fundamentally de-centered and ‘hybrid’” (2008. p. 121).

In what follows, I present a review of recent international scholarship on the topic of antropofagia, with special attention to its relation to both translation theory and practice and issues of brasilidade. I focus on international scholarship (that is, written in English, here taken as the well-accepted, if not always welcome, language for international scientific production) published from the 1990s on.[2]Most of the articles dealt with here were available online (which increases their circulation). The selection here presented is certainly not exhaustive, but its analysis may nonetheless present relevant results in what concerns the relation between antropofagia, translation theory and practice and Brazilian national identity.

1. What is antropofagia?

Despite the massive critical attention antropofagia has received, it isn’t easy defining it. First of all, the term (and others related to or derived from it) refers to interrelated objects which have (for want of a better term) different ontological statuses: it may refer to (1) Brazilian avant-garde movements, (2) their propositions, (3) their actions and practices and (4) their accomplishments, which may include cultural artifacts (e.g. books, translations) and impact on subsequent Brazilian cultural and political history. Another potential confusion (here solved with a language shift) is between actual ritual manifestations of consumption of human flesh by native pre-discovery populations and symbolic speech acts by theorists and artists embracing a certain view on the relation between art, economic development and cultural subalternity. One common strategy amongst critics in their attempts to describe and understand antropofagia is precisely drawing on accounts and interpretations of sixteenth-century anthropophagy in order to explain some of the antropófagos’ texts and ideas. Thus, although Rogério Budasz (2005) starts his article with mention of the movimento antropofágico, his true object is in fact a study of intercultural exchanges between colonizers (Jesuit missionaries, in particular) and the indigenous population: twentieth-century antropofagias eems to help him understand how both colonizer and colonized appropriated themselves of the other’s culture (or “recycled it”, to use his own metaphor). Islam (2012) includes sixteenth-century anthropophagy in his account of the moments of identity crisis in which the ritual (or its symbolic use) has played a major role. The two things are obviously related, but I find there is a difference between eating an enemy—which implies real ingestion of real human flesh—and devouring a text—a cognitive process, described in a specific way in order to serve specific purposes—; such a difference can be lost out of sight when one draws too closely to anthropophagy in order to understand antropofagia.

As an avant-garde movement, antropofagia has two distinct moments (Islam (2012) points to “three and a half”, his first being actual indigenous cannibalism, and his “half” the use of the metaphor in recent organizational literature; I am disregarding both for my present purposes): the first is related with Brazilian poet and writer Oswald de Andrade, who penned the two foundational texts of the movement: Manifesto da poesia pau-brasil (1924) and Manifesto antropófago  (1928). Both deal with the issue of creating a new Brazilian art—or, as some scholars would have it, a new Brazilian cultural identity—, which would be no longer a mere imitation of European techniques and schools, but genuinely Brazilian. Meagan Doud (2010) points to the composition of this “new Brazilian art” as a mixture of European forms (or techniques) and typically Brazilian themes; Stephanides (2004), citing Franco Moretti, also points to a similar compromise between mainstream-generated techniques and genres and peripheral peculiarities. The Manifesto da poesia pau-brasilcontrasts poesia de importação [import poetry] and poesia de exportação [export poetry]; Andrade wishes to promote the latter—that is, Brazilian art that can measure up to foreign standards, so Brazil can be a producer of culture, instead of a passive receptor. The Manifesto antropófago, in its turn, promotes antropofagia as a universal law which guides intercultural relations: drawing on artistic movements such as Dada, Futurism (both of which had previously exploited the cannibalistic imagery in order to provoke and chock their audiences), Surrealism and Expressionism (Bellei, 1998, pp.94-95; Budasz, 2004, p. 2; Guldin, 2008, p. 110; Leal, 2009, pp. 3-4; Islam, 2012, p. 165) and on theorists such as Freud, Nietzsche and Marx (see Madureira, 2004, esp. pp. 103-106), Andrade produces a complex document which tackles the issue of subverting metropolis-colony relations; since it is impossible for the former colony not to dwell on European influences, Andrade proposes that they should be rethought: instead of passive acceptance of European superiority followed by placid artistic imitation, artists should “devour and digest” it—an act of resistance, which veers between insubordinate aggression, respect (after all, cannibals only eat valorous enemies), and irreverence (the metaphor does have a comical element to it, expressed particularly in the signature of the document, as well as in some puns presented in Andrade’s review, Revista de Antropofagia (1928-9)). Focusing on the crossroad between art and politics, Schwartz speaks of Andrade’s work as promoting a fusion between advanced bourgeois models and the “backwardness” of the rural patriarchy; for Schwartz, Andrade would see the lack of accord between these two extremes as a source of positivism, evidencing the country’s innocence, which would enable the development of an alternative, non-bourgeois history (“Brazilian culture” in Gledson (ed.), 1992 p. 7, trans. Linda Briggs. For a more detailed account of this view, see “The Cart, the Tram, and the Modernist Poem”, pp. 108-25, trans. John Gledson.)

Antropofagia broke off as an artistic movement due to the political situation of Brazil in late 1920s and 1930s. It was revived in the 1950s by Haroldo and Augusto de Campos, two brothers who were themselves poets, literary critics and translators; also, in the 1960s and 1970s, antropogafia was influential in cinema and music—the Cinema novomovement, associated with Glauber Rocha and Arnaldo Jabor and Tropocalismo, associated with Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil (see Dunn (2010) for an account of Brazil in the 1950s and 1960s in its relation to artistic movements; see Young (2008) specifically for Cinema novo).

Antropofagiaenters the realm of translation due to de Campos brothers’ role as conscious translators. Haroldo’s[3] text “Da razão antropofágica: diálogo e diferença na cultura brasileira”, written in the 1980s (here the 1992 edition is cited), presents his own take onantropofagia. He goes about the usual businesses of the avant-gardes, by selecting “Brazilian and foreign precursors” (Schwarz, “A Historical Landmark”, in Gledson (ed.), 1992, p.192, trans. John Gledson) both present and past, and rejecting both past and present artistic trends. In 1981, he published a translation of excerpts from Goethe’s Faustus, accompanied by his own analysis of the work, and a post-scriptum in which his translations views were exposed. Augusto’s theory of intradução will be expounded in his book Verso, Reverso, Controverso (here cited from its 1988 edition), which also presents his poetic translations as a form of literary criticism.

The above sketch is intentionally brief, since satisfactory historical accounts of antropofagia as a set of interrelated artistic movements can be found in Bassnett (1993), Bellei (1998), Vieira (1999), Gentzler (2008, who expands on Vieira), Madureira (2004), Islam (2012, who provides a periodization which goes beyond the moments above described), Doud (2010, expanding on antropofagia’s European relations), Söderlund (2016, expanding of the relation between Mário de Andrade and his wife, painter Tarsila do Amaral, and both Parisian trends, the Brazilian academic establishment and intellectual racism), Schwarz (“Culture and Politics in Brazil, 1964-1969”, in Gledson (ed.), 1992, dealing specifically with the first four years of military dictatorship, when tropicalismo appears pp. 126-159, esp. pp. 140-142), Dunn (2010, dealing specifically with tropicalismo), and Young (1998, dealing with Cinema novo). Also, I am more concerned with what I perceive as the first trouble source of the discussion concerning antropofagia—namely: we don’t know what it is.

This might sound a bit of an exaggeration, since I have just described antropofagia as a group of artistic movements, taking place in Brazil at specific times along the twentieth century. However, I also said antropofagia could mean other things, and as far as those things are concerned, there is less consensus amongst scholars than they seem to have acknowledged.

The movimento antropofágico used antropofagia as its flag; basically, antropofagia is what they did (an action, a group of actions, a methodology for action) based on certain principles (a concept, a group of interconnected concepts). However, no sound definition of antropofagia can be found in recent scholarship, nor does it yield any sign of there having been one in previous decades—in fact, Bellei quotes Brazilian critic Antonio Candido, who states Oswald de Andrade himself never cared to offer one (1998, p.92).

The only explicit attempt I found at defining antropofagia was Gazi Islam’s, who defines it as follows: “the cannibalistic appropriation of cultural forms” (2012, p. 159). There are two problems here. The most flagrant is that definiens and definiendum are synonymous: as mentioned earlier, by Islam’s own admission, the terms anthropophagy and cannibalism are usually interchangeable. Also, the word appropriation (very commonly used in association with antropofagia, alongside assimilation, internalization and incorporation) is not much clearer; it isn’t immediately evident what it means to appropriate a “cultural form”, nor how it is done. Therefore, “cannibalistic appropriation” is a doubly empty phrase, which tells us little about antropofagia.

In fact, if critics don’t much care about what it is, they are also at variance as to what sort of thing it is. In his 1928 Manifesto, Oswald de Andrade dubbed antropofagia “the only true Brazilian philosophy” (cited in Budasz, 2005 p. 2); later, in his thesis A crise da filosofia messiânica (1950), he called it “a metaphysical operation”, a “Weltanschauung” and “a mode of thought” (cited in Madureira, 2005, p. 103); critics have labeled it metaphor (Round, 2005 most consistently; also Bassnett, 1993; Wolf, 2003), extended or root metaphor (Islam, 2012), concept (Bassnett, 1993, referring to “the cannibalistic concept of translation” (p.154); Islam, 2012; Leal, 2009, especially when referring to its European use; Madureira, 2004, who quotes Brazilian philosopher Benedito Nunes as deeming anthropophagy a “full-fledged philosophical concept” (p. 103)), notion (Islam, 2012), model (Siewierski, 2007; Guldin, 2008), practice (Bellei, 1998; Wolf, 2003), process (Wolf, 2003), method (Bellei, 1998; Siewierski, 2007; Doud, 2010; Pinheiro Dias, 2014), strategy (Wolf, 2003, referring specifically to translation strategies; Siewierski, 2007, referring more specifically to the work of Sílvia Clark), theory (Wolf, 2003, referring to “cannibalistic theory”) and philosophy (Budasz, 2005, following Oswald de Andrade). Terms such as notion are vague, and seem to intentionally avoid the issue of categorizing antropofagia. Most critics prefer calling it a metaphor, but even those who do so quite consistently also switch categories at times, and there are some who just can’t make up their minds.

That is not to say, however, that theoretical discourse was completely unable to provide some understanding of antropofagia. Some of its features have been constantly mentioned. I traced down three, all more or less derived from perceived traces of anthropophagy, and therefore confirming the sort of cognitive mapping that would characterize antropofagia as an extended metaphor:

  1. Aggressiveness: cannibalism is part of a show put on to threaten enemies (Islam, 2012, p. 163). Thus, the metaphor promises to do violence to what it “devours”; this is slightly countered by Augusto de Campos’ confession to a “loving devoration” of texts (Vieira, 1999; Gentlzer, 2008).
  2. Selectivity: cannibals do not feed upon human beings on a daily basis, but only eat certain people—worthy opponents, in particular. Thus, canibais will be particular about which cultural items to “ingest”, selecting what seems most “nutritive” to them (e.g. Leal, 2009, p.09). This aspect is particularly dear to Translation Studies, since the selection of cultural items in foreign languages will in all likelihood call for translational work.
  3. Purposefulness: cannibals take advantage on the enemy’s strength and valor, which become their own once he is eaten. In a similar vein, canibais will “ingest” both foreign and local cultural items for their own purposes, among which we may count the enhancement of national culture and the consequent strengthening of Brazilian cultural identity.

These traces alone, however, cannot provide a fully developed definition of antropofagia; basically, every single artist—writer or painter, ancient or modern, Latin-American or European—can reasonably be said to select from the wealth of cultural forms and ideas available to them and use them for their own purposes (and let us divest ourselves of modernist prejudices and remember that even imitation can be a legitimate personal or communal purpose). Here, it might be necessary to make a brief digression to explain why I think such disregard for conceptualization a flaw, compromising the soundness of critical accounts of antropofagia.

1.1. On defining: importance and conditions

I believe saying something is both metaphor, concept and method is a serious epistemic confusion. Islam, who rather consistently says antropofagia is an extended metaphor (that is, a metaphor of action, which will map digestive processes onto intellectual ones by using semantically related words: swallowing, devouring, eating, chewing, masticating, digesting and so on) dedicates a session of his article to explaining metaphor (2012, pp. 161-162); he cites theorists such as Corneliessen (2002) and Tsoukas (1991), who view metaphor as a first step towards scientific theorization, and such as Bloom (1996), who rejects this view. A similar idea is behind Nicholas Round’s survey and categorization of all the metaphors that have been used to define or describe the translation process (2005) (antropofagia is, for him, one of these metaphors): for Round, it is necessary to organize our metaphorical talk about translation so we can move beyond speaking metaphorically and start speaking conceptually. Even though Islam seems inclined on agreeing with Bloom, what matters is that all the theorists he draws upon implicitly agree that there is a difference between metaphor and concept. Islam is consistent in calling antropofagia an extended metaphor, but not altogether systematic, thus revealing a level of confusion, which he shares with other scholars, as I have attempted to demonstrate.

Here, it might be relevant to ask ourselves: under what circumstances would antropofagia be considered a concept? It can only be seen as a concept (as opposed to a metaphor) if it can be explicitly defined. Since antropofagia is applied to the relation (emerging) Brazilian authors/translators establish with their (canonical) sources—that is, a group of interxtextual practices—, the term must denote a description of this relation.

This would lead us to another question: under what circumstances would antropofagia be a theoretically (as opposed to politically)[4] relevant concept? Any concept can be regarded as useless, or as a repetition/variation of some other concept. I believe antropofagia can only be seen as relevant if the intertextual practices it encompasses (in themselves or when grouped together) can be said to be somehow unique: a concept must describe a state of affairs which should not be confused with others. Since antropofagia has to do with metropolis-colony relations, these intertextual practices must be inherently non-subaltern. By non-subaltern intertextuality I mean that the process of canibalização would have to differ from other intertextual practices such as quoting, borrowing, paraphrasing, parodying—all formative of European cultural practices, both oral and written—, so that, while the latter clearly indicate the target text to be inferior due to its dependency, the former puts source and target texts on the same level. This difference would have to be a part of the target texts—in their structure, in the genres they portray, among others.

Basically, then, antropofagia should be defined in terms of two things: what techniques it uses in order to organize and subvert intertextual practices (that is, there may be some legitimate ground to thinking of it as a method), and the results it accomplishes from them (that it, methodological specificities about canibal practices should lead to novel processes of appropriation/assimilation/incorporation, thus helping clear the fog around such terms). Although we might at times rely on what authors have claimed to do, only by careful analysis of their artistic and translational output can we truly unveil the techniques they have actually (and perhaps successfully) used.

2. Traduções canibais

Even though antropofagia has been dubbed a “method of transplanting” (Siewierski, 2007) or a “method of incorporation” (Doud, 2010), no methodology is clearly traced out. Parody, collage and irony are among the few techniques mentioned in critical discourse as having been used by antropófagos in order to “devour” foreign texts (I shall later expand on a fourth technique). Not only were these (collage in particular) borrowed from recent European trends, they have always been widely used in Europe for purposes of disestablishing and inverting power relations. Wolf’s paper (2003) is worthy of special attention on this topic: she is particularly interested in translation strategies, but the only actual strategy she mentions is Alexander Pope’s handling of Homeric repetitions, which he either omitted or paraphrased (both of these words can be traced to Comparative Linguistics attempts to promote a taxonomy of sentence-level translation procedures; see, for example, Barbosa (1990/2004), for a simplified taxonomy compiled from more canonic sources).

The methodological specificity of antropofagia is further complicated by two other factors. The first has to do with its proponents: Haroldo de Campos, in his “Da razão antropofágica” seems all too eager to find canibais among Latin American writers; Machado de Assis (who coined the metaphor of the brain as a cow’s stomach, and who was a “devourer” of Sterne (Haroldo de Campos, 1992, p. 236)), Gregório de Matos (“nosso primeiro antropófago” [our first anthropophagus], who translates two sonnets by Góngora into one (id., p. 241)) and Sor Juana Inés de La Cruz (who “devoured” Padre Vieira (id., p.242)) will be conscripted. I very much doubt they would be appreciative of being called canibais in any sense, but my true point is that, if Latin American thinkers and writers have always been subversive and have always “devoured” European culture, then the specificity of the cultural practices taking place in the 1920s and later in the 1950s is compromised. The very act of recruiting precursors makes antropofagia appear to be but a metaphor for non-submissive intertextual practices, taking place whenever intellectuals position themselves critically before their predecessors—which means even Europeans can be canibais in that sense.

The second complicating factor has to with scholars: by critics’ own admission, antropofagia as an intertextual practice is not restricted to Brazil, and can be used to describe states of affairs elsewhere. Wolf (2003) approximates the French belles infidèles, Pope’s Homer translations and antropofagia; even though she would draw a distinction based on historical and political grounds between the former two and the latter, at the end she does seem to use antropofagia as a larger term encompassing all three practices. Stephanides speaks of a “global cannibal” (2004, p. 101), and in this he seems to agree with Islam, who states that creative appropriation processes are not unique to Brazil, preferring to see antropofagia as a general metaphor for post-colonial thinking (2012, p. 160). Promising as that may be for the development of postcolonial theory, when the practices of the Brazilian movements become thus institutionalized, those movements are at risk of loosing their theoretical specificity; they become a historical instantiation of a broader cultural phenomenon.

2.1. Reappraising translational examples of traduções canibais

If methodology can’t help us find the uniqueness of antropofagia, maybe the results of these time-old methods of collage, pastiche and parody in the hands of such thinkers as Haroldo and Augusto de Campos can. Here, scholarship on the topic once again seems lacking. Although the theoretical writings of Oswald de Andrade, Haroldo and Augusto de Campos have been largely quoted and discussed, their actual cultural products (their poems, plays and translations) have received very little critical attention internationally, and have rarely been used to either support or counter scholarly claims about antropofagia’s goals and accomplishments.

To speak specifically of translation, no translation analysis beyond surface or near surface level seems to have been conducted by antropofagia scholars. I should here like to focus on Else Vieira, whose articles published in the 1990s (1992, 1995, 1999) seem to have had a major role in divulging tradução cannibal or minor translation. Vieira mentions two traduções canibais in all her articles: Haroldo’s translation of Goethe’s Faust and Augusto’s translation of William Blake’s “The Sick Rose”; also, Edwin Gentlzer (drawing closely on Vieira) mentions Augusto’s translation of Provençal poetry. I would like to comment each case.

Vieira (1999) mentions paratextual aspects of the 1981 edition of Deus e o Diabo no Fausto de Goethe to support her claim that the original-translation and writer-translator relations have been subverted: according to her, Goethe’s original title has been tampered with to accommodate a domestic intertextual relation (with Glauber Rocha’s movie Deus e o diabo na terra do Sol), and it is Haroldo’s name which figures in the cover as author. I find her analysis on this point superficial and easily contradictable by a slightly less superficial analysis. Both Susan Bassnett (1993) and Edwin Gentzler (2008) take up her cue—the former with explicit mention to her person on an endnote (pp. 155 and 174)—, and replicate her opinion; Gentzler, however, mentions one fact that may invalidate it: the larger part of Deus e o Diabo no Fausto de Goethe is made up of Haroldo’s critical appraisal of both Faustus and translation. Vieira’s point is that the book is a translation in which the translator’s name is more prominent than the author’s; Gentzler unintentionally provides data that shows that it is, in fact, a book of criticism, which opens with a translation of a very small fragment of the original work. The title page (in which Goethe’s name appears for the first time, as it was not on the cover) actually reads as follows: “DEUS E O DIABO / NO / FAUSTO DE GOETHE / (Leitura do Poema, acompanhada da / transcriação em português / das duas cenas finais / da Segunda Parte) / haroldo de campos [sic]” (1981, title page).[5] The “transcreation” accompanies the central content of the book, a reading of Goethe’s Faust. Haroldo de Campos features as author on the cover, because he wrote the central piece. No traditional authorial ascriptions have been challenged.

Our second example, Augusto’s translation of “The Sick Rose” calls for more detailed analysis. Vieira’s claims are highly favorable, but, once again, superficial: for her, Augusto’s translation becomes a concrete poem, which breaks the “untouchability” of the original; Augusto does not translate Blake into Portuguese, but “into Brazilian literature”, into concrete poetry (1992, p. 68.). Vieira’s point is that Augusto makes the poem his own, showing bold defiance against the original-author/translation-translator dichotomous hierarchy, and therefore rightfully deserving to figure as co-author (in this case as in the Provençal example, Augusto co-signs both pieces, alongside with their original authors). I should like to comment on Augusto’s “A rosa doente” [The Sick Rose] from three different standpoints: what it keeps, adds to and takes away from Blake’s original.

First, what it keeps: Apart from its spatial disposition (to be commented on below), Augusto’s version is a fairly competent but majorly traditional translation. Stanza, verse and rhyme structure are reproduced; the propositional content seems to have been satisfactorily preserved, nearly in the exact same order. The only major departure in this area is the use of alliteration, stronger in the translation than in the original. For all his talk, Augusto can be considered a most respectful, most careful translator in the most traditional sense. (There is one more example of his fidelity to be mentioned below.)

Second, what it adds: The format in which the poem was displayed turns the poem about a rose into a pictorial representation of a rose. But it may be said to do more than that: upon reading, the reader moves closer and closer towards the center, thus reproducing the worm’s path into the rose’s core. At the very center, a full stop: when the reader gets to the heart of the poem, the worm gets to the heart of the rose. The poem’s lines are no longer lines, but can ironically represent both the rose (when one just looks at it) and the worm (when one moves along them upon reading); the final stop is no longer just a punctuation mark, but a double metaphor: it is the heart of the rose, it is the death of the rose.

It is indeed true that the translation becomes a concrete poem; its form—both in the traditional sense involving stanza, meter, rhyme and in the plastic sense of its spatial distribution—is not merely decorative, but it is surprisingly well matched to the poem’s theme. It is far less true, however, that this apparent audacity is a major departure from the poem: first, as I have tried to demonstrate, the pictorial element that was added is, indeed, almost unbearably loyal to the original’s literal sense—the original was the measure which guided the selection of innovations—; second, it must be noted that conjoining pictorial representation and poetry is not something Augusto did to Blake, but something Blake had done to his own work more often than not; Blake’s own edition of the poem is illuminated. Augusto’s picture-poem thus faithfully recuperates an aspect of Blake’s poem which a regular translation would have lost. In adding, he preserved.

At last, what it takes away: Augusto is, above all, an experimental poet (there is no offense in the appellation, the sense of experimentation is among the greatest gifts bestowed upon our artistic sense by the twentieth-century avant-garde movements). One curious thing about experimental art is that, if it is lasting as a testimony of human creativity and sensitivity, it will last not only in spite of its flaws but also because of them. My own take on Augusto’s masterpiece is, therefore, more nuanced than Vieira’s; his translation rightly figures as one of Brazil’s greatest moments both in poetry and translation, both for what it accomplishes and for what it falls short of accomplishing.

Any experimental piece of poetry must have an experimental side—which means (to use John Cage’s words) its outcome must be unknown. Augusto’s pains are betrayed by one simple detail: the novelty of the form imposes negatively on the act of reading. The reader must turn the book in order to read the poem—an amusing gesture, but childish, and potentially distracting—; second, as the reader approaches the center, the mere deciphering of the ever-decreasing cursive becomes more and more difficult—which is potentially irritating. The reader cannot truly pay attention to the poem as it approaches its zenith. They must seek a linear version of it in order to appreciate some of its aspects. The sobriety of Blake’s poem—the threatening sense of silent, small death approaching the very heart of innocent beauty—, the very stuff of which Augusto’s faithful departures were made, cannot sustain itself throughout the cumbersome reading process. The form fails the poem.

Vieira’s take on “A rosa doente” need not go as far as reading it; merely looking at it will suffice in order for one to reach her conclusions. Augusto canibalizou the poem, in the sense that he was able to transplant it to a different place and time (twentieth century Brazil) to mean something else (it is no longer a poem about a rose, or about death, but a meta-poem about poetry translation). Sadly, if we see it as merely allegorical of the translator-poet’s own struggles with subalternity, all the delicate complexity of its relation to the original is lost. The bolder it is, the poorer. Augusto was trying to find a way of liberating himself from the oppressive superiority of the original; he ended up finding a most creative way of being far more faithful to it than a traditional method would have warranted. And nearly threw it away by turning translation into a speech act about the boldness of translation.

Our third and last example follows a similar path of performative failure. Gentzler (2008, p. 98) mentions Augusto de Campos’ “hybrid” (non-)translation of Provençal poet Bernardt de Ventadorn. This “hybrid” appears in a page slightly larger than a regular page, which features in the book right after the table of contents but is not mentioned therein; the juxtaposition of Provençal and Portuguese texts is even more radical than Gentlzer describes:

sise eunãono˙usvveeijo
adomnamulher
donque euplusmaismi caldesejo
negusnada quevezereuveja
mon belvale opensarque
eunnãoovalvejo (Augusto de Campos, 1988, p. 5. Provençal text in bold.)[6]

Note that the juxtaposition irregularly takes place at phrase, word and grapheme levels. This is the page that contains Augusto’s famous coinage, intradução. Like Vieira, Gentzler claims that this is a “concrete poem” which challenges the original/translation opposition—only in this case, the problems this otherwise compelling claim bring verge on the theoretical. If we believe it is an original poem, then intradução is actually its title, which means Augusto’s neologism must be explained in its specific relation to the poem which it apparently names; critics (Gentlzer included) have not associated the two facts. This is significant, because there are two meanings usually attributed to the term: “internal translation” (intra- + tradução) and “non translation” (in- + tradução); proximity to the Provençal/Portuguese “concrete poem” pulls intradução much closer to the former than to the latter.

Gentzler reproduces Vieira’s opinions when analyzing a different piece; both pieces, however, have a similar problem. Because Augusto’s “intranslation” partakes with e. e. cumming’s “travesuras tipográficas” (to quote Jorge Luis Borges’ playful suspicion of that which is regarded as cumming’s most distinguishing feature (1996, p. 311)), it also partakes with its major flaw: the hybrid structure of the poem cannot sustain itself during the act of reading. Readers may see what was above cited, but they can only read (i.e. make sense of) it as follows:

si no˙us vei          se eu não vejo
domna                a mulher
don plus mi cal    que eu mais desejo
negus vezer           nada que eu veja
mon bel pensar    vale o que
no val                  eu não vejo

As in the case of “A rosa doente”, the reader must undo what the translator/poet has done, thus bringing original and translation back to their usual positions—the very same traditional positions they will occupy for the remnant of Augusto’s book, since “Intradução” and “A rosa doente” seem alone in their “concretiveness”—and use the translation as gloss in order to understand a similar but remote language. Under this light, intradução becomes just a new word for “gloss translation”, a practice which never intended to challenge the original’s primacy in any way.

Augusto knew no reader could actually read the two juxtaposed poems, and therefore used two different typefaces, one “ancient-looking” for Provençal, another “modern-looking” for Portuguese. This decision surely contributes to the plastic effect on the printed page; on the other hand, it allows and even invites the reader to disentangle his “intradução”. Frontiers may be obliterated in the beginning, but they are well confirmed in the end. Allegorically read, the poem then becomes a tribute to the frustrated desire of overcoming peripheral status: that which Augusto does not see (true cultural equality and interchange) is indeed worthier than that which is in front of him (cultural subalternity).

2.2. The interweaving of Brazilian sources in translations as a canibal method

The fact that Augusto’s two poems above analyzed are alone in their manipulation of plastic features in order to performatively subvert original/translation power relations brings us to yet another problem for the study of tradução canibal: the scarcity with which it has been practiced, even by its proponents. Despite his enthusiasm for antropofagia in its connection with translation, Gentlzer does admit that Haroldo’s translation of Faustus is “faithful”; in this, he seems to agree with Alice Leal (2009), who claims that the number of traduções antropofágicas in Haroldo’s translational output seems very restricted. Finally, Guldin comments on Haroldo’s code-switching-riddled poem Galáxias, stating that its subversion of original authority and its celebration of the translated text (2008, p. 118). Galáxias does contain passages in many languages, but code switching here is not as radical as in Augusto’s example. A more serious problem for Guldin’s claim is that Galáxias is, in fact, an original poem.

Translation does play a major role in antropofagia, because it must directly or indirectly inform Brazilian artists’ attempts to deal with foreign influences. However, if translations are little studied, it should come as no surprise that translation methods are little discussed. The only truly antropofágica technique mentioned by Leal (2009) is Haroldo’s use of popular lyricist Lupicínio Rodrigues’ lyrics to translate a poem by John Donne[7]. Vieria also mentions this example; she seems to greatly value this technique, to the point of seemingly equating tradução canibal with it; for her, terms like transcriação and intradução describe avant-garde translation aesthetics, which can be regarded as the intermingling of domestic originals into translations (1995, p. 148).

Leal says the Lupicínio Rodrigues/John Donne example has received a lot of attention, which might have perhaps sent the rest of Haroldo’s more traditional translations to the background. Even though this technique is borrowed from poet and translator Manuel Odorico Mendes,[8] it is worthy of note. Borrowing from a popular lyricist to translate a canonical poet is a critical gesture: the translator/critic implicitly considers Rodrigues’ verse as beautiful and deserving as Donne’s, and the use of one to translate the other places them as equals. The gesture also makes Donne’s verse in translation appear familiarly flavored for its target audience, thus approximating the famous metaphysical poet to a public which might have been apprehensive about their meeting (canonical writers can be scary to untrained audiences). However, as a specifically antropofágica practice, it has one major flaw: if antropofagia has to do with using texts for one’s own purposes (that is, disregarding crucial elements of the source text and culture in order to approximate the text to its target audience, or to make a political claim concerning the target culture), then it was Rodrigues who was truly “devoured”: his verse was taken out of context and used for purposes for which it had not been intended. It is at least curious to note that the most politically relevant technique deployed by a tradutor canibal (at least, the only one of the very few acknowledged by critics) had little impact on the foreign text—it is, after all, naïve to believe a translation can definitely either alter or erase the original, when it will usually be far more impactful in monolingual audiences, which have no direct access to the original—, while subverting its domestic intertext.

3. Internal contradictions of antropofagia

If, on the one hand, critics have paid little attention to arte canibal, on the other, they kept busy with the theoretical output that has established antropofagia as a Brazilian artistic trend. There has been careful study of its sources.

Oswald de Andrade’s Manifesto antropófago has been described as drawing upon twentieth-century European fascination with primitivism (Leal, 2009; see also Söderlun, 2016 for a problematization of the issue), European modernist movements such as Dada—more specifically, Picabia’s Manifeste Cannibale (Budasz, 2005; Siewierski, 2007; Guldin, 2008; Leal, 2009)—and Futurism (Leal, 2009), European writers such as Valéry (Leal traces the anthropophagic metaphor to him), Montaigne and Swift, European theorists such as Marx, Freud and Nietzsche (carefully examined by Madureira, 2004); Tarsila do Amaral, a Brazilian painter and wife of Mário de Andrade’s, has also been cited as “pre-anthropofagic” (Söderlund, 2016); in translation, Haroldo himself mentions Pound and T. S. Eliot as major sources of influence, a fact which critics have acknowledged (Guldin, 2008).

The study of sources has more than philological interest. It points to some of the contradictions which were common to avant-garde movements. In a country felt do be culturally and economically subaltern, the very desire for artistic renovation was imported from Europe (for a comment on importation and acceptance of ideas which were ill-matched to Brazilian reality, see Schwarz’s “Misplaced ideas” in Gleson (ed.), 1992 pp. 19-32, trans. Edmund Leite and Roberto Schwarz); antropofagia is nowadays recognized as a major Brazilian metaphor for reappraisal and subversion of metropolis-colony cultural exchanges, and there is no doubt it has been abundantly used in Brazil on more than one occasion, but, as critics have repeatedly pointed, the use of “primitive” Brazilian peoples to either criticize morals or to promote aesthetic renewal was itself a European trend. Oswald de Andrade, the leading canibal in Brazil, was more than cued by European thinking dating as far back as the sixteenth century. Bellei (1998) points to the fact that critics sometimes have tried to highlight his originality while dismissing such foreign influences.

In his Manifesto da poesia pau-brasil, Oswald urges the creation of “export poetry”. In connection to this, Madureira (2004) points that, when antropofagia was first theorized in Brazil in the late 1920s, illiteracy rates in Brazil were as high as 75%; speaking of the late 1960s, Schwartz also points to how small a segment of Brazilian population in the 1960 would have access to Brazilian high culture (fifty thousand people out of ninety million) (“Culture and politics in Brazil, 1964-1969”, in Gledson (ed.), 1992 p. 157, transl. John Gledson). Exportation of sugar and coffee has been pointed as one of the weak spots in Brazil’s majorly agricultural economy of the 1920s and 1930s; the title of Madureira’s article mentions Brazil as o país da sobremesa [the dessert country]—an inside joke related to the exportation of two products the consumption of which follows meals, and the importation of which is among the first to cease in moments of crises, as were the 1930s after the stock market crash. Oswald’s “export poetry” could perhaps be seen under a similar light: Brazil’s poetry can only be an export product, since its own illiterate population cannot enjoy it. Another major contradiction present in the idea of “export poetry” is that it shows the fragility of Brazilian cultural independency on both ends: if it is true that the trends and ideas inspiring artistic renewal are themselves foreign (imported input), they can only be validated by meeting with foreign approval (exported output). Antropofagia is critical of simple imitation of foreign trends, and pleads for critical reworking of foreign material, but that doesn’t seem to make it any less dependent thereof.

Another common source of criticism is the movement’s cultural and economic elitism. Bellei (1998), Madureira (2004), Leal (2009) and Islam (2012) all mention that antropofagia was an invention of cultural and economic elites in São Paulo—one of the very few developed urban centers in the country at the time. Two major Brazilian critics, Roberto Schwarz and Sérgio Bellei, have voiced criticism of antropofagia for its excessive cultural elitism and detachment from economic and social reality; these claims have been acknowledged by Vieira (1999, who doesn’t mention Bellei), Gentlzer (2008) and Madureira (2004). The latter has been the most successful at rebuking them, by pointing that modernists were themselves aware of some of these contradictions (such as the desire to use popular culture belonging to the cultural elites), which consequently could not be held against them; he also states that the perceived “asynchrony between core and peripheral modernisms” is historically determined by a discontinuity between modernism’s appeal to novelty and the content of a revolutionary future (2004, p. 113). Madureira sees such discontinuity as inherent to all modernist projects, since the “modern” is always located in the future—with this, he is able to meet Roberto Schwarz’s famous assertion that in the modernization project of antropofagia ideas are misplaced. He advances a claim for the relevance of the movement in spite of its shortcomings (2004, p. 115.). More recently, Söderlund (2016) promotes a discussion of A Negra, an oil painting by Tarsila do Amaral, as countering intellectual racism in Brazilian culture.

As far as translation is concerned, the major piece of criticism is quite recent, but quite powerful, in that it connects both translation and the foreign perception of Brazilian cultural identity. Critics such as Gentzler have tried to reach out to Brazil and brasilidade by studying antropofagia. Alice Leal, herself a critic related to Translation and Postcolonial Studies, intends to counter stereotypes and critical misinterpretations of Translation Studies in Brazil. She points to this foreign fascination with antropofagia as a “beautifully exotic subject” (2009, p. 2); “[t]he second stereotype” she wishes to question “refers to the fact that Anthropophagy is a key motif as far as translation in Brazil is concerned (including translation theory, practice and teaching)” (ibid.). Towards the end, she unmistakably says that antropofagia is not representative of Brazilian translation, because the number of researchers on this field is low (2009, p. 19). Leal goes even further and states that antropofagia has not been influential in shaping the way Brazilians translate—Haroldo de Campos himself included, as I noted earlier. She points to a gap between theoretical translation speculation and actual translation practice in Brazil, which could be related to a number of facts such as editorial and market pressure and preferences—or it may just be the case that radical translation projects do not necessarily entail radical translation practices (2009, p. 15).

4. The problematic status of antropofagia as metaphor

One may easily dismiss my conceptual concerns by replying that scholarship on antropofagia has been doing very well without a full-blown definition thereof, and that having just the metaphor will do. As I see, there are two problems in adhering to a strictly metaphorical account of antropofagia.

The first is that critical discourse may be acritically replicating the modernists’ propositions without duly inspecting them. Criticism exists precisely because there may be differences between authors’ explicit intentions, or their accounts of their own work, on the one hand, and its actual realization, on the other. Brazilian poet and critic Ferreira Gullar has shown open suspicion of critics of modernist art on this head, and spoke of the “institution of novelty” as a form of “terrorism” acting upon critics (2005, p. 21), who might even be afraid of going against some of the purportedly most radical innovations of modernisms.

One may find Gullar’s account a bit extreme, but it is not altogether implausible. In critical discourse concerning antropofagia, it is usually difficult differentiating scholars’ opinions from the proponents’ projects and self-definitions. That is because scholars often seem to have accepted the proponents’ own words at face value, and scholarly discourse on antropofagia replicates those words without either paraphrasing or questioning. Doud (2010, pp. 4-5) claims that there happened a “cannibalism” of European modern aesthetics and of subaltern Brazilian culture; Guldin (2008, p. 111) states that Augusto and Haroldo de Campos and Vilém Flusser have “assimilated and digested” several elements in order to form a unique creative vision; Leal (2009, p. 7) states that Mário de Andrade and Oswald de Andrade did not necessarily copy European models, but “metabolized” them by a process of “intellectual cannibalization”. What makes these instances of the use of the extended metaphor problematic is precisely the fact that no critical account of it has been given so as to turn them into scientific jargon. Critics say of modernists what they would say of themselves—apparently accepting those self-descriptions without evaluating them—; this confuses matters, because the proponents’ own manifestos become the theoretical background which will provide support for their analysis. These are seriously circular accounts.

On the specific realm of translation, Else Vieira cites Haroldos’ own coinages for his translations (translumination, transtextualization, transcreation, transluciferation, transhelenization, poetic orchestration and reimagination) as pointing to “the Anthropophagic dimension of feeding” on the texts he translated (1999, pp.96-7). Her only attempt at explaining them is by giving their origin (for example, transhelenization was coined when Haroldo translated Homer), but no detailed account of the individual neologisms (or of the very practice of neologizing, as it was recurrent) is provided. Vieira herself starts using them in the same places as Haroldo; elsewhere, she will also speak of his “Transilluminations of Dante’s Paradise and transorchestrations of the Hebrew Bible” (1999, p. 106), and in this she is once again followed by Gentlzer (2008). It is at least extremely unusual to define an old word (translation) by making up a new one (transorchestration); as a poet, Haroldo may be well entitled to do that, but critics should take a more philological stance to this playful, epistemically challenging way of providing definitions.

The second problem with the critical acceptance of stopping at a metaphorical level is that metaphors are, so to say, out of control. One uses one part of reality (anthropophagy) to explain another (metropolis-colony cultural exchanges) by seeing similarities between some of their features while ignoring others, but one cannot prevent these unwanted features from surfacing. Guldin (2008) points that, while Haroldo de Campos dwelled on the swallowing/mastication part of the metaphor, Vilém Flusser elaborated on digestion; anyone might have easily gone a bit further and tackled the defecation part of the digestive metaphor. No one has, precisely because the consequences for the metaphor would be undesirable. Opponents to its use, however, could exploit the metaphor’s own potential against it.

Indeed, not all uses of the anthropophagic metaphor have been positive. Leal notes that antropofagia has been recently deemed “naïve and exaggerated” (2009, p. 9). Guldin states that this flesh-eating metaphor just inverts colonial power structures, promoting an exchange in roles but confirming the familiar(inner)/foreign(outer) dichotomy (2008, p. 122). He also mentions Sierge Gavronski’s typological pair pietistic/cannibalistic translation (1977); Lori Chamberlain has commented on the inherent dangers of Gavronski’s gendered account (1988, in Venuti (ed.), 2000, p. 312).

Siewerski (2007) points other problems. The first is that the metaphor’s emphasis on violence and tactful exploitation of the enemy’s strength and valor shows no sign of true interaction: Utopia and anthropophagy would share the “annihilation of the Other” (p. 2). He also points to the endorsement of the European noble savage fantasy (p. 6), though he seems practically alone in this, as most critics believe antropofagia was precisely trying to go against such stereotype in both its European and Brazilian formation.

Finally, Stephanides (2004), who is concerned not with antropofagia but with globalization in its relation to peripheral literatures, makes one explicitly negative use of the metaphor, presenting metropolises as the “global cannibals” consuming peripheral literatures (p. 101). A term that can be use to describe one thing (subaltern peoples and cultures reacting against economic and cultural colonialism) and its very opposite (metropolises economically and culturally taking over subaltern peoples and cultures) must be questioned as to its critical usefulness.

5. Conclusion: antropofagia as speech act

Antropofagia is a significant part of how Literature, Cultural Studies and Translation Studies scholars have been seeing Brazil and its effort to construct and convey brasilidade. The present work was primarily aimed at showing the major flaws in such critical attempts: lack of attention to the definition and categorization of main concepts, uncritical acceptance of artist’s own claims about their accomplishments, lack of analytical attention to cultural products which could either support or counter those claims.

My own take on antropofagia is not positive. I see it as little else than a performative act (however educated and prolific), which tries to promote a change in a given state of affairs by changing the way we talk about it—I thus side with Schwartz’s view of it as a “trick”, which intends to give an account of both domestic and world culture that culminates in Brazilian concrete poetry, thus confusing theory and self-promotion (“A Historical Landmark” in Gledson (ed.), 1992, p. 191, trans. John Gledson).

That is not to say I suggest there is no value in antropofagia. Oswald de Andrade, Haroldo and Augusto de Campos are major Brazilian intellectuals, who conducted major projects with a view to artistic development; as is natural with bold, experimental enterprises, there were problems and inconsistencies, but there was also a great deal of artistic independence and creativity. They were taking a critical stance on European trends and theories, and their acceptance thereof cannot be described as purely imitative. Haroldo and Augusto must be regarded as important literary and translation critics for various different reasons: the strong reactions they elicit, either blind adoration or violent criticism (Gentzler does point to the personal aggressiveness of critics such as Schwarz; even though I would side mostly with Schwarz, his opinion could be compromised by some of his excesses on that head), their truly respectful poetic output (one may not always enjoy their poetry, but there is no doubt poesia concreta was a serious effort at finding an unexploited niche of artistic originality, expanding on aspects of the linguistic sign which had hitherto been little exploited), their well-crafted translational output (their translations may enjoy a more favorable and enduring reputation than their original work as poets, and, in my own reading of them, I have tried to picture them as complex works deserving detailed, unbiased critical attention), the fact that their take on translation has indeed contributed to a vision of Brazil’s cultural inheritance as comprising both original works and translations (I here side with Gentlzer), their rescuing from oblivion names such as Sousândrade (both as poet and as translator) and Odorico Mendes (mostly as translator), and thus altering Brazilian reception of its own cultural output (which can be said to be the true function of a literary critic).

A final remark: antropofagia has indeed given Brazil a great deal in terms of artistic renewal and significant cultural artifacts with enduring value, but perhaps not on its own terms. I would suggest critics should move from critical or pseudo-critical texts that propose antropofagia to the modernists’ own translational and creative output in order to assess the movement’s strong points and shortcomings.

Works cited

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[1]I will maintain the use of the Portuguese terms antropofagia/canibalismoto talk about either the avant-garde movements or their ideas and cultural artifacts (except within citations), and use their English equivalents to refer to the actual ritualistic and dietary practices of some of the indigenous populations of pre-colonial Brazil. The same will apply to related terms.

[2]The one exception would be the critical essays by Roberto Schwarz, mostly written somewhere between 1960s and 1980s. They are here included because of their 1992 English edition by John Gledson—which edition places them well within the intended scope of this review. Most translations in Gledson’s edition are his own, but not all; therefore I shall provide translator’s names when citing specific essays.

[3]Contrary to current academic practices, but following a common trend in Brazilian theoretical speech (though not in writing), I refer to both of the de Campos brothers by their first names, in order to avoid confusion.

[4]What is the difference between being relevant as theory and being relevant as policy? The former question opposed theory and politics. I believe there is constant confusion among the two; I also believe part of the fascination of an idea such as antropofagiais precisely its political appeal. This differentiation, therefore, is needed.

Theory is primarily concerned with definitions, their inter-relation and their power to describe and explain phenomena; secondarily, it is a way of acting upon the world. Because theorists believe to be describing something which is exterior to them with the help of something else which also they have not generated themselves (not in its entirety, at any rate), theory has to be weighed against a given philosophical background, on the one hand, and empirical evidence, on the other (Faraco, 2005). Which words are used, how they are defined and how universal are both words and definitions are key facts to theory. Theorists, therefore, feel they owe respect to something larger than themselves, and which directs their every step (even if philosophical backgrounds can be disputed and refuted).

Politics is concerned with interests, whether individual, communal or universal. Politics has to do with negotiating between divergent or mutually excluding interests. Interests may or may not be guided by a specific theoretical background: one may advocate universal human rights, for example, and that implies a certain view of humankind and its place in the universe; another may stand for the universal rights of living beings, which would be based on somewhat different ideas on who we are and what our place is; or one may simply want something because that is what one wants.

Theory and politics are variously related. On the one hand, theory can never achieve any satisfactory level of refinement if a solitary thinker thinks for himself in the privacy of his own hermitage; theory needs highly specific patterns of cooperation, and such cooperation needs universally agreed-upon and closely followed conventions. All this means there can be no theoretical thinking if there is no scientific policy. Scientists must act politically—exposing, negotiating and unifying their general interests—before they can think scientifically. Besides, science needs the support of other human institutions—scientists need to feed and clothe just as much as the next guy, and someone has to pay for that—, which means there have to be agreements between the scientific community and the society to which they belong.

On the other hand, politics needs science and its theories in various different ways. First, no supra-individual interest can be defended without being supported by a worldview—ethical and political theories will always back some interests held to pertain to some or to all humankind. The stronger the theory, the higher the claim such interests have to relevance and/or universality. Second, science may provide the technology necessary for interests to be pursued: commerce and war need science to give a hand in the bargain, and so does feeding the poor. Third, our ways of doing politics have been analyzed, described and prescribed in what we call Political Theory.

Because they are closely connected, the two can be confused. As was said earlier, theory can have a pragmatic side: it can be used to change what it is instead of just stating that it is. Because of that, theories can be political instruments—and some theories (not all of which were false) have been designed precisely to serve political purposes.

Antropofagia can be seen as being both theoretically and politically relevant; it can be a sound way to describe a specific state of affairs (intellectual production in colonial countries) and to change it (intellectual subalternity to modes of thinking and creation generated and imposed by the metropolis). I believe antropofagia would be a truly relevant theory if both were united: because it is a sound description of a state of affairs, it points to a real change in power relations. Artistas canibais and tradutores canibais make use of a novel ways of promoting intertextuality, and by doing so subvert well established and naturalized power relations. Or do they?

[5]God and the Devil in Goethe’s Faust. (A reading of the poem, accompanied by a Portguese transcreation of the last two scenes of the Second Part.) Haroldo de Campos. (My translation.)

[6]If I do not see the woman whom I most desire, nothing I see is worthier than that which I do not see. (My translation.)

[7]A similar example, not mentioned in the papers comprised in this review, is Haroldo’s translation of Horatian ode 1.38—“Persicus odi, puer, apparatus” [Lad, I hate Persian luxury]—which seemingly incorporates half a line by Brazilian samba composer Noel Rosa: “[Seu] garçom, faça o favor” [waiter, please]. The phrase is rather common; philological research would have to attest whether or not its use and/or popularization are traceable to Noel Rosa’s samba in order to strengthen the claim that it was borrowed. However, Haroldo’s translation omits the reference to philyra coronae [linden wreath], using the word rosas[roses] more than once; in such repetition, we might indeed be able to see a nod to Noel Rosa.

[8]Brazilian translator of Homer and Virgil, whose translational output has been brought back from oblivion by Haroldo’s writing, who nowadays enjoys careful critical scrutiny in Brazil, and whose translations have recently received carefully prepared editions. According to Haroldo, Odorico Mendes used in his Homeric translations a technique called interpolação, “incorporando versos de outros poetas (Camões, Francisco Manuel de Melo, Antônio Ferreira, Filinto Elísio), quando entende que certa passagem homérica pode ser vertida através desse expediente” (1992 p.39).