Classical Reception in Brazilian Literature
Tereza Virgínia Ribeiro Barbosa (FALE/UFMG) [email@example.com]
Marina Pelluci Duarte Mortoza (FALE/UFMG - Brazil) [firstname.lastname@example.org]
This panel aims to be a display of how Brazilian Literature receives the Classical Tradition in some of its most renowned works. We intend to reflect about the ways in which Brazilian literary authors reread and rewrite Classical culture in a significant way to their own cultural context. Avoiding the traps of ethnocentric comparative interpretations, we suggest that the survival of Classical texts in Brazilian Literature rests in a dialogue between reiterating identity and inaugurating fundamental differences. Therefore, this panel aims to display some significant examples of the Brazilian literary richness, dealing with works which are capable of being utterly innovative in their use of Classical elements to create their own universe. It is our wish to point at the potentialities of works that are still unknown, or little studied worldwide, in order to offer our audience the possibility of getting in contact with some of the most important and influential authors of Brazilian literature, while offering comments and insights on the main themes in their works and on how they explore the Classics in their own creations. In this sense, this panel wants also to investigate how diverse the Brazilian Classical Reception can be from the European one. We follow two main theoretical approaches in our analysis: the idea of “cultural appropriation” (Benjamin; Sanders) and the notions of Intertextuality and Classical Reception (Martindale, 1993; Fowler, 1997).
The theory of “cultural appropriation” was forged by the mixing of two other theories: Walter Benjamin’s ideas about translation, and Julie Sanders’ thoughts on adaptation and appropriation in literature (Castello Branco, 2008; Sanders, 2006). This theory is also in contact with some of the ideas expressed by T. S. Eliot, Jorge Luis Borges and Silviano Santiago. The main developments of this trend of thought can be illustrated by different projects of Brazilian intellectuals, such as Oswald de Andrade, Mário de Andrade, Mário Faustino and Haroldo de Campos, who worked intensely analyzing how Brazilian authors made use of different cultural traditions (including the Classical one), at a time when Reception Studies were not even a well established discipline. The main ideas circulating amongst such intellectuals, from the 1920’s onwards, were to build new artistic theories and practices from the Brazilian potpourri of European, African and Indigenous cultures. Intending to provide new ways of thinking and writing, as an alternative to more traditional and Eurocentric ones, the main objective of this cultural movement was to reflect upon an authentic Brazilian national identity. Taking these ideas into account, the notion of “cultural appropriation” intends to analyze in which ways different cultures interact and develop in new cultural contexts, such as the Brazilian one.
In turn, we work also with the notion of Inter textuality (from the perspective of reception), as it locates intertextuality in the reader. Fowler (1997), for instance, contrasts the structuralist perspective of intertextuality, centered on the text and on a literary system considered stable, and its post-structuralist perspective, focused on the reception process. From this post-structuralist point of view, intertextuality is located in a reading practice, in such a way that modern theories or modern stories may affect our constructions of Antiquity. This approach presents the “possibility of reversing the directionality of intertextual reference”, and proposes intertextuality as a non-unidirectional process. From a similar point of view, Martindale (1993) mentions some of Derrida’s ideas concerning the capacity of texts for “reingrafting themselves within new contexts,” and suggests a process of “recontextualization,” according to which the meanings of a text become constantly new at the point of different receptions. This is precisely what happens in the process of incorporation and appropriation which some Brazilian authors make of the Classical Tradition and the ancient texts.
Considering the possibilities offered by such theoretical approaches, this panel deals with works of Brazilian literature of different literary genres (such as poetry, short story, theater, and novel), in order to highlight various forms of dialogue with the Classical Tradition. The authors covered by our analysis are as varied as: José de Anchieta, Machado de Assis, Jorge de Lima, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Cecília Meirelles, Guimarães Rosa, Murilo Rubião, Guilherme de Figueiredo, João Cabral de Melo Neto, Millôr Fernandes, Haroldo de Campos, Hilda Hilst, Mário Faustino, Paulo Leminski, and the theatrical group Teatro Invertido.