Carlos Drummond de Andrade Analysis

Other literary forms

(World Poets and Poetry)

In addition to many books of poetry, Carlos Drummond de Andrade (druh-muhnd juhn-DRAH-juh) published three volumes of stories, nine collections of crônicas (journalistic “chronicles,” or short prose pieces which may take the form of anecdotal narratives or commentary on current events or behavior), and numerous Portuguese translations of works of French literature. The language of many of his prose-narrative poems is closely related to that of his crônicas.


(World Poets and Poetry)

In a distinguished career spanning six decades, Carlos Drummond de Andrade produced a formidable body of poetry and prose. Appealing to connoisseurs of literature and the broader public alike, he became one of Brazil’s most beloved modern writers. With a vast poetic repertory of considerable thematic and stylistic variety, Drummond is widely regarded as the leading Brazilian poet of the twentieth century; many consider him to be the most important lyrical voice in that nation’s entire literary history. He rightly stands alongside the great Portuguese-language poets, the classic Luís de Camões and the modern Fernando Pessoa, as well as the major contemporary Latin American poets Pablo Neruda, César Vallejo, and Octavio Paz.

Brazilian Modernismo of the 1920’s and 1930’s sought to free poetry from the lingering constraints of Parnassian and Symbolist verse. Iconoclast writers combated conservative tradition, infusing poetry with New World awareness and revitalizing lyric through application of avant-garde techniques. Perhaps more than any other poet of Modernismo, Drummond was capable of crystallizing the aims of the movement to institute newness and give value to the national variety of the Portuguese language, while forging an intensely personal style with universal scope.

Drummond received numerous literary prizes in Brazil for individual works and overall contribution, including those of the PEN Club of Brazil and the Union of Brazilian Writers. He was twice nominated (in 1972 and 1978) for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature awarded by World Literature Today. In his modest way, Drummond refused many other prizes and declined to seek a chair in the Brazilian Academy of Letters. His work has had a tremendous and continuing impact on successive generations of Brazilian artists, influencing emerging lyric poets since the 1930’s. On another front, more than seventy musical settings of his poems have been made. Composers inspired by Drummond include the renowned Heitor Villa-Lobos (who set Drummond’s poems to music as early as 1926) and the popular vocalist Milton Nascimento. Academic studies of Drummond’s work abound; hundreds of articles and dozens of book-length analyses of his poetry have appeared in Brazil.


(World Poets and Poetry)

Armstrong, Piers. Third World Literary Fortunes: Brazilian Culture and Its International Reception.Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1999. Contrasts Brazilian writers with their Spanish American counterparts and compares Drummond’s poetic persona to such “paradigmatic antiheroes” as T. S. Eliot and Franz Kafka.

Di Antonio, Robert Edward. “The Confessional Mode as a Liberating Force in the Poetics of Carlos Drummond de Andrade.” Quaderni Ibero-Americani 8, nos. 61/62 (December/January, 1986/1987): 201-207. Considers Drummond an existentialist with a personal, often humorous vision of the absurdity of existence.

Lima, Luiz Costa. “Carlos Drummond de Andrade.” In Latin American Writers. Vol. 2. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1989. This lengthy essay discusses Drummond’s early work in the context of conflicting aspects of Brazilian Modernismo, his later work as evidence of “the corrosion principle,” and his even later work as the “postcorrosion phase,” in which memory is privileged over history.

Roncador, Sonia. “Precocious Boys: Race and Sexual Desire in the Autobiographical Poems of Carlos Drummond de Andrade.” Afro-Hispanic Review 27, no. 2 (Fall, 2008): 91-115. Roncador discusses the relationships between boys in privileged households and the black maids and other servants, using numerous poems by Drummond.

Sternberg, Ricardo da Silveira Lobo. The Unquiet Self: Self and Society in the Poetry of Carlos Drummond de Andrade. Valencia, Spain: Albatros/Hispanófila, 1986. Analyzes Drummond’s work as representing the inherent conflict in the relationship between self and others, and the tendency toward both withdrawal from and engagement with the world.

_______. “The World Within: Carlos Drummond de Andrade’s Alguma poesia.” Luso-Brazilian Review 21, no. 2 (Winter, 1984): 57-69. Focusing on Drummond’s “first phase,” from 1930 to 1945, Sternberg examines o choque social, or social shock inherent in the conflicts between individual and society, self and others, in Drummond’s poetry.

Vargas, Claret M. “A Poetics of Bafflement: Ethics and the Representation of the Other in Carlos Drummond de Andrade’s Poetry.” Neophilologus 92, no. 8 (July, 2008): 457-470. Explores the self and the Other in three poems by Drummond: “Menino Chorando na Noite,” “O Operário no Mar,” and “Jose.”