Álvares de Azevedo

Manuel Antônio Álvares de Azevedo (September 12, 1831 – April 25, 1852), affectionately called "Maneco" by his close friends, relatives and admirers, was a Brazilian Romantic poet, short story writer, playwright and essayist, considered to be one of the major exponents of Ultra-Romanticism and Gothic literature in Brazil. His works tend to play heavily with opposite notions, such as love and death, platonism and sarcasm, sentimentalism and pessimism, among others, and have a strong influence of Musset, Chateaubriand, Lamartine, Goethe and – above all – Byron.

All of his works were published posthumously due to his premature death with only 20 years old after a horse-riding accident. They acquired a strong cult following as years went by, particularly among youths of the goth subculture.

He is the patron of the second chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, and of the ninth chair of the Paulista Academy of Letters.

Álvares de Azevedo
A picture of Azevedo taken during the late 1840s
A picture of Azevedo taken during the late 1840s
BornManuel Antônio Álvares de Azevedo
September 12, 1831
São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
DiedApril 25, 1852 (aged 20)
Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Resting placeSaint John the Baptist Cemetery, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Pen nameJob Stern
OccupationPoet, playwright, short story writer, essayist, Law student
Alma materUniversity of São Paulo
Period19th century
GenreTheatre, poetry, essay
Literary movementRomanticism, Ultra-Romanticism
Notable worksNoite na Taverna
Lira dos Vinte Anos
RelativesInácio Manuel Álvares de Azevedo (father)
Maria Luísa Mota Azevedo (mother)


Azevedo was born into a wealthy family in São Paulo, on September 12, 1831. Son of Law student Inácio Manuel Álvares de Azevedo and Maria Luísa Azevedo (née Mota), a popular myth says that he was given birth in the library of the University of São Paulo Law School, but it actually happened on the house of his maternal grandfather, Severo Mota.[1] He also had a sister and a younger brother, Inácio Manuel Júnior, but he died prematurely in 1835. The death proved to be an early source of shock for the young Álvares.

In 1833, Álvares moved with his family to Rio de Janeiro, and in 1840 he enrolled at the Colégio Stoll, in the bairro of Botafogo.[2] In 1844 he temporarily returned to São Paulo with his uncle, going back to Rio in the following year, where he enrolled at the Colégio Pedro II. There he learned English, French and German, and, being a very avid reader, got acquainted with the works of Lord Byron, François-René de Chateaubriand, Victor Hugo, George Sand, William Shakespeare, John Keats, Manuel du Bocage, Dante Alighieri, Alfred de Musset, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Alphonse de Lamartine and Thomas Chatterton, which would heavily influence his writing style.

Having graduated in 1846 from the Colégio Pedro II, he was admitted to the University of São Paulo Law School in the following year, where he befriended poets José Bonifácio the Younger (the grandnephew of famous Brazilian statesman José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva), Aureliano Lessa and Bernardo Guimarães. Alongside these poets and others, he founded the infamous "Sociedade Epicureia" ("Epicurean Society"), a mythical club heavily based upon Epicurean and bohemian thought, and also planned a work in conjunction with Lessa and Guimarães, the poetry book As Três Liras (The Three Lyres).[3] However, the As Três Liras project never came to be; the only surviving part of it today is the book Lira dos Vinte Anos, published one year after Azevedo's death, in 1853. He also founded in 1849 the official magazine of the Sociedade Ensaio Filosófico Paulistano, whose publication ceased in 1856.

Because of his fragile health and the murky weather of São Paulo, Azevedo contracted tuberculosis. He then abandoned college and moved to his grandfather's farm in Rio, where the weather was warmer, in order to mitigate his disease's symptoms; there he fell from a horse and fractured his iliac fossa. After an unsuccessful surgery, he died, on April 25, 1852, being only 20 years old.[4] He was buried one day later at the Saint John the Baptist Cemetery; his last words before his death were reported to be "Que fatalidade, meu pai!" ("What a fatality, my father!"). Coincidentally, one of the last poems Azevedo wrote prior to his death was entitled "Se Eu Morresse Amanhã" ("If I Died Tomorrow") – the poem was read at his funeral by Manuel Antônio de Almeida, who also happened to be one of Azevedo's cousins.

Another one of Azevedo's cousins, Maria Catarina de Abreu Sodré, eventually married famous novelist Joaquim Manuel de Macedo, who allegedly based the character Carolina of his novel A Moreninha on her.


Azevedo also wrote many letters and essays, and translated into Portuguese numerous poems by Victor Hugo, Lord Byron's "Parisina", William Shakespeare's Othello's fifth act and Heinrich Heine's poem "Sag' mir wer einst die Uhren erfund" (present in his Lira dos Vinte Anos under the title "Relógios e Beijos"). He also wrote a novel, O Livro de Fra. Gondicário; however, the only extant parts of it today are two fragments of its third chapter.

Representations in popular culture

  • Azevedo is the main character of Mário Teixeira's 2009 young adult novel Alma de Fogo (ISBN 9788508126774). The novel's premise is that a serial killer is on the loose in the streets of São Paulo, and Azevedo decides to investigate alongside his friends Aureliano Lessa and Bernardo Guimarães.
  • Noite na Taverna was adapted into a film in 2014, in which Azevedo appears as a character portrayed by Victor Mendes.
  • A semi-fictionalized biography of Azevedo, Delírio, Poesia e Morte (ISBN 9788564590861), was written by Luciana Fátima and released on June 27, 2015 through Editora Estronho. Fátima previously wrote a lengthy essay regarding Azevedo's life and œuvre in 2009, entitled Álvares de Azevedo: O Poeta que Não Conheceu o Amor Foi Noivo da Morte (ISBN 9788574199047).
  • A 2014 children's book by Márcia Abreu, Morrer Amanhã (ISBN 9788532290908), elaborates a story based on the friendship between Azevedo and a fictional character, the Afro-Brazilian slave Tonico.


  1. ^ Álvares de Azevedo – Academia Brasileira de Letras (in Portuguese)
  2. ^ UOL Educação. "Álvares de Azevedo". Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  3. ^ "Álvares de Azevedo – O poeta ultrarromântico". Mundo Educação. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  4. ^ Enciclopédia Itaú Cultural. "Azevedo, Álvares de (1831–1852)". Retrieved 27 March 2012.

Further reading

  • ALVES, Maria C. R. O Poeta-Leitor: Um Estudo das Epígrafes Hugoanas em Álvares de Azevedo. USP, 1999.
  • BELÚZIO, Rafael Fava. Uma Lira de Duas Cordas. SCRIPTUM, 2015.
  • CUNHA, Cilaine Alves. O Belo e o Disforme. EDUSP, 2000.
  • CUNHA, Cilaine Alves. Entusiasmo Indianista e Ironia Byroniana. EDUSP, 2000.
  • FÁTIMA, Luciana. Álvares de Azevedo: O Poeta que Não Conheceu o Amor Foi Noivo da Morte. Annablume, 2009.

External links

Preceded by
New creation
Brazilian Academy of Letters - Patron of the 2nd chair
Succeeded by
Coelho Neto (founder)
1831 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1831.

1831 in poetry

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature (for instance, Irish or France).

1852 in poetry

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature (for instance, Irish or France).

1853 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1853.

1853 in poetry

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature (for instance, Irish or France).

Alexei Bueno

Alexei Bueno (Rio de Janeiro, April 26, 1963) is a leading contemporary Brazilian poet. As curator, he organized more than eighty exhibitions, on Fine Arts or on the History of Literature. As editor, he published many selected or complete works of great classics of the Portuguese language, as Camões, Fernando Pessoa, Mário de Sá-Carneiro, Almada Negreiros, Gonçalves Dias, Álvares de Azevedo, Machado de Assis, Cruz e Sousa, Olavo Bilac, Alphonsus de Guimaraens, Augusto dos Anjos (a complete critical edition) and Vinicius de Moraes.

He was, between 1999 and 2002, director of INEPAC, Institute of the Cultural Heritage of Rio de Janeiro. He is member of PEN Club of Brazil.

Aureliano Lessa

Aureliano José Lessa (1828–1861) was a Brazilian poet, adept of the "Ultra-Romanticism" movement. Born in Minas Gerais in 1828, he moved to São Paulo in 1847 to study Law, but received his bacharel degree at the Faculdade de Direito de Olinda, in Pernambuco, in 1851. He worked as attorney general in the city of Ouro Preto, and also as a lawyer in the cities of Diamantina and Serro.

During his stay at São Paulo he met the authors Álvares de Azevedo and Bernardo Guimarães. With them, he planned a volume of poetry called As Três Liras (in English: The Three Lyres), that ended unsuccessful. Along with those and others, he was a member of a club named "Sociedade Epicureia" ("Epicurean Society").

Aureliano only wrote some texts to newspapers of São Paulo and Minas Gerais during his lifetime. His poems were compiled and published posthumously in 1873 by his brother, Francisco José Pedro Lessa, under the name of Poesias Póstumas (in English: Posthumous Poetry).

A heavy drinker, Lessa died in February 21, 1861, because of a lesion in his heart, caused by his alcoholism.

Aureliano was the uncle of Pedro Augusto Carneiro Lessa.

Bernardo Guimarães

Bernardo Joaquim da Silva Guimarães (Portuguese pronunciation: [beʁˈnaʁdu ɡimaˈɾɐ̃jʃ]; August 15, 1825 – March 10, 1884) was a Brazilian poet and novelist. He is the author of the famous romances A Escrava Isaura and O Seminarista. He also introduced to Brazilian poetry the verso bestialógico (Portuguese: [ˈvɛɾsu beʃtʃjaˈlɔʒiku], roughly silly verse), also referred to as pantagruélico (in a reference to Rabelais's character Pantagruel) — poems whose verses are very nonsensical, although very metrical. Under the verso bestialógico, he wrote polemical erotic verses, such as "O Elixir do Pajé" (The Witchdoctor's Elixir) and "A Origem do Mênstruo" (The Origin of Menstruation). A non-erotic poem written in verso bestialógico is "Eu Vi dos Polos o Gigante Alado" (From the Poles I Saw the Winged Giant).

He is patron of the fifth chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

Coelho Neto

Henrique Maximiano Coelho Neto (February 21, 1864 – November 28, 1934) was a Brazilian writer and politician. He founded and occupied the second chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, from 1897 until his death in 1934. He was also the president of the aforementioned Academy in 1926.

Dark romanticism

Dark Romanticism is a literary subgenre of Romanticism, reflecting popular fascination with the irrational, the demonic and the grotesque. Often conflated with Gothicism, it has shadowed the euphoric Romantic movement ever since its 18th-century beginnings. Edgar Allan Poe is often celebrated as one of the supreme exponents of the tradition.

Joaquim Manuel de Macedo

Joaquim Manuel de Macedo (June 24, 1820 – April 11, 1882) was a Brazilian novelist, doctor, teacher, poet, playwright and journalist, famous for the romance A Moreninha.

He is the patron of the 20th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

Josefina Álvares de Azevedo

Josefina Álvares de Azevedo (5 May, 1851 — 2 September, 1913) was a Brazilian journalist, writer and early feminist She was an advocate for the Brazilian women's right to vote, writing newspapers, theater plays and poems.

According to Augusto Blake's Dicionário Bibliográfico Brasileiro, Josefina was born in Itaboraí and was a half-sister of the writer Álvares de Azevedo. She, however, said she was Azevedo's cousin and to have born in Recife, where she lived until she was twenty-six years-old. In 1877, she moved to São Paulo, where she founded 1888 the newspaper A Família. The following year she moved to Rio de Janeiro,and kept publishing until 1897, when she had to interrupt it, resuming the newspaper in 1898.Azevedo defended the education of women as an essential tool for their emancipation. She sought to extend the circulation of his newspaper throughout the country, traveling to the North and Northeast regions of Brazil. She promoted the feminine suffrage in the 1890 article O Direito ao Voto (The Right to Vote), a year after the proclamation of the Brazilian Republic. She wrote in the same year the comedy O Voto Feminino, (Women's Vote), staged in the Teatro Recreio Dramático.

Still in 1890, she gathered a series of texts that she had published in the newspaper, including poetry, and edited them in the compilation Retalhos.

José Bonifácio the Younger

José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (November 8, 1827 – October 26, 1886) was a French-born Brazilian poet, teacher and senator. He is known as "the Younger" (Portuguese: O Moço) to distinguish him from his grand-uncle, José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva, "the Elder" or "the Patriarch", a famous statesman who was one of the most important mentors of Brazilian independence.

He is the patron of the 22nd chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, and of the 7th chair of the Paulista Academy of Letters.

Law School, University of São Paulo

The Law School, University of São Paulo (in Portuguese: Faculdade de Direito da Universidade São Paulo, also known as Faculdade de Direito do Largo de São Francisco) is an institution of higher education and research in the field of Law located in São Paulo, Brazil. It joined the University of São Paulo (USP) in 1934, when the latter was established.

Lira dos Vinte Anos

Lira dos Vinte Anos (in English: Twenty-year-old Lyre) is a poetry anthology written by Brazilian Romantic author Álvares de Azevedo. Originally part of an aborted project that would be written in partnership with Aureliano Lessa and Bernardo Guimarães called As Três Liras (English: The Three Lyres), it was published in 1853. It is one of the few works whose publication was prepared by Álvares himself, due to his premature death on April 25, 1852.The book is divided in three parts: the "Ariel Face" (first and third parts) and the "Caliban Face" (second part), as Álvares calls them, based on characters from Shakespeare's The Tempest. While the poems of the Ariel Face feature extreme sentimentalism, platonic love, melancholy, among others, the poems of the Caliban Face are heavily morbid, sarcastic and ironic.

From its initial publication in 1853, it would suffer many re-edits, getting to its current form in 1942.

Some studies about this book: "O belo e o disforme", Cilaine Alves; "Risos entre pares", Vagner Camilo; "Uma lira de duas cordas", Rafael Fava Belúzio.

List of Brazilian poets

This is a list of notable Brazilian poets.

Noite na Taverna

Noite na Taverna (in English: A Night in the Tavern) is a short story collection written by Brazilian Ultra-Romantic author Álvares de Azevedo under the pen name Job Stern. It was published posthumously, in 1855; three years after Azevedo's death. The book is structured as a frame story containing five tales (as well as a prologue and an epilogue, thus totaling seven chapters) told by a group of five men sheltering in a tavern. It is one of the most popular and influential works of Gothic fiction in Brazilian literature.

It is said that the book was largely inspired by Spanish author José Cadalso's 1790 work Noches lúgubres.


Ultra-Romanticism (in Portuguese, Ultrarromantismo) was a Portuguese literary movement that took place during the second half of the 19th century and later arrived in Brazil. Aesthetically similar to (but not exactly the same as) the German- and British-originated Dark Romanticism, it was typified by a tendency to exaggerate, at times to a ridiculous degree, the norms and ideals of Romanticism, namely the value of subjectivity, individualism, amorous idealism, nature and the medieval world. The Ultra-Romantics generated literary works of highly contendable quality, some of them being considered as "romance of knife and earthenware bowl", given the succession of bloody crimes that they invariably described, which realists fiercely denounced.

In Portugal, the first Ultra-Romantic piece ever written was the poem "O noivado do sepulcro" ("The tombstone engagement") by António Augusto Soares de Passos, while in Brazil the first major Ultra-Romantic works were the books Lira dos Vinte Anos (Twenty-year-old Lyre) and Noite na Taverna (A Night at the Tavern) by Álvares de Azevedo.

In Brazil, it is called "the second phase of the Brazilian Romanticism", being preceded by the "Indianism" and succeeded by the "Condorism".

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