Brazil and Abroad

The nationalism of the ABLs was formed out of a permanent interest in contrasting books by Brazilian authors and translations, the conditions of publishing and intellectual work in the country and abroad. The foreign, however, was not a flat land. Its relief was marked by the political transformations of the period that were reflected in the aforementioned change in the exchange markets. Europe never lost its axis as the cradle of civilization. The yearbooks published texts such as “Images of Finland”, by Jayme Adour da Camara [ABL 1939: 134) or “Italy in a Panoramic View”, by Licurgo Costa (ABL 1939: 52). European authors who visited the country (“Illustrious Visitors to Brazil”, by Faustino Nascimento, ABL 1937: 243) and their impressions of Brazil were the subject of vivid interest (“A Little Trip to Brazil: A Visit to the Coffeehouse”, by Stephan Zweig, ABL 1937: 267). But there was also growing attention to the Americas as a new pole of intellectual work and publishing business. The poet Augusto F. Schmidt, for example, signed “Travel Notes and Fantasy” about culture in the United States (ABL 1939: 29); Gonzaga

Coelho interpreted the “Brazilian-Colombian Intellectual Exchange” (ABL 1941: 154). In the ABL (1938: 66), a note was published with the title “Brazilian Authors Distinguished Abroad: The Winning Names in the Last Contest of Revista Americana from Buenos Aires”.

Markets are not lost or conquered by the sole interest of cultural producers. The State always intervenes in opening or redirecting the exchanges. On the intellectual level, the role played from 1938 onwards by the Intellectual Cooperation Service, housed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was decisive. This body replicated the transnational cultural policy of the League of Nations, whose actions included recording the worldwide flow of translations through the production of the Index Translationum. Apart from informing the Paris headquarters of the translations published in Brazil, the new cultural service of Itamarati sought to disseminate images of the country abroad. In an interview with Plinio de Mello (ABL 1937: 105), Consul Ildefonso Falcao stated, “foreigners have a vague idea of what Brazilians are capable of producing in the field of thought, of spirit”. To reverse this image, among other initiatives, the Intellectual Cooperation Service acquired “excellent books by our most notable writers” and distributed them in “the great cultural institutes abroad. These works awakened a growing interest in things in Brazil, in London (...) in Paris (...) And there are still those who say that this service is a luxury” (Ibid.)

From the universal exhibitions to the celebrations of national independence, books were exhibited as emblems of civilization. In the times of Estado Novo, we observed a Brazilian Book Exhibition in Montevideo. The exhibition was inaugurated on November 15,1939, by Ambassador Francisco Batista Luzardo. The Brazilian Ministry of Education made the selection of the 4,000 books exhibited that were later donated to the minister of public instruction of Uruguay and formed the library of the Uruguay-Brazil Cultural Institute, created after the event. The exhibition was reviewed in newspapers of both countries as a continental event that would have been visited by 200 thousand people. In addition to the books, Brazil was represented by a delegation of writers such as Oswaldo Orico and Carlos Maul:

Solemnly on the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic, the great intellectual event was inaugurated, for which the leading social and intellectual personalities of the neighbouring country and delegations from Argentina were mobilized, travelling specially to attend the conferences. The entire Uruguayan government was present and the people appeared en masse, filling the vast exhibition halls. Without luxuries, our stands were well presented (...) The Brazilian Book Exhibition in Montevideo was a testimony of our intellectual evolution in all sectors of culture. From this experience we draw a precious lesson for a second event that Brazil will hold in Lisbon, thanks to the support of General Francisco Jose Pinto, president of the Brazilian Commission for the Centenary of Portugal (...)•

{ABL 1940: 199 - my italics)

During those years, other converging official initiatives were the creation of a professorship in Portuguese at the University of Buenos Aires and the Library of Brazilian Authors Translated into Spanish, sponsored by the Argentine Ministry of Public Education (Sora 2003, chapter 4). In April 1939, a delegation of Brazilian intellectuals was sent to the celebrations of the fourth centenary of the city of Bogota. Within the framework of reciprocal diplomatic policies, these and other exchanges were reflected in Brazil in projects such as the chair of Hispano-American and American literature, inaugurated in the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) with a lecture by Argentinean professor Eugenio J. Iglesias. All these events and policies were reviewed by Silvio Jiilio or Gonzaga Coelho in the pages of the ABL.

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