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Aesthetics of Equilibrium

The Vanguard Poetics of Vicente Huidobro and Mário de Andrade

by Bruce Willis

Publication Year: 2006

Aesthetics of Equilibrium is the first book-length comparative analysis of the theoretical prose by two major Latin American vanguardist contemporaries, Mario de Andrade (Brazil, 1893-1945) and Vicente Huidobro (Chile, 1893-1948). Willis offers a comparative study of two allegorical texts, Huidobro's "Non serviam" and Mario's "Parabola d’A escrava que nao e Isaura."

Published by: Purdue University Press

Series: Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures

Title page

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pp. v-vi

List of Abbreviations

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pp. vii

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Preface: The Latin American Avant-Garde: Context for Vicente Huidobro’s and Mário de Andrade’s Poetics

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pp. ix-xxii

Generally defined as the era between the world wars, the avantgarde or vanguard period was a time of unprecedented urban and industrial growth and consequent struggles to define the young republics of Latin America.1 These artistic acts of self-definition, mindful of the European vanguard movements’ disparaging...

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pp. xxiii-xxiv

The initial stage of this project was conceived as my dissertation at the University of Virginia, where the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese cultivated a supportive environment for my independent study comparing the Spanish American and Brazilian vanguards. I especially acknowledge David T. Haberly and Donald L. Shaw, my advisors, for their inspiration and patience. Dr. Shaw’s quick and insightful comments...

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A Note on Translation and Orthography

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pp. xxv

Text cited in Spanish and French appears without translation, as per PSRL policy. Text in Portuguese is followed by a bracketed English translation. Longer translations, located in the Appendix, are keyed to the text by the number in brackets. All translations are my own unless otherwise indicated. Because of changes in Portuguese orthography rules, and also because...

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Introduction: A Desire for Equilibrium in Avant-Garde Poetics: The Parables “Non serviam” and “Parabola d’A escrava que não é Isaura

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pp. 1-23

Among the manifestos, prologues, declarations, and other proclamatory texts characteristic of the avant-garde period’s various movements, the expression of a new poetics dominates the subject matter and tends to exemplify itself in the very format of these texts. Employing a variety of styles, the texts are sometimes allegorical; those few texts that are strictly allegorical...

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Part One. Poetry as Orientation of the Creative Self: Vicente Huidobro

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pp. 25-31

In twentieth-century Latin American letters, Huidobro’s works have proved fertile ground.1 In addition to the supremacy of his masterpiece Altazor, fragments of which are inevitably included in Spanish American and Latin American literature or poetry anthologies, Huidobro has gained recognition for the originality of his poems, novels, and dramatic works. However,...

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Chapter One. Poetic Engineering: Creating the Poetic Realm in Huidobro’s Early Manifestos

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pp. 32-70

Huidobro’s early manifestos display a combination of mystical and didactic approaches. Along with “Non serviam,” “La poesía” builds Huidobro’s poetic mystique while showing a more intrinsically creative and metaphorical textual construction. In contrast, the more traditional manifestos—“La creación...

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Chapter Two. Orientation and Trajectory in “Aviso a los turistas” and “Manifiesto tal vez”

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pp. 71-84

Huidobro’s need for definition, when limited by his desire for mystique, can yield contradictory results. Although “Aviso a los turistas” and “Manifiesto tal vez” metaphorize poetic creation and give examples of how not to create poetry, they do not define poetic creation nearly as precisely as his earlier, more...

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Chapter Three. Dimensions of the Poet God: Huidobro’s Final Manifestos

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pp. 85-97

The common thread that links Huidobro’s diverse manifestos is the binary struggle to maintain a complete equilibrium between the conscious and unconscious processes of poetic composition. This balance is the same one that Ernst Kris identifies in his study of the artistic ego, Psychoanalytic Explorations in Art....

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Part Two. Poetry as Contraband from the Unconscious: M

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pp. 99-103

Although Mário’s most important poetics texts—“Prefácio” and Escrava—like Huidobro’s manifestos, seek to define an avant-garde poetics and address the issue of balance, they differ from the manifestos in structure and style. Whereas “Prefácio” could be said to resemble Huidobro’s and other manifestos’ typically loose structure characterized by aphorisms...

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Chapter Four. “Prefácio Interessantíssimo” as Mock Manifesto

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pp. 104-128

Oswald de Andrade’s May 1921 piece about Mário de Andrade, “O meu poeta futurista,” pushed the latter into the limelight and forced him to distinguish his ideas from those of the futurists, a task that became the “Prefácio” and also, eventually, the 1925 Escrava. In “Prefácio,” Mário accepts the blame for being labeled...

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Chapter Five. At the Dock and on the Street: The Loss of Purity and Solidarity in Mário’s Poetics

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pp. 129-145

Although “Prefácio” displays a loose, aphoristic structure whereas Escrava more closely approximates a formal treatise, the two texts share a defense of avant-garde poetry, a personal, tragicomic tone, and an expository style that includes brief narrative fragments and anecdotes, of which the most well known...

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Chapter Six. Balancing the Equations: Mário’s Struggle to Define Aesthetic Simultaneity

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pp. 146-177

In comparison to the structure of “Prefácio Interessantíssimo,” the two-part structure of A escrava que não é Isaura more closely replicates an exact balance of attention to the themes of conscious and unconscious processes. Published in 1925 as a treatise on modernista poetics, Escrava elaborates the main...

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Conclusion: A Poetics of Equilibrium and the Avant-Garde Paradox

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pp. 178-190

From Aristotle to Bloom, the history of poetics presents dominant discursive functions in both description and prescription. While a poetics necessarily reflects, to some extent, the norms that are already accepted or in the process of formalization at the time, it also endeavors, in the very act of explicating these...

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Appendix: English Translations

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pp. 191-201

The following are English translations for the longer Portuguese quotations. They are keyed to the text by the numbers in brackets. All translations are mine....


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pp. 203-213

Works Cited

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pp. 215-221

Works Consulted

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pp. 223-225


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pp. 227-235

About the Author

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pp. 236

E-ISBN-13: 9781612491189
E-ISBN-10: 1612491189
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557534224
Print-ISBN-10: 1557534225

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Andrade, Mário de, 1893-1945 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Huidobro, Vicente, -- 1893-1948 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Latin American poetry -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
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