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Aesthetics of Equilibrium

Aesthetics of Equilibrium: The Vanguard Poetics of Vicente Huidobro and Mário de Andrade

Bruce Dean Willis
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  • Book Info
    Aesthetics of Equilibrium
    Book Description:

    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."

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-118-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Preface The Latin American Avant-Garde: Context for Vicente Huidobro’s and Mário de Andrade’s Poetics
    (pp. ix-xxii)
  2. A Note on Translation and Orthography
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  3. Introduction A Desire for Equilibrium in Avant-Garde Poetics: The Parables “Non serviam” and “Parabola d’ A escrava que não é Isaura”
    (pp. 1-24)

    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 tend to be well represented in anthologies but too often overlooked in critical analyses. In fact, these allegorical works constitute not just theoretical but also narrative sources for beliefs about poetics, and as such they are particularly rich in language, symbol, and structure. I wish...

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

    • [Part One Introduction]
      (pp. 25-31)

      In twentieth-century Latin American letters, Huidobro’s works have proved fertile ground.¹ In addition to the supremacy of his masterpieceAltazor,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, in spite of the fact that the importance of his writings on poetics, specifically his manifestos, is conceded, previous criticism of these texts has not generally focused on any literary orientation that could strengthen the ubiquitous theoretical readings. The literary qualities of the integral poetics texts, themselves, need to...

    • Chapter One Poetic Engineering: Creating the Poetic Realm in Huidobro’s Early Manifestos
      (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 pura,” “Manifiesto de manifiestos,” “El creacionismo,” “Yo encuentro . . . ,” “Futurismo y maquinismo,” “La poesía de los locos,” and “Necesidad de una estética poética compuesta por los poetas” — didactically expound and exemplify the principles of creationism. Not completely bereft of metaphor, the imagery of these latter texts sometimes supports Huidobro’s mystique while maintaining his authoritarian tone. The brief “Época...

    • Chapter Two Orientation and Trajectory in “Aviso a los turistas” and “Manifiesto tal vez”
      (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 traditional manifestos. Instead, through a focus on location and movement, the texts together define Huidobro’s place in the avant-garde, the journey of poetic creation, and the independent ontology of the created poem.

      In “Aviso a los turistas,” Huidobro tackles the idea of equilibrium between the conscious and the unconscious on two...

    • Chapter Three Dimensions of the Poet God: Huidobro’s Final Manifestos
      (pp. 85-98)

      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.Artistic inspiration is born in the unconscious, but its elaboration is a conscious act. Writing about regression as access to the unconscious, Kris exposes the dangers of losing the balance during the process of artistic composition:

      When regression goes too far, the symbols become private, perhaps unintelligible even to the reflective self; when,...

  5. Part Two Poetry as Contraband from the Unconscious:: Mário de Andrade

    • [Part Two Introduction]
      (pp. 99-103)

      Although Mário’s most important poetics texts—“Prefácio” andEscrava—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, it nonetheless affects an overriding purpose in the defense of thePaulicéiapoems; furthermore, the tone, while subjective, is more deeply personal.Escravacontinues this tone yet sets out more pretentiously to be a treatise on poetics rather than a mere manifesto. In contrast to “Prefácio,” as Thomas R. Hart...

    • Chapter Four “Prefácio Interessantíssimo” as Mock Manifesto
      (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 1925Escrava.In “Prefácio,” Mário accepts the blame for being labeled afuturista:“Oswald de Andrade, chamando-me de futurista, errou. A culpa é minha. Sabia da existência do artigo e deixei que saísse. Tal foi o escândalo, que desejei a morte do mundo” [Oswald, in calling me a futurist, was wrong. It’s my fault. I knew about the...

    • Chapter Five At the Dock and on the Street: The Loss of Purity and Solidarity in Mário’s Poetics
      (pp. 129-145)

      Although “Prefácio” displays a loose, aphoristic structure whereasEscravamore 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 is “Parábola d’Aescrava que não é Isaura.”These narrative fragments yield a wealth of densely symbolic images that articulate Mário’s avant-garde poetics, specifically pertaining to the functions of the conscious and the unconscious in the act of writing poetry. One of these crucial images is the dock. It appears first in the allegory of...

    • Chapter Six Balancing the Equations: Mário’s Struggle to Define Aesthetic Simultaneity
      (pp. 146-177)

      In comparison to the structure of “Prefácio Interessantíssimo,” the two-part structure ofA escrava que não é Isauramore closely replicates an exact balance of attention to the themes of conscious and unconscious processes. Published in 1925 as a treatise onmodernistapoetics,Escravaelaborates the main points of “Prefácio” while introducing new ideas, and attempts to finally cut off any unfounded ties to futurism originated by the claims of Oswald de Andrade, to whom the text is significantly dedicated. As previously noted, the text was written in April and May of 1922, while its “Postfácio” was written in November...

  6. Conclusion A Poetics of Equilibrium and the Avant-Garde Paradox
    (pp. 178-190)

    From Aristotle to Bloom, the history of poetics presents dominant discursive functions in bothdescriptionandprescription.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 norms, to promote them as a timeless, universal interpretation of poetry that can guide writers of the present and future. Poetic history is therefore a history of dialogue, as each poetics alternately denies or expands (or both) the arguments of the previous ones. The descriptive nature of poetics, related to...

  7. Appendix English Translations
    (pp. 191-202)