Born in São Paulo in 1890, de Andrade was the son of a wealthy family whose business was in coffee. In 1912 he visted Paris, coming under the influence of F. T. Marinetti's Futurist writings. On his return to Brazil he studied law, and received his degree in 1919. But over these years, he increasingly involved himself with writers and artists, and sought to rebel against the traditional society of Brazilian culture. In 1920, he founded the magazine Papel e tinta, and with other young poets and critics organized the Week of Modern Art in São Paulo in 1922, which is said to have been the beginning of Brazilian modernism.
In 1923, de Andrade published his first important work, the novel Memórias sentimentais de João Miramar (The Sentimental Memoirs of João Miramar), a book written in a telagraphic style similar to that he had discovered in the Italian Futurists. The fragmentation of the narrative into brief chapters, the numerous puns and linguistic associations, and the poetic style and diction have also brought critics to compare the book with the work of James Joyce.
A second trip to Paris solidified his involvement in the avant garde, and in 1925 he published Pau Brasil (Brazilwood), in which he propounded the ideas of "primitive" writing free of the influences of other languages and cultures, and a discarding of meter and rhyme, all of which were to become the foundations of the Brazilian modernist movement. In a manifesto of 1928, Anthropological Manifesto, de Andrade further developed his aesthetic doctrine, with its emphasis on cannabalism and the native language. In it he continued his advocation of a return to the primitive and an eschewing of European influences.
His second important fiction, Serafim Ponte Grade, was written during the 1930 revolution that brought Getulio Vargas to power, and helped to make de Andrade aware of the brutal realities of Brazilian life. His preface to that book satirizes some of his modernist friends and denounces his own participation in the movement. Henceforward, de Andrande refocused his literary activities on social commitment.
De Andrade also published plays such as the 1937 O rei da vela and numerous books of poetry, collected in 1945 Poesias reunidas. He died in 1954, completely out of tune with the modernism he had helped to create.
BOOKS OF POETRY:
Memórias sentimentais de João Miramar (1924 [mixed genre]; Pau Brasil (1925); Primeiro Caderno do Aluno de Poesia Oswald de Andrade (1927); Poesias reunidas (1945).