Oswald de Andrade’s Os condenados and the Decay of the Amazonian Aura

  • Sarah J. Townsend Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Keywords: Brazilian modernism, rubber boom, São Paulo, industrialization, Aesthetics


This article examines the implications of the Amazonian allusions in the trilogy of novels by Oswald de Andrade now known as Os condenados (originally called Trilogia do exílio). Published between 1922 and 1934, the trilogy revolves around the life and legacy of a young prostitute in São Paulo and is notable for what critics often describe as its cinematic style. My argument picks up on earlier readings that see it as allegorizing the decline of the "aura" of art—a process I connect to a shift in the regional dynamics of capital accumulation in Brazil, showing how the aestheticist cult of beauty was associated with the export economy and a mode of uneven development most dramatically exemplified by the Amazonian rubber boom. Ultimately, I gesture toward a reappraisal of the Amazon’s role in the imaginary of Brazilian modernismo.

Author Biography

Sarah J. Townsend, Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Sarah J. Townsend is Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Pennsylvania State University, University Park. She is the author of The Unfinished Art of Theater: Avant-Garde Intellectuals in Mexico and Brazil (forthcoming from Northwestern UP in July 2018) and co-editor (with Diana Taylor) of Stages of Conflict: A Critical Anthology of Latin American Theater and Performance. She is currently working on a second book project that revolves around the Teatro Amazonas opera house in Manaus, Brazil.