Between Christmas Day, 1895, and New Year’s Eve, 1922: Queer Suicide and Brazil's Long Fin de Siècle

César Braga-Pinto


This essay considers a heterogeneous and often unreadable group of fin-de-siècle Brazilian writers that includes Parnassians, Symbolists, and Decadents. These artists imagined themselves part of a cosmopolitan, transnational movement that posed as extravagant or queer, turning their back on both emerging nationalist sentiments and urgent social issues of their time. This detachment, I argue, points to a queer mode of historicity. I further argue that an affirmative rhetoric of hope and community is insufficient to understand or cope with negative figures, that is, those who turn away from social life, communication, and, ultimately, from futurity. I first focus on two queer fin-de-siècle writers who committed suicide, Raul Pompeia (1863-95) and the playwright Roberto Gomes (1882-1922). I then propose that an archive of Brazilian "suicidals" may provide ways of reading these fin-de-siècle writers, as well as others who resist accommodation in the genealogy of national culture.


Mário de Sá-Carneiro; modernism; uncanny; mobility; dissidence

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