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

  • César Braga-Pinto Northwestern University
Keywords: Mário de Sá-Carneiro, modernism, uncanny, mobility, dissidence


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.

Author Biography

César Braga-Pinto, Northwestern University

César Braga-Pinto is the author of As promessas da história: discursos proféticos e assimilação no Brasil colonial (2004) and  A violência das letras: amizade e inimizade na literatura brasileira (1888-1940) (2018). He edited Ligeiros traços: escritos de juventude de José Lins do Rego (2007), À procura de saúde: crônicas de um doente/ In Search of Health: Cronicles of a Sick Man (2016), and he coedited João Albasini e as luzes de Nwandzenguele: literatura e política em Moçambique 1908-1922 (2014).