From Macunaíma to Davi Kopenawa: Alternative Approaches to Translation and the Worlds of Literature

  • Krista Brune The Pennsylvania State University
Keywords: Brazilian modernismo, Amerindian perspectivism, untranslatability, world literature


This essay draws on Brazilian and Amerindian ideas to reconsider world literature. It opens by outlining current trends to underscore how prominent critics from the Global North engage with ideas from Brazil. The next section examines how Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro and Yanomami shaman and environmental advocate Davi Kopenawa articulate other ways of conceiving of the world. Their work invites further pondering of how an Amerindian perspective could complicate understandings of the world and, by extension, world literature and translation. Finally, I illustrate the relevance of these approaches by reading Mário de Andrade’s Macunaíma as a literary text whose strong ties to Amerindian cultures challenge translators and demand a reconceptualization of the worlds of world literature.