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The Extreme and Geometry: Notes on João Cabral de Melo Neto's collection on Bullfighting and his Poetic Imagery

Flora Süssekind and Translated by Sara Brandellero
Portuguese Studies
Vol. 30, No. 2 (2014), pp. 189-203
DOI: 10.5699/portstudies.30.2.0189
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5699/portstudies.30.2.0189
Page Count: 15
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The Extreme and Geometry: Notes on João Cabral de Melo Neto's collection on Bullfighting and his Poetic Imagery
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Abstract

This essay takes as its starting point a small collection of newspaper cuttings, photographs and periodicals from the 1940s and 50s, which belonged to João Cabral de Melo Neto and remained in his apartment on the Praia do Flamengo for decades. At the time when his heirs disposed of part of his library and of some old papers and periodicals, this material ended up in the Berinjela Bookshop in Rio de Janeiro where, perhaps due to its poor state of preservation, it did not find any immediate purchasers and, given my interest, was eventually offered to me by the booksellers as a gift. What we have, in fact, is a mini-collection of photographic records and essayistic commentaries about certain bullfighters and bullfights, articles about theories of bullfighting, about breeds of cattle, tragic bullfighters, fairs, and peculiar forms of bullfighting. The examination of these items allows us to contextualize certain images from Cabral's work (geometry, grim resignation, the play between tangency and deviation) in the poems about Spain, bullfights and certain bullfighters. And it points directly towards his particular preference for Manolete, but also for Murilo González, Lagartija and Gallito, among other bullfighters. These figures, images and tauromachy, which were all intensely present in the cultural panorama of the mid-twentieth century (see Leiris, Hemingway, Picasso etc.), were nevertheless to fulfil a particular function in Cabral's poetics.

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