Tristan Tzara and Mário de Andrade's Journeys from Ethnography to the Avant-Garde

Tristan Tzara and Mário de Andrade's Journeys from Ethnography to the Avant-Garde

This book presents a comparative study of Tristan Tzara (1896-1963) and Mário de Andrade (1893-1945), synthetizing their contribution to oral language traditions and the body of criticism on Modernism. It is the first book to offer an analysis of Tzara’s posthumously published prose Personnage d’insomnie, and the first in the English language that explores de Andrade’s libretto for the opera Café, as well as other examples of their poetry and prose. The Romanian Jewish poet and writer Tzara, later a naturalized French citizen, became a central figure in the European avant-garde from 1916 when he took part in the Dada Movement. Mário de Andrade, the Brazilian poet, writer and musicologist of mixed origins was a contemporary of Tzara and a similarly central figure in the 1922 São Paulo Modern Art Week that defined Brazilian Modernism. Both emerged from very distinct foundations, but they followed a parallel creative path. This book discusses their research and adaptation of a variety of language manifestations, ethnopoetics and folk traditions that led them to the creation of distinct styles. The historical and sociopolitical events of the late 1930s prompted them both to develop militant poetics. Through chronologically compatible case studies, the reader can discover that Tzara and de Andrade, alongside their playful language, actively criticised cultural imperialism and advocated against hate. Journeys can be physical and intellectual; they can crisscross, leave traces, and overlap. This book takes the reader from two starting points, a small Romanian town in the foothills of the Carpathians and a two-storey house in an unusually tranquil street in São Paulo, Brazil, to the heart of the twentieth-century avant-garde. As it shows, Tristan Tzara and Mário de Andrade traversed borders and geographical points, and their poetics meet in Mozambique, Parisian cafés and Bantu chants.


Nefeli Zygopoulou is Greek-British researcher and filmmaker. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from University College London. Among other film projects, she shot a documentary for her doctorate entitled “The Journeys of Mário and Tzara”.

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ISBN: 1-5275-6775-3

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-6775-7

Release Date: 1st June 2021

Pages: 250

Price: £61.99