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This article is taken from PN Review 77, Volume 17 Number 3, January - February 1991.

Mario Quintana: A Tribute & Selected Aphorisms Giovanni Pontiero

Mário Quintana was born in 1906 in Alegrete, in the deep south of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Poet, writer, translator and journalist, he has spent most of his life in the state capital, Porto Alegre, writing mainly for the Correio do Povo and translating a range of European writers for the Livraria do Globo; Maupassant, Proust, Voltaire, Prosper Mérimée, Charles Morgan, Virginia Woolf and Rosamond Lehmann among them.

His individual qualities as a poet were revealed in his first collection of sonnets, A Rua dos Cata-ventos (Windmill Street, 1940). Tradition and modernism are reconciled in his innovative approach to metre and rhythm and in his disregard for rhetoric and artifice. Eight further collections have consolidated his reputation. He is also an aphorist in the classic manner, with a kind of 18th-century grace and common sense and the wit of a modernist.

An incorrigible bohemian who has lived a solitary life, travelled little, and guarded his privacy against critics and admirers, he is all the same a man with wide horizons and considered one of the most important and influential modern Brazilian poets. The great names who inspired him have all died: Cecilia Meireles, Augusto Meyer, Manuel Bandeira and Carlos Drummond de Andrade, whose celebration 'Quintana's Bar' prefaces this collection of aphorisms. He is the last great writer of their generation.

A tribute by Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Claro Enigma


IN A BAR closed ...

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