Who was Alcantara Machado? Brazilian Author’s Life and Works


Who was Alcantara Machado? Information about the life, literary personality and works of Alcantara Machado, a Brazilian writer.

Alcantara Machado

Alcântara Machado (1901-1935) was a Brazilian writer. One of the most important short-story writers of the First Modernist Period. The Italian immigrant world and his integration efforts in São Paulo gave Alcântara Machado the theme and style in which he wrote his stories.

Antônio de Alcântara Machado was born in São Paulo, on May 25, 1901. He was the son of an illustrious family. His father was a writer and professor at the Faculty of Law of São Paulo. He graduated in law in 1924, but did not practice the profession. While still a student, he began to dedicate himself to journalism.

Literary career

In 1925, Fernando Pessoa traveled to Europe, where he sought inspiration to write his debut book in literature, Pathé Baby (1926) , with a preface by Oswald de Andrade. In 1926, together with Paulo Prado, Couto de Barros and others, he founded the magazine Terra Roxa e Outros Terras.


Alcantara Machado wrote sentimental and ironic tales to be published in newspapers, opting for the theme of the world of Italian immigrants, who were concentrated in the São Paulo neighborhoods of Brás, Bexiga and Barra Funda, often using Italian expressions.

In 1928, he published his first book of short stories, “Brás, Bexiga e Barra Funda”, in which he focused on the Italian immigration to the city of São Paulo, he revealed an extraordinary talent in the art of short narrative.

The short stories in the book are marked by modernist intentions, as in the fragmentation of the episodes, the mapping of the city of São Paulo, the exotic nature of the characters’ names, etc. At the beginning of the book he writes:

Then the ocean liners brought other adventurous races to Europe. Among them, a joy that set foot in the land of São Paulo singing and in the land it sprouted and spread like that plant, also an immigrant that two hundred years ago came to found Brazilian wealth:

From the consortium of immigrant people with the environment, from the consortium of immigrant people with indigenous people, the new mamelucos were born.
Italians were born.
The Gaetaninho.
to Carmela.
Brazilians and Paulistas. Even flags.
And the colossus kept rolling. (…)

In the second book of short stories by Alcântara Machado, Laranja da China (1929), the Portuguese-Brazilian takes the place of the Italian. Everyday life and its minutiae continue to attract the author’s telegraphic style.

All the tales carry a kind of parody in the title; The Revolted Robespierre, The Lyricist Lamartine, The Adventurer Ulysses and The Passionate Elena. In 1929, Alcântara Machado joined Oswald de Andrade to found the “Revista de Antropofagia”, always presenting a certain modernity of style.


In 1931, with Mário de Andrade and Paulo Prado, he directed the Revista Hora. Interested in History, he wrote some studies, among them, one about his grandfather Basílio Machado and another about Father Anchieta.

Alcântara Machado did not know great success in life, but was only valued by later generations. Antônio Machado died in São Paulo on April 14, 1935.

Works by Alcantara Machado

  • Pathé Baby, novel, 1926
  • Brás, Bexiga and Barra Funda, short stories, 1928
  • China orange, short stories, 1929
  • Mana Maria, novel, 1936, posthumous
  • Cavaquinho and Saxophone, essay, 1940, posthumous

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