Castro Alves : biography
Antônio Frederico de Castro Alves (14 March 1847 – 6 July 1871) was a Brazilian poet and playwright, famous for his abolitionist and republican poems. One of the most famous poets of the "Condorism", he won the epithet of "O Poeta dos Escravos" ("The Poet of the Slaves").
He is the patron of the 7th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.
Alves was born in the town of Curralinho (rechristened "Castro Alves" in his honor in 1900), in the Brazilian State of Bahia, to Antônio José Alves, a medician, and Clélia Brasília da Silva Castro, one of the daughters of José Antônio da Silva Castro (a.k.a. "Periquitão", Portuguese for "Big Parakeet"), a proeminent fighter in the 1821–23 Siege of Salvador. In 1853, he was sent to study in the Colégio Sebrão, run by Abílio César Borges, the Baron of Macaúbas. There, he would meet and befriend Ruy Barbosa.
In 1862, he moved to Recife in order to study at the Faculdade de Direito do Recife, but he was rejected twice. He only was able to join the college in 1864, there meeting Tobias Barreto and José Bonifácio the Younger (step-grandson of famous statesman José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva). They would heavily influence Alves’ writing style, and in turn, Alves also influenced them both. His father would die in 1866, and short after, he met Portuguese actress Eugênia Câmara, and would start dating her afterwards.
In 1867, Alves returns to Bahia alongside Câmara, and there he writes his drama Gonzaga, ou A Revolução de Minas, based on the life of famous Luso-Brazilian Neoclassic poet Tomás António Gonzaga and his participation in the failed 1789 Minas Conspiracy. In the following year, he and Câmara would go to São Paulo, where Alves entered the Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de São Paulo and once more would meet Ruy Barbosa. In there, he also befriended Pedro Luís Pereira de Sousa, and wrote a poem named "Deusa incruenta", based on Sousa’s work "Terribilis Dea". His play Gonzaga would be performed on the end of 1868, being well received by critics and public alike, but Alves was sad because his romantic engagement with Eugênia Câmara had terminated.
During a hunting trip in the same year, Alves received an accidental springald shot in his left foot, that had to be amputated due to the menace of a gangrene. However, a prosthesis was made for him, thus he was able to walk again (although with the use of an assistive cane). He would spend the year of 1870 in his home-State of Bahia, trying to recover from the tuberculosis he got while in São Paulo. Also in 1870, Alves published the poetry book Espumas Flutuantes — the only work he would publish during his lifetime. All his other works would receive a posthumous publication.
Alves’ attempts to mitigate the tuberculosis were in vain; he would die on 6 July 1871, in the city of Salvador, at 24 years old.
Representations in popular culture
Alves was portrayed by Paulo Maurício in the 1949 film Vendaval Maravilhoso, loosely based on Jorge Amado’s 1941 book ABC de Castro Alves, and by Bruno Garcia in Sílvio Tendler’s 1999 documentary Castro Alves: Retrato-Falado do Poeta.
- Espumas Flutuantes (1870)
- Gonzaga, ou A Revolução de Minas (1875)
- A Cachoeira de Paulo Afonso (1876)
- Vozes d’África (1880)
- O Navio Negreiro (1880)
- Os Escravos (1883)
Alves also translated into Portuguese many poems by Victor Hugo, and Lord Byron’s "Darkness" and "Lines Inscribed Upon a Cup Formed from a Skull". They can be found on Espumas Flutuantes.