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Brazilian cordel literature collection, 1924-1990

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Brazilian cordel literature collection

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection consists of over 2000 cordels covering an array of subject matter, including tales of love and adventure, religious prophecies and prayers, fables and legends, and pelejas (poetic duels of verbal and musical acumen), in addition to daily news, horoscopes, and local "fofocas de futebol" (soccer gossip). Poet-reporters capture and describe major events in the history of Brazil and the world, such as the death of Tancredo Neves, popular revolt in Vicencia, Papal visits, and even the death of Elvis Presley. Contents also include political themes highlighting specific candidates, debates, popular demands, such as Afro-Brazilian rights and agrarian reform. Within the collection, there are multiple printings, editions, and variations of beloved stories. Researchers will find this collection particularly useful for the history of print literature in Brazil; its influence on other literary forms; its value as historical documentation; its value as a source of popular folklore and political attitudes; and the artistic value of its woodblock engraving and other illustrative forms.

The cordel pamphlets are generally four by six and a half inches, however deviation in sizing occurs throughout the collection. Cordels are made of lightweight paper and can be 8, 16, 32, or 64 pages, with an occasional two- or four-page anomaly. Many of the troubadours conclude their poems with a signature in verse, or an acrostic, starting each final line with a letter from their first initial and last name. Most pamphlets feature an illustration on the front cover, typically a woodcut engraving, although it is not uncommon to see a reproduced photograph or a drawing. Often, the cover artwork is signed with the initials or family name of the highlighted artist. The back cover typically features the author's contact information, with or without a photograph, as well as advertisements from local vendors, publishers or other companies, and legal notes pertaining to the purchase and sale of the item.The collection is arranged into four series which provide the researcher access based on geographical region of publication. Series I. Center-West is the smallest of the four series, consisting of a handful of publications from 1978 to 1988. Series II. Northeast is the largest of the series, with a date range of 1924 to 1990. Series III. Southeast offers examples of the urban cordel movement, alongside traditional works, between the years 1975 and 1989. Series IV. Undetermined includes those pamphlets which could not be assigned to a region. Titles are transcribed from the cover page. Multiple copies are noted when present.


Arranged in four series:
Series I. Center-West, 1978-1988;
Series II. Northeast, 1924-1990;
Series III. Southeast, 1975-1989;
Series IV. Undetermined, 1924-1990.

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