The jurist and writer from Pernambuco, José Paulo Cavalcanti Filho, took office this evening (10) as the new occupant of chair 39 of the Brazilian Academy of Letters (ABL), succeeding the former president of the Republic, lawyer and professor Marco Maciel, who died in June 2021.
In his inaugural speech, Cavalcanti Filho said that the goals of the Brazilian Academy of Letters were outlined by Machado de Assis 125 years ago. “It’s in the first articles of the statute, which is the defense of language and culture. I think we have to retranslate these concepts to make them more topical. The defense of the language is more than the defense of a few symbols. I think that there is nothing more urgent and revolutionary than popular education. Create citizens. And culture means recognizing the national identity that is missing,” he said.
The writer stated that it is now necessary to retranslate these concepts, so that they gain greater relevance. The defense of the language, for him, means moving forward and learning that there are two distant Brazils, “one that speaks the official language and the other of certain common citizens who, using verses by the Pernambuco poet Manuel Bandeira, in the Evocation of Recife, speak the wrong language of the people, the right language of the people”.
The ABL’s new immortal highlighted that it is also necessary to understand that there is nothing more “modern, urgent, transformative, revolutionary and democratic than popular education”. In other words, “allowing Brazilians to be citizens and able, informed, to decide their destiny”.
He said that culture has to be seen with a broader view. “Understanding that we are different and going beyond, understanding that these differences worry us and that we will be even richer if we are able to honor these differences. It is understanding a people, who we are as Brazilians, and valuing nationality”.
In an interview with Agência Brasil, the first observation made by Cavalcanti Filho is that, in 125 years at the Academy, only one person from Pernambuco lived in Recife and continued to live in the capital of Pernambuco after the election, which was Mauro Mota, elected in 1970. “I am the second who continues to live in Recife”. He said that his election meant, for him, “a tribute that the Academy pays to Pernambuco”.
José Paulo Cavalcanti Filho said he was honored to participate as a new member of the institution and bet that his inauguration would be a party in Pernambuco. “Half of Pernambuco will invade the academy. It’s going to be a fun party,” he joked.
Chair 39 of the ABL had previously as occupants: Oliveira Lima (founder) – who chose Francisco Adolfo de Varnhagen as his patron –, Alberto de Faria, Rocha Pombo, Rodolfo Garcia, Elmano Cardim, Otto Lara Resende and Roberto Marinho.