Murilo Monteiro Mendes, the second child of Onofre Mendes and Elisa Valentina Monteiro de Barros, is born at a house on 4 Rua Direita (now Avenida Barão do Rio Branco), Alto dos Passos, Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, on May 13th, the day of the celebration of the abolition of slavery in Brazil.
On October 20th, Elisa Valentina Monteiro de Barros, a lady “fond of singing and of piano playing” dies in labor aged 28. Onofre Mendes would remarry Maria José Monteiro. About his second mother, the poet writes: “I have scratched the word ‘stepmother’ off my vocabulary.”
As the poet writes in “A idade do serrote”, at 7 years-old he learned to rhyme and to understand metrics with the poet Belmiro Braga, author of “Montezinas”, who allowed the boy into his library, where he would discover the works of Bocage, Antônio Nobre, Cesário Verde, Eça de Queirós, among others.
Murilo Mendes starts attending school at Colégio Moraes e Castro, in Juiz de Fora; he later is transferred to Colégio Malta.
Comet Halley is sighted. According to Murilo, the sighting of Halley manifests “the subversion of sight, the first idea of cosmos”, the call of his poetic soul: “Comet Halley has revealed to me the world of cosmic fables in a way that Manuel Bandeira says I have pierced my way through the skies while hanging onto that comet tail.”
Aged 11, he starts attending the Academia de Comércio, in Juiz de Fora, where he had a troubled school life, often skipping his classes to walk around the immense property of the priest, always observing plant and insect life. He is later transferred to Colégio Luciondo Filho, where the poet Machado Sobrinho was the school principal, and Murilo starts participating in the Literary Society Raimundo Correia.
At 14, he had read Jules Verne, La Fontaine and the masters of classical French theater: Racine, Corneille e Molière; under the orientation of his teacher Almeida Queirós, who aided him and offered him “The saint of saints, the magical piece of the arcs” from where he would take precious books from the 17th and 18th centuries, delaying his contact with Gérard de Nerval and Charles Baudelaire, under the claim of it not being the right time for their understanding.
Enchanted by a girl, he begins attending the School of Pharmacy of Juiz de Fora, soon dropping out of it alongside the girl.
He starts his literary activities, writing poems in prose while he attended Colégio Santa Rosa, in Niterói. An unruly student, Murilo runs away from the boarding school in July to see the ballets of Diaghilev and watch Nijinsky dance Le spectre de la rose, Sherazade e L’après-midi d’un faune, at the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro. The famous Russian ballet dancer is seen by the poet as his second annunciation toward poetry. Insubmissive, Murilo Mendes becomes a burden to his family, who tries to have him work as a telegrapher, a pharmacist, a book-keeper, a registry worker and as a French teacher in a school in Palmira, now the city of Santos Dummont.
Following the request of the young Maria Luiza Carvalho, his neighbor at Rua da Imperatriz, number 508, now Rua Marechal Deodoro da Fonseca, Juiz de Fora, he copies to her “lady’s notebook” a collection of poems of regional, national and Portuguese authors, with the intention of initiating her into reading poetry.
Under the acronym MMM (Murilo Monteiro Mendes) and later under the pen name De Medinacelli, he collaborates with the gazette A Tarde, from Juiz de Fora, writing a section called “Chronica Mundana”. At the end of the year, he moves to Rio de Janeiro with the invitation of his older brother, the engineer José Joaquim, and there he works as an archivist at the Ministry of Finances.
In the year of the celebration of the 100 years of the Independence of Brazil (1822) started in São Paulo, at the Municipal Theater, The Modern Art Week on the 13th, 15th and 17th of February.
As he gets closer to the world of the visual arts, Murilo Mendes is drawn by his friend Ismael Nery and by Reis Jr.
He collaborates on the second edition of Revista de Antropofagia (n. 14, July 1929) and he exhibits (31 works) of Ismael Nery at the Palace Hotel (Rio de Janeiro). He contributes to Revista Verde (Cataguases, year 1, n. 1, 2º phase, May 1929) with the poem “Canto Novo”.
Under Onofre Mendes’ incentive, the book “Poemas” (1925-1929) is published by Dias Cardoso Library and Publishing House (Juiz de Fora). This first book would win the Poetry Award of the Fundação Graça Aranha and would be considered by Mário de Andrade to be “the most historically important book of the year”.
Guignard paints the first portrait of the poet and in 1931 the second, in which a cubist painting of Nery, signed with the initials I.N, can be seen on the right-hand corner.
Between 1930 and 1931, the poet writes Bumba-meu-poeta, published by Revista Nova (São Paulo, year 2, n. 8, December. 1932).
He is painted by Portinari.
His poem-joke book “História do Brasil” is published by the publishing house Ariel (Rio de Janeiro). This book, excluded by the poet from his complete works “Poemas” 1925-1955 (José Olympio, 1959), would be edited again under the organization of the Italian philologist Luciana Stegagno Picchio, sixteen years after the poet’s passing.
Before the publishing of “História do Brasil”, Murilo contributed with some poems to the journal Boletim de Ariel.
He becomes a secondary school inspector in the Federal District and decides to publish “O sinal de Deus”, a book which was soon withdrawn from circulation.
Gustavo Campanema is appointed Secretary of the National Comittee of Children’s Literature, a division of the Ministry of Education and Health.
Murilo writes for the Lanterna Verde (Rio de Janeiro, ano 1, n. 4, nov.) magazine.
From July to September, he publishes numerous articles on the Dom Casmurro magazine from Rio de Janeiro.
The book “A Poesia em Pânico”, written between 1936 and 1937, is published by the publishing house Cooperativa Cultural Guanabara (Rio de Janeiro)
On the early hours of September 1st, the Second World War begins with the invasion of Poland by Hitler’s troops. When Salzburg is taken by the Germans, Murilo Mendes writes a telegraph to Hitler, protesting in the name of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
He meets the poet Maria da Saudade Cortesão, who resided in Brazil in the 1940s and 1950s, the daughter of Portuguese historian Jaime Cortesão, who had been exiled by the Portuguese government.
He starts a friendship with the couple of painters Arpad Szenes e Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, who, fleeing from Nazi persecution, lived in Brazil from 1940 to 1947.
The book “O visionário” (1930-1933) is published by the publishing house Editora José Olympio (Rio de Janeiro).
For the magazine Revista Acadêmica (Rio de Janeiro), he writes two articles: “C. D. A.” and “Duas palavras”.
In Brazil, the famousr Portuguese artist Vieira da Silva paints her friend Murilo Mendes.
Onofre Mendes passes away of tuberculosis, in Juiz de Fora. Murilo himself falls victim of the same disease and is admitted to Hospital Sanatório Boa Vista, in Correias, Rio de Janeiro, for six months.
Dedicated to “the memory of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart”, he publishes “As Metamorfoses”, which is composed of two volumes: “As metamorphoses” (1938) and “O véu do tempo” (1941). The book contains illustrations by Portinari and its cover is by Santa Rosa.
The book “Mundo Enigma” is published by the publishing house Globo (Porto Alegre). This book is composed of 38 poems written in 1842 and is dedicated to Maria da Saudade Cortesão. Meanwhile, the publishing house Editora Agir (Rio de Janeiro) edits a book in prose, O discípulo dos Emaús, written in 1943 and composed of 754 philosophical aphorisms.
During the rule of President José Linhares (1945-1946), Murilo receives a small registry due to his friendship with Magistrate Álvaro Moutinho Ribeiro da Costa.
He becomes a scribe for the 4th Family Court of the Federal District.
Between 1946 and 1948, he writes “Sonetos brancos”, composed of 22 sonnets, which would later be published in Poesias (1959).
He starts his collaboration with the journal Jornal de Letras de Artes, a supplement of the newspaper A Manhã (Rio de Janeiro), with a series of articles about music.
The second edition of ‘O discípulo dos Emaús” is published in Rio de Janeiro.
Under the title “Memories of Ismael Nery”, Murilo publishes simultaneously on the Letras e Artes, a supplement of the newspaper A Manhã and on the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo 17 chronicles that deal with Nery’s ideas.
A rare edition of “Janela do caos”, a poem that is part of “Poesia liberdade”, is published in Paris by Imprimerie Union, composed of 11 poems and illustrated by French painter Picabia.
In Rio de Janeiro, the poet meets the writer and absurdist philosopher Albert Camus, who defines Murilo Mendes in Diário de viagem as a man of “resistaent resistant and refined spirit”, yet melancholy.
Flávio de Carvalho draws two portraits of Murilo Mendes.
He travels to Europe for the first time where he sees Albert Camus again and starts a friendship with André Breton, René Char, Magritte and others.
At the Sobornne (Paris), he gives a speech about his recently departed friend Jorge de Lima. Between 1953 and 1956, he continues his cultural mission in Holland and Belgium, offering courses and speaking about diverse aspects of Brazil.
He meets Italian painter Alberto Magnelli.
He visits Brazil and gives speeches in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
The poet intends to travel to Spain as a literature professor, yet his visa is denied and he is considered persona non grata by the dictatorial Spanish government.
He moves to Italy aged 56, having been hired by the Ministry of International Relations to teach Brazilian Studies at the Universities of Rome and Pisa.
His first apartment in Rome is located at 64 Viale Castro Pretorio, yet he soons moves to a new apartment on 6 Via Del Consolato, which would become a place for intellectuals and artists to meet.
Office humain is published by Pierre Seghers (Paris), with translations by Dominique Braga and Maria da Saudade Cortesão Mendes.
He publishes Poemas (1925-1955), a compilation of all his works, with the exception of “O sinal de Deus” and “História do Brasil”.
In Italy, he publishes Siciliana, a bilingual text translated by Giuseppe Ungaretti and in Portugal he publishes “Tempo espanhol”.
The record POESIAS: Murilo Mendes & João Cabral de Melo Neto is released by the label Festa (São Paulo). Under the direction of Irineu Garcia and Carlos Ribeiro and with cover art by Paty Lazarotto, the record contains two sides dedicated to the two poets. On side A, Murilo Mendes reads 8 of his poems: “Jandira”, “A sesta”, “Metafísica da moda”, “Metade pássaro”, “Poema barroco”, “A marcha da História”, “A ceia sinistra” and “Pastoral”.
A bilingual edition (Portuguese-Italian) of Murilo Mendes’ book “Introdução à poesia” is organized by Ruggero Jacobbi, with translations by the organizer, Luciana Stegagno Picchio, Chiochio and Ungaretti.
The journal Revista de Cultura Brasileña (Madrid) publishes “Siete poemas inéditos”, translated by Dámaso Alonso and Ángel Crespo.
Murilo is one of the poets selected for the Swedish anthology Fem brasilianska poeter (Estocolmo: Ed. P. A. Norsdedt & Soners).
Having Murilo Mendes’ poetry translated to Italian by Ruggero Jacobbi as a reference, Luigi Dallapiccola writes the musical piece Preghiere (Sex Carmina Alcaei. Music Today) for baritone and chamber orchestra.
An exhibition of the painter Alberto Magnelli’s works takes place at the Strozzi Palace, in Florence. Murilo Mendes is responsible for writing the introduction of the exhibition’s catalog.
He returns to Brazil with the mission of selecting artists for the 32nd Venice Biennale. The Brazilian delegation is composed of: Tarsila do Amaral, Volpi, Mavigner, Palatnik, Weissmann, Glauco Rodrigues e Maria Bonomi, artists who embody the “spirit of modern art and the spirit of constant change and the severity of the artistic search.”
“Antologia poética” is published by Livraria Moraes Editora, in Lisbon.
The colection Poeti Europei, supervised by Ruggero Jacobbi, Le metamorfosi is published in Italy by Editora Lerici.
Murilo Mendes returns to his origins with the memory book “A idade do serrate”, written between 1965 and 1966 and published by Editora Sabiá.
He published the book “Convergência” (São Paulo: Duas Cidades), with poems written between 1963 and 1966.
He participates in collective anthologies in Germany and Argentina. In Brazil, the book “Murilo Mendes”, supervised by Laís Corrêa de Araújo is published by Vozes (Petrópolis) and “Poliedro” is published by Editora José Olympio (Rio de Janeiro).
Murilo Mendes is awarded with the International Poetry Prize Etna-Taormina, which had been previously given to Dylan Thomas, Jorge Guillén, Salvatore Quasimodo and Ungaretti, among others.
After years abroad, he visits Brazil in August.
The Cultural Council of the State of São Paulo publishes the first series of the book “Retratos-relâmpago” (1965-1966).
The traditional Viareggio Prize, named the Italian Prix Goncourt, which for 40 years had been awarding the best works written in Italian and had been given to Pablo Neruda (1968), is granted to Murilo Mendes.
Murilo Mendes passes away of a sudden cardiac syncope at the house of his father-in-law Jaime Cortesão.
Shot between 1971 (Rome) and 1977 (São Paulo), the documentary “Murilo Mendes: a poesia em pânico”, written and directed by Alexandre Eulálio receives Governador do Estado de São Paulo Award for the best short documentary.
The Federal University of Juiz de Fora approves the donation of Murilo’s personal library by the poets widow, Maria da Saudade Cortesão Mendes.
In Italy, the poem book “Ipotesi” (Roma: Guanda) is published.
“La virgen imprudente y otros poemas” (Buenos Aires: Calicanto Editorial) and “29 Poemas” (Lima: Centro de Estudos Brasileños) are published.
The poems “Ipotesi” are published by the magazine Revisté a Unionii Scriitorilor Din R. S. Steau.
The poet Affonso Romano de Sant’Anna publishes the anthology “O menino experimental” (São Paulo: Editora Sammus).
The prose works of Murilo Mendes are published in the book “Transístor” (Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira). The texts were selected by Maria da Saudade Cortesão Mendes and the introduction of the book is by Luciana Stegagno Picchio.
Pietro Maria Bardi organizes the exhibition Brazil-Italy: a Brazilian poet in Italy, Murilo Mendes | an Italian poet in Brazil, Giuseppe Ungaretti, which took place in the Museum of Art of São Paulo (MASP).
The Modern Arts Center of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon) hosts the exhibition “O olhar do poeta”, organized by Maria da Saudade e João Nuno Alçada, which focuses on Murilo Mendes’ notorious interest for the visual arts: texts and collections. The exhibition was composed of 155 works of 47 foreign artists and 4 Brazilian artists, and the poet’s collection would be acquired by the Federal University of Juiz de Fora in 1993.
250 luxury editions of “Janelas verdes” are published by Galeria 111 (Lisboa). These editions have illustrations, including an original picture by Vieira da Silva and a preface by Luciana Stegagno Picchio.
A new edition of “História do Brasil”, with introduction, organization and footnotes by Luciana Stegagno Picchio is published by Nova Fronteira (Rio de Janeiro), 16 years after the poet’s death. Picchio writes “This book is unrepeatable in the Brazilian literature and is singular within the poet’s own path.”
The Portuguese magazine Colóquio: Letras (n. 129/130, jul./dez.) published the poems of the book Ipotesi, as translated by Maria da Saudade Cortesão Mendes.
In the Brazilian Embassy in Lisbon, A Transference Term of Murilo Mendes’ Art Collection is signed by the poet’s widow Maria da Saudade Cortesão Mendes and by representatives of the Brazilian government (envoys from the Brazilian Embassy, the Ministry of Education and the Federal University of Juiz de Fora). Works by Brazilian and foreign artists were then transferred to the Federal University of Juiz de Fora.
The Murilo Mendes Study Center (CEMM) is opened by the Federal University of Juiz de Fora. The President of Brazil, Itamar Franco, state ministers, ambassadors and other authorities were present at the opening ceremony, which took place at the townhouse of the Faculties of Philosophy and Literature (FAFILE), on 3372 Avenida Rio Branco.
The book “Murilo Mendes: obra completa e prosa” is published by Nova Aguilar (Rio de Janeiro). The organization, selection of texts, footnotes and introduction are by philologist Luciana Stegagno Picchio.
The Murilo Mendes Study Center becomes the Murilo Mendes Art Museum (MAMM), opened on December 20th, 2005. The museum’s mission is to keep track of the collections, to broaden the understanding of the poet’s dialogue with the world of the visual arts and to preserve the literary history of Juiz de Fora.