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Educação & Realidade

versão impressa ISSN 0100-3143versão On-line ISSN 2175-6236

Educ. Real. vol.44 no.3 Porto Alegre  2019  Epub 12-Ago-2019 


When Bureaucracy is Literature: the literariness in the reports of Graciliano Ramos

Adreana Dulcina PlattI

Ubaldo Cesar BalthazarII

Frederico Augusto Garcia FernandesI

IUniversidade Estadual de Londrina (UEL), Londrina/PR - Brazil

IIUniversidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), Florianópolis/SC - Brazil


This study is in the realm of the pedagogical use of literary expression that identifies literary aspects in historical narratives. We deal with the concept of literariness in the reports of Mayor Graciliano Ramos between 1929 and 1930. The historical rescue of the administrative routine reveals how the literary education of the author emerges in a poetic reality and objectivity despite of its bureaucratic nature. This article discusses the basic principals of the municipal public function under the aegis of the Constitution of 1891, in a way to identify the literary and stylistic resistance of the author. We then consider some aspects such as: verisimilitude, allegory, metaphors, and irony presented in the reports, which demonstrate the pedagogical virtues of a literary text.

Keywords: State Bureaucracy; Municipal Reports; Literature; Graciliano Ramos


O estudo se orienta ao uso pedagógico da expressão literária que aponte os elementos de literariedade em narrativas históricas. Para isso, verificamos a literariedade presente nos relatórios do prefeito Graciliano Ramos, produzidos entre 1929 e 1930. O resgate histórico da rotina administrativa revela a educação literária do autor, repleta de realidade poética e objetividade, ainda que burocrática. Preliminarmente, apresentamos os fundamentos da função pública municipal, sob a égide da Constituição de 1891, para reconhecer a resistência literária e estilística do autor. Consideramos os traços de verossimilhança, alegoria, metáforas, ironia, caricatos nos relatórios, suficientes para apontar as virtudes pedagógicas de um texto literário.

Palavras-chave: Burocracia de Estado; Relatórios municipais; Literatura; Graciliano Ramos


Graciliano Ramos was one of the most eminent political representatives of country during the years 1929 and 1930. At that time, he was elected mayor of the municipality of Palmeira dos Índios, located in the state of Alagoas, Brazilian Northeast region.

Some questions spring from the fact that is it possible to recognize, through a literary strategy and oriented pedagogically, the profile of a mature writer as a counterpoint to his other textual productions, even taking into consideration unpretentious literary texts? Can we consider the bureaucratic writing of a mayor as an instrument to understand literary practices and unique literary traces from a renowned writer like Graciliano Ramos?

The first part of this study consists to understand the Brazilian administrative context, which requires the municipal administrator to deal with standard "administrative letters". We do not intend to limit our attention to the historical aspects identified in the reports but instead we will focus on pedagogical aspects as well as literary artifices encompassed by the work of writer Graciliano Ramos.

We propose, as methodology, a pedagogical perspective, and elements of literariness found in historical narratives. According to the Formalist conception, literariness can be identified by stylistic, semiotic and sociological marks in the language that distinguish literary works from ordinary texts, in order to highlight semantic and phonetic aspects of language, and to direct them toward a literary system. Thus, the theory of "immanence" was adopted in this study to identify and analyzing clues in the Graciliano Ramos' reports, which allow us to detect an elaborate use of language. The methodology of this investigation is based on the analysis of excerpts from the Gracialiano Ramos' governance management plane, written during his term as mayor in Palmeira dos Índios. Furthermore, sociological aspects can be apprehending through a reflexive counterpoint in the use of report as a constitutional and letgal category and, at the same time, the use of metaphors, ironies and allegories performing political ideologies.

In order to understand the movement of the administrative routine of Graciliano Ramos, we preliminarily present the concept and fundamentals of municipality, its public attributes and expedients established by the 1891 Constitution, for examining literary education and the author's literary style. In this sense, we begin this study by highlighting the tripartition of independent powers in the newly inaugurated republican societies (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary), which support a bureaucratic rationality as their autonomy aims at public interest laid down by the republican and federated architecture model. Before that, the power of the sovereign king "encased unlimited powers" in a single will-body of sovereign: civil/political/legal/economic (Bonavides, 2000, p. 170); now, the people and monarch separate to form, respectively, civil and political society. Conforming to this model of separation, sovereign power is concentrated on people, and the political subject remains the representation of sovereignty.

The State moves towards the articulation of a routine based on the control and evaluation commands of the entities (municipalities, states and federation) of the sovereign State. The routine description of the mandate would be systematized into administrative "letters", known as reports (partial or final) of the constitutional terms. These issues justify the preparation of the 1929 and 1930 reports, referring to the mandate assumed by Graciliano Ramos in the municipality of Palmeira dos Índios.

Initially, we probably that this renowned writer was sworn during a newly established republic, characterized by the old patrimonialism, which has been setting up the roots of the Brazilian political framework since then (Faoro, 1985; Fernandes, 1976; Holanda, 2016; Sodré, 1962).

Under the guilds of the 1891 Federal Constitution (which lasted until 1932) and the 1916 Civil Code (which lasted until 2002), the candidate holding the maximum position of the local authority would have a context of local policy arrangements, even unconnected with the public sense which governs politically, economically and juridically modern nations. The Brazilian Northeastern context also is an important point of analysis, increasingly identified with the peculiar colonialist constitution of the period in which Graciliano Ramos assumed his duties as mayor of Palmeira do Índios.

Reports of the Executive Mandate in the Context of the 1891 Constitution

The autonomy and competencies of the municipality grew as the democratic process was resumed in the country. The promulgation of the 1988 Constitution of the Republic has set the municipality as an integral member of the Brazilian federation. Today, the municipality has political, legislative, administrative, financial and organizational autonomy, a relevant and innovative feature of Brazilian federalism. The new federative pact, resulting from the Constitution, foresees the distribution of competences, responsibilities, rights and obligations, among the spheres of government, which allowed, for example, a better distribution of resources to meet the demands of the population and rights of citizenship (Brasil, 2008, p. 7).

The republican and democratic order has been governed by the auspices of the law since 1789. The tripartition of powers - Executive, Legislative and Judicial - confers on the same entity (State) the prerogative to represent the sovereign power that emanates from people, by lawful means. This model of power arose during the bourgeois revolts that broke in the world during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The liberal revolution in Brazil (in the 19th century), despite of its patrimonialist profile, was a consequence of the political, economic and social tensions that, in effect, concerns the new European Republican Order. A new social contract demanded new articulations, lead by a State in which slavery and rural elite's ideology confronted the liberal and bourgeois creeds.

The Brazilian Federal Constitution of the First Republic - an important element for legal support in the new liberal and legal republicanism - dates from 1891 and was extended to 1934. We can identify some elements that describe a republican and liberal state of law: the independence of the powers (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary), the consolidation of private property, the federalist model (decentralized in federated entities), separation of church and state, vote and constitutional presidentialism, in a clear "inspiration in the Constitution of the United States of America". According to Bonavides (2000, p. 168), the republican constitutionalism, that lasted from 1891 to 1934, left profound transformations which affected the old constitutional system of the Empire. Following the author, this constitutionalism can be characterized by American ideologies and adoption of a federative model, counterposed by Rui Barbosa during that time.

In that context, there was a republican order unveiling new social relationships, that requires the transit of a civil autonomy, based on legal and administrative State rationality. In the opinion of Matias-Pereira (2010, p. 110), in a turbulent environment due to social changes, the State must reaffirm its relevance. The State must adopt a role as an inducer and mediator that is put intelligently into social representative negotiations. Only in this way the State can promote the public value, the generation of social capital and the division of responsibilities.

The 1891 Federal Constitution is emblematic for this study, due to it encompassed the Graciliano Ramos' term as mayor of Palmeira dos Índios, when he ruled under its aegis. The principles of this Constitution were in line with the public life at that time, in a way to promote the valorization of common goods and property, as well as disseminating liberal ideas. "The basic principles guiding the course [...] of the public sector [...] are: transparency, fairness, compliance with laws, of accounts and ethical conduct (Matias-Pereira, 2010, p.111).

The expected performance of local public administrator was to resolve local issues under the new political, legal, administrative and economic order, invested with constitutional delegation of power and limited autonomy.

Art. 5 - Every State must fulfill, at its own expense, the government and administration needs; the Federal Government shall, however, render assistance to the State which, in case of public calamity, request it. [...] (Brasil, 1891).

There is nothing about head of state's obligations concerning the accountability. However, by analogy, we can suppose that the President of Republic's obligations are extend to governors and mayors. As stated by 1891 Brazilian Federal Constitution, the President must:

9º) report annually the situation of the Country to the National Congress, indicating urgent measures and reforms, in a message that will be sent to the Secretary of the Senate on the opening day of the Legislative Session; [...] (Brasil, 1891).

Consequently, annual reports were required to governors and mayors. The objection to this accountability lies on the question of representativeness: while the elected president (although the body of electors is quite restrictive) must to be accountable to the National Congress, governors and mayors position are specified by law as being open for direct appointment in the 1891 Brazilian Federal Constitution, and must be accountable, respectively, to the president and to the governor (Leal, 2012, p. 59 and 81).

The municipal administrative duties as specified by 1891 Constitution suffered deep alterations related to 1824 one. While the 1824 Constitution proclaimed decentralization and limited autonomy to municipalities (or communes), the 1891 Constitution clearly receded, fearing the arise of state federalization:

From the strictly legal point of view, it is evident that the Federal Constitution admitted restrictions to the administrative and political autonomy of the communes. The municipal autonomy, according to art. 68 [1891 Federal Constitution], was referred to the notion of "peculiar interest" of municipalities, but this auxiliary concept was not defined in the constitutional text. To the state constitutional legislator, and within the limits allowed by it, to the ordinary legislator, he played the task of discriminating the subjects and limits of municipal competence (Leal, 2012, p. 81-82).

Currently, city halls have other elements for evaluation, supervision and control, including the accountability to higher federal agencies. However, we point out that principles of supervision and control have always constituted the public and bureaucratic administration.

Graciliano Ramos in the Palmeira dos Índios City Hall: the context of representation in Brazil (late 19th and early 20th century)

After the Brazilian Imperial regime in 1889, elections were set for public offices in the Brazilian Federal Government and for House of Representatives. According to Felisbino (2011) and Matias-Pereira (2010), the presidential elections, which at that time occurred every 4 years and the inaugural used to be in November, did not have any federal interference in states internal politics, which used to choose an official candidate for President. Generally, the President of Republic accustomed to support state presidents (governors) in their choice of their successors, which in turn gave political support to federal government, including the election of senators and deputies attuned to new president's proposals. Thus, the parliamentary benches did not obstruct the work of the president-elect, ensuring autonomy to the republic and states, as well as municipalities, since the governors did not interfere in their policies.

Elections for governors and mayors, as well as state deputies and city councilors are possible due to an issued state autonomy for holding them (Barreiros Neto, 2009, p.3).

As stated by Nicolau (2002 apud Barreiros Neto, 2009, p. 3): "the status given to municipal politics", due to the "autonomy" issued by Federal Constitution, changes in some states: while some of them could hold elections, other councilors could perform as mayors, or even some mayors could be nominated by the governor. Generally, the mayors nominated by governors were important local leaders for the maintenance of power, acting as a kind of "voting fodder" and serving interests of federal politicians or state political elites. Electoral frauds were widespread, being perceptible along the whole process. Two practices became well-known in the elections: the "quill pen" and the "sticking". The first one consisted in the adulteration of the polling minutes elaborated by voluntaries, responsible for the poll stations. The sticking consisted in a more complex process: there was a commission, established by the Chamber of Deputies, to draw up a list of deputies "legitimate for the candidacy"; and stakeholders, who controlled this commission, hampered the recognition of opposition members' diplomas. The sticking stratagem was widely used during the Brazilian First Republic.

Authors such as Leal (2012) and Barreiros Neto (2009) point out a lack of uniformity in municipal polls (for mayor or councils), alternating elections and governors' nominations. Only the 1934 Federal Constitution will regularize elections for mayors. In 1891, prevailed a lack of objectivity for mayor tasks, and they could be interpreted in accordance with state constitution (Leal, 2012, p 116).

Mayor Graciliano Ramos and his Local File

I had to conform; I could not work in a different way. Living in graves, I have been busy reporting corpses (Graciliano Ramos, 1970).

For the positions of municipal administration, they choose preferably imbeciles and thief. I am not a thieves, and despite I have some screws slightly loose in my head, I am not an idiot. I am not able to do this job, and I will resign someday (Graciliano Ramos, letter written to his wife, Heloísa de Medeiros Ramos).

Dennis de Moraes (2012) observes that Graciliano Ramos was a mayor who had impoverished in 27 months. His passage through Palmeira dos Índios City Hall was a milestone translated into a candidate without opposition: in fact, there was a consensus between governors and non-governors acting on his behalf. He was "everyone's candidate"! The history also highlights his good relationship with Álvaro Paes the Alagoas governor at that time.

Graciliano Ramos won the election by 433 votes in October 1927. Without opposition and with great popular, he did not make promises or spread pamphlets. He did not even have a political platform. According to Moraes (2012), Graciliano Ramos was a revolutionary paladin during his term as mayor. Besides, he confronted the Northeast status quo by opposing the will of "coronéis" (landowners that represent political local elite) in public and private affairs. In 1927, the head of Palmeira dos Índios inherited bankrupt assets, with the public account in low-balance, and he could barely pay the salary of employees. His initial management proceedings consisted of instructing tax controllers to levy taxes accurately, to collect unpaid invoices, and to extinguish tax exemptions for political leaders, wealthy merchants, and major landowners.

Among Graciliano Ramos' achievements that we can highlight are the approval of Code of Conduct, which consisted in 82 articles guiding public life, focusing on the "citizens' rights and duties"; the cleanliness of public places, and the construction of eight-meters wide roads. Moreover, Ramos built three schools during his short term (Moraes, 2012). He has controlled with "iron hand" the general administrative expenses and adopted as basic criterion "do not spend more than you earn". "He has taken notes of the purpose of expenditures, the amount paid, and the name of beneficiary [...]" (Moraes, 2012).

Moraes (2012) draw attention to the fact that Graciliano Ramos performed objectively and firmly his duties as mayor. His attitudes as a public manager gave him credibility with the poorest people, that recognized him as affable with their demands. In addition, he supervised public works, kept his office opened to the public without appointment, and talked with friends and citizens about his administrative purposes.

The opinions on Graciliano Ramos's administration usually fail to enlighten us about possible advances and social losses during his rule or they describe passionately his tasks. The worldwide 1929 crisis, that caused a significant restructuring in the capitalist production mode, surely, reacheed Brazil, which supported the international capital. However, there is a lack of studies concerning the mayors' administrative practices in Brazil during this period and their impact in the local life.

The Reports of 1929 and 1930: Is There Literariness in the Bureaucracy?

The reports written by Graciliano Ramos are a milestone of Brazilian literature, in the opinion of Moraes (2012). With an elegant style, the author did not insult local or regional administrations. Many scholars distinguish the features of his work.

Whether a novelist, storyteller, or memoirist, the uncompromising writer who is responsible for a flawless language, continues to expand himself beyond the conquered space. This writer, who was able to renew the Northeastern saga by establishing the links between documentary and psychological inquiry - in a Classical style - must be the fictionist of unlimited perception forever. The social consequences, based on the human creature, are his concern. For this reason, the movement of figures and the setting of scenarios, characters and social types are intertwined with a sort of epiphany of a time and a mankind through literary complementation (National Library of Rio de Janeiro, 1963, preface).

Erwin T. Gimenez (2009, p.232) describes the literary profile of Graciliano Ramos as a writer who "[...] purifies the form from a classic for a better understanding of the pure core of Modernity[...]". This rigor surpasses his condition of writer and vociferous in the daily life: "[...] as more contracted his lucid sense of writer, as more accurate becomes his glance to the objects, emerging through the tension between self and world, between time and space, between dreamt and lived life" (Gimenez, 2009, p. 232).

The writer distills a "strange lyric" which, for Gimenez (2009, p.232), "does not dissipate in the world" because it does not surrender, keeping the tension in a "high degree". Graciliano Ramos will be distinguished by living his consciousness, dealing acutely and extravagantly with objective and subjective impressions, always in dialogue with soul (psyche) and daily life conflicts (Gimenez, 2009, p. 233). His narrative in first person "[...] reaches sometimes the maximum of irony, i.e., getting close the narrator-protagonist in a third person perspective, causing an ironic effect, as well as shies away from fictional world" (Gimenez, 2009, page 233).

Some of these aspects can be observed in the 1930 report:

In the last year budget there were a suppression of several taxes that existed in 1928 [...]. I did not employ excessive rigors. I just did this: I removed privileges widely bestowed on people who do not need them and put an end to extortions that affected ordinary and penniless people mistreated by collectors.

The City Hall was deceived in 1920, when a supply of light agreement was signed. Despite the agreement regards light, it was signed in the dark. It's a bluff. We are even paying for the moonlight.

[Concerning the three schools built during his administration] I assume that the efficiency of these institutions is questionable. All of teachers' applicants demonstrated a regrettable ignorance. Some of them were hired, and schools are operating normally, like other ones. I do not think students will learn good lessons. Meanwhile, they will get skills for reading newspapers and almanacs, discussing politics, and memorizing sonnets by heart, amusement available for almost all villagers.

[Concerning the public] POOR AND SUFFERING PEOPLE: It is an interesting class of taxpayers, modest in number, but quite strong. It gathers businessmen, landowners, manufacturers, impetuous moneylenders skinning the next with Jewish interest. Well-fed and drunk, the suffering people want schools, electric light, roads, and health. Demanding and grumpy, everyone is clear that there is no free lunch, but each one from this respectable social classes thinks taxes should be paid by others.

[City projects] PROJECTS: [Projects for the city] PROJECTS: I have several, of dubious execution. I will be able to compete for the increase of production and, consequently, of the collection. But a few weeks of rain or drought ruin the crops, dismantle everything - and the projects die. I will start, if there are resources, urban works. [...] I will pitch, if I can, some streets. I also have the idea of starting the construction of dams in the backlands. But to sow promises that I do not know will bear fruit? I will report in detail to the plans that I referred to when they are executed if this happens. I will, however, be satisfied if I bring to an end the works I have engrafted. It is a moderate, achievable pretense. If it does not perform, the damage will not be great. The municipality, which waited two years, expects one more. Get a clever fellow in the City Hall and avenges yourself telling me snakes and lizards. Peace and prosperity (Ramos, 1930).

According to Moraes (2012), the reports addressed to then-Governor of Alagoas Álvaro Paes, produced during 1929 and 1930, were the Graciliano's striking project management. These administrative reports are not boring as they use to be. They were written in a bold style, with colloquial language, corrosive irony, revealing a literary talent and stunning images. At the same time, Graciano's reports have concision and clear arguments, justifying his administrative actions, difficulties and findings.

Many authors and publications about Graciliano Ramos have been emphasized a literary bias, irony, psychic and social analysis in his administrative reports. Nunes (1992) describes the quality of the Graciliano's reports, which have gained fame, making Palmeira dos Índios a reference around the country, and encouraged mayors to publish their administrative reports.

The Structure of Narrative in the Graciliano Ramos' Reports

Our analysis on Graciliano Ramos' reports aim to discuss how his narrative is organized. We are based on the premise that the narrator is the most significative element of a narrative, as is the case for Graciliano Ramos narrating his experiences as mayor of Palmeira dos Índios. In this way, "without facts there is no [history], and characters live facts in a time and space" (Gancho, 1991, p. 9), the narrator is responsible for typifying the genre. Narrators organize the language of narrative, they perform between what is narrated and the reader.

Maybe it is an unnecessary statement. The report I am mailing you renders account on operating expenses in Palmeira dos Índios City Hall, in 1929. This posted balance sheet has many details which excited the benevolent shock of press. I am just repeating the facts I have already narrated, underpinned for accounts and numerous balance sheets (Ramos, 1930, p. 1).

The plot places the events in an elaborate language, thus the administrative events almost are narrated in an intradiegetic narrative, as it appears in the above example. The cold and distant narrative, proper to administrative reports, gives place to the narrator experience, raw material of literary narrative. The report is focused on the conflicts of a public manager, which contrasts his human choices with his authority of a mayor. Then, an inner tension frames the story of Graciliano as public manager. The narrator overpasses the regular bureaucratic language of an administrative report, using acute metaphors for describing the daily facts rather than technical terms. Therefore, the report highlights a "way-to-do", i.e., the description of practical actions is full of human experience, boosting the administrative report to a poetic narrative. A similar construction can be noted in Os sertões, by Euclides da Cunha, which describes the Canudos riot. In Gancho's opinion (1991, p.10), the facts in a narrative must correspond in "verisimilitude" to the reality, although they are not obligate to "correspond exactly to events arisen in the universe outside the text." This statement leads us to understand that the facts in a narrative correspond to a feasible reality in the reader's imagination.

In the excerpt of 1930 Graciliano Ramos' report we can realize the treatment given to the facts:

The last year budget there were a suppression of several rates that existed in 1928. However, revenue estimated in 68:850$000 reached 96:924$985. I did not manage using excessive rigors. I just did this: I removed privileges widely bestowed on people who do not need them and put an end to extortions that affected ordinary and penniless people mistreated by collectors. I adopted in the begin of my term fair and affordable taxes. It does not make sense adopt them in the second-year term. Revenues in 1928 has increased considerably, and I faced serious irregularities which hampered the final amount of revenues.

The excerpt presents verisimilitude necessary to development of the author's ideas - "a beginning, a middle and an end" - based on "structural element: the conflict" (Gancho, 1991, p.10).

As argued by Gancho (1991, p.11), the conflict in the narrative can reach any of the components of the story, i.e., characters, facts, environment, ideas, emotions, etc. Tension acts to organize events and facts, as well as, to grab the attention of reader.

The mayor was under the First Republican Constitution, which encompasses changes in economy, society, political and legal rules, facing the traditional and conservative practices regarding to the privileges of local elite (Leal, 2012). Then, - Graciliano Ramos could not be indifferent to all that. The Northeast macro-political and macroeconomic reality have spread to many villages and towns.

I have made repairs in some properties, fixed the streets and especially looked after the road. Like a spider web, there are many picturesque paths, twisting in precious curves, climbing hills and descending valleys in incredible ways. The road that goes to Quebrangulo, for example, is an original product of Tupi engineering, many parts of it can only be transited by Ford cars or special trucks. I regret spending public money trying to fix them.


I have found regions once prosperous; arable lands used to almost wild animals. The population waned, migrated to the South or moved to nearby towns or villages near to borders which risen like leeches. These people vegetated in deplorable abandonment (Ramos, 1930).

The narrator depicts in detail the scenarios:

The municipal administration must pay 11:457$497 regarding the salaries of the mayor, two secretaries (one effective, another one in pension), two inspectors, a servant; services of printing, official publications, newspaper subscriptions, books, basic items to secretary, and telegrams. Telegrams are not a burden in the municipal budget, but we spend a considerable amount of money with them. Every path opened by a villager, ordered by controllers, comes out as a municipal administration construction. Local celebrations are unnecessarily noticed to the State Government; all political events are noticed. If the Bastille was dropped, they send a telegram; if a stone was laid, another telegram; if deputy F. passed away - a telegram. A complete waste of money. Everyone knows that these practices are very popular here, everyone knows that the deputy died, we cried, and that D. ​​Pero Sardinha was eaten by aboriginals Caetés in 1559 (Ramos, 1929).

Irony is used widely by the narrator:

I have buried 189$000 in the cemetery - gravediggers' salaries and maintenance.


The taxes collection cost 5:602$244. They were very expensive because the debtors are stubborn. I have addressed the following message to the council: here taxpayers pay if they want, when they want and how they want.


Villagers has been complained in my ears about the abandonment of main entrance for several months. As soon as mason roads reached there, they started to complain about the cost, "a fortune for fixing it". It probably gets some money, but not as much as the pyramids of Egypt.


There is a municipal Conduct Code. It is something intangible and obscure. I have hardly searched and looked for it. Almost, have invoked the Spiritism for helping me, and I have become convinced that the Code was a sort of werewolf (Ramos, 1929).

Graciliano Ramos describes in the 1930 report his opponents:

We are striving to provide basic needs to Palmeira dos Índios. However, it is strongly opposed by some auctioneers, supports of conservative administrative methods. According to them, we should be more condescending, do not burden their comrades, and be rigorous only with wretches, with no protection; reduce revenues, as well as expenses and the salaries of employees; let the Federal or State Government making public constructions or, failing that, the Divine Providence.


I have promoted the agriculture by getting rid of wild animals; attacking the naughty feudal lords which explores disadvantaged people; suppressing intermediary dealers in rural affairs; facilitating transportation; and encouraging relations between producer and consumer.


Some former mayors encouraged urban works, others, enemies of innovations, did not make anything. I think none of them has ever worked in suburbs.


Long time ago, the Municipal Public Agents used to be squint. When one of them is unhappy and tired of begging for what he is entitled to by right, he takes a heroic decision: he packs his belongings and goes to the capital city under God protection. The secretary punishes him by asking for a police intervention and many mayors think it is reasonable (Ramos, 1930).

Based on the above comments on Graciliano Ramos' 1929 and 1930 reports, it is clear that the irony grounds his narrative. The events are composed in an elaborated language which reaches the climax by highlighting the narrator's experience to solve daily problems. The characters composed a frame of reference for human understanding. The author composes his reports as accurate as his literary works.

Elements of Literariness as a Pedagogical Resource for the Recognition of a Literary Text

Literary educational practices aim to develop our senses for distinguishing a literary work from a non-literary one. Contemporaneously, the meaning of what we could consider literature has been extended, by recognizing the different styles and usages of narrative experimentalism by authors. The understanding of a text deals with many senses immersed int the narrative, shaping narrative operators, in a structuralist perspective, as well as boosts a dramatic conflict (Franco Júnior, 2009, 34).

In a literary work, the linguistic elaboration changes not only how we communicate a text but also reconstructs the reality, transcending our perspective of world.

Briefly, literariness can be understood as one or more than one linguistic procedure that confer distinctive features on the literary object. Therefore, it is not a question of content, idea, image, emotion; even there are no literary themes [...]. The themes will be literary once they are processed literarily (Gagliardi, 2010, p. 285).

The reports elaborated by Graciliano Ramos in the years of 1929 and 1930 transcend the reality since the meaning was setting by the language in a different and unique style, resulting in a singular work. Thus, we can understand that his reports can be "processed literarily", as stated by Gagliardi (2010).

As we maintain above, the recurrent usage of figures of speech such as: irony ("Some former mayors encouraged urban works, others, enemies of innovations, did not make anything. I think none of them has ever worked in suburbs"), metaphor ("Villagers has been complained in my ears about the abandonment of main entrance for several months [...] ") or the emphasis in the verisimilitude ("The last year budget there were a suppression of several rates that existed in 1928 [...] "), among others, indicates a kind of narrative operation through which the author will compose his/her textual architecture. Such genuine way to compose can be find in Graciliano's novels conventionally accepted as literary works, as well as his bureaucratic reports during his term as mayor of Palmeira dos Índios.

The second generation of Brazilian Modernists was characterized by Regionalism. The Northeastern people identity and behavior have deep strings with the native land, and they made up the Graciliano Ramos' writings. Thus, the author, the fictional drama and the social context are intertwined. Antonio Candido (1996, p.9) states: "[...] every great writer has, at least, one of these three concerns: psychological sense, sociological sense and aesthetic sense".

The Graciliano Ramos' reports emphasize the suffering of Northeastern people by their social insecurity and a lack of public policies acting in social issues. The booth voices - the author as well as the mayor Graciliano Ramos - intertwines with his narrative, performing a powerful and substantive literariness, not only using figure of speeches, but by developing the dramatic conflict in the narrative, based on coherent thinking (Franco Júnior, 2009, 34). In other words, the analysis of narrative will be the analysis of dramatic conflict through a literary treatment. Concerning the aesthetic composition of the dramatic conflict in the literary works, Franco Júnior (2009, pp. 35-36) observes that the conflict does not "minimize events" nor "reduce the degree of ambiguity in favor of objectivity". Meanwhile, the conflict will be explored "[...] in order to arouse and maintain the interest of the reader and also because its greater degree of ambiguity attributed to facts and/or elements of history." Ambiguities and dramatic conflict sustain the discourse, continually appealing to reader's interpretation.

In the analysis of literary narrative operators in the Graciliano Ramos' reports, we objectively point out some aspects of author and work, and the existence of literariness in bureaucratic public documents, which are not considered as literature, let alone a canonical work.


This article allows us to interpret and analyzes the 1929 and 1930 Graciliano Ramos' reports, via literary theorists. We aim to demonstrate that the literary verve during the writing of his reports and the literariness marks in his literary works are not distinct, even the literariness was found in a text connected with the public bureaucracy. These reports demonstrate a strong presence of the Graciliano Ramos' style and his way of being.

Verisimilitude, allegory, metaphor, and his singular textual architecture carry us to an unexpected literary treat. The Graciliano Ramos' reports constitute themselves as an analysis which exemplifies how the public documents narratives can bring together elements of literariness. Therefore, the author pushes them to a literary sphere.


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Received: May 18, 2018; Accepted: January 13, 2019

Adreana Dulcina Platt holds a PhD in Education from the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), a doctoral student in Law from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) and an Associate Professor at the Universidade Estadual de Londrina (UEL). ORCID: E-mail:

Ubaldo Cesar Balthazar holds a doctorate in law from the Universidade Livre de Bruxelas and a full professor at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC). ORCID: E-mail:

Frederico Augusto Garcia Fernandes holds a PhD in Languages from the Universidade Estadual Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho and an Associate Professor at the Universidade Estadual de Londrina (UEL). ORCID: E-mail:

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