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Mario Sette (writer)

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Professor, Journalist, Chronicler


Mario Sette (writer)

Article available in: PT-BR

Last update: 16/02/2017

By: Semira Adler Vainsencher - N/I

Mário Sette was born in Recife on 19 April 1886. As a young man, he was already a lover of Portuguese, French and Brazilian literature, and of the treatises on Brazilian History and Civilization. He spoke and wrote French fluently. In addition to being very Catholic, he identified with the aristocratic values of the sugar elite of Pernambuco, even assuming that only the ruling classes – in particular, the agrarian aristocracy – were capable of setting the course of society

The scholar was professor of History of Brazil at the Faculty of Philosophy of Recife. In addition to several social novels, he left a whole historical contribution, especially on Recife and Pernambuco, where he analyses the advent of modernity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

It is worth mentioning that Mário Sette’s works were the fruit of oral testimonies and documentary research, besides having relied on the archive of his own memory. For his historical-literary production, he was elected to occupy the chair number 40 of the Pernambuco Academy of Letters in 1922. The writer also desired the modernisation of Recife, as well as that of changes in the patriarchal character of the city in an attempt to be able to equip it in the style of the great European metropolises.

Mário Sette promoted discussions on industrialisation and cosmopolitanism, analysing the changes of modernity in some cities to which he related, such as Rio de Janeiro, Caruaru and Recife. The latter, however, was always the main focus of his attention.

The intellectual had the support of Monteiro Lobato in becoming a contributor to Revista do Brasil from 1921 to 1924, and to represent the periodical in Pernambuco.

The writer and chronicler Mário Sette was a scholar of History and believed that the observation of daily life constituted an important source for research. Looking from various angles, he emphasised:

“every city has its history, not only politics, but above all, its particular customs, regionalisms, fads.”

Some of his main works are: A filha de dona Sinhá [The daughter of Dona Sinhá], Anquinhas e [and] Bernardas; Arruar – história pitoresca do Recife antigo [Set Out in Roads – a picturesque history of old Recife]; Maxambombas e maracatus; Porto do Recife [Recife Port]; Memórias íntimas – caminhos de um coração [Intimate memories – paths of a heart]; Os Azevedos do Poço; O palanquim dourado [The Golden Palanquin]; Outros olhos... [Other eyes…]; Senhora de engenho [Lady of the Plantation]; Seu Candinho da farmácia [Mr Candinho from the Pharmacy]; Terra pernambucana [Pernambuco Land]; Tigres e esgotos [Tigers and Sewers]; Foi um dia a locomotora [One Day It Was the Locomotive] and O rio corre tão manso [The River Runs So Calm].

Mário Sette has been considered by the researchers as a modern author. And it was in this sense that he very carefully looked at the changes processed in the human being. In his conception, even traditions represented a dynamic reality. Like individuals, they transformed and evolved over time, acquiring new characteristics, distinct from the old ones.

Mário Sette died in Recife on 25 March 1950.

Recife, 14 November 2003.
(Updated on 8 October 2008).
Translated by Peter Leamy, December 2016.

sources consulted

ALMEIDA, Magdalena. Mário Sette: o retratista da palavra. Recife: Fundação de Cultura Cidade do Recife, 2000.

how to quote this text

Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Mario Sette. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: dia mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.