Ledo Ivo

Brazilian journalist, poet, novelist, and essayist who favored classical forms and rhythms

Ledo Ivo

Ledo Ivo

Ledo Ivo (1924–2012) was a Brazilian journalist, poet, novelist, and essayist. He was born in Maceió, Alagoas, Brazil as the son of Floriano and Euridice Placido de Araujo Ivo. He later married Maria Leda Sarmento de Medeiros and fathered Patricia, Maria da Graca and Goncalo. Ivo’s first volume of poems—As Imaginações—granted him national recognition in 1944. Since then he has written several other works of poetry including Ode and Elegy, Ode to Twilight, Birth of the Sonnet, Language, and The Common Soldier. His novels include Alliances, The Road without Adventure, and The Death of Brazil. Early in Ivo’s career he rejected the stylistic innovations of modernism in favor of classical forms and rhythms, yet his poetic creations exhibit a broad range of themes in language. Ivo once said: “I live by writing, but I sometimes envy people who live their lives remote from art, distanced from the words and materials which engender the creation of poetry—people who are simply absorbed by the very pattern of life.”

cover image of the book Snakes’ Nest

Snakes’ Nest

by Ledo Ivo

Translated by Kern Krapohl

Brazilian poet Lêdo Ivo’s Snakes’ Nest is a “tale badly told” in a most artful manner. Part political allegory, the novel explores the nature of good and evil in a provincial port in northeastern Brazil during World War II––all the ills of the repressive dictatorship then in power are reflected in the corrupt and violent society of Maceió. As Ivo says: “During a dictatorship, all narratives are poorly told, since a dictatorship is the Kingdom of Lies and cannot tolerate the truth.” But to focus solely on the allegory would deny the richness of the book’s many layers, the considerable skill with which the characters emerge from the narrator’s false starts, the subtle and pervasive wit that skewers pomposity and pretension, the suspense created by the narrator’s very unreliability, and the poetry with which the exotic setting is evoked. The last word in describing such a heady mixture belongs to the author, who calls it, “a story of terror and violence that is, surely, a sunny nightmare.” Although Lêdo Ivo is well known in his own country as a journalist and poetic spokesman of the “Generation of 1945,” this edition of Snakes’ Nest marks his first book-length appearance in English. Originally published in 1973 under the title Ninho de Cobras, Snakes’ Nest won the prestigious Brazilian Walmap Prize for that year. The novel has been translated by Kern Krapohl who, for several years, lived in Brazil and worked closely with the author. Jon M. Tolman of the University of New Mexico has contributed an informative introduction which clearly places the story both historically and geographically.

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