The Cordel of Auto da Compadecida

“The Cordel of Auto da Compadecida” tells the story behind the conception of the world renowned work of Ariano Suassuna, “Auto da Compadecida”. The project delves into the creative process and inspirations that led Ariano Suassuna to write his illustrious play. It explores the cultural and historical context, as well as the personal experiences and influences that shaped the narrative.

O Cordel do Auto da Compadecida
O Cordel do Auto da Compadecida
O Cordel do Auto da Compadecida
O Cordel do Auto da CompadecidaO Cordel do Auto da CompadecidaO Cordel do Auto da CompadecidaO Cordel do Auto da Compadecida
O Cordel do Auto da Compadecida
O Cordel do Auto da Compadecida
O Cordel do Auto da Compadecida
O Cordel do Auto da Compadecida
O Cordel do Auto da Compadecida

PROJECT INFORMATION

The project “O Cordel do Auto da Compadecida” was developed in the Master’s degree in Graphic Design and Editorial Projects at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto, Portugal. 

The choice of Ariano Suassuna’s work had both sentimental and homage significance, given that the “Auto da Compadecida” is one of the author’s most popular works and has great meaningfulness to Brazilian folklore. 

The project was outlined to develop a book encompassing graphic design, editorial project, and artifact assembly. Thus came the premise of telling the story that distinguishes “Auto da Compadecida” in the most comprehensive and complete way possible, which includes the story behind its creation, the piece itself and its cultural consequences and reverberations. 

The story behind the conception of Ariano’s work is intertwined with Cordel literature, which is a literature style composed of narratives printed in booklets or leaflets. The stories of this type of literature have a popular and folkloric character. “Cordel” is a thin rope that, in the past, served to hold texts written by popular poets and their works were displayed for sale in public squares. Considering that the “Auto da Compadecida” was written based on three leaflets from Cordel literature, the idea of four books in one emerged from the traditional structure of Cordel, interconnected by a thin rope that’s not only reminiscent of Cordel literature and tradition but also symbolizes the common theme regarding them.

The first book, is named “Só sei que foi assim” or “I just know it was like this” in reference to a catchphrase widely known and associated with the play’s narrative, evoking a comedic aspect to an existential issue, which is the the unpredictability and, at times, absurdity of life. Likewise, the first book focuses on the history behind the creation of “Auto da Compadecida” and the unpredictability and unexpectedness that constitutes a creative process. 

The second book features the previously mentioned three leaflets from Cordel literature that inspired Ariano in his creation and is named “Inspirations in Cordel”. In this book, I worked with the Cordel style, using cardboard for the covers of the leaflets and xilogravura (woodcut) printing with illustrations by Jefferson Campos, a woodcutter born and raised in Natal, in the northeastern region of Brazil, where Brazilian woodcut style originated.

The third book presents the author’s legacy to Brazilian and global culture, named “The Legacy”. 

Finally, the fourth book is the actual play “Auto da Compadecida”.

All the texts and images were taken from news articles and the authors were properly credited. 

The typographies used in the project are from Portuguese and Brazilian foundries, regions where Cordel originated and spread. 

By combining elements from both Portuguese and Brazilian cultures, “O Cordel do Auto da Compadecida” aimed to create a unique and authentic representation of Ariano Suassuna’s work, paying homage to his legacy and the rich literary traditions of Brazil. The project not only celebrated the art of storytelling but also showcased the interconnectedness of different cultures and the power of design in conveying meaningful narratives.

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