Brutality Garden

Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture

By Christopher Dunn

276 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 color / 18 b&w illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4976-7
    Published: October 2001
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-1570-7
    Published: January 2014
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7095-7
    Published: January 2014

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In the late 1960s, Brazilian artists forged a watershed cultural movement known as Tropicália. Music inspired by that movement is today enjoying considerable attention at home and abroad. Few new listeners, however, make the connection between this music and the circumstances surrounding its creation, the most violent and repressive days of the military regime that governed Brazil from 1964 to 1985. With key manifestations in theater, cinema, visual arts, literature, and especially popular music, Tropicália dynamically articulated the conflicts and aspirations of a generation of young, urban Brazilians.

Focusing on a group of musicians from Bahia, an impoverished state in northeastern Brazil noted for its vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture, Christopher Dunn reveals how artists including Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, and Tom Zé created this movement together with the musical and poetic vanguards of São Paulo, Brazil's most modern and industrialized city. He shows how the tropicalists selectively appropriated and parodied cultural practices from Brazil and abroad in order to expose the fissure between their nation's idealized image as a peaceful tropical "garden" and the daily brutality visited upon its citizens.

About the Author

Christopher Dunn is associate professor of Brazilian literary and cultural studies at Tulane University. He is coeditor of Brazilian Popular Music and Globalization.
For more information about Christopher Dunn, visit the Author Page.


"An impressive and thorough look at Brazil's all too brief Tropicália movement that is also one of the best books on music to come out in years. Neither unconditionally devoted nor coldly analytical, the genius of Dunn's text is that it is essentially a history of Brazil's relationship with globalisation. . . . [Dunn's] book captures both the beauty and insight of the movement itself."--The Wire

"Brutality Garden is an exhaustive and exquisitely researched history of the tropicália movement. He links superbly the social, political, economic, and cultural debates in Brazil to the movement, situating the music in larger, intersecting spheres of intellectual, artistic, and governmental activity."--Ethnomusicology

"Christopher Dunn has produced an enlightening and thorough account that should become a standard work on Brazilian culture in the second half of the twentieth century. . . . A provocative and significant book."--Estudios Interdisciplinarios de America Latina y el Caribe

"Intriguing. . . . [Dunn's] translations of songs, as well as [his] descriptions of the political and cultural landscape of Brazil during these tumultuous times are especially vivid."--Down Beat

"Dunn's attractively produced book takes the reader through the history of Brazil's cultural movement--known as Tropicália. . . . Born out of Brazil's own domestic vicissitudes, popular music is perhaps its most successful and widely known international intervention."--Foreign Affairs

"Dunn does a good job of minimizing postmodern terminology and maximizing delivery of the facts, clarifying the Tropicálists' goal of shattering Brazil's self-propagated image as a 'garden.'"--Library Journal