Alcântara Machado was born in São Paulo, at the dawn of the 20th century, in May 25, 1901. Very precociously, he manifested intellectual tendencies. At nineteen years old, he began his literary career, initially as a critic for a newspaper, reviewing books and theatre plays. Despite graduating in law, he would never follow the profession. In 1926 — after returning from Europe —, Alcântara Machado published his first book, Pathé-Baby, a travel journal about his personal impressions and experiences from the old continent. The preface for this book was written by Oswald de Andrade, a playwright, novelist and poet, that was one of the pillars and axial forces of the Brazilian modernist movement.
Feeling affinity with the modernists, and appreciating the general trends and core proposals of this cultural insurgence — which in turn was highly influenced by an Italian artistic revolutionary movement known as futurism —, Alcântara Machado partnered with Oswald de Andrade to run a literary magazine called Revista de Antropofagia, upon which they would publish and promote the stylistic and artistic concepts associated with modernism. Some years later, he would run another magazine, Revista Nova, with Mário de Andrade, another cornerstone of Brazilian modernism. These magazines were usually short-lived, as modernism itself would be, given the fact that by the late twenties, the movement rapidly dissolved, and each of its members went their own way separately.
The literary art of Alcântara Machado also displayed another important part of the country's culture, immigration, focusing specifically in the Italian immigrants, a subject that the author has developed with resourcefulness, authenticity, wit and mastery, like no other writer has ever done, at least of his generation. Describing with genuine, colorful and poignant mordacity the boiling cultural cauldron that was the São Paulo of his time, Alcântara Machado conceives a vivid portrait of this new type of person that began to transform drastically the urban atmosphere of his hometown, the Italian-Brazilian, incorporating this character into a radically colorful, but realistic chemistry of dynamic sensibility. This individual, for his part, is the son of the Italian immigrant, a man who adapted wisely his lifestyle, habits and work to the cosmopolitan environment of the then emerging metropolis, turning it into his home, yet projecting into the future of his innermost hopes all the temperance and glory of a simple, captivating and genuinely ordinary life.
Alcântara Machado was certainly a man of his time, and despite the fact that he died very young, his work — albeit very concise, given the fact that he didn't had the time to fully improve his art —, deserves to be widely appreciated, and to be considered one of the most originally colorful, masterful and graceful authors of his generation, that needs to have a place of honor in Brazilian literature.