The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas

Oxford University Press
3
Free sample

"Be aware that frankness is the prime virtue of a dead man," writes the narrator of The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas. But while he may be dead, he is surely one of the liveliest characters in fiction, a product of one of the most remarkable imaginations in all of literature, Brazil's greatest novelist of the nineteenth century, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis. By turns flippant and profound, The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas is the story of an unheroic man with half-hearted political ambitions, a harebrained idea for curing the world of melancholy, and a thousand quixotic theories unleashed from beyond the grave. It is a novel that has influenced generations of Latin American writers but remains refreshingly and unforgettably unlike anything written before or after it. Newly translated by Gregory Rabassa and superbly edited by Enylton de Sá Rego and Gilberto Pinheiro Passos, this Library of Latin America edition brings to English-speaking readers a literary delight of the highest order.
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About the author

Gregory Rabassa is the highly acclaimed translator of One Hundred Years of Solitude and many other works of Latin American fiction. Enylton de Sá Rego is a Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas at Austin. Gilberto Pinheiro Passos is a Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of São Paulo.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Dec 10, 1998
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9780199880232
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Classics
Fiction / Literary
Literary Criticism / Caribbean & Latin American
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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"A palm tree, seeing me troubled and divining the cause, murmured in its branches that there was nothing wrong with fifteen-year old boys getting into corners with girls of fourteen; quite the contrary, youths of that age have no other function, and corners were made for that very purpose. It was an old palm-tree, and I believed in old palm-trees even more than in old books. Birds, butterflies, a cricket trying out its summer song, all the living things of the air were of the same opinion." So begins this extraordinary love story between Bento and Capitu, childhood sweethearts who grow up next door to each other in Rio de Janeiro in the 1850s. Like other great nineteenth century novels--The Scarlet Letter, Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary--Machado de Assis's Dom Casmurro explores the themes of marriage and adultery. But what distinguishes Machado's novel from the realism of its contemporaries, and what makes it such a delightful discovery for English-speaking readers, is its eccentric and wildly unpredictable narrative style. Far from creating the illusion of an orderly fictional "reality," Dom Casmurro is told by a narrator who is disruptively self-conscious, deeply subjective, and prone to all manner of marvelous digression. As he recounts the events of his life from the vantage of a lonely old age, Bento continually interrupts his story to reflect on the writing of it: he examines the aptness of an image or analogy, considers cutting out certain scenes before taking the manuscript to the printer, and engages in a running, and often hilarious, dialogue with the reader. "If all this seems a little emphatic, irritating reader," he says, "it's because you have never combed a girl's hair, you've never put your adolescent hands on the young head of a nymph..." But the novel is more than a performance of stylistic acrobatics. It is an ironic critique of Catholicism, in which God appears as a kind of divine accountant whose ledgers may be balanced in devious as well as pious ways. It is also a story about love and its obstacles, about deception and self-deception, and about the failure of memory to make life's beginning fit neatly into its end. First published in 1900, Dom Casmurro is one of the great unrecognized classics of the turn of the century by one of Brazil's greatest writers. The popularity of Machado de Assis in Latin America has never been in doubt and now, with the acclaim of such critics and writers as Susan Sontag, John Barth, and Tony Tanner, his work is finally receiving the worldwide attention it deserves. Newly translated and edited by John Gledson, with an afterword by Joao Adolfo Hansen, this Library of Latin America edition is the only complete, unabridged, and annotated translation of the novel available. It offers English-speaking readers a literary genius of the rarest kind.
A Master on the Periphery of Capitalism is a translation (from the original Portuguese) of Roberto Schwarz’s renowned study of the work of Brazilian novelist Machado de Assis (1839–1908). A leading Brazilian theorist and author of the highly influential notion of “misplaced ideas,” Schwarz focuses his literary and cultural analysis on Machado’s The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas, which was published in 1880. Writing in the Marxist tradition, Schwarz investigates in particular how social structure gets internalized as literary form, arguing that Machado’s style replicates and reveals the deeply embedded class divisions of nineteenth-century Brazil.
Widely acknowledged as the most important novelist to have written in Latin America before 1940, Machado had a surprisingly modern style. Schwarz notes that the unprecedented wit, sarcasm, structural inventiveness, and mercurial changes of tone and subject matter found in The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas marked a crucial moment in the history of Latin American literature. He argues that Machado’s vanguard narrative reflects the Brazilian owner class and its peculiar status in both national and international contexts, and shows why this novel’s success was no accident. The author was able to confront some of the most prestigious ideologies of the nineteenth century with some uncomfortable truths, not the least of which was that slavery remained the basis of the Brazilian economy.
A Master on the Periphery of Capitalism will appeal to those with interests in Latin American literature, nineteenth century history, and Marxist literary theory.

"A palm tree, seeing me troubled and divining the cause, murmured in its branches that there was nothing wrong with fifteen-year old boys getting into corners with girls of fourteen; quite the contrary, youths of that age have no other function, and corners were made for that very purpose. It was an old palm-tree, and I believed in old palm-trees even more than in old books. Birds, butterflies, a cricket trying out its summer song, all the living things of the air were of the same opinion." So begins this extraordinary love story between Bento and Capitu, childhood sweethearts who grow up next door to each other in Rio de Janeiro in the 1850s. Like other great nineteenth century novels--The Scarlet Letter, Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary--Machado de Assis's Dom Casmurro explores the themes of marriage and adultery. But what distinguishes Machado's novel from the realism of its contemporaries, and what makes it such a delightful discovery for English-speaking readers, is its eccentric and wildly unpredictable narrative style. Far from creating the illusion of an orderly fictional "reality," Dom Casmurro is told by a narrator who is disruptively self-conscious, deeply subjective, and prone to all manner of marvelous digression. As he recounts the events of his life from the vantage of a lonely old age, Bento continually interrupts his story to reflect on the writing of it: he examines the aptness of an image or analogy, considers cutting out certain scenes before taking the manuscript to the printer, and engages in a running, and often hilarious, dialogue with the reader. "If all this seems a little emphatic, irritating reader," he says, "it's because you have never combed a girl's hair, you've never put your adolescent hands on the young head of a nymph..." But the novel is more than a performance of stylistic acrobatics. It is an ironic critique of Catholicism, in which God appears as a kind of divine accountant whose ledgers may be balanced in devious as well as pious ways. It is also a story about love and its obstacles, about deception and self-deception, and about the failure of memory to make life's beginning fit neatly into its end. First published in 1900, Dom Casmurro is one of the great unrecognized classics of the turn of the century by one of Brazil's greatest writers. The popularity of Machado de Assis in Latin America has never been in doubt and now, with the acclaim of such critics and writers as Susan Sontag, John Barth, and Tony Tanner, his work is finally receiving the worldwide attention it deserves. Newly translated and edited by John Gledson, with an afterword by Joao Adolfo Hansen, this Library of Latin America edition is the only complete, unabridged, and annotated translation of the novel available. It offers English-speaking readers a literary genius of the rarest kind.
"A palm tree, seeing me troubled and divining the cause, murmured in its branches that there was nothing wrong with fifteen-year old boys getting into corners with girls of fourteen; quite the contrary, youths of that age have no other function, and corners were made for that very purpose. It was an old palm-tree, and I believed in old palm-trees even more than in old books. Birds, butterflies, a cricket trying out its summer song, all the living things of the air were of the same opinion." So begins this extraordinary love story between Bento and Capitu, childhood sweethearts who grow up next door to each other in Rio de Janeiro in the 1850s. Like other great nineteenth century novels--The Scarlet Letter, Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary--Machado de Assis's Dom Casmurro explores the themes of marriage and adultery. But what distinguishes Machado's novel from the realism of its contemporaries, and what makes it such a delightful discovery for English-speaking readers, is its eccentric and wildly unpredictable narrative style. Far from creating the illusion of an orderly fictional "reality," Dom Casmurro is told by a narrator who is disruptively self-conscious, deeply subjective, and prone to all manner of marvelous digression. As he recounts the events of his life from the vantage of a lonely old age, Bento continually interrupts his story to reflect on the writing of it: he examines the aptness of an image or analogy, considers cutting out certain scenes before taking the manuscript to the printer, and engages in a running, and often hilarious, dialogue with the reader. "If all this seems a little emphatic, irritating reader," he says, "it's because you have never combed a girl's hair, you've never put your adolescent hands on the young head of a nymph..." But the novel is more than a performance of stylistic acrobatics. It is an ironic critique of Catholicism, in which God appears as a kind of divine accountant whose ledgers may be balanced in devious as well as pious ways. It is also a story about love and its obstacles, about deception and self-deception, and about the failure of memory to make life's beginning fit neatly into its end. First published in 1900, Dom Casmurro is one of the great unrecognized classics of the turn of the century by one of Brazil's greatest writers. The popularity of Machado de Assis in Latin America has never been in doubt and now, with the acclaim of such critics and writers as Susan Sontag, John Barth, and Tony Tanner, his work is finally receiving the worldwide attention it deserves. Newly translated and edited by John Gledson, with an afterword by Joao Adolfo Hansen, this Library of Latin America edition is the only complete, unabridged, and annotated translation of the novel available. It offers English-speaking readers a literary genius of the rarest kind.
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