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The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas (Library of Latin America) [Kindle Edition]

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis , Enylton de Sa Rego , Gregory Rabassa , Gilberto Pinheiro Passos
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"Be aware that frankness is the prime virtue of a dead man," writes the narrator of The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras 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 Bras 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 Sa Rego and Gilberto Pinheiro Passos, this Library of Latin America edition brings to English-speaking readers a literary delight of the highest order.

Editorial Reviews Review

Fans of Latin American literature will be thrilled by Oxford University Press's new translations of works by 19th-century Brazilian author Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis. His novels are both heartbreaking and comic; his limning of a colonial Brazil in flux is both perceptive and remarkably modern. The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas is written as an autobiography, a chronicle of the erotic misadventures of its narrator, Brás Cubas--who happens to be dead. In pursuit of love and progeny, Cubas rejects the women who want him and aspires to the ones who reject him. In the end, he dies unloved and without heirs, yet he somehow manages to turn this bitter pill into a victory of sorts. What makes Memoirs stand up 100 years after the book was written is Machado's biting humor, brilliant prose, and profound understanding of all the vagaries of human behavior.

From Library Journal

A 19th-century classic of Brazilian literature, Machado de Assis's 1880 novel is written as a posthumously composed memoir (according to the fictional author Bras Cubas, a superior way of writing memoirs, since a dead writer can be frank about events). Bras Cubas's life is less interesting than the book's style and structure: 160 brief chapters in which Bras Cubas comments both on his life and the novel's composition. The fictional author was a politician, writer, and celebrity who has an affair with the wife of a friend. His sister wants him to marry a shy young woman, but she dies before the wedding. A school friend preaches the gospel of a new secular religion but never writes a long-anticipated book on the subject. Meanwhile, Bras Cubas is working on a poultice to relieve melancholy. With a masterful translation by Rabassa and a contextual foreword and afterword that tell us that the work anticipates Calvino and Garcia Marquez, this book is recommended for collections rich in Latin American and literary holdings. [This book is one of several new titles launching Oxford's "Library of Latin America" series, which will make available 40 works of fiction, poetry, history, and memoir that in most cases have never been translated into English.?Ed.]?Harold Augenbraum, Mercantile Lib. of New Yor.
-?Harold Augenbraum, Mercantile Lib. of New York
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2301 KB
  • Print Length: 235 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (September 15, 1997)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055NCU7S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,603 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just to subdue the acolades December 28, 2000
By "cued"
I sometimes wonder why a reviewer will trash a book in the presence of so many positive reviews. Maybe there are readers out there who just like to be contrarians for the sake of being contrarians. How dull. This book is so good, I wrote my college thesis on it. I cannot count the number of times I have read it over the years. Why all the fuss? First, I suppose in 2001 this book might seem tame and trite. Joyce, Proust, Mann, Faulkner, Woolf, Garcia Marquez, Cortazar, Pynchon, etc have already come and gone. Now days, it might seem totally uninteresting for a dead person to narrate a book, or for the author to purposely lie and mislead the reader, and for those readers who like their books "Serious" it might be annoying for the narrator to crack jokes, make fun of everyone, and otherwise disrupt the whole solemnity of reading a "great book." Bah humbug! This book was published in 1881, when the continentals were all reading and imitating Zola and the English speakers were all reading and imitating Henry James. This book amazingly snubs the whole "realist-naturalist" aesthetic. Why can't the narrator be a liar? Why does the narrator have to "show not tell?" From a historical point of view, Machado de Assis is impressively original and independent in his style, obviously influenced by those innocent and flabby 18th century English novels by Fielding and Sterne. But for those who inspect closely, there is even an amazing amount of social criticism going on in this book: Roberto Schwartz, a Brazilian critic, has analyzed Machado de Assis's books as social criticism extensively. For the interested, his writings might be worth a peak. Read more ›
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strange and wonderful book December 3, 2000
"The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas" is a landmark of 19th century Brazilian fiction. The original Portuguese version by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis has been rendered into an engaging English by translator Gregory Rabassa.
The book's hero, Bras Cubas, is a sort of lovable loser who narrates his own life from beyond the grave. The book is divided up into 160 short chapters, some less than a page long. As the story unfolds we meet a colorful cast of characters: Bras Cubas himself, his beloved Virgilia, the slave Prudencio, the strange philosopher Quincas Borba, and many more.
Throughout the novel, Machado de Assis (through his fictional narrator) continually plays games with the conventions of fiction and autobiography. Whether he is instructing the reader to insert Chapter CXXX "between the first and second sentences of Chapter CXXIX" or critiquing his own writing style, Cubas/Machado de Assis is full of surprises that make this novel a literary house of mirrors.
And throughout the novel the reader encounters passages of poetic depth and psychological insight. Despite being more than 100 years old, this book has an amazingly modern feel to it. This is a major work in the great tradition of South American fiction.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hilarious remembrance of things past February 22, 2001
This excellent and extremely original novel marked the transition from Romanticism to an authentically Brazilian literature. Written in very short chapters, it is the autobiography dictated from his grave, of a wealthy bachelor, his love affairs, his rompy relationship with his family, his friendship with the extravagant philosopher Quincas Borba (the subject of another novel), his political ambitions and delusions and his -very- particular view of the world. The style is concise, sarcastic, hilarious, cynical and he's constantly sustaining a dialogue with the reader. In a way, it is a novel rewritten in every read, since it seems to be written by the author AND the reader.
This novel accurately portrays the enivronment of upper classes in Rio de Janeiro in the middle XIX century. But note that, despite being funny and comical, in the background there is always a tone of sadness and pessimism. It is an intelligent, bittersweet and excellent work of literary art. Read it and you'll be much rewarded.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ahead of its time May 16, 2003
By A Customer
Although most people identify Brazilian literature with the vivid regionalism of Jorge Amado or (more recently) the mystical blabber of Paulo Coelho, Brazilian critics have long hailed Machado de Assis as the country's greatest writer and with good reason. This book is vivid proof of Machado's genius: deeply perceptive of human nature as in much of his work, but also radically innovative in style, displaying many traces of modernism some 30 - 40 years ahead of time. How else to characterize the chapter on the "Ancient Dialogue between Adam and Eve" (LV), written solely with punctuation? Or the one-sentence "useless" chapter (CXXXVI): "Unless I'm very much mistaken, I've just written an utterly useless chapter." The style is not without substance. Machado's trenchant insights on human nature and unabashed social criticism are brilliantly displayed in this work.
Machado's own view of the book was that it was too serious and deep for the frivolous and too playful and radical for the erudite readers of the time, and concluded in his usual pessimism that it would have "perhaps five" readers. Since the book continues to accumulate "fives and fives" of readers, perhaps humankind, like the flawed Brás Cubas, is also a "small winner" after all.
Factoid about the chapter size: As other reviewers noted, the book has numerous short chapters. One chief reason for this was that Machado was afflicted by epileptic attacks and could not write for extended periods.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 months ago by Cheryl
5.0 out of 5 stars A great translation of a great Brazilian classic
By far the best translation of this book.
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love this book! Bought for a class but I really enjoyed it.
Published 7 months ago by Melissa Alice
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun reading!
The works of Machado de Assis, one of Brazil's most prominent literary figures, are witty, eloquent, and erudite. Fun reading!
Published 7 months ago by Jadjee
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
brilliant book; a gem
Published 10 months ago by Bloopie Belle
4.0 out of 5 stars The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas
The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas is a playful, metafictional novel that immediately brings to mind Laurence Sterne's Tristam Shandy. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Steven Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I have read all year!
This book is such a great work of literature. It is hilarious and entertaining all at the same time. Read more
Published 18 months ago by sb
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
The printing is good and the history is one of my favorites. Machado de Assis is simply an amazing writer.
Published 18 months ago by Peanut
5.0 out of 5 stars unexpected fun
Very unexpected, non-traditional fun. Read it because it was suggested by a literature professor. Not anything like I've read before as far a format. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Danielle
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising but disappointing
This was my first Assis book, and possibly my last. I ended up returning it to the library 2/3 of the way through. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Pietro Krepompkin
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