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The Maias Paperback – July 30, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 596 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; Reprint edition (July 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811216497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811216494
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #534,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A veteran translator of Saramago and Pessoa, Jull Costa delivers Quierós's 1888 masterpiece in a beautiful English version that will become the standard. Rich scion Carlos de Maia—like his best friend, writer João da Ega—is an incorrigible dabbler caught in the enervated Lisbon of the 1870s. His parentage is checkered: Carlos's mother runs off with an Italian, taking his sister, Maria, but leaving Carlos with his father, Pedro, who soon shoots himself. Raised by Pedro's father, Afonso, the adult Carlos returns with a medical degree to live with Afonso in the family's cursed Lisbon compound. His very romantic, very doomed affair with Madame Maria Eduarda Gomes sets in motion a train of coincidences, deftly prefigured, that resonantly entwines Carlos's fate with that of his father and spreads all of Portuguese society before the reader. Quierós has a magisterial sense of social stratification, family and the way eros can make an opera of private life. The novel crystallizes the larger unreality of an incestuous society, one that drifts, even the elite heatedly acknowledge, into decline. The neglect of the big Iberian 19th-century novelists—Galdós, Clarín and Quierós—remains a puzzle. This novel stands with the great achievements of fiction. (July)
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Eça de Queirós bears comparison with Balzac and Flaubert. -- The Sunday Times [London]

Margaret Jull Costa's new translation...is vastly more readable than the other version now available in English. -- Harold Bloom

Queirós is far greater than my own dear master, Flaubert. -- Zola

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
The story is an interesting one.
Evelyn Ellington
It's a joy to have the works of one of the world's greatest writers finally available to the English-reading public!
I read the portuguese version of this masterpiece.
Roberto Petrucio Herculano de Alencar

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Michael Steinberg on February 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
If Eça de Queirós had been English, Russian, or French he would be world famous and "The Maias" would be universally recognized as one of the greatest novels ever written. It's a stinging picture of Portugal in the 1870s, its still-wealthy aristocracy alternating between vapid love affairs and wittily despairing conversations about the impossibility of being anything or anyone in such a hopeless country. It's an affectionate but honest portrait of two friends, both of them gifted and both of them without the seriousness to live up to their gifts, and a portrait of Lisbon, a once great imperial capital by then in terminal decline. It's an intense and passionate love story, told with a frankness about physical love that breaks every stereotype there is about nineteenth century prudery. In 600 pages it gives us a whole world and a crowd of memorable people, all of them seen with both unsparing clarity and great love. Yet for all of its passion and sadness the book is written with a light touch; some of the early chapters are high comedy, and there can be few masterpieces of fiction that are as enjoyable to read. This cannot be recommended highly enough, and Margaret Jull Costa's brilliant translation, though a little heavy on the exclamation points, has been preferred by all the reviewers to the translation available from Penguin.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J C E Hitchcock on April 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
To English-speaking readers "nineteenth century European literature" (with a few exceptions, such as Ibsen) generally means "nineteenth century French and Russian literature. We are familiar with Balzac, Flaubert and Hugo, with Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Chekhov, but much less so with their German, Spanish and Polish counterparts such as Fontane, Galdos and Sienkiewicz. Even Manzoni is not particularly well-known, although his "I Promessi Sposi" is virtually regarded as a national institution in Italy. (This division has little to do with "big" and "small" languages; German and Spanish both have more native speakers than French).

The Portuguese author José Maria de Eça de Queiroz (the spelling he himself used) is another nineteenth century novelist who is venerated by his countrymen but little-known outside his native land. "The Maias" is perhaps his best-known novel. It is a family saga, telling the story of the Maias of the title. The two central characters are Afonso, the elderly patriarch of the aristocratic Maia family, and his grandson Carlos. Pedro, the son of Afonso and the father of Carlos, dies early on, committing suicide after his wife leaves him for another man.

Eça is sometimes regarded as a literary "naturalist", although this book does not have much in common with the works of many other authors described as such. The term "naturalism" was generally used in the late nineteenth century to describe works of literature, especially novels, which dealt in a serious manner with the seamier side of life, with poverty, vice and crime. "The Maias", by contrast, is set among the wealthy Portuguese aristocracy and haute bourgeoisie, and although it has serious episodes, the tone is generally one of satirical comedy.
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By Annie Maus on May 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a couple years waiting to be read. It seemed a tad overwhelming partly because of it's 600+ pages and partly because it's a translation of a Portuguese classic 19th C. novel (yawn). When the annual call came from my local library looking for book donations I decided the time had come to either read the book or give it up. I read it and what a fantastic book it turned out to be. It is a family chronicle that dips into every aspect of social and political life among the rich and the intelligentsia during the middle years of 19th C Portugal. If this sounds a bit stodgy believe me, you'll find plenty of romance, plenty of tragedy, plenty of comedy, plenty of deceit and two-facedness. As I neared the end of the book, I became very sad to leave this strange and wonderful group of people whom I'd come to know so well and to love, despite their often very bad behavior.
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Format: Paperback
The story of a wealthy young man, Carlos Maia, brought up by his benevolent grandfather Afonso in late 19th century Lisbon. How this comes to be fills the start of the story. Then Carlos graduates from medical school and comes home with grand ideas but soon lapses into dilettantism. Hanging out with his friends, going into society, gambling, duelling and above all pursuing married ladies seems to form the main part of his life. Although many episodes are amusing, I felt the novel wasn't going anywhere for the first half.
But then the threads come together and it becomes unputdownable. De Queiros brings his observations on Portugal and on life into the narrative.
As other reviewers have commented, this absolutely deserves to be included in the list of 'must read' European classics
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