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
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