Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist

Posted in Biography, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, Social Science on 2013-01-31 02:18Z by Steven

Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist

Penn State University Press
336 pages
6 x 9, 1 illustration
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-05246-5

G. Reginald Daniel, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839–1908) was Brazil’s foremost novelist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As a mulatto, Machado experienced the ambiguity of racial identity throughout his life. Literary critics first interpreted Machado as an embittered misanthrope uninterested in the plight of his fellow African Brazilians. By midcentury, however, a new generation of critics asserted that Machado’s writings did reveal his interest in slavery, race, and other contemporary social issues, but their interpretations went too far in the other direction. Reginald Daniel, whose expertise on Brazilian race relations gives him special insights, takes a fresh look at how Machado’s life—especially his experience of his own racial identity—was inflected in his writings. The result is a new interpretation that sees Machado as endeavoring to transcend his racial origins by universalizing the experience of racial ambiguity and duality into a fundamental mode of human existence.

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