Book Reviews: Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist [Geiger Review]

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2016-12-18 02:21Z by Steven

Book Reviews: Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist [Geiger Review]

Comparative Civilizations Review
Volume 75, Number 75, Fall 2016
Article 11
pages 125-126

Pedro Geiger

G. Reginald Daniel, Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania University Press, 2012

The long and excellent book by Reginald Daniel, Machado de Assis, of 338 pages, focuses on two related issues. One deals with racial questions in the USA and in Brazil, detailing their historical development.

Racial problems were established in both countries by the encounter of the European colonization with the prior Colombian population and by the colonial introducing of African slaves in the American continent. The book deals with the behavior and the perceptions of the racial issue by the different social sectors of the American and of the Brazilian societies, and with the evolution of the legal policy measures taken by both states in regard to it. Brazil has earned the reputation of being a racial democracy for the reason of not having had legalized social barriers based in race. However, discrimination among sectors of the population existed and still exists there.

The opportunity of dealing with racial questions was taken by the author to cover with accurate studies the full Brazilian history. Based on a large and good bibliography, he discusses a wide variety of themes, comparing interpretations of known Brazilian historians, like the ones made by the Marxian Caio Prado Júnior with the ones made by the Weberian Raymundo Faoro, or describing cultural traits brought by the slaves (like their religions), how they influenced Brazilian culture, and how they were treated by the government institutions.

The second theme of the book deals with the Brazilian novelist Machado de Assis (1839- 1908) an icon of Brazil’s literature and the founder of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. The linkage between the two themes treated in the book is the fact that, like Reginald Daniel, Machado de Assis had an African ancestry…

Read the entire review here.

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Machado de Assis and Female Characterization: The Novels

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Women on 2016-07-28 00:47Z by Steven

Machado de Assis and Female Characterization: The Novels

Bucknell University Press
2015
252 pages
ISBN 9781611486209

Earl E. Fitz, Professor of Portuguese, Spanish, and Comparative Literature
Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt, Tennessee

This book examines the nature and function of the main female characters in the nine novels of Machado de Assis. The basic argument is that Machado had a particular interest in female characterization and that his fictional women became increasingly sophisticated and complex as he matured and developed as a writer and social commentator. This book argues that Machado developed, especially after 1880 (and what is usually considered the beginning of his “mature” period), a kind of anti-realistic, “new narrative,” one that presents itself as self-referential fictional artifice but one that also cultivates a keen social consciousness. The book also contends that Machado increasingly uses his female characterizations to convey this social consciousness and to show that the new Brazil that is emerging both before and after the establishment of the Brazilian Republic (1889) requires not only the emancipation of the black slaves but the emancipation of its women as well.

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A Master on the Periphery of Capitalism

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2016-07-28 00:36Z by Steven

A Master on the Periphery of Capitalism

Duke University Press
2001
232 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2210-8
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-2239-9

Roberto Schwarz

Translated by:

John Gledson, Emeritus Professor of Brazilian Studies
University of Liverpool

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.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction / John Gledson
  • Preface
  • 1. Initial Observations
  • 2. A Formal Principle
  • 3. The Practical Matrix
  • 4. Some Implications of the Prose
  • 5. The Social Aspect of the Narrator and the Plot
  • 6. The Fate of the Poor
  • 7. The Rich on Their Own
  • 8. The Role of Ideas
  • 9. Questions of Form
  • 10. Literary Accumulation in a Periferal Country
  • Notes
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Daniel, G. Reginald. Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State UP, 2012. Print. [McNee Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2016-07-28 00:09Z by Steven

Daniel, G. Reginald. Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State UP, 2012. Print. [McNee Review]

ellipsis (now Journal of Lusophone Studies)
Volume 13 (2015)
pages 255-257

Malcolm K. McNee, Associate Professor of Spanish & Portuguese
Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts

G. Reginald Daniel, Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012), pp. xi + 338, \$74.95, hb.

In this smart, ambitiously interdisciplinary, and exhaustively researched book, G. Reginald Daniel, Professor of Sociology at UCSB and pioneer in the study of multiracial identity and experience from a transnational perspective, considers the life and work of Machado de Assis. It is a sweeping book that draws upon the vastness of Machadian studies, in which Daniel is clearly versed, along with the sociology of race and culture, literary history and periodization, and theories of modernity and postmodernism. In  its engagement with this range of theoretical and disciplinary configurations, Daniel’s book, organized into an introduction, nine chapters, and an epilogue co-authored with Gary L. Haddow, is in some senses two books in one, each with a distinct yet analogous argument. Each line of inquiry results in a significant and original contribution to Machadian studies. Combined, they position Daniel’s book as the most thorough English-language treatment of the Brazilian writer’s life and work since John Gledson’s translation of Roberto Schwarz’s A Master on the Periphery of Capitalism (Duke UP, 2001). Standing along with Earl Fitz’s Machado de Assis and Female Characterization (Bucknell UP, 2014), and a welcome round of new translations, Daniel’s book will help to reinvigorate and deepen Machado’s reception among English-language readers and his stature among the major figures of world literature…

Read the entire review here.

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The Deceptive Realism of Machado de Assis. A Dissenting Interpretation of Dom Casmurro

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2016-07-27 20:11Z by Steven

The Deceptive Realism of Machado de Assis. A Dissenting Interpretation of Dom Casmurro

Francis Cairns Publications
1984
215 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-905205-19-9

John Gledson, Emeritus Professor of Brazilian Studies
University of Liverpool

The Brazilian Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, born in Rio de Janeiro in 1839, is regarded as the greatest Latin-American novelist of the nineteenth century. Dom Casmurro (1899) is one of his most important works. Its narrator, Bento, who is also its central character, sets out to convince the reader, on insufficient grounds, of the adultery of his wife, Capitu. The complexity and irony which results from this mode of presentation have led critics to see Dom Casmurro as a precursor of the fictional experimentation of the twentieth century.

This book argues, against the critical consensus, that Machado’s work is in essence realist, and that Dom Casmurro in particular offers a coherent and disenchanted vision of Brazilian society in the reign of Pedro II. Slavery, the “religious question”, the relationship between traditional values and developing capitalism, even the Paraguayan War – all lie ominously concealed in the background to the domestic history of Bento and Capitu.

John Gledson begins his analysis of Dom Casmurro by negotiating the labyrinth of Bento’s narration; in the first chapter he shows that there is not only another possible version of the events related by Bento, but also another Bento, a sinister representative of his social class. The second chapter establishes the “true” plot of the novel, drawing its origins both from Machado’s earlier fiction and from the patriarchal and paternalistic society of the period. Chapters three and four explain how various key episodes must be allegorically understood as part of Machado’s vision of the politics and ideology of the Second Reign. The concluding chapter, summing up the main strands of the argument, points out that the habits of thought which govern the narration are also those which govern the class and society to which Bento belongs.

The argument throughout is supported by extensive quotations from the Portuguese, with English translation.

This study of Dom Casmurro lays the basis for a more “realistic” and comprehensive understanding of a major novelist. It has important implications for the general study of the late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century novel, as well as for the history of Brazilian and Latin-American literature.

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G. Reginald Daniel, Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012), pp. xi + 338, \$74.95, hb. [Gledson Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2016-07-27 16:59Z by Steven

G. Reginald Daniel, Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012), pp. xi + 338, \$74.95, hb. [Gledson Review]

Journal of Latin American Studies
Volume 47 / Issue 03 / August 2015
pages 607-608
DOI: 10.1017/S0022216X15000528

John Gledson, Emeritus Professor of Brazilian Studies
University of Liverpool

G. Reginald Daniel, Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012), pp. xi + 338, \$74.95, hb.

Increasingly, over the last 10 or 20 years, critics have taken an interest in Machado de Assis’s racial origins, and in the effect they may have had on his career, his opinions and his writings. We know that he was the child of a father described as ‘pardo, forro’, and a Portuguese mother, from the Azores. In 2007, Eduardo de Assis Duarte published his Machado de Assis afrodescendente, which documents most of the references to the matter, and more generally to slavery and its effects, in the works, novels, stories crônicas, and so on.

It is a complex topic: we have little or no unambiguous evidence of what this most ironic and secretive writer thought about the colour of his skin, though we can have little doubt that he would have smiled with a certain amount of bitterness (and who knows, some perverse satisfaction) at the description of his colour as ‘branco’ on his death certificate.

G. Reginald Daniel’s book is certainly the longest treatment of the subject, and perhaps the most comprehensive. A great deal is given over to discussions of the contexts, historical and theoretical, which surround it. The first chapter deals with the history of miscegenation in Brazil since 1500, the second with other mulatto writers before Machado and contemporary with him (Caldas Barbosa, Luís Gama, José do Patrocínio, Lima Barreto); in the third Machado’s life is recounted in some detail. It is a faithful account, though with some mistakes. Machado did not translate Oliver Twist from English, as Jean-Michel Massa proved, nor is it necessarily true that he suffered from epilepsy all his life. The first of two stories entitled ‘Mariana’ is twice given the date 1864, instead of 1871 (the year of the Law of the Free Womb). There is no series of crônicas entitled Crônicas do relojoeiro signed ‘Policarpo’. José Galante de Sousa’s Bibliografia de Machado de Assis is, astonishingly, missing from the very extensive bibliography. Some important and relatively unknown facts, however, are there, like Gonçalves Crespo’s 1871 hesitant letter saying he has heard he is an ‘homem de cor’. Large parts of the later chapters are given over to accounts of other writers (Graça Aranha, for instance, and Euclides da Cunha) and other issues which sometimes have no real connection to Machado (negritude, for instance)…

Read or purchase the review here.

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The Alienist and Other Stories of Nineteenth-Century Brazil

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Novels on 2015-12-22 04:23Z by Steven

The Alienist and Other Stories of Nineteenth-Century Brazil

Hackett Publishing Company
March 2013
ca. 152 pages
Cloth ISBN: 1-60384-853-3; 978-1-60384-853-4
Paper ISBN: 1-60384-852-5; 978-1-60384-852-7
Examination ISBN: 1-60384-852-5; 978-1-60384-852-7

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839-1908)

Edited by:

John Charles Chasteen, Patterson Distinguished Term Professor of History
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Accompanied by a thorough introduction to “Brazil’s Machado, Machado’s Brazil”, these vibrant new translations of eight of Machado de Assis’s best-known short stories bring nineteenth-century Brazilian society and culture to life for modern readers.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Introduction.
  • 1. To Be Twenty Years Old!
  • 2. The Education of a Poser.
  • 3. The Looking Glass.
  • 4. Chapter on Hats.
  • 5. A Singular Occurrence.
  • 6. Terpsichore.
  • 7. Father Against Mother.
  • 8. The Alienist.
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Machado de Assis: A Literary Life

Posted in Biography, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2015-12-22 04:13Z by Steven

Machado de Assis: A Literary Life

Yale University Press
2015-05-26
360 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
2 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300180824

K. David Jackson, Professor of Portuguese and Director of Undergraduate Studies of Portuguese
Yale University

Novelist, poet, playwright, and short story writer Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839–1908) is widely regarded as Brazil’s greatest writer, although his work is still too little read outside his native country. In this first comprehensive English-language examination of Machado since Helen Caldwell’s seminal 1970 study, K. David Jackson reveals Machado de Assis as an important world author, one of the inventors of literary modernism whose writings profoundly influenced some of the most celebrated authors of the twentieth century, including José Saramago, Carlos Fuentes, and Donald Barthelme. Jackson introduces a hitherto unknown Machado de Assis to readers, illuminating the remarkable life, work, and legacy of the genius whom Susan Sontag called “the greatest writer ever produced in Latin America” and whom Allen Ginsberg hailed as “another Kafka.” Philip Roth has said of him that “like Beckett, he is ironic about suffering.” And Harold Bloom has remarked of Machado that “he’s funny as hell.”

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Machado de Assis: The Brazilian Master and His Novels

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2015-01-13 20:34Z by Steven

Machado de Assis: The Brazilian Master and His Novels

University of California Press
1970
270 pages
ISBN: 9780520016088

Helen Caldwell

Machado de Assis is among the most original creative minds in Brazils rich, four-century-long literary tradition. Miss Caldwell’s critical and biographical study explores Machado’s purpose, meaning, and artistic method in each of his nine novels, published between 1872 and 1908. She traces the ideas and recurrent themes, and identifies his affinities with other authors.

In tracing Machado’s experimentation with narrative techniques, Miss Caldwell reveals the increasingly subtle use he made of point of view, sometimes indirect or reflected, sometimes multiple and “nested” like Chinese boxes.

Miss Caldwell shows the increasing sureness with which he individualized his characters, and how. in advance of his time, he developed action, not by realistic detail, but by the boldest use of allusion and symbol. Each novel is shown to be an artistic venture, and not in any sense a regurgitation from a sick soul as some critics have argued.

In searching out the unity of his novels. Miss Caldwell explores the other aspects of Machado’s intellectual life—as poet, journalist, playwright, conversationalist, and academician. Of particular interest is her attention to his shift away from the social criticism of his early novels into the labyrinth of individual psychology in the last five—all of which rank among world literature. But this perceptive account never loses sight of the one element present in every piece of Machado’s fiction, in every one of his personages; that is, superlative comedy, in its whole range: wit, irony, satire, parody, burlesque, humor.

Altogether, Miss Caldwell reveals to us a writer, in essence a poet, who is still the altus prosator of Brazilian letters.

Read the entire book here or here.

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Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist by G. Reginald Daniel (review)

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2014-01-15 08:15Z by Steven

Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist by G. Reginald Daniel (review)

Hispanic Review
Volume 82, Number 1, Winter 2014
pages 116-119
DOI: 10.1353/hir.2014.0008

Mércia Santana Flannery, Lecturer of Portuguese
Romance Languages Department
University of Pennsylvania

G. Reginald Daniel, Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist, 336 pages, hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-05246-5. (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012).

In Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, the sociologist Erving Goffman (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1963) discusses the relationship between individuals who possess a social stigma and the “normals” (8). Reginald Daniel’s new book, Machado de Assis: Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist, discusses the stigmatized identity of the most celebrated Brazilian novelist as perceived in his literary work. Machado’s biography is traced, his work commented on, and we are offered a picture of the Brazilian mulatto writer as a way to understand the inclusion, or lack thereof, of race relations and black identification in his writings.

Having written extensively about Brazil’s racial relations and about Machado, Daniel is delving into known territory, being more than well qualified to take on the subject. In the introduction, the author comments on the importance of Machado’s legacy to the Brazilian literary canon, and on this famous author’s “betrayal” and his “racial self-negation” (1). From here on, the assumption seems to be that a mulatto writer should be expected to make his race a topic of his literary writings, but we miss the advancement of this line of thought.

In the first chapter, Daniel includes a panoramic consideration of Brazil’s racial configuration. A recapitulation of the country’s racial makeup and the role of miscegenation as an explanation for who Brazilians are as a people is also incorporated. Daniel discusses the Brazilian preference for the white-European phenotype, along with the stigmatization of African ancestry, which foregrounds the ensuing analysis of Machado’s relationship with his own racial ambiguity.

This chapter supplies an interesting account of Brazil, and particularly Rio de Janeiro, during the nineteenth century, the time when Machado wrote and that he used to contextualize most of his novels and short stories. Daniel stresses Brazil’s looking to the outside, especially to Europe (France and England in particular) as a way for the elites to “reckon with the embarrassing gulf between themselves and the masses” (26). Machado is guilty of the same, having chiseled out his characters mostly from European models.

In chapter two, Daniel reflects on the “absence” of literary voices of African ancestry in Brazil. He explains this situation through a description of the African Brazilian condition, which worked to “neutralize” those who could have worked as “mouthpieces in the African Brazilian struggle” (35). According to Daniel, this was a result of how European Brazilians thought about blackness. Considering that blackness in Brazil was so “irreconcilable with social advancement,” those who moved upwards could only be perceived as “whitened” (35). The chapter includes a brief account of other Brazilian mulatto writers and the degree to which they included the African Brazilian tradition in their work. For example, Caldas Barbosa used the African Brazilian vernacular in his modinhas and lundus, whereas Lima Barreto “openly discussed the topic of racism from an African Brazilian point of view” (58).

In chapter three, Daniel offers a biographical account of Machado’s life, including his modest origins in Livramento (born to a Portuguese immigrant mother, a washerwoman and seamstress, and a mulatto house painter), until his death as an acclaimed writer in Laranjeiras. Machado’s transition, the accomplishment of his hard-fought upward mobility, with scant formal education, as he was mostly self-taught, is a reason for praise and part of what is used to compose his portrait as a genius. However, as Daniel indicates, Machado was also condemned for his refusal to discuss racial themes in his works, or, as demonstrated by José do Patrocínio’s accusation, for having “hated his race” (67).

What is unclear is how we are meant to believe that Machado was a detractor, in view of what was said thus far in the book about Brazil’s racial relations. Was Machado acting as the majority of Brazilians did—and do—as far as race is concerned? Do we expect more of him because of his notoriety? In addition, Daniel notes, citing other scholars, that “Machado disguised his mulatto facial features by wearing a thick moustache and a beard and that he also wore his hair closely cropped in his late years to enhance this camouflage…

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