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Dom Casmurro


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About the Author

About the Translator and Editor: John Gledson is Professor Emeritus, Department of Hispanic Studies at the University of Liverpool. He has written two books and numerous articles on Machado de Assis. Joao Adolfo Hansen is a highly-regarded Brazilian literary critic.


Despite humble birth, epilepsy, and mixed blood, Machado de Assis rose to become Brazil's leading literary figure. In his fifth novel, published in 1899 and set in 1850s Rio de Janeiro, Bento Santiago schemes for years to escape from the seminary to marry Capitu, his childhood sweetheart, but then thinks he is betrayed by her. With a criminal's need to confess, he reveals that his jealousy is rooted in aboriginal evil crouching in the shadows long before it ever found its object. The saintliness of his nature is thus overpowered by his Iago half (Santiago means "Saint Iago"). The author's use of omissions, contradictions, and reservations to encourage insights, his ironic humor, and short sentences seem uncannily modern. This translation by University of Liverpool professor Gledson includes footnotes (unlike two earlier English translations), which are helpful in re-creating the physical and social geography of fin-de-siècle Rio de Janeiro. A classic of world literature refashioned into modern and reader-friendly English. [This book is part of Oxford University Press's new "Library of Latin America" series, which also includes the author's The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas, LJ 11/1/97.‘Ed.]‘Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md.

"Dom Casmurro is a great novel, one that deserves to be much better known than it is."--Earl E. Fitz, Vanderbilt University "An excellent work for literature and history courses."--Sonny Davis, Texas University "Machado offers the infectious pleasures of a 19th-century writer who is more modern than some of our so-called moderns.... The mystery of Machado is that he combines distanced irony with intimations of encroaching darkness, self-reflexive antics with soul."--Boston Globe "Machado de Assis is Brazil's greatest novelist, and ranks high among the most appealing writers in the world.... Though he lived mainly in the 19th century, Machado possesses an almost postmodern sensibility--playful, ironic and tricky."--The Washington Post Book World "Machado's masterpiece."--The New York Times Book Review

It's the simplest of stories: boy falls in love with girl next door, they grow up, marry and have a child. Enter jealousy, exit happiness and boy/narrator, Betinho, who goes on to write his magnum opus, the History of the Suburbs . However, Betinho has been promised since conception to the priesthood, a glitch that allows de Assis to describe a community so familiar with God that bargaining with Him is as common as haggling with the butcher. This upper- middle-class Brazilian society of the last century ( Dom Casmurro was first published in 1899) is the setting for Betinho's transformation from a coddled only child to the middle-aged Dom Casmurro, or Lord Taciturn. It is marked by his fantastic imagination, both comic (as when he consults with maggots who are eating books he needs for a dissertation) and tragic (evidence of his beloved wife's infidelity is circumstantial at best). Deftly translated, Dom Casmurro is a book full of humor, sweetness and a tender melancholy--a book that deserves to be read. (Aug.)

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