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Summary

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839-1908) was the greatest writer ever to come from Brazil and one of the masters of nineteenth-century fiction. Susan Sontag calls him "the greatest writer ever produced in Latin America", surpassing even Borges. Harold Bloom says that Machado is "the supreme black literary artist to date". And Allen Ginsburg calls him "another Kafka". And The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas is his masterpiece, a dazzling, tragic, and profound novel that belongs next to the greatest works of his contemporaries Melville and Dostoevsky. Lexicos is proud to present Machado's supreme achievement in this gorgeous new translation by Neil McArthur.

©2018 Neil McArthur (P)2018 Neil McArthur

What listeners say about The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas

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A jewel of the realism

If you would know the story of the author it would be easy to understand how and why this book is so important. But the story is enough to stand on its own and is here to stand the test of time.

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  • C. Park
  • 09-08-18

A hidden masterpiece

I’d never heard of Machado de Assis till I read a profile in the New Yorker. The praise in that article was no exaggeration. Brazilian, mixed race, he really is as good as Melville or Dostoevsky. This is a short, elegant, moving novel. I also like that the narrator handles the Portuguese names and places fluently. Well done.

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  • R
  • 21-06-20

Salty chocolate chip cookie

I would not know about this book if it had not been featured in a recent The New Yorker article titled ‘Rediscovering one of the wittiest book ever written.’ A title like this is a perfect teaser for any reader. What’s better than something interesting and obscure - interesting for the sake of reading it and obscure to later boast about it, to portray oneself as a connoisseur? Is that what the The New Yorker review was doing?

There is no doubt that this book is witty. If it were not for the wit, the book would be in its grave (like the narrator!) rather than still standing on one leg - yes just one leg, barely able to hold its own weight. Kudos to the author for trying to build a three legged stool made of wit, love and philosophy, except that other than wit, the other two legs didn’t find their footing.

The book is a love story - an extramarital affair for nobody. It’s neither happy, nor sad. It’s neither romantic nor obsessive. The more you think about it, the more you realize that it’s just a narration auxiliary to the wit. The narration can be filled with any other story, perhaps that of a person running a marathon encountering wit at every mile - no one would know the difference. And like every unsuccessful love story, this one tries to venture into philosophy to express its regret - both with love and with life. The dabble attempts to describe a school of thought that the author himself didn’t understand. Was it witty that the author tried to wrap it as if someone else was explaining it to him in the book or just plain foolish?

So, after philosophy and love are lost for the reader, what’s left is just wit, like delicious chips in a salty chocolate chip cookie. Who doesn’t like salty chocolate chip cookies or rather who does?

The merit of this book lies in an obscure realm from where the literature can both extol or debase it, for instance for its one or three line chapters. Whether it deserves a rediscovery, remains an open question.

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  • Diana Salles
  • 06-10-19

An inspired interpretation of a singular novel.

I enjoyed it very much. Takes me back to my past life the performance is dreamy.

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  • Tyler Stout
  • 27-06-21

Simply marvelous from the king of Brazilian literature!

Machado de Assis is one of the most underrated writers outside of his native country of Brazil. This is a shame because his name should be mentioned in the same breath of the pantheon of the greatest classic writers like Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Dickens, Twain, Dumas, Verne, and Hugo. Unfortunately, this is not the case and outside of Brazil, he has been largely forgotten.
His story about Bras Cubas is witty, poignant, hilarious, a little sad, but ultimately a page turner from the first until the last.
The guy doing the reading is really good, but it took me a minute because I speak Portuguese and I’ve read the in the original Portuguese so it took me a little while to get over hearing Brazilian culture and the story in English.
The translation is really well done as well, and keeps the humor and the spirit of Assis. Very well done, so don’t cheat yourself by skipping out on this one!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-09-20

xx

Quite interesting to realize that's XIX century book. Not by chance Machado de Assis is the Father of National Letters Academy (Bra).

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  • Chris Lewis
  • 29-06-20

Totally unimpressed!

After seeing so many reviews it was
disappointing to read this book. It is meandering tale of nothing happening to a lazy, arrogant, narcissistic, self-obsessed man.
It was this month’s choice for our book club and was universally disliked, to the point where we are considering cancelling the meeting at which it would have been discussed.

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  • Caveat Emptor
  • 10-06-20

The wittiest novel ever written? Uh, no.

Occasionally witty, yes. A great novel? I don’t think so. Not that entertaining, edifying, memorable, or inspirational (at least the latter not being author’s point). I think the reviews for the new translation oversold the original.