Why he isn t one of the Modernist masters is beyond me, well it s not actually, that is a figure of speech It s because Modernism in literature is still a decade away from beginning to manifest itself It is because big fucking capital EM Modernist writing is too fucking big and important for it to originate in some literary back water like Rio de Janeiro It s because one person writing wonderfully beautiful and groundbreaking literature but without others following suit yet doesn t make a decisive break in the history of literature Other reviews probably deal with the injustice of his obscurity better than I am doing here The book itself This is the simple story of a boy who s mom made a promise to god Let me have a child that lives, and if it s a boy he ll become a priest Growing up the boy is immersed in all things Catholic, and even plays at performing mass, all until at one point he realizes his best friend, the girl next door, is in love with him and that the feelings are mutual Told in a 148 chapters in 263 pages the novel is something of a Cubist picture told from the perspective of the boy, now a reclusive old man living in a simulacrum of the house he grew up in It s like super condensed, Campbell Soup but without any Warhol connotations style Proust, with all of the minutia packed into single words and simple phrases but as affecting as pages of luscious prose There was this great line that I marked at the moment when the narrator realized that the girl next door had the same feelings for him that he had for her, maybe it was just because it reminded me of Leonard Cohen lyrics, but I liked itI, future padre, thus stood before her as before an altar, and one side of her face was the Epistle and the other the Gospel It only remained to say the new Mass, in a Latin that no one learns, and that is the catholic language of all men Why you should read this novel Reasons are not listed in order of importance.
1 This novel is written by Se or Machado de Assis, one of the most loved Brazilian writers I can understand why.
2 The narrator is unreliable, and we as readers know how interesting they could be Saying Bentinho is interesting would be an understatement.
3 Each chapter starts with a cool title To name a few Idea without legs and idea without arms , Shake your head, reader , In which is explained the explained , Let us enter the chapter and The soul is full of mysteries.
4 Brilliant prose For example We stood there with heaven in us Our hands united our nerves, and made of two creatures one and that one a seraph Our eyes continued to say infinite things, only the words in our mouths did not attempt to pass our lips they returned to the heart, silently as they came.
Lovers language, give me an exact and poetic comparison to say what those eyes of Capitu were like No image comes to mind that doesn t offend against the rules of good style, to say what they were and what they did to me Undertow eyes Why not Undertow That s the notion that the new expression put in my head They held some kind of mysterious, active fluid, a force that dragged one in, like the undertow of a wave retreating from the shore on stormy days So as not to be dragged in, I held onto anything around them, her ears, her arms, her hair spread about her shoulders but as soon as I returned to the pupils of her eyes again, the wave emerging from them grew towards me, deep and dark, threatening to envelop me, draw me in and swallow me up.
5 There is a chapter calledThe operawhere an old Italian tenor explains his theory called Life is an opera to Bentinho This is one my favorite chapters and hence, it gets added to my list.
6 Though the subject of this book might seem scandalous jealousy,adultery,etc , Assis s humor shines through out the novel And I like smart funny novels Hence, on my list too 7 Interesting characters To name a few Jose Dias, a lover of superlatives and a dependent of Bentinho s family Dona Gloria, a god fearing woman and mother of Bentinho Uncle Cosme, who is just Uncle Cosme Escobar, Bentinho s best friend Capitu, a girl with tide like eyes, with arms better than any woman ever lived or will live, Bentinho s first love and wife, the might be might not be mother of his child Now you know why Bentinho is unreliable the dude is confused and confuses the reader too But, nonetheless, we as readers turn out to be smarter than him Bentinho, the narrator and one of the most weird, emotional, funny, vulnerable and memorable protagonists I ever came across8 The narrator constantly voices out to the reader as dear reader or lovely reader , which I find very amusing To know that there is atleast one person better if he she is fictional in this world who needs your attention is one of the greatest pleasures in life Bentinho is quite good at making his reader feel important So, read it for Bentinho Listen to the poor guy, you won t be sorry.
I can only imagine, if this book will be chosen for book discussion of any of the groups here in goodreads, there could be disagreements that could lead to war, which can only be settled in peace if Machado de Assis resurrects he died in 1908 or if, magically, his characters in this novel come to life and answer our questions.
Um livro tudo, menos bvio Machado de Assis orienta o leitor por caminhos que podem ser enganosos Um nico ponto de vista por parte de um narrador nada confi vel que desde o in cio da hist ria, ainda uma crian a, ostenta caracter sticas de um ser inseguro e desconfiado Logo aqui come a a levar nos descren a e a encaminhar nos no sentido de duvidarmos de todas as evid ncias por si apontadas N o havendo provas nem outros pontos de vista, a d vida dele a nossa certeza, e Bentinho diagnosticado como lun tico.
Mas, e se esta hist ria labir ntica foi criada com o prop sito de brincar com o leitor E se Machado de Assis, propositadamente, nos guiou pelo caminho da ilus o mais f cil E se, vista do que parecem ser as evid ncias de um alucinado, estiver a colocar nos, precisamente, perante a verdade Seria um golpe de g nio, ou n o Nunca saberemos.
Dom Casmurro A Alcunha De Bento Santiago, Que, Velho E S , Desvela As Suas Mem Rias Uma Promessa Da M E, Tra A Lhe O Destino Como Padre, Mas Bento Santiago Apaixonado, Abandona O Semin Rio Estuda Direito E Casa Se Com O Seu Grande Amor, Mas O Ci Me E A Desconfian A Adensam Se Suspeita Que N O O Pai Biol Gico Do Filho Do Casal, Ezequiel, Mas Sim O Seu Grande Amigo Escobar review in English below Nem sei o que dizer Que escrita fant stica Quero mais A maneira como a hist ria contada, em retrospectiva mas com tanta cor , os cap tulos curtos, por vezes curt ssimos, o humor na dose certa, at a forma como o narrador protagonista se dirige ao leitor ou leitora, consoante mais lhe conv m, tudo do melhor Se o resto da obra de Machado de Assis tiver esta qualidade, acho que encontrei um novo autor favorito I m at a loss of words What a fantastic writing I wantThe way the story is told, in retrospective but with so much colour , the short somtimes very short chapters, the wisely dosed humour, even the way the narrator protagonist addresses the reader him or her, at his convenience , all of it is really the best If Machado de Assis other works have this kind of quality, I think I found myself a new favourite author Dom Casmurro was at first striking to me for its unique setting Brazil in the mid 19th Century, a place which seems at once familiar and exotic A place where slavery has not yet been abolished deeply Catholic, yet modern and European in its sensibilities.
The synopses of this novel tend to focus on the theme of jealousy, but this is not the whole story For me, the novel is a study of human failings, of our tendency towards self destruction the ways in which we are slaves to our nature There is a kind of amorality, or at least a sense of pessimistic resignation that as humans we inevitably impose on ourselves these subtle tragedies, and though we may feel we can and must rise above them, in fact we cannot help but repeat these same mistakes we are simply drawn to them by our nature And it is not that we are evil, only that our passions inherently contain an opposing counterpart in the case of love, that counterpart is jealousy, which is not love s antithesis, but is in fact an inseparable component of love itself Along with our failings we have been given an incredible capacity for rationalisation, an ability to re frame and reconcile ourselves to any personal wrongdoing As Bentinho looks back on his life, we are never really sure which of his reminiscences are fact, and which are a product of this rationalisation But it is the quality of his experience that is salient, rather than the question of truth Though we cannot confirm it, we suspect that certain pieces of the narrative have been distorted, and we see exemplified in Bentinho that very human trait the complete inability to sacrifice the ego We see what fragile and tragic creatures we are, who are unable to face the fact of who we are in reality who must instead twist the narratives of our lives so that they can compare tolerably when held up against the ideal self, which we believe ourselves, falsely, to embody.
Dom Casmurro is about a lifelong love affair in which one person betrays the other the mystery is who has done the betraying The narrator doubles back on himself, loses track of his thoughts, lies both to us and to himself, and generally mucks everything up in a series of short,sharp chapters with titles like Let us proceed to the chapter and Let us enter the chapter Machado de Assis is apparently Brazil s best loved author and an antecedent of the magical realist style, and I d never heard of him until this year Exciting And this book is weird and wonderful.
Early on, a minor character explains that life is an opera Not metaphorically Satan, a young maestro with a great future, is cast out of the conservatory of heaven after rebelling, but not before stealing a cast off libretto of God s He turns it into a full opera and begs God to hear it At last God relents, but refuses to have it played in heaven instead, he creates this world as a special stage to hear Satan s composition which, in the lonely fleshing out, has accidentally lost or distorted some of God s themes Indeed in some places the words go to the right and the music to the leftCertain motifs grow wearisome from repetition There are obscure passagesand there are some who say that this is the beauty of the composition and keeps it from being monotonous That s cool, right It s even better in context.
The foreword by Elizabeth Hardwick spoils everything You should basically always read forewords last.
Heather suggested that Tolstoy s novella The Kreutzer Sonata would make a good companion read, so I obediently read that next she was totally right They go together perfectly.