The Author as Plagiarist - The Case of Machado de Assis

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The Author as Plagiarists The Case of Machado de Assis Guest Editor: Joao Cezar de Castro Rocha Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro

Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

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plagiarist

as

author

The



The Author as

Plagiarist

The Case of Machado de Assis

Digitized by the Internet Archive in

2016

https://archive.org/details/authoraspiagiariOOroch



Portuguese Literary & Cultural Studies 13/14

Fall

2004/Spring 2005

The Author as Plagiarist The Case of Machado de Assis

UfiifASS

Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture University of Massachusetts

Dartmouth

DARTMOUTH

Portuguese Literary & Cultural Studies

Director: Frank Editor: Victor].

F.

Sousa, University of Massachusetts

Mendes, University

of Massachusetts

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Dartmouth

Guest Editor: Joao Cezar de Castro Rocha, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Editorial

Manager: Gina M.

Reis, University of Massachusetts

Assistant to the Editors:

Mark

Copy

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Editors: Sandra

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M.

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Souza, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

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OnAsimo Teotonio Almeida, Brown

Minho

University

Abel Barros Baptista, Universidade Nova de Lisboa Erancisco Bethencourt, Universidade

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Dario Borim, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Joao Camilo dos Santos, University of California, Santa Barbara Joao Cezar de Castro Rocha, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Luiz Costa Lima, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro

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Table of Contents

xix

Introduction:

Machado de

Assis

—The Location of an Author

Joao Cezar de Castro Rocha

Acts of Reading

43

Machado de of the

Assis'

Reception and the Transformation

Modern European Novel

Earl E. Fitz

59

Dress and Female Intelligence: Intertextuality in

Esau and Jacob

Pedro Armando de Almeida Magalhaes

67

Readings of Balzac

The

Case of

in

Twentieth-Century

Machado de

Brazil:

Assis

Gilberto Pinheiro Passes

81

The Shandean Form: Laurence Sterne and Machado de Assis Sergio Paulo Rouanet

105

Machado de

Assis, Critic of Eqa

A Symptomatic

de Queiros

Misunderstanding

Joao Camiio dos Santos

129

Hamlet the

Brazilian

Way

(Machado, Reader of Shakespeare) Sandra Guardini

T.

Vasconcelos

Interpretations

141

Machado de

Assis, a

Contemporary Writer

Joao Almino

143

Machado and Modernism Raul Antelo

161

Machado de

Assis on Popular Music:

A

Case

for Cultural Studies in Nineteenth-Century Latin

America

Idelber Avelar

177

Raymundo

Faoro, Reader of

Machado de

Assis

Alfredo Bosi

199

Around My Room and Around

Life

Antonio Candido

205

Fictionalizations of the

de

Assis'

Reader

Novels

Hello de Seixas Guimaraes

in

Machado



219

The Cannibal Metaphor K.

227

in

Machado de

Assis

David Jackson

The Skeptical Paradox

In

Machado de

Assis

Gustavo Bernardo Krause

249

Machado and the Cost

of Reading

Marisa Lajolo and Regina Zilberman

263

The Development of

View

In

a Skeptical Life

the Fiction of

Machado de

Assis

Jose Raimundo Maia Neto

281

The Place of Machado de Assis

in

the Present

Daniel Piza

285

Machado de

Assis:

A Keen Look

at Nineteenth-Century Brazilian Identity

Maria Aparecida Ferreira de Andrade Salgueiro

293

Master among the Ruins Michael

Wood

Novel

307

The Beautiful Form of Sadness: Machado de

Assis'

Hans

Memorial de Aires

Ulrich

Gumbrecht

317

Four Stomachs and a Brain: An Interpretation of Esau e Jaco

Stephen M. Hart

333

How

is

the Second Life of Bras Cubas Different

from His Victor

353

J.

First

One?

Mendes

Absence of Time: The Counselor's Dreams Pedro Meira Monteiro

373

The (Lack

of) Feeling of

Machado de Karl

391

Ludwig

Irony

in

Assis'

Dom

What Happens: Casmurro

Pfeiffer

Machado de

Dom

Assis'

Casmurro:

Reflections on Anti-Tragic Cordiality Kathrin H. Rosenfield

407

Strategies of Deceit:

Dom

Casmurro

Marta de Senna

419

Some Unknown Chapters

of the First Version

of Quincas Borba Serialized

Ana Claudia

Suriani

da

Silva

in

A

Estagao

Sentimental in

Commerce and Moral Accountancy

Memorias postumas de Bras Cubas

Bluma Waddington

Picturing

Vilar

Machado de

Assis

Short story

The Paradox of the

Alienist

Abel Barros Baptista

Under the Guise of Science Ivo Barbieri

Paradigms at of

Play:

Machado de

The Short Stories

Assis

Paul Dixon

The Short Story

in

Machado de

the Works of

and Horacio Quiroga:

A

Assis

Material Aesthetic?

Pablo Rocca

"Rosebud" and the Holy for Re-Reading

Grail:

Machado de

Joao Cezar de Castro Rocha

A

Hypothesis

Assis' Short Stories

Poetry

561

Cronica

/

Machado de

Journalism

/

Assis, the

Apprentice Journalist

Cristiane Costa

571

Machado de

Assis

and Nationalism:

The Americanas Case Jose

585

Luis

Jobim

The Poetry of Machado de Assis Claudio Murilo Leal

599

Cronica

in

Themes

Fifteen

Ana Miranda

607

Guineas Borba

in

A

Estagao

Marcus Vinicius Nogueira Soares

Reception

625

A

Season

Alfred

627

in

Casa Verde

Mac Adam

Machado de

Assis

in

English:

A

Selected Bibliography

K.

David Jackson

647

Machado de

Assis

Jose Saramago

649

Machado de

Assis

Arnaldo Saraiva

661

Translators

in

Portugal

'"

7

!

-

O grotesco, por cxemplo, nao esta no texro do poeta; e uma excrescencia para imitar

Mulheres patuscas de Windsor. Este ponto e contestado pelos satanistas

algiima aparencia da razao.

compos

a

a afirmar

opera,

nem

grande opera,

que o poeta

com

Dizem

ingles

essa farsa

que, ao

nem

que parece

Shakespeare eram nascidos.

ele

com

tempo em que o jovem Satanas

nao teve outro genio senao transcrever

arte e hdelidade,

tal

eles

Chegam

a letra

da

proprio o autor da composi(;ao;

mas, evidentemente, e urn plagiario.

— Machado de

Assis,

The element of the it is

is

Dom

Casmurro

grotesque, for example,

is

not to be found in the poet’s

an excrescence, put there to imitate The Merry Wives of Windsor. This point

contested by the satanists, with every appearance of reason.

time

text:

when

the

young Satan composed

had been born. They go to transcribe the

his opera, neither

as far as to affirm that the

words of the opera, with

skill

— Machado de

Assis,

Dom

that, at the

Shakespeare nor his farce

English poet’s only genius was

and so

be the author of the composition; but of course he

They say

is

Casmurro (John Gledson,

faithfully that he

a plagiarist.

trans.)

seems to

i /

r

A

Revoki^ao Francesa

e Otelo estao feitos;

tirada para outras pec^as, e assim se

— Machado de

Assis,

A

committed,

— Machado de

Assis,

Othello have been written;

scene and using

it

Semana (Helen Caldwell,

still

there

in other

speaking, acts of plagiarism.

A

ou aquela cena

cometem, literariamente hilando,

lifting this or that

literarily

esta

seja

os plagios.

Semana, 28 July 1895

The French Revolution and prevent one Irom

nada impede que

trans.)

is

nothing to

dramas: thus are

Machado de

Introduction:

Assis

—The Location of an Author^

Joao Cezar de Castro Rocha^

Thar Stendhal should have confessed dred readers cause no

to have written

books

his

for a

hun-

something that brings on wonder and concern. Something that

is

wonder and probably no concern

Stendhal’s

one of

hundred

— Machado de

reaciers,

Assis,

or

fifty,

is

whether

this

will

other book will have

or twenty, or even ten. Ten? Five, perhaps.

The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas

(5)

The Location of a (Utopic) Question

On

work of Machado de

Match

est film.

of

Salman Rushdie confessed

a recent trip to Brazil,

Dom

Assis. ^ Similarly,

Point,

Woody

to use

in

international

encomiums

for the author

possible that a “master

letters”

literary

of his

lat-

newspapers and magazines have

Roberto Schwarz’s expression^

“world republic of

in the

the



Is it

release

of the

Adlen expressed his admiration for the author

enthusiastically reprinted these

talism”

on the occasion of the

CasmurroP Cultural supplements

Memoirs of Bras Cubas.

his appreciation



as Pascale

marketplace?

of The Posthumous

on the periphery of capi-

—can

achieve

Casanova

calls

full

recognition

the structure of

Casanova provides the answer:

“Notwithstanding the ecumenical ideology that presides over

literary cele-

brations, writers in small languages are apt to find themselves marginalized”

(277;

my

To oeuvre

emphasis).

begin, the question of the international reception of is

at

once unavoidable and

irrelevant.^

ture continues to search for legitimacy,

However,

this

question

is

It is

Machado de

Assis’

unavoidable: Brazilian cul-

which preferably comes from abroad.

ultimately irrelevant, for this legitimacy usually

implies that Brazilian authors have satisfied exotic expectations

imposed on

XX

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

them from

outside.^

That

13/14

this (false)

question lingers today reveals more about

the anguish of an academic and artistic system that sees

than

it

marginalized

itself as

helps to understand the intellectual and artistic production of this loca-

marketing of symbolic goods

tion. Finally, the

docile than

we would

mony

dominates the economic and

that

like

it

to be,

is

(and has always been)

and thus tends

As

political arenas.

of self-exoticism,‘^ the frequency of

more

a result, casting

one’s sight anxiously to foreign reception can lead to the regrettable

non

far

same hege-

to reproduce the

phenome-

which remains overwhelming, espe-

contemporary Brazilian cinema and popular

cially in certain expressions of

music, earning them the dubious epithet of “art for export. In the case of

oeuvre also

Machado de Assis, (unfavorably)

reflects

the restricted international reception of his

on

Brazilian criticism.

Indeed, for

many

decades the central debate of Machadian studies practically reduced the parameters of the discussion to possible reality.

This

prolific

ties

between the author’s work and

local

debate can be summarized by a pair of predictable opposi-

tions: explicit alienation

from, and subtle allusions, to Brazilian society; a delib-

erate act of obscuring his family origins;

coded descriptions of social

inequality.

This colorful game of critical divergences unnecessarily circumscribes Machado de

Assis’

in the

work within

the dilemmas of Brazilian history, instead of placing

realm of the “world republic of

letters.”

Of

course,

would

ture that

reveal

the promises of an

However,

if



a critical ges-

an ironically misplaced and misleading fascination with

outmoded concept of

Weltliteratiir.

such a concern with local conditions

clarifies

tique of Machado’s gaze relative to nineteenth-century Brazil, a

not a matter of

it is

simply reversing this process and overlooking local conditions

fundamental aspect of his work that may constitute

his

the subtle criit

also obscures

most relevant con-

tribution to the rewriting of literary tradition. This contribution

Machado’s work

at the center of

contemporary

that the mediocre repercussions of his a perverse (and

work abroad can

after

all,

in Brazilian culture, therefore

it

would

concerns.

critical

false

place

here

problem of

such a debate primarily concerns limits the potential of

It is

also be attributed to

unexpected) effect of criticism’s focus on the

Machado’s “alienation”;

specialists

Machado’s oeuvre

to

wider readership.

attract a

A

him

set

of radical (and absurd) illustrations

Imagine equating Goethe’s and writers at the

Schiller’s

will clarify

perspective.

works with learning how German

end of the eighteenth century overcame

plex vis-Tvis French culture.

my

their inferiority

Imagine someone reading

Madame

com-

Bovary to

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

primarily

become acquainted with

MACHADO

DE ASSIS

the social transformations that were tak-

Does any-

ing place in French society from the vantage point of a small town.

one believe that the repercussion of Dostoyevsky’s novels can he explicated through an uncontrollable desire to better understand Russian culture nineteenth century? be sublimated, as

it

It is

to explaining the

However, the matter of nationality should not he

condemn Machado’s work Bras Cuhas.

Of

course,

to his country.

itself to

As

first

we

the five readers of

ignore the fecund contributions of the

However, the very success of Plagiarist

commit-

depends on the

this school

— The Case ofMachado de

Assis

step in this critical direction.

new

a result,



the project of rescuing Machado’s

opening of new paths. The Author as constitutes a

uniqueness of any author.

(exclusively) emphasized, or

to a very restricted reception

we should not

school that has dedicated

ment

in the

true that the matter of nationality cannot (naturally)

vital

is

readings of Machado’s

work come

discuss his legacy in a broader context. Therefore,

cumstances of an author

who

to the fore

when we

we should emphasize

the cir-

boldly experimented with literary genres, freely

appropriated the literary tradition, developed an irreverent rapport with the reader through a series of experiments with the narrative voice, attributed to the act of reading a central role in the act of writing,

of rewriting the text as the text

commenting on

is

and played with the process

being written through the act of ironically

the process of composition.

Machado de

Assis

is

provocative writer, regardless of his geographical coordinates. Indeed,

seems to write

(also) in

order to think about literature.

He

a very

Machado

narrates in order to

propose narrative problems; his oeuvre thus embodies a form whose content the problematization of literature tus

is

itself, its

conditions of readability and the

of interpretation in the age of printing

tions such as these to the fore

we

see a

press.

As soon

new Machado de

as

we

knew

Machado

that writing

will finally find

is

a

byproduct of reading.

abroad more than the

When

five readers

this

is

sta-

bring ques-

Assis appear,

one who

a precursor of Jorge Luis Borges; a precursor to that family of authors

always

is

who

achieved,

of Bras Cubas.

The Location of Places In this context, ate

we can propose

that

Machado de

Assis

was only able

to cre-

groundbreaking work when he came to terms with the circumstance of

Brazil as a “peripheral” country.

develop what

I

would

call

these concepts; otherwise,

This particular location allowed him to

“belatedness as a critical project.” Let

my

xxi

me

clarify

approach could be readily misunderstood.

INTRODUCTION

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

First of all,

I

am

13/14

using the concept of “peripheral” not as an objective

description of a given place hut rather as a complex set of politically, culturally,

and economically asymmetrical

rally

dynamic and change

instead of simply doing tain

contemporary

— —and

the “peripheral” pole being

relationships

located in a hierarchically secondary position

these positions are natu-

the course of a historical process. Therefore,

in

away with the concepts of center and

critical

trends propose,

we must render them

complex, stressing their relational nature. Otherwise, we tools to

such

ever

more

will lack the analytical

understand the growing inequalities of a so-called globalized world.

For instance, spaces

periphery, as cer-

—ones

Casanova proposes the definition of “median

that are neither central nor located

of small European countries

as those

[...]”

literary

on the remote periphery, (277). Regarding one of

these countries, Portugal, formerly a great colonial empire, Boaventura de

Sousa Santos developed the thought-provoking notion of the “semiperipheral condition,” which implies “an intermediate economic development and a position of intermediation between the center and the periphery of the world

economy”

Further in his innovative essay, Sousa Santos expounds the

(9).

cultural consequences of the semiperipheral condition, while defining a

Janus-like figure, the “Portuguese Prospero”: “Being neither an emancipatory

nor an emancipated if in

identity,

Candido

calls this

as

Antonio

impossible margin the “semicolonial condition” of Bra-

and most of Machado’s achievements might be re-read

zilian culture,

light of this concept, for

a

he oscillated between Prospero and Caliban

search of Guimaraes Rosas third margin of the river” (36).

it

in the

implies an appropriation of the tradition based

on

fundamentally irreverent fashion. In the late 1970s, in the context of Italian art history, Enrico Castelnuovo

and Carlo Ginzburg had already proposed

a highly

complex model

for refram-

ing this discussion, calling into question the assumption underlying the

mon

definition of the concepts of center

particularly illuminating to the project of

ofMaehado de Assis. According

If the center

is

The Author

to Castelnuovo

'

5

com-

Their approach

the center, then one cannot but consider periphery synony-

artistic belatedness.

Of

eliminates the difficulty although lent perspective, the relationship

it

course, this

aims

is

at solving

a tautological it.

[...]

is

— The Case

as Plagiarist

and Ginzburg:

by definition the location of artistic creation and periphery simply

means distance from

mous with

and periphery.

scheme, which

Seen under a polyva-

between center and periphery

reveals itself to be

— THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

very ditterent from a peaceful image conriict,

[...]•

which can he observed even

This

is

MACHADO DE ASSIS

nor a matter of diffusion, hut of

in situations in

which the periphery seems

INTRODUCTION

to limit itself to faithfully follow the directions of the center. (286)

The

authors then

show how,

more than an

in the Italian context,

artistic

center responsible for dictating aesthetic values, one finds the emergence of a

dynamic

polycentric structure,

dominance. Of course,

their

in

its

model

is

relationships, variable in

its

patterns of

highly suggestive, especially in the con-

temporary position of the globalized world.

An

author such

as

host “influences” from different cultural centers tion the overlapping of several historical

Machado de

whose

Assis has always already created a personal polycentric library,

shelves

peripheries, not to

moments.

In

men-

Machadian terms, the

contentious nature of the encounter between central and peripheral instances translates itself as a specific entails the possibility of I

am

writer

form of appropriation of literary

unfolding “belatedness

tion. Rather,

I

am

deliberado y de

las

and

Assis’

work. Moreover, although

I

am

val-

aware

I

insist that this

awareness should not obscure the

location that does not (and cannot) see itself as being

the very center of the cultural

movement

keenly acknowledges this potential: frequent that a

“It

is

new human

a

in a given time.

phenomenon

—with

Georg Lukacs

that causes surprise;

type appears for the

of a young country, and from there

penetrates the literature of the

As

contemporary

by any “triumphant interpretation of our backward-

same time

critical potential of a

it is

into ques-

calls

detachment from the hierarchy usually

favors an ironic gaze regarding

— trademarks of Machado de

literature

Manichean comprehension of

atribuciones erroneas.”’^ Therefore, “belatedness as a crit-

of the pitfalls implied

however,

a

and Ginzburg’s quotation

project” presupposes a skeptical

at the



appropriating Jorge Luis Borges’ “tecnica del anacronismo

attributed to tradition,

ness,”

as a critical project.”

always coming or existing after the expected time, which would be

is

cultural history that Castelnuovo

ues

which

not using the concept of belatedness to imply that a “peripheral”

defined by the so-called “central powers”

ical

tradition,

all

its

first

time in the

complexities

whole cultivated world.”

a matter of fact, the issue of a belated

modernity has always haunted

Latin-American writers and social thinkers. In Brazilian cultural history, an issue of

paramount importance

nity, that

is,

economic

is

the question of

and the quest

progress, social justice, and, above

all,

for

moder-

the desire to be

up-to-date with the latest trends. Brazilian cultural history, then, engages in

xxiv

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

a

13/14

phantasmagorical race towards what has not yet been clearly indicated, and

therefore cannot be fully achieved. In this context, however fast

you

will

run

restlessly.

who A

always arrive

Thus,

a

You

late.

more

you

travel,

you

are always already belated, especially if

might be pursued by an author

fertile alternative

decides to deliberately espouse anachronism as a method.

Belated Writer

Machado de

—Ahead of his Time

Cubas, was published in

book form terpiece

The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras

Assis’ first innovative novel.

form

serial

in the Revista Brasileira in

1880 and

This groundbreaking work has been praised

a year later.

by writers and

critics

such

as Jose

Sontag, John Barth, and Piarold Bloom,

as a

in

mas-

Saramago, Carlos Puentes, Susan

among

others

— not

mention

to

Brazilian readers. Nonetheless, until the writing of Bras Cubas, although he

was already

among

noted author, respected

a

de Assis did not have yet the “edge” to

admire

—such

Is

contemporaries,

his

work

his

Machadian

the state of the art in

we have

that

after 1880.-^ In this introduction,

mary of the

of the play concerning

state

open the novel

to the first page.

Reader,” a part of which

1

used

as the

That Stendhal should have confessed dred readers will

is

to have written

not cause wonder and probably no concern

The

truth

is

that

it’s

a

a

few

fretful

I

This

key passage; indeed,

is

a

will invite read-

I

“To the

will find a note,

this introduction:

one of

his

books

for a

hun-

it

a

is

whether

other book will

this

or twenty, or even ten. Ten? Five, per-

work where

Xavier de Maistre.

touches of pessimism into

dead man.

wrote

fifty,

question of a scattered

adopted the free-form of a Sterne or have put

leap manifested in

not provide a sum-

something that brings on wonder and concern. Something that

have Stendhal’s hundred readers, or haps.

will

I

this topic. Instead,

There they

epigraph of

one of

the need to pro-

is

quantum

Machado’s works

ers to

learned to

studies. Therefore,

the most pressing questions for Brazilian literary criticism

vide a reasonable explanation for the authentic

Machado

it.

It’s

I

am

I,

Bras Cubas, have

not sure but

possible.

I

may

The work of a

with a playful pen and melancholy ink. (5)^"

this

is

Machado de

After the very beginning of The Posthumous rator fashions himself as an author

who

fully

Memoirs

Assis’ rite

of passage.

of Bras Cubas, the nar-

acknowledges

that,

above

all,

undermines Romantic notions of authorship.

is

a reader, a statement that

is

clear that within this construct, Fdarold Bloom’s theory of “the anxiety

he It

of

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

Romantic projection

inHuence” reveals

itself as a

which

what authors such

is

precisely

From 1880, references

Machado

the surface of his texts

authors,

to

THE CASE OF

ever

ASSIS

Assis call into question.

more populated by innumerable

and tropes from the

topics,

MACHADO DE

tradition.

literary

If

consciously assimilates Sterne’s technique of digression, he does so his digressions usually start or

end with

Adam

reference to

with Montaigne’s Havor, for

As Alfred Mac

references.

r amour, which

“Through

notes:

this

and poetry, and

blurs essay, fiction,

literary

De

his later references to

Sterne and Xavier de Maistre, Bras creates antecedents for his disconnected

Had

Postljumous Memoirs' (97).

Jorge Luis Borges read Machado’s novel,

then the Argentinean could well have written a Precursors.”

his

author,”

who

And

new

and

artificial

fictional pact.

his novels to

is

a “deceased

This uncanny

displaces the fiction toward an

which engages the reader

authorial freedom,

Machado not only

compels the readers of

— “Machado and

essay

way: after his death.

man

“delegation of the writing to the dead intransitive

new

should be noted that Bras Cubas

it

starts his career in a special

in a

fashions himself as a reader, but he also

acknowledge

their role in the constitu-

tion of the fictional play.

As

a

matter of

Machado

fact, since his first novel, Ressurreigao,

a genre in

which he

is

explicit the authors

framework

Machado

whom

with

for

Moreover, he imposes upon digress endlessly or travel

the pilot of his journey.^s that

is,

is

As he

Sterne, Xavier de Maistre,

his

a

not only renders

in

the “free-form.”^7

a particular twist.

Machado does not

interested

is

chamber, propelled by witty

demands

humor

a co-pilot;

and the nineteenth centuries as well as injects

Machado had

in the figures of

humor

into the

already envisioned the technique

of the “deliberate anachronism” in this overlapping of historical times

erary genres.

enced

as

Modernity

as

an unfinished process

an impasse but rather

pass different horizons.

as

as

“melancholy ink.” Machado, therefore,

and Stendhal,

of melancholy.

He

states clearly, his itinerary

he adds

brings together the eighteenth

craft his skills in

dialoguing but also provides a concep-

he

form

around

to the “playful pen”

somber mood

he

this

published in 1872,

determined to

takes a step further.

dialogue:

this

is

Posthumous Memoirs, especially in the

a beginner.

note “To the Reader,”

tual

who

portrays himself as a worker

is

and

lit-

not necessarily experi-

an opportunity to simultaneously encom-

Thus, Machado

is

not nostalgic for an idealized view

of Brazilian history, to be preserved against the process of modernization.

Moreover, he

is

XXV

of the notion of “genius,”

Machado de

as is

-

not enthusiastic about the promises of modernity: the

free-

INTRODUCTION

xxvi

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

form of

13/14

responds to the free-form of his thinking

his prose

In other words, the complexity of

—and

Machado’s understanding of the

tradition requires an equally elaborated linguistic expression, tic

experimentation encourages an irreverent reading of

Machado’s breakthrough

vice versa.

and

literary

his linguis-

classical authors.

neither an exclusively literary achievement nor

is

primarily an intellectual accomplishment; as a matter of fact, both deeds are

simultaneously engendered: one fosters the other.

The

explicit

acknowledgement of the simultaneity of

different historical

epochs produces an awareness that distinguishes Machado’s achievements. is

as if peripheral writers

have to face a

phenomenon

It

that could be called the

“compression of historical time”; namely, they simultaneously receive infor-

mation from

several

historical

periods without the “benefit” of a linear

chronological order or an already stable interpretive framework. In Brazilian

problem has always already been

literature this

there; after

existed in Brazil before there were Brazilian novelists. it

“the novel has

all,

So when they appeared,

was natural that they should follow the European models, both good and

bad, which had already

my

Misplaced 41;

become entrenched

The

emphasis).

opment of what could be

in oiir

reading habits' (Schwarz,

usual answer to this situation

is

the devel-

called an “anxiety of up-to-datedness,”

which

obliges the writer to engage in an impossible race, for there can never be an

adequate starting point

—wherever you

begin, you cannot compensate for the

ground already covered. Carlos Puentes humorously

“The

imitations of the independence era

a Nescafe civilization:

past

and ignoring

formal

level,

is

Assis,2"^ for

literary device

logic in their belief in

instantly,

whom

the clash of historical perceptions becomes a at the

Machado

brings

the historical precedence of reading ovqv writing

the first novelists

Latin American literature

applies to

novelists.” Therefore,

is

literatures





in that sense,

critical readers

from

always wider than Latin America, since

several traditions.

all

were

America and not

were necessarily the attentive and sometimes

two centuries of European novels

encompass

as

of unparalleled strength. This device renders productive,

in Brazil, “the novel has existed before there

of at least

overlooking the

an alternative, exercised by an author such

to the structure of his composition the fact that, in Latin

simply

such anxiety:

tradition” (10).

Nonetheless, there

Machado de

move beyond

we could become modern

targets

this

It

is

its

onset,

it

has to

true that, to a degree, this circumstance

acknowledgement

is

indispensable, in order to

avoid another naive eulogy of belatedness. In the case of Latin America, how-

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

ever,

where the colonial past was

produced a predictable and

mental lack of sibility of

originality,

Machado welcomes

which becomes

On

the contrary,

the notion of a funda-

a liberating force.

If

there

is

no pos-

fashioning oneself as an “original” writer, then the entire literary

tra-

dition might be freely appropriated. Thus, Machado’s conflation of several

centuries of literary tradition, literary genres, and, above

of the acts of read-

all,

ing and writing fully enunciate Borges’ “deliberate anachronism.” In an astute

reading of the Brazilian author, Carlos Puentes remarks:

And

American hunger, the

nonetheless, the Liitin

appropriate to create a brilliant

of the

all

traditions,

all

cultures, including

new horizon under which

all

places

all

desire to

embrace everything,

Machado

makes

are simultaneous,

a

like a surprising vision

Aleph, prior to the very famous one imagined by Borges

Therefore,

to

their aberrations; the utopian desire

and times

appearance in The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas

first

(24)

transforms the notion of belatedness, which accom-

panies the process of peripheral modernization, into a critical project.

not true that,

at the

Is it

time of the prevalence of the French school of compara-

tivism throughout the nineteenth century

and

In the first

commonly

twentieth century, a “peripheral” author was

outcome of “influences” received from metropolitan seems to ponder: might

I

allow this author to

reader,

an imaginative writer, and, above

archies

and

all,

decades of the

interpreted as an

Machado

writers? If so,

become

at

once

a malicious

a skeptical critic regarding hier-

literary glories?

Machado’s undermining of traditional notions of authorship his divergence

with the established views of his time.

answer to the problem of

literary

modernity

He

in Latin

also expresses

takes his insightful

America through the

questioning of the acts of reading and writing further in his next novel, Qiiincas Borba, published in 1891. In chapter CXIII, the reader

is

introduced

to the following situation: Rubiao, the faithful but foolish follower of the

philosopher Quincas Borba, inherits his master’s fortune, and begins spending it

recklessly.

One

whose owner

of his enterprises

—Camacho,

is

the funding of a political newspaper,

an unscrupulous lawyer and journalist

interested in taking advantage of Rubiao’s naivete.

newsroom and

casually reads an article.

minor changes

in

its

xxvii

recent, the prevalence of the act of reading

collective “anxiety of inHuence.”

towards the end of the century,

MACHADO DE ASSIS

One

day,



Rubiao

is

only

visits

the

Even more randomly, he suggests

composition. Naturally,

Camacho

adopts his patron’s

INTRODUCTION

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

suggestions. Rubiao

is

is

made

Rubiao, satisfied with the correction

(160)-^'

many

There

of course, a

from reading books

There

is

a

to

all

would be tedious.

rapid.

The

What

that phrase to the

certainly

best thing

to leave

is

it

this

book

first

not important. Even

It’s

is

“‘How

the books he’d ever read.’”

uncannily

fast transition

offers a solution:

would be

— from

the analysis

so,

way: For a few

was the author of many works by other people.

This passage

chapter:

composed and pon-

phrase saying that Rubiao was co-author and the

first

books read by him.

would be going from

all

in this

Machado

being their author.

gap between the

authorship of

problem

logical

new

for a

title

in the article,

phrases that he ended up writing is,

associa-

the true author of the entire piece. In Machado’s

words, Rubiao’s reaction could provide the

dered so

humorous chain of

delighted, and, through a

he

tions, decides that

13/14

(

most

the

there

difficult

on the course

would be long and

moments Rubiao

felt

he

160 )^^

akin to the spirit of the most celebrated short stories by

Jorge Luis Borges, especially the ones devoted to the Issues of readership and authorship. As Silviano Santiago Insightfully remarks, based

reading of “Pierre Menard, autor de Quijote”: writer

is

a

devourer of books.

(40). If we follow Rubiao’s ers

He

reads constantly

“[...]

on an innovative

the Latin

American

and publishes occasionally”

method, we understand that Latin American writ-

do not publish more often because there

no volume

is

that potentially

was

not written by their hungry eyes. In Machado’s next novel,

of authorship

is

Dom

Casmtirro, published in 1899, the question

once more of paramount importance. For instance. Bento

Santiago, the first-person narrator, clarifies that the

an unfortunate Incident. bor, a

One day,

young man; indeed, he

works. Naturally, Santiago

him “Casmurro.” The people give

in other words,

title

home on

who

a “poet”

falls sleep,

nickname

revenge, he decides to

common

is

returning

of the novel stems from

a train, he meets a neigh-

decides to recite his complete

infuriating the

unknown

his inconsiderate neighbor,

it,

of a quiet person

Casmurro

is

who

someone who

Bento Santiago certainly was not of

is

He

and chooses

to call

keeps himself to himself

Or,

not polite enough to spend some

“Dom” was added

aristocratic stock.

in

mockery, since

However, instead of

being upset, the narrator transforms the nickname into the Casmurro.

As

narrator elucidates the epithet: “[...] the [meaning] the

minutes listening to embarrassing poetry.

Dom

“genius.

title

of his memoirs:

even bestows on the young poet an unexpected

possibility:

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

Still,

Hnd

couldn’t

1

finish the

book,

him no

will.

ill

whole work

is.

much.

that

keep

My

this one.

with a

narrative;

if

I

can’t find

poet on the train will

little effort,

since the

I’here are books that only

owe

another before

Hnd out

Machado de

who

primarily the written

INTRODUCTION

some not even

that to their authors:

Assis affirms his uniqueness through the role of a

eventually becomes a self-reflective author,

memory

of his private library. Thus,

it is

whose

text

is

not surprising

Machado’s oeuvre, there are constant allusions to and rewritings of

that, in

Shakespeare’s works.

Dom

de Assis.

No

other author

Casmurro

Othello of

Machado de

Machado

is

so important to the reader

is

a radical reading, that

is

Helen Caldwell examines the case Assis:

A

is,

a rewriting

her groundbreaking

in

Study of

Dom

Casmurro. As a matter of

stories, plays,

and

Machado’s rewriting brings to the fore a potential contradiction. important

as lago’s malice,

it is

the position he occupies that allows

Machado

creates

an Othello

who

own

Othello’s lago’s

also his

is

Machado

of Othello.

The Brazilian

obsessed with this particular play: “Shakespeare’s

brought into the argument of twenty-eight

is

bear

1

he can think that the

title is his,

lago.

is

articles” (1).

not true

insecurities regarding

intrigues

own

fact,

Othello

Is it

work on him?

to

Thus, Othello’s drama

re-enacted, but with the suppression of the character of lago. This clever

artifice reveals the

nature of jealousy, portraying

regardless of objective evidence, feeds

on

itself

it

as a

feedback system that,

Bento Santiago, the

first-

person narrator of the novel, spends more than two hundred pages trying to

convince the reader (and, above betrayed

him with Escobar,

is,

—without an lago

jealousy, apparently uncalled for,

instead of charging his partner?

systematic falsifying of tion

on

fiction”

reflection

on the

Machado

And

the

more he

to the readers, the less he

to blame, if

Thus

how

seems able

his

to

not by pointing to the jealous person the novel stages “a parody of tragedy, a

evidence, the text

inter-relations

tries to

can he justify an increasing

is

a literature

on

literature, a fic-

(Hansen 43). Moreover, Machado’s rewriting between the

acts

is

literally a

of reading and writing.

another beautiful homage to Shakespeare, which once

offers yet

more highlights

all

himself) that his wife, Capitu, has

allegedly his best friend.

present his case to the jury, that

persuade them

all,

thoughtful

undermining of

authorship. In a chapter properly entitled

traditional

“The Opera,” the

concepts of

narrator

XXIX

1

Plagiarist

reflective reader

that, as

that

ASSIS

(4)-^'’

The Author as Therefore,

I’ll

And

my

a better title for

MACHADO DE

remem-

XXX

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

13/14

whom

bers the curious theory of an old Italian tenor, according to

was neither

“God

explains: 18).-^^

dream nor

a

the poet.

is

I

the world

but an opera. Literally so Marcolino

stage,

a

he music

by Satan.

is

{Dom Casmurro

[...]”

After his expulsion from Heaven, Satan stole the manuscript from the

Heavenly Father and composed the to hear.

Upon

Satan’s insistence.

a

did not want

whole company”

of the grotesque, for example,

is

not to be found

(19).^^

Some

in the poet’s text:

an excrescence, put there to imitate The Merry Wives of Windsor. This point

it

is

is

contested by the Satanists, with every appearance of reason.

the time farce

was

God

the reader finds the corollary to Marcolino’s theory:

later,

The element

at first,

decides to stage the opera, creating “a

and invented

special theatre, this planet,

paragraphs

which,

score,

He

when

the

young Satan composed

had been born. They go

This perhaps sounds

like

and so

plagiarist?

is

an odd eulogy. After

that an author excels in his creation exactly

an original

skill

of the composition; but of course he

The paradox seems

Romantic notions of authorship,

say that, at

Shakespeare nor his

English poet’s only genius

as far as to affirm that the

words of the opera, with

to transcribe the

to be the author

his opera, neither

They

when he

faithfully that

a plagiarist.

how

all,

(

he seems

19 -

can

20 )^^

we concede

allows himself to

unavoidable, but only

if

become

we hold

which the “anxiety of influence”

in

is

as

contagious (and unfounded) as Othello’s and Bento Santiago’s jealousy.

However,

if

an author envisages

own

his

location as precarious, then, the

acknowledgment of previous “influences” (and

let

us use the term in order to

engage with Bloom’s theory) cannot be experienced

become

liberating, for the act of being influenced

literary tradition as a

mankind,

said

way

over; the best

Othello 165)A^

“The

best

of portraying

way of comprehending

it

was by

author

them” [Brazilian

Rego shows the amplitude of

his affiliation to the

clear that a creative

the universal

of great writers the world

‘plagiarizing’

others, Enylton de Sa

Machado’s readings, underscoring it

opens up the doors of the

Machado, was through study

Among

Machado makes

they

whole. Caldwell perfectly explains Machado’s appropri-

ation of literary tradition: soul of

as anxiety; rather,

is

above

Menippean all

Satire.

a malicious reader

of the tradition, which then becomes a vast and tempting menu, whose of options

is

Machado was

to be appreciatively savored and, particularly

a proper digestion, that

is,

fond

of,

ruminated on

as

to

use a

metaphor

list

that

many times as needed for Once more, this

the composition of the next book.

— THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

is

-

THE CASE OF

MACHADO DE

ASSIS

the literary device that transforms belatedness into critical project. After

Machado

himself explains the “difference between

simply invoke someone

which

authority

else’s

— and

literal

quotations

all,

—which

the really artistic quotations

quoted authors” (Sa Rego, “Preface

creatively rewrite the

—Warning”

xvii).

Thus, there can hardly be any higher praise than considering an author

to be

an authentic

metonymy of plagiarism

— Shakespeare.

not true that, by definition, the plagiarist has to

Is it

Machado

historical time? Therefore,

come

afier\\\s

model’s

did not excel as an author in spite of his

time and place; instead; he developed a highly original approach to the notions of authorship and readership because, as ter

on the periphery

of capitalism.”

we have

John Gledson

seen, he

was

“a

mas-

offers the best synthesis of

Schwarz’s theory:

The

great achievement of

how

is

it

.

think,

I

is

also, in

many

own

is

to explain

time, writing in a slave-owning cul-

ways, so advanced'^ Schwarz’s great perception

backwardness, and does not merely happen in spite of

Moreover, precisely by not being located

world

Machado

that were age,

Rio de Janeiro,

in his provincial

century,

an apparent paradox:

that the modernity paradoxically arises, to a considerable degree, out of the

is

.]

Master,

that a writer so rooted in his

tural backwater, [.

A

is

presumed

embodied

sophisticated

in

it.

(ix)

at the center of the capitalist

in the last

decades of the nineteenth

able to direct an especially keen critical gaze at notions to be universal.

what he

called

mockery of

The parody of scientific

“Humanitism,”

Positivism,

Social

Psychology, and even Spiritualism. In chapter

Memoirs of Bras Cubas, there

is

is

theories of the

a perfect illustration of a

Evolutionism,

Behavioral

CXVII of The Posthumous

an overt parody of Comte’s philosophical

sys-

tem, focusing on the arbitrary establishment of three phases throughout the course of mankind’s history: previous to

all

man and

formed into four

and

it

will

things” (162).^2 steps

arbitrariness, disguised

to the fore

Humanitas has three

phases: the

static,

creation; the expansive, the beginning of things; the dispersive,

the appearance of man; tion of

“[...]



after

all,

have one more, the contractive, the absorp-

Yhe

why

three

under the rationale of a

by Machado’s

moments

are

not two phases, or

suddenly trans-

five periods?

scientific discourse,

is

The

brought

fictional derision.T"^

This witty disposition associated with a skeptical view of “human nature”



a notion already

phenomenologically bracketed in Machado’s

xxxi

fic-

INTRODUCTION

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

tion



quote

I

John

justifies

The

Barth’s interest in the Brazilian author.

following

one of the most acute definitions of Machado’s achievements:

is

discov'ered

by happy accident the turn-of-the-century Brazilian

Maria Machado de Sterne’s Tristram Ulysses

Assis.

Shandy

and would not

have read him: as a fair

how

to

Machado

is

exuberant.



likely

I

Joaquim

had not quite learned from

have learned horn Sterne

combine formal

had

directly,

I

Joyce’s

happened

to

sportiveness with genuine sentiment as well

Pre-Romantic; Joyce

is

novelist

himself much under the influence of Laurence

— taught me something

degree of realism. Sterne

Machado

A

13/14

is

late

or Post-Romantic;

both Romantic and romantic: playful, wistful, pessimistic, intellectually

He was

provincial

is

also, like myself, a provincial [...]. (vi-vii)

by the very location of his

a plagiarist

culture.

The

gesture

of reproducing other cultures always implies, at least potentially, the gesture

of mockery, the attitude of critical detachment. Moreover, Barth conflates

Machado’s work two opposing

historical perceptions:

what concept one attaches

“Pre” as well as “Post,” no matter

Once more,

in

Machado would be

the “playful pen” and the “melancholy ink”

to his fiction.

come

to the fore.

Susan Sontag also notes the strength to be derived from the simultaneous perception of contradictory viewpoints:

Our

standards of modernit)' are a system of flattering illusions, which permit us

selectively to colonize the past, as are

our ideas of what

mit some parts of the world to condescend to for a point

And

is

to love this

literature’s possibilities,

is

become

to

nition of the plagiarist. artistic

He

I

is

may

stand

less

provincial about literature, about

names

to voice

what Machado

really

is:

a

an author

who

“refuses to accept the traditional

invention since he himself denies the total freedom of the

(Santiago 37).

is

may

then conclude by proposing another defi-

He

is

a writer

whose

author should desire to be portrayed writer

Being dead

oneself (39-40)

Peripheral, provincial: different

artist”

rest.

which per-

one of the most entertainingly unprovincial books ever

book

creative reader, a plagiarist.

notion of

the

provincial,

of view that cannot be accused of being provincial. The Posthumous

Memoirs of Bras Cubas written.

all

is

someone who ultimately

is

originality

as “original.”

is

his

After

awareness that no all,

an “original”

not sufficiently well-read or whose libraty

only contains uninteresting volumes.

If it is

true that there are authors

who

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

more than they

publish

who

Machado de most

Assis

is

fore-

who

name

is

Don

aware that he

fully

Pierre

is first

Menard. The Machadian

Menard. After

all,

plagia-

the project of

if

Quixote had been brought to fruition, then,

Cervantes would have become the

ends up being

plagiarist, as Satan’s libretto

contaminated by one of Shakespeare’s that, as

is

a successful Pierre

copying the integrity of

INTRODUCTION

and

a great author. His

nonetheless,

rist,

who

plays.

However, and

in spite of the fact

Susan Sontag guessed, “Borges, the other supremely great writer pro-

duced on that continent, seems Borges would not disagree as the old Italian

Machado de

to have never read

different

if

Machado de

names were attributed

Assis” (39),

to the plagiarist;

tenor claims: Shakespeare, or an obsessive reader of Othello,

Assis.

Acknowledgements

A

task such as The

Author

as Plagiarist

— The Case ofMaehado de

Assis

could

never have been achieved without ample collaboration. First and foremost,

want

to

thank Professors Victor]. Mendes and Frank

accomplishing

are

at the

a different institutional

F.

University of Massachusetts

and

Sousa.

The work

Dartmouth

is

I

they

shaping

intellectual place for Brazilian Studies in the

English-speaking world. This volume would not have been possible without their

commitment. Gina Reis has provided indispensable support

project. Valeria

for this

Souza and Sandra Sousa offered an invaluable collaboration

to the proofreading.

In the hnal stages of the editing process

Research Fellowship from the Alexander von to

I

counted on the benefit of

Humboldt Foundation.

conditions for the development of

The

want

leave,

my work.

Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro has granted

which has allowed

me

both

Thomaz

Pereira de

dedication in different

The Academia

Amorim Neto and Adriane Camara

moments of the

Brasileira

iconographic collection.

me

a research

to fully dedicate myself to this project, also spon-

CNPq and Prociencia (UERJ). Therefore, Professor Jose Eufs Jobim as well as my colleagues for their trust.

sored with funds from

its

I

a

thank Professor Joachim Kiipper, of the Freie Universitat, for creating per-

fect

project

I

want

I

must mention

to

thank

de Oliveira, whose

was most appreciated.

de Eetras has kindly given us permission to use

The

section “Picturing

xxxiii

an author

is

Borges has already christened the plagiarist

an author

is

ASSIS

than he could ever publish.

a render.^^^ Jorge Luis

becomes

then, conversely, the plagiarist

write,

much more

has read

MACHADO DE

THE CASE OF

-

Machado de

Assis”

Is

a

xxxiv

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

generous

result of this

and

Longo

Leila

would

I

mitment

offer.

for their

mention the

thank Professors Antonio Carlo Secchin

to

thank the

made

The Case of Machado de to

want

I

encouragement.

like to especially

to this project

13/14

whose

translators,

Assis entirely in English. Last

assistant to the editors,

Mark

belief in

The Author

possible to present

it

Streeter,

as Plagiarist

but not the

whose

and com-



I

want

and

intel-

least

alertness

ligence were fundamental to the final version of this volume. Because of the efforts of

many

Machado de

people,

Assis’

work

will hopefully attract a

much

wider readership.

Notes ^

This

was written thanks

text

Foundation.

also

I

want

to

to a Research Fellowship

from the Alexander von Humboldt

thank Professor Joachim Kiipper, of the Freie Universitat, for

his

support and encouragement. “

The

editing of the

volume

CNPq

is

the

outcome of a

research project

on the history of the novel

thank Ross Forman for help-

and Prociencia (UERJ).

I

want

to

ing in editing the original version of this introduction.

I

want

also to

sponsored by

in Brazil

his criticism ^ See

thank Victor Mendes’ for

and suggestions.

Rushdie.

^ See Allen.

am

1

alluding to Schwarz’s

A

Master on the Periphery of Capitalism.

I

will return to

traversed

by an almost

Later,

Schwarz’s reading of Machado’s fiction. ^ In spite of her unquestionable

naive usage of

awkward

adjectives,

commitment, Casanova’s book

such

is

languages, that contradict the premises of her

as

own argument. ^

Most

Machado would read the following passage with an ironic (although self-con“Machado de Assis is no longer unknown among us. Four of his novels and some

likely,

tained) smile:

fifteen or so short stories

have

now

appeared in English and have been greeted with a kind of

indignant wonder that this Brazilian author

even a ^

name

to us” (Caldwell,

Although important,

tion. Nonetheless, let Assis,

Machado

this discussion digresses

me recommend

international acclaim he deserves?”

And

widely recognized as a literary language is

in

1908 was not

from the main purpose of

this introduc-

in

1839 and died

Earl Fitz’s analysis of the problem. See his

where he asks the question: “why has

truth, unfortunately,

who was born

3).

it

taken so long for

Machado

he provides the answer: “Portuguese in

which quality

that Brazilian literature

is

literature

is

Machado de

to begin to receive the [...] is

simply not

written.” Therefore, “the

not recognized as constituting a significant

part of Western literature” (10-11). ^

A

cultural

orientalizing.” It is

I

phenomenon that Edward Said, referring owe this remark to Ross Forman.

worth remembering

that in

to another context, has called “self-

1924 Oswald de Andrade launched the “Manifesto da

poesia pau-brasil,” according to which “brazil-wood poetry” should be exported. However,

it

would not be a natural but a cultural commodity that was to be exported, suggesting that Brazil would only achieve autonomy through its culture, rather than through its natural resources, as

MACHADO DE ASSIS

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

is

commonly

of

seated. In the ctirrent sittiation

“art for export,” the critical potential

The

times replaced hy an accommodation to foreign expectations.

Brasilwas hrst published in the Correio da

Manha on

March

8

1

most

Manifesto da poesia Pau-

924. There

1

is

XXXV

is

an English transINTRODUCTION

hy

lation available,

Stella

a

Sa Rego (see

Works

Cited).

on the French reception of Wagner, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe remarks:

In his study

“With

M. de

respect to this perfection of ‘l.atin’ art since the Renaissance, there

backwardness to the Cierman nation,

according to Wagner, inferiority into

and

this issue, see Stissekind

same

this

with Cioethe and

art really begins

an inferiority and

is

culturally ‘coloni7.ed’

This

[...].

who

Schiller,

why,

is

converted

this

an advantage” (42).

Regarding

On

German

and

artistically

isstie,

Baptista.

from the perspective of the African

literatures of

Portuguese expres-

sion, see Salinas Portugal, especially 15-20.

See Candido 70. ’5 Peter

relation

Burke

assumption that

of their approach: “The authors argue that the

offers a succinct definition

between centre all

anci periphery

both

is

complex and

a

a variable one.

They deny

the

lags are peripheral or that all peripheries lag” (xiii).

See Jobim.

Here this

Author of the Quixote”:

the famous passage, from Borges’ “Pierre Menard,

is

new technique

This technique

fills

is

the

most placid works with adventure. To attribute the Imitatio

Louis Fercfinanci Celine or to James Joyce, itual indications?” (44).

atribuciones erroneas.

The

this

is

original reads: “[...]

Esa tecnica ptiebla

[...]

Louis Ferdinand Celine o a James Joyce

de esos tenues avisos espirituales?”

la

argument

is

made even

how

can easily appreciate

clearer,

this

underdeveloped world, which

is

[...]

Christi to

not a stifhcient renovation of its tenuous spirtecnica ciel anacronismo deliberacio y de las aventuras los libros mas calmosos. Atribuir a

la

cie

Imitacion de Cristo ^no es una suficiente renovacion

Obra 450).

{

Schwarz, “Brazilian Culture: Nationalism by Elimination” the

“[...]

anachronism and the erroneous attribution.

that of the deliberate

through

comment on

a

would enhance the

and

self-esteem

Some

7.

Foucault’s

paragraphs

earlier,

and Derrida’s work: “One relieve the anxiety

seen as a tributary to the central countries.

We would

of the

pass

from

being a backward to an advanced part of the world, from a deviation to a paradigm, from inferior to superior lands

(although the analysis set out to surpass just such superiority)”

Lukacs 155. Lukacs’ approach seems

to be

(6).

an ingenious adaptation of Lenin’s theory of

“the weakest link in the imperialist chain” to the realm of cultural history.

I

am

proposing to

re-read Lukacs’ insight through the notion of “belatedness as a critical project.”

Casanova

also develops the

notion that “Anachronism

characteristic of areas distant

is

Greenwich meridian” (100). However, I am more interested in proposing the concept of “compression of historical time,” in which the simultaneity of cultural appropriafrom the

literary

tions of several historical a succession

moments

brought to the

is

Roberto Schwarz has formulated perfectly Posthumous Memoirs unless

fore, instead

of supposing the linearity of

of aesthetic movements dictated by an invariable center.

we wish

the

somewhat

to ignore the facts of quality,

of literary criticism.

However, there

is

this

problem: “The discontinuity between the

colorless fiction of

which

Machado’s

are after

all

also a strict continuity,

first

phase

is

undeniable,

the very reason for the existence

which

is,

moreover, difficult to

establish” {Master 149). Assis,

um

de sens

Posthumous Memoirs livros para

cem

provavelmente consternara coenta,

nem

vinte, e

5.

e se este

quando muito,

difusa, na qual eu. Bras

The

original reads:

Cubas,

“Que Stendhal

Dez? Talvez cinco. Trata-se, na verdade, de

Um

Xavier de

que admira

e consterna.

outro livro nao river os dez.

confessasse haver escrito

O

nem nem cinuma obra

leitores, e coisa

se adotei a

forma

livre

cem

de

leitores

que nao admira, de Stendhal,

Sterne ou de

um

xxxvi

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

13/14

Maistrc, nao sd sc Ihc meti algumas rabugciis de pessimismo.

com

Escrcvia-a

pcna da galhofa

a

Bluma Waddington

da melancolia

c a tinta

em

).

1

ser.

Obra de

finado.

problem

PhD

in her

dis-

Machado de Assis.” Memorias postumas de Bras Cubaf (1 IS-

See especially the chapter, “Cita^ao e autobiografia: IS

Podc

{Memorias postumas^l).

Vilar proposed an insightful reading of this

sertation: “Escrita e Icitura: cita^ao c autobiografia

ful

[...]”

Miirilo

Mendes

e

Vilar contbines Machado’s unefermining of traditional notions of authorship with a care-

study of what she

“Machado de

calls

As Bras Cubas explains

whom

dead

man who

The

original reads: “[...| e

writer, for

is

campa

autor, para quern a

Assis’

que

am

1

nao sou exatamente

cti

also

who

is

dead but

a

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht’s

um

autor defunto, mas

um

defunto

[...1” (99).

Hansen 42. For an innovative reading of this ume. See

not exactly a writer

the grave was a second cradle [...]” {Posthumous Memoirs!).

outro bei\'o

foi

system of citation.”

to the reader: “1...]

Victor Mendes’ essay in this vol-

issue, see

essay for another approach to Machado’s narrative

devices as instances of a “second-order observer,” according to Niklas

Luhmann’s

definition.

“Already in the “Warning to the Reader,’ put at the beginning of Ressurrei

in his

ou quatro

pocket”

(3).

will

is

this: ‘an

decide that this older definition

The

original reads:

outro daqui ate ao fim Ihe

guardo rancor. E

vezes; tanto bastou para

Ha

livros

[sentido]

que Ihe pos o vulgo de

homem

dos

caJado e metido

“The

definition

we 2).

cio livro, vai este

isso

ele

Santiago better than the one //coffers” {Brazilian Othelb

“Tambcmi nao achei melhor

que apenas terao

que

obstinate, moodily, stubborn, wrong-headed man.’ Perhaps fits

com pequeno

original reads:

bolso” (67).

consigo” (67). Helen Caldwell mistrusts the narrator’s elucidation, and asks keenly:

he did not want us to see

enough

his

fechei os olhos tres

original reads: “[...]

and

short,

and closed

and put

interrompesse a leitura e metesse os versos

The

tired,

mesmo.

esfor(;o,

O

sendo o

setts atitores;

tftulo para a

meu

narraejao; se

nao

tiver

poeta do trem ficara sabendo que nao

tftulo seu,

alguns

minha

nem

podera cuidar que

tanto” (67).

a

obra e sua.

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

Caldwell provides an insightful remark concerning

Machado de Assis. [...] Jealousy has a hit part though in stories turn upon the ugly passion

fascinate



ten short

an ironic

stressed this factor in

the

Machadian

Machado’s

universe.

marriage, as well

as,

from the

[...]

on the other hand, the

original reads: “Ciriou

how

1).

latter,

to he sure,

it

receives

Silviano Santiago has also

the problem of jealousy arose in

and

man and woman

games of marivaudage

union” (66). See also Param 198-206.

at

um

never ceased to

character’s conception of the nature of love

delicate

A

original reads: “Oeiis c o poeta.

The

seven of the

explaining “[..d

fiction,

comes

It

have to represent to be able to arrive

•^^The

this issue: “Jealousy

seven of his nine novels; the plots of

in

not rudely comic treatment” {Brazilian Othello

if

MACHADO DE ASSIS

nuisica c de Satanas [...]” (78).

tearro especial, este planeta, e inventou tuna

companhia

inteira [...]” (78).

39

“Q

uma excrescencia para imitar com alguma aparencia da compos a grande cSpera, nem essa Etrsa

no tetxo do poeta;

grotesco, por exemplo, nao esta

e

Mulheres patuscas de Windsor. Este ponto c contestado pelos satanistas

tempo em que o jovem Satanas

razao. 19izem eles que, ao

nem

Shakespeare eram nascidos.

senao transcrever a

da opera,

letra

composi^ao; mas, evidentemente,

Chegam com tal e

um

and using

in

it

there

still

is

literarily

The

original reads:

impede que

cena

seja tirada para outras peqas, e

“Machado 5).

“Genero "^2

In this context,

e estilo nas

lifting this or that

A

Semana, published

“A Revolu^ao Francesa e Otelo estao

que o

it is

escritor brasileiro,

uma

sem

1

^5

“O

important to

recall Jose

Memorias postnmas de Bras

alienista”

(“The

Psychiatrist”),

utmost. See The Psychiatrist

its

owe

this

remark

Machado, then,

is

to

Henning

Ciibas" {Coloquio! Letras [1972]: 12-20).

in the

toda a crea^ao; a

Machacio developed the parody of

and Other

know

that “there

is

no

literature,

scientific dis-

its

cations that can only exist in the act

extroversion, as if

it

loses itself

searching for themselves”

Ramalho

only interliterature;

methodology developed

paradigm, a paradigm capable of analyzing the

very process of

uma

Stories.

culture, only interculture.” This awareness implies a

production

a

e contara mais

Ritter.

Santos’ keen definition. Atlantic authors

no

O

Guilherme Merquior’s pioneering essay

part of the tradition of “Atlantic” writers, according to Irene

a post-nationalist analytical

nada

deixar de ser brasileiro, estivesse

original reads: “Conta tres fases Humanitas: a stdtica anterior comedo de todas as cousas; a dispersiva, aparecimento do homem; contractiva, absorp^ao do homem e das cousas” (260).

In

Gazeta

tradigao universal: a literatura” (Enylton Sa Rego,

The

course to

in

feitos;

assim se cometem, literariamente

expansiva, a

scene

A SemanaA^^).

julgava necessario

consciente de que sua obra pertencia a

calundn

proprio o autor da

speaking, acts of plagiarism” (165-

was extracted from one of the cronicas ^xom

falando, os plagios” (Assis,

nao teve outro genio ele

Machado’s own words: “The French Revolution and

de Notlcias, 28 July 1895. esta oti aqtiela

ingles

que parece

nothing to prevent one from

other dramas: thus are committed,

166). This passage

que o poeta

plagiario” (79).

In the sequence, Caldwell quotes

Othello have been written:

a afirmar

arte e fidelidade,

“in the light of

literary

and cultural

while searching for identifi-

(5).

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

13/14

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30 Jan. 2006. Assis,

Machado

elogia

Dom

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I

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Dom

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UR

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U

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Merquior, Jose Guilhcrmc.

“Cicncro

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cstilo

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ASSIS

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“Machado

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and Ciroux, 2002.

mecanica.” Papas colados. Rio de Janeiro: Editora

UFRJ, 1993.

Bluma Waddington. “Escrita e leitura: cita^ao e autobiografia em Mtirilo Mendes Machado de Assis.” Diss. Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, 2001

Vilar,

e

Acts of Reading

Machado de Assis' Reception and the Transformation of the Modern European Novel

Earl E. Fitz

Abstract. This essay

evolution of the

is

concerned with Machado’s contribution to the

modern

My

novel’s form.

thesis

Machado now needs

innovations that he wrought,

of the modern novel’s great masters. In making three points: that he

1)

knew

did improve

that

in his it,

Machado knew

breaking

new ground

rank Machado de Assis novel and that

we can

among

argument,

could improve

for

its

it;

stress

I

form and structure 3) that

as the

and

Machado

2) that

in a series

we should now

the greatest practitioners of the

him

one

to be considered as

this

1880 and 1908; and

regard

because of the

the European novel very well

own mind how he

of works published between

that,

is

modern

“missing link” between Flaubert

and Proust.

My comments

in this essay center

on Machado de

a literary form. In the course of this discussion,

the particular techniques that as

he undertook what

Machado

believe

I

was

I

Assis’ sense of the novel as

shall also focus

on some of

either invented or surgically altered

his systematic

and

entirely deliberate

transformation of the European novel, which was, at the time, the genre’s

dehning of

critical context.

theme or

tivist (see

I

am

characterization,

not, therefore, primarily concerned with Issues

two of Machado’s

Nunes), except insofar

as these

ciated efforts (except, of course,

modern

narrative fiction.

Machado changed

My

by

greatest strengths as a narra-

aided and abetted his under-appre-

Brazilianists) to redefine the nature of

argument

is

twofold in nature:

the development of the late nineteenth-

and

first,

that

early twenti-

eth-century novel, and, second, that only now, by means of a comparative

44

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

we

methodology, can

my own as

13/14

see precisely

how

modern

revised view of the

he achieved

this goal. In terms, then,

development,

novel’s formal

Machado

see

I

of

providing the missing link between Flaubert and Proust, the writer whose

best

work

we have

presents us with the

most profound and most imaginative

transition

Western tradition from Realism to Modernism.'

in the

But when we claim that Machado transformed the modern novel, what, does

exactly, first,

that

mean?

this

responding to

In

Machado was keenly

found

and

intellectual

him

novel thus puts

Itself,

in

issues stand out:

exploring

an issue of pro-

as

it

Machado’s formal

artistic significance.

same category

in the

two

interested not just in writing fiction but in

form

actually renovating the novel

this question,

interest in the

such luminaries

as

as Flaubert,

James, and Proust, writers for

whom

impressed by Flaubert, put

was of the highest importance. Based on

it)

the “art of the novel” (as James, deeply solid

evidence regarding Machacio’s reading habits, his languages, and the numer-

we can

ous literary allusions that dot his work,

confidently conclude that he

was deeply knowledgeable about the European novel, even though tion did not, with the exception of Anatole France

(who was perhaps the

European champion of Machado’s work), recognize him It.

The second

vividly

issue

is

demonstrated

this tradi-

as a

that, as a critically discerning reader (a point

in

Machado’s famous critique of E^a’s

we

the European novel quite well, so well. In fact, that he

have

knew how

that he

we add

to this

Machado’s

to transform

own

his extraordinary originality,

to create

what

I

have

come

americana,” nor even the truly

to call not

first

a large extent.

It

is,

It is

it

is

and how

to

improve

“new

certainly

precisely the

easier to see

merely the

how and why he

first

tradition.

I

novelist

John Barth

to praise

do not think

this

is

first

an exces-

—and should—

defend.

oddly anachronistic quality of Machado’s

Machado

45), as a writer better

all,

decided

“nova narrativa latino-

post- 1880 work, both his novels as well as his stories, that led the

Machado

must

narrative” of the Americas, but the

one that we can

see

And when

it.

inventiveness, his iconoclasm, and, above

becomes

“modern” novel of the Western

sive claim; or, if

To

it

it,

in

O primo Basilio),

Machado knew felt

first

major player

as the

American

“proto-post-modernist”

(Fitz,

appreciated now, in the early years of the

twenty-first century (and even in the old irony laden uventieth century), than as a faithful

As

adept of the traditional

scholars like

took him into

Eugenio

realistic novel.

Gomes and

many different

literary

others have shown, Machado’s reading

and philosophical

traditions.

imize the marvelous complexity of his vision, however,

1

Not

believe

to

min-

we should



^

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

on

Focus

European

three particular

traditions,

all

MACHADO DE

ASSIS

which were particu-

three of

45

FITZ

E.

larly

important For Machado and

his sense of

could do with the novel

what

EARL

and the Spanish. Space does not permit

genre: the English, the French,

me

to

attempt the sort of extended comparative reading that seeks to evaluate the

prime novels of these traditions endeavor would require

terms of Machado’s

in

at least a

book and, more

if

only

likely,

work

(such an

an entire lifetime of

comparison need

scholarship). Nonetheless, the salient points of

nized and considered, even

later

to be recog-

rudimentary Fashion. By examining,

in a

Madame Bovary, and Cervantes’s Don better see how Machado’s mature novels com-

then, Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, Flaubert’s Quixote,

pare to I

my hope

is

we can

that

what was being done

will seek to

show how,

in these other,

in effect,

and, in so doing, makes a major



contribution to the protean form

We can a novel

Machado

more canonical works. “reinvents” these

almost, as yet, wholly unacknowledged

if

we know

as the

modern

begin by looking at Laurence Sterne’s 1759

that,

as

many

novel.

classic,

Tristram Shandy,

have argued, exerted a considerable influence on

how he

Machado’s growing sense of

himselF might begin to cultivate a

kind of novel (Caldwell 99; Bloom 673-680). Brazilianists

Specifically,

European models

know, many opportunities

The two

new

texts provide, as

For comparative study: a comical selF-

conscious narrator, a constant dialogue with the reader, the role oF death, tex-

prominent

tual digressions (particularly

comes

the time the entire narrative

and numerous Formal

old!),

to

in Tristram’s case, so

much

an end our hero

barely five years

such

surprises,

as

marbled, pages. “Even Bras’ famous pessimistic’ points out,

“may stem from

Corporal Trim: this

“[...]

final sentence,” Fielen

have neither wiFe or child

I



I

Caldwell

Toby Shandy’s

valet.

can have no sorrows

in

world” (99).

my intention

But

whom

here

to pinpoint

is

Harold Bloom regards

as

them

as

he does. Basically,

tonal, the structural,

upon

Sterne’s

Machado,

Far

and the

From being

unimaginative recreator oF particularly in terms of

Readers and

critics

in

readerly, all I

think

it

issues

Machado,

“Foremost disciple in the

and how

think these issues

1

work. Indeed,

which of these many

Sterne’s

World” (674), seems most interested

art.

missing words and black, or

uttered by

a remark”

is

so that by

Fall

New

—and why— he changes into three categories: the

oF which show Machado expanding

can be shown quite convincingly that

a passive receptor of his predecessor’s art or it,

an

actually goes considerably further than Sterne,

what we might

call

the epistemological basis oF his

have long applauded the breeziness and slightly

46

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

naughty tone of

13/14

Sterne’s text. In general, Tristram’s tale does evince a basic

geniality, or sentimentality, that

hard to

is

resist.

This sauciness,

in fact, surely

stands as one of the novel’s most attractive features.

Machado’s As Memorias Postumas de Bras Cabas, on the other hand,

up what novel

is

1

think

a

is

—some

much

darker

comedic

certainly



American novels ever written

indeed,

say pessimistic



ranks as one of the funniest Latin

it

— but under

the smiling visage of

and subtly unreliable narrator/protagonist

scious, ironic,

offers

outlook. Machado’s

it

is

self-con-

its

and

also grim,

never more so than at the end, where our thoroughly defunct narrator famously (perhaps even cynically) declares that

ahead of the game because he,

Because on arriving balance, which

like

when he

died, he

other side of the mystery

at this



I

had no children,

I

haven’t transmitted the legacy of our misery to any creature. {Posthumous 203)

1

have long

that

felt

it is

reader

is

ming up

left

with,

and

word of

a verbal sign that

maintained by the Bras Cubases of

morality of capitalism,

this

thus elects to have

the narrative, the last thought the

comes devastatingly

and

the kind of cruel, hypocritical,

elation (which, deriving

Machado

not for nothing that

“miseria” (“misery”) be the final

close to

world.

Stunned by

from unchecked egoism,

with our

head

this chilling rev-

jovial narrator

my

is all

what we have

upbeat note,

just

is

a great put-on, a delight-

had the pleasure of

participating: “L-d! Said

this story

And one

Yorick.

much more

a

seemingly giving us a wink and a knowing nod of the

which we have

mother, what

pon-

wonder

needs to be reconsidered.

by way of contrast, ends on

in order to signal that

ful farce in

now

and

also calls into question the

socio-political analogue), the reader can only

its

everything that he has said and done Tristram’s story,

sum-

exploitative society erected

der the earlier words and deeds of the seemingly affable narrator and if

little

found myself with a small

I

the final negative in this chapter of negatives

is

was actually a

Corporal Trim, had engendered no children:

just read

A COCK and a BULL,

about?

of the best of

its

kind,

I

said

ever heard” (539). Riven

with cynicism and bleak in terms of its prognosis for our future happiness (or for

our future period, since,

end of the human

knowing wink body blow,

race!).

we

all

took Bras’ position,

us

and

punch

that,

it

would

spell the

funny narrative ends not with

a

and the reader but with

a

of complicity between the narrator

a thematic

wind out of

if

Bras’ similarly

to the solar plexus that unexpectedly

knocks the

suddenly and dramatically, thrusts our face into

^

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

what

-

MACHADO

THE CASE OF

later critics will call the sense of despair that characterizes the

condition.

The

DE ASSIS

modern

47

FITZ

E.

darkness that inhabits Bras’ outwardly witty and urbane voice EARL

is,

what

believe,

I

John Barth

led

to see in

Machado’s groundbreaking novel

not only the essence of postmodernism but, more importantly, the road to

more

nihilism, or,

how

precisely,

the road in this direction might, ironically

enough, be negotiated via the comic mode. Barth had wanted to write about nihilism and texts (then just

had found

that he

felt

appearing

in

ture

published novel, eventually

two other very

then,

can be easily identified between the two

ing idea of a page without words



know, ends chapter XII of volume by the words,

“Alas,

poor

dominates the entire

to

do with

first

I

with a page that

YORICK!” volume),

texts,

stands out from

all is

(a reference to a

this black,

one the

issues of struc-

many

be played by the reader. Although

role to



the

rest.

structural

still

daunt-

Sterne, as

we

totally black. Prefaced

character

whose death

wordless page, in the opinion

and typographical

of Robert Alter, “reduces death to a literary

between

clear differences

Shandy Awd the post- 1880 Machado have

and with the

parallels

first

of The Floating Opera).

title

In addition to tone, Tristram

Machado’s three great middle

English translation) what he thought was the key

in

to achieving this (the novel in question, his

appearing under the

a novel

joke, yet para-

doxically confronts us with death as an ultimate, irreducible fact, the final

opaqueness beyond the scope of language and narrative invention, beyond even the tracery of significant black lines on the white ground of a printed page” (95).

I

agree with Alter in his interpretation of the black page’s func-

tion in the context of Sterne’s novel. But, given the purpose of this essay,

want

to consider for a

to this

famous page,

tunity to break

I

moment what seems to have been Machado’s reaction is, how Machado seems to have seen in it an oppor-

that

new ground,

and, in

fact, to establish

what

I

believe

was one

of his most important contributions to the modern novel form: not merely the role of language in

it



that

is,

the question of proper style

— but

the very

nature of language itself

What

I

mean by

this

is

the following: for

Postnmas de Bras Cabas, creates a narrator

overcome by language,

it is

beyond Sterne, showing

transformed by

us, in fact, that

Machado (who,

who it.

language and narrative invention,” not even

it

in

As Memorias

deceased), death

In other words,

nothing

shows us that language and narrative do not they create, shape, and imbue

is

lies

is

not only

Machado

goes

“beyond the scope of

life itself

More than

really describe reality as

with significance. Death

is

this,

he

much

as

death, of course.

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

but

meaning

its

for us

is

Meaning, Machado

tion.

always a function of language and narrative inveninsists,

tion of language, fliis point

Bras Cubas

—and

13/14

is little

more than the production and

comes up repeatedly

in

Machado’s other post- 1880 narratives

in

haps nowhere so pointedly or delightfully

de Adao e Eva” (“The Venerable Dialogue of

Adam and

as well

“O

chapter 55,

as in

recep-

As Memorias Postumas de

— but

per-

Velho Dialogo

Eve”),

which

offers

us a wordless yet elaborate dialogue between our hero. Bras Cubas, and his

equally self-centered paramour, Virgflia. Instead of words, however, gives us punctuation

marks (has any writer ever used the

than Machado?)5 to guide our response to

tively

exchange.

My

point

is

it

to

do (be

whelmed by genre



is

a perfect

medium

Machado

reality,

more

effec-

sexually charged

that while Sterne basically says that, in the face of an

event as insurmountable as death, language

want

ellipsis

this

Machado



busy developing what

cannot do what we

it

of communication), and that

in

is

that

fails,

a

in effect a

it is

over-

breakthrough for the novel

radical

new

theory of language, a the-

ory that basically argues that nothing overcomes language, and that language essentially defines

much

who and what we

our sense of

are, that

reality

is

not so

imitative (as in the traditional sense of mimesis) but creative. For

Machado, language thus trumps

reality,

and unstable semiotic system;

Machado, language,

siveness,

becomes the

as his sardonic,

for

real subject

rendering

it,

in the process, a fluid

in

all its

semantic elu-

matter of his post- 1880 narratives

—even

metahctive, and exceedingly disengaged narrator. Bras Cubas,

leads us (albeit ironically) to

make some very

serious judgments about the

nature of the world in which he and his characters lived.

For me, the clearest proof of tive

innovation that

this

comes

Machado undertakes



in

what

is

the third basic narra-

the role of the reader in the con-

struction of the text’s meaning. Indeed, this development, coupled with his

new

sense of the symbiotic relationship between language and being,

well be Machado’s greatest single innovation in

modern

narrative.

may

Although

the importance of the reader had long been recognized (as in Sterne),

Machado’s revolutionary approach

to the matter

was unprecedented,

ularly in terms of the reader’s response to the relativistic

nature of meaning. Interestingly, this

Bloom, who

is

a conclusion also suggested

writes that the “genius of Machado de Assis

reader, address

him

is

partic-

and quicksilver by Harold

to take hold of his

frequently and directly, while avoiding mere ‘realism’”

(680). In contrast to Sterne,

who,

talk constantly to the reader,

as

we know,

also has his narrator Tristram

Machado, working through the mouth of

his

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

THE CASE OF MACHADO DE ASSIS

bourgeois Bras Ciihas, actually makes his reader

the deceased

narrator,

-

49

FITZ

E.

become not merely involved but

actively involved 'm the interpretation of the EARL

The

text.

reader’s role

for the

itself,

first

emerges from out of the

time

in

modern Western

text itself

narrative, as

and thus

what

destabilizing force of dijfemnce in the literary experience.

is

establishes

essentially the

Although Tristram

does occasionally berate his reader for being obtuse or for being too gullible,

Machado’s agenda

is

more extreme, with

the Brazilian master not only berat-

ing his reader but, gradually, as the text progresses, pressing her, like

it

or not,

into confronting the basic semantic mutability of language, into

becoming

part of the text itself and, finally, into accepting responsibility for

any mean-

ing that

may

be adduced from

Sterne’s reader

is

In a nutshell,

it.

I

Machado’s reader

basically passive,

is

engaged, an active accomplice in what Borges would

mediable

artifice of fiction.

and

more importantly, by the marvelous

Virgflia that have preceded

while a reader

able to argue that this

choosing to

demand

hypocritical social that prohibit

who

a scene in

is

—and — get

doing

as

play.

Thus,

so.

a religiously

not about to undertake an

has strong feminist views cheers at being

which

a strong,

determined

sexual freedom for herself

mores that allow

women from

55 by means of punctu-

every reader supplies the interpretative

it,

devout reader wants to see Bras and Virgflia affair,

forced to be active and

later describe as the irre-

characterizations of both Bras

words that she or he most wants to have come into

adulterous

that while

This explains why, although Machado guides his

reader’s response to the wordless dialogue of chapter

ation and,

would argue

men

like Bras to

Working with

have

the very

and

woman

is

to defy the

illicit affairs

but

same language

as

the narrator works with, the reader has to provide the missing meaning. Put

another way,

Machado

the interpretive act

As tive” est

early as

1

structures his novel



itself

880, then,

and builds the reader into

rather than the story

Machado de

but a “new reader” as well and

Assis

this,

I

is



it

so that

begins to reign supreme.

creating not only a

believe, constitutes

“new

narra-

Machado’s great-

innovation, his most definitive contribution to the art of fiction. Machado’s

final

word on

Critic”), in

pects tive”

is

which

seems to come

.

.]

in chapter 138,

a hitherto patient narrator,

“A

Um

Crftico” (“To

now exasperated with what

A

he sus-

not just the reader’s failure to grasp the requirements of his “new narra-

but the failure of the

My [.

this

dear I

critical

establishment to do so as well, writes:

critic,

don’t

mean

that I’m older

now

than

when

I

began the book. Death doesn’t age

50

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

one.

do mean

1

that in each phase of the narration of

Good

sponding sensation.

Overall, then,

appreciated

all

he recognized

13/14

Do

Lord!

1

was innovative

that

how

would

I

like

think

1

now

to offer a

Cervantes’

Don

how

sense of

larly difficult to

in Tristram

how

Shandy,

than

also

compare.

clear that

radicalized Sterne.

novels,

Partly, this

novel than

Flaubert’s

the parallels between

is

because

Madame

Madame 1

Tristram Shandy,

Flaubert as being

as a vehicle

seems

he might extend and deepen

few observations about two other highly

much

regard

and

work of Art (Nunes

by means of which

a story

Bovary as a

his

rela-

its

particu-

is

more

artisti-

partly because

I

see

issues, particularly

as narrative

72), as

influ-

Bovary and

Machado and

it

on some key

alike

Romanticism and Realism

and, 2) a belief in the novel as a

a reader.

it

recognized and

protean genre might be further refined. In terms of

cally sophisticated

1)

Machado

clear that

tionship to Machado’s mature work, the case of

two:

experience the corre-

Quixote, both of which were important for

this

Machado and

I

and thematic breakthroughs achieved by

Machado

and canonical European

ential

it is

he might go further,

several of the structural, stylistic,

Sterne. In short,

life

have to explain everything? {Posthumous 183)

think that while

1

my

an

modes,

form rather

art

could be told to and received by

Disillusioned with Romanticism and contemptuous of Realism

(which for him was too closely associated with the hated bourgeoisie), Flaubert, like ing,

and

the page

Machado, understood

that Art

that “composition, the achievement of the finely cadenced sentence,

wrought

like poetry, the

book

taining unity” was the creative activity trate.

was the only goal worth pursu-

as internally

on which the

balanced and self-susartist

should concen-

Content would never again be separable from form. For both Machado

and Flaubert,

“art alone”

could

offer,

and

be,

something

something

else,

higher and better than the middle-class culture whose crass and meretricious values

dominated the worlds of both Flaubert and Machado. To paraphrase

an argument advanced by Stephen Heath concerning the French Flaubert, like

Machado,

“initiates a subversion of the novel

—of

the bourgeois appropriation of the world, of the expression of ‘reality’”

As

its

coherent

(Heath 31, 147).

a point of distinction

between the two

be noted that while both Flaubert and realistic

writer,

the genre of

novel as a form,

unreliable narrators,

writers, however,

Machado undermine,

Machado, expanding

and reader response,

his

it

must

also

or “subvert,” the

experiments with irony,

also subverts the bourgeois notion

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

-

THE CASE OF

of language as a stable, objective, and hilly controllable

new concern with language

nication. This radically

MACHADO DE ASSIS

medium of commu-

51

FITZ

E.

(and, specifically, with the EARL

semantic instability of language) rather than with a particular literary form constitutes a major difference between Flaubert lights the latter’s singular

While

importance to the

our Western tradition Flaubert

in

of literary Realism and, at the

tem of

artistic creation

“reality

is

from

good;

his

own

isn’t

identical, the positions of Flaubert

novel) suggest, to

me

at least, that this

would have found

Flaubert

it.

We

novel form and to

question. Then, too,

would

Madame

as

we know

do

to

as

But should we

so.

it is

fascinating to imagine a con-

this

still

vis-a-vis

imperfectly understood

work was

well

known

to

both Romanticism and

what Flaubert was trying

to

critics,

Dom

(In

terms of the art of the novel),

Indeed, Silviano Santiago, one of contemporary has written that

Machado kept Madame Bovary

in writing the text that

would eventually

Casmurro (Santiago 47).

really say that

think not. Rather,

Machado

aes-

they relate to the crafting of the

situation

mind” while engaged

become known

of the

Machado and

ground, had they been able to

that Flaubert’s great

own

his

the

he would have understood what Flaubert wanted to achieve

most acute

I

and Machado

Bovary and, more importantly

“Intact in his

Bovary\

common

ques-

reality,

for the art

an issue on which

certainly have appreciated

And

why he wanted

ways,

is

that,

are far

this decisive

between language and

two of them regarding

Machado, who, given Realism,

claim to

Coutinho,

to Afranio

and Machado on

status as Art. Indeed,

its

versation between the

accomplish.

a lot of

its

need more rigorously comparative examinations of the

thetic views of Flaubert

Brazil’s

and of

problem of verisimilitude, and what these mean

aesthetic

in

it

both the creator

worth anything.” Although they

tion (the nature of Realism, the relationship

discuss

for being

skepticism of Realism as a sys-

by declaring, according

Realism that

it’s

famous

high-

it

novel’s peculiar ethos.

same time, disdainful of

we have Machado showing

veracity,

is

and Machado, and

modern

I

Dom

think

Casmurro

we should

is

an imitation of

Madame

say that, in several important

actually surpasses Flaubert, exceeding him, or diverging

from

him, in certain areas of narrative experimentation. For example, as Maria Luisa

Nunes

argues, at a time

when

writers such as Flaubert

and Henry James

were insisting on the “disappearance” of the narrator, Machado was actually experimenting with

new forms of unlimited omniscience (Nunes

omniscience that could be more unlimited, or that of a gimlet-eyed

dead bourgeois

at least

like Bras

more

21)

—an

unfettered, than

Cubas! While Flaubert, by

52

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

means

13/14

of his famously “objective” indirect style {le style indirect libre), neither

praises nor

condemns Emma’s

what we must regard

as a

Machado

actions,

more complex

the text

itself

emerges

as the

trolled, perfectly balanced,

reign supreme.

If,

as

main

character,

and one

in

Casmurro,

one that

narrative structure,

and theme, one

erately anti-realistic in style, structure,

Dom

creates, in

is

delib-

which the play of

in

which

con-

a carefully

and continuously decentering ambiguity comes

Tony Tanner contends,

two conflicting semiotic systems

Emma

to

is

caught not between

(reality vs. unreality)

“but [between] two

ways of using language, two different modes of constituting ‘meaning,’” Machado’s more

tragic narrator,

embittered old

man who,

expressed



Casmurro,”

that at an earlier period in his

and caused the death of

rectly

“Dom

is

an

just the opposite,

— never

by an inner

perhaps destroyed

fear

interpreted something incor-

life //c

several innocent people,

he begins his very self-conscious narration of just

how

painfully aware as

is

profoundly language

can be manipulated. Eor Tanner, the “fog” in Emma’s head “can be attributed to a large extent to her

vague and hopeless yearning for a kind of meaning

which she was born seems

that the existing language into religious

and romantic vocabularies,

deliver or bestow” (59). For

Dom

in

enced

Casmurrds

crafty, calculating

(in this case, himself),

he knows

full well that

meaning

theme. Meaning,

text’s

in

it

in close consort

reception, slowly emerges as the

Machado shows

us,

turns out to be entirely

the process of signification requires that the signifier

tle,

illusion

what we make

is

working

this absolutely revolutionary vision,

Dom

no such

head; a career lawyer, and thus experi-

malleable, a function always of time, place, circumstance,

so too does

can no longer

it

there exists

its

of any given case in ways that benefit his client

with the role the reader plays in the novel’s great

but that in fact

Machado, however,

in presenting the facts

out to be, and

etc.),

promise (with

to

and

and the

desire. Just as

signified differ,

Casmurrds supposed “master discourse” undercut, disman-

or deconstruct itself via the several secondary discourses that are inscribed

it,

one of which, of course,

he wants to create along with chapters in

Dom

is

his

“new

Machado’s

many ends up

ideal

new

reader, the

narrative.” This explains

Casmurro deal not with one of the

the craft of fiction writing and that for

that of

why so

several plot lines but

the reader’s necessarily active role in

challenging the account of what happened as

it,

out by the narrator.^ So while Flaubert’s text simply refuses to judge

it is

character’s actions,

claim to

Machado’s shows us

know anything with

why we

cannot

absolute certainty, and

why

its

why we in the

one

many with

a role

spun

main

cannot

end we

are

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

effectively lost in the “prison

house of language,” trapped

tem

that (prefiguring Kafka)

we can

Not

to put too

MACHADO DE

in a

ASSIS

semiotic sys-

53

FITZ

E.

comprehend nor

neither fully

control. EARL

I

come away

Hue

a point

feeling, as

I

on

it,

but whenever

suggested

reread

I

Machado

these days,

our Brazilian master discov-

earlier, that

ered the essence of dijferance long before Derrida coined the term. Although

he would have eschewed the jargon that accompanies poststructural thought,

Machado would have immediately recognized

MacAdam

“Flying in the face of Realism,” Alfred

most

its

basic

principles.

“Machado chose

writes,

fantasy” and, in so doing, “found a structure he could adapt to a representa-

more

tion of Brazilian reality with

attempted to rewrite than

this,

Madame

Machado de

which language

success than he

would have had

Assis wrote the

first

he had

novel in the Western tradition in

and mutable force that

the real protagonist, the elusive

is

if

Bovary in a Brazilian setting” (17-18). More

shapes characters, that determines their actions, and that leads the reader to

make

judgments about

certain

thinks about

it,

In the space

(judgments

then begin to interrogate their 1

have remaining,

about Machado and

whose

all

it

tragic sense

Don

I

would

own

by saying

like to finish

Quixote, another text that

the reader

reliability).

few things

a

Machado knew

well

and

of loss, of failure, infuses Qiineas Borba (1891), the second

Machado’s so-called mature period and

great novel of

more

that, the

a text that continues his

experimentations with metacritical allegory, with anti-realistic narrative, and

with the reader’s role in tragedy

— though no

world’s saddest that

Quixote

it

we not

hero,

that

whose

we

get at the

basically

Well



if,

reality),

and then again

by

a baser one?

And

Cubas, you

and no. Although

that equates the defeat of idealism in

were with us today, and

it

at the

if

is

this

is

a

to be the 1

mean is

is

forced

end,

when Don

The

defeat of a

not essentially the

end of Quineas Borba, with the expiration of our

and rapacious society

— Qiineas Borba— deep down yes

Qiixote

than Dostoevsky once declared

in the tradition of Bras

question

Don

was about disillusionment. What

good but perhaps naive

exploited by the deceitful

own

not arguing that

witnessing the death of idealism?

higher, nobler kind of existence

same ethos

am

enters into the castle of the cruel dukes (and

dreams degraded into dies, are

I

less a figure

book because

when Don Quixote

to see his

all.

it

I

know

it

am Don

I

is

in

aspirations are hopelessly

which he

will

permit

finds himself?

me

to

answer

attracted to this reading

my

—one

Quixote to Rubiao’s demise in

not entirely

justified. If Aristotle

he had read these two novels, he would point out

immediately that Cervantes’s hero and Machado’s hero are two very different

54

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

creations,

end up

and

though not entirely lacking

that their stories,



bring this reading up

1

am wondering

I

that animates

Machado wanted

the very kind that

So why do

Don

and

Machado,

if

if

in

to create.

do not even

I

socially

believe in

myself?

it

recognizing the source of the power

Quixotes famous conclusion (his crushing disillusionment

saw

in the castle of the dukes),

a

—an

way

dying Cervantes’s great novel, of rewriting as

in similarities,

eliciting very different responses in the alert, questioning,

aware reader

Well,

13/14

ironic way, to be sure it

for his

—of

own time and

paro-

place.

If,

Araripe Junior, John Gledson, and David Haberly have suggested, Rubiao

represents the Brazil of

Dom

Pedro

and the Empire, then

11

much

does not provoke a sense of tragedy so that the

Empire collapsed because,

one “held together by

tion,”

different situation than the lels

its

as

bathos and frustration, a sense

words,

in Elaberly’s

was

it

H”

central character, Pedro

one Cervantes

his pathetic death

(xv).

really a “fic-

This

is

a very

although again, the paral-

creates,

are not altogether wanting, particularly in terms of the social significance

that the

two

texts exhibit.

Quixote does

in

One might

some way symbolize

violent world, then the death of

however, that

say,

if

the death of

Don

the defeat of idealism in a deceptive and

Rubiao turns

around, emphasizing,

this

instead of the death of idealism, the utter victory of both “savage capitalism”

and of what Santiago describes

hypocrisy. Yet

world,

there

if

is

we would have

And life



it is

conclude it is

and economic

perhaps

all

slavery

and

of this

that, in the end,

fatally



defeat.

If

too

fails

because, as

the invidious, anti-heroic nature of

mouths

Borba. Although he does not recognize

else.

it

nineteenth-century Brazil. ^

it

after

Don

we

finish reading

as such, Rubiao’s

of the Empire, may, the reader finally feels, be

dukes than anything

of exploitation and

“misplaced,” ill-suited to the toxic

realities of late

that puts the bitter taste in our

comes with the

modernization” (121), the

deceit,

a bit of idealism struggling to survive in Rubiao’s

to

Roberto Schwarz has shown, social, political,

as “savage Brazilian

and

utter victory of materialism

more

modern Quincas

world, the world

like the castle

Quixote leads us to

feel

of the

the pathos that

defeat of idealism, then Quineas Borba leads us to feel just

Eeaden and depressing. As Machado’s narrator resignedly opines

the end of the novel,

commenting

to the reader

on the

deaths of Quincas Borba, the man, and Quincas Borba, the faithful dog:

I

should

like to

speak here of the end of Quincas Borba,

ceaselessly, ran off

unhinged

in search of his master,

who

at

significance of the

also

fell ill,

whined

and was found dead on the

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

Street

one morning three

MACHADO DE

But on seeing the death ol the dog told

clays later.

ASSIS

55

FITZ

in a sep-

E.

you

possible that

arate chapter,

it’s

who

book

will ask

me

whether

he or his

it is

namesake

late

EARL

gives the

its title

and why one instead ol the other

with questions that would take us recent deaths

you have

il

fiir

along

you have only

tears. II

Come

[...].

is

The

so high

up

that

it

sense ol these lines,

which bring the novel

Weep

now!

behold

to

can’t discern the laughter or tears

pregnant

a c|uestion

laughter, laugh!

rhe Southern Cross that the beautilul Sophia relused her



It’s

as

two

lor the

same

the

thing,

Rubiao had asked

of men. (271)

to

its

exudes a near

close,

palpable sense ol existential despair, ol futility and ol impotence in the face ol a seemingly indillerent universe.

And

if this is

not exactly the cathartic

purging of emotions that Aristotle looked for in tragedy, then be read

least,

as a call for action, for the creation

and more equitable form of governance reader

may

for Brazil.

be justified in feeling that Machado,

might,

it

at

of a new, more authentic,

Read

in this fashion, the

in his inimitably ironic and

modern

Brazil

must not

be allowed to become yet another dreary version of the dukes’

castle,

the place

metaphoric

style,

is

where dreams come

telling us, in Qtiincas Borba, that

to die.

In conclusion, then,

let

me

say that

I

main

believe there are three

areas in

which we can say Machado transformed the European novel of his time: the

nature of the narrative voice,

metafictive,

and the

the



vital link

between the

and the reader

text

and

sense of the relationship between language

may

be viewed as the

fairly

first full

legitimate precursor to both structuralism

the creation of a

new kind of

reader,

expression

I

believe

was seeking to give ideas

it

Iser,

we can

more

wings, elevating

its

with

that,

new con-

its

(of

Logos terrible

modern world (and

as a

poststructuralism), and, three,

much

Riffaterre in

develop-

later

of the work of

particular.

clearly that, in larger terms,

liberate the traditional novel

narrated

is

we have of the

in general but

and Michael

also see

one

one who anticipates the

ment of not only reader-response theory Stanley Fish, Wolfgang

and

ironic,

typically

established; second, a

is

reality,

disillusionment that underscores our sense of the

together,



and our concept of truth

stant probing of both verisimilitude itself),

Machado

for

and unreliable vehicle by means of which the story

first,

Taken

Machado

from the bondage of Realism and

status as a self-referential art

about both epistemological and ontological

issues

form



built

chief

on new

among

these

being Machado’s concerns over language, being, truth, and knowledge. In thinking about

Machado and

his reception

of the European novel,

I

hope

that

.

56

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

may

these categories

13/14

be of some use to us

as

narrative art into the larger discussion of the

ment. To the extent that

something that

we can

we

seek to integrate Machado’s

modern

novel’s formal develop-

we

achieve this goal,

will

have accomplished

not only eminently justified but long overdue as well.

is

Notes See Fitz 1990.

'

1880 and 1908, believe that

I

should also add

think

1

Machado continues

^

refers to the

this

same reference

moment As

more

having any children

it

it

at the

me

(in conversation),

time of his death also func-

hearkens back to the child that Virgflia

takes

it

narrative” that he (see

up the problem

is

intrinsic,

rator himself,

and not

“Dom

to create the

LaCapra),

of

how

eventually plays the role

who

of, first,

is

trial

portion of

Madame

a

Dom

judgment, about what happened

prosecutor, for example,

i.e.,

is

the nar-

seeking a particular verdict (guilty) from the reader,

defense attorney (gradually



i\\ 2lX.

Casmurro. For Machado, however, this

The

coming

evidence and, on the basis of her or his reaction to

the alleged adultery of Capitu

Bovary

the novel should be read, with the roles of prose-

extrinsic, to the text itself

Casmurro,”

the

it is

to develop.

to subject that

cannot be “convicted” on the basis of circumstantial evidence alone) and then listens to the

for a

and questioning response “new reader” that Machado felt

was simultaneously seeking

cutor and defense attorney having parallels with

who

open

and, perhaps, consider other possible meanings.

and thus helps

As Dominick LaCapra notes

“trial”

lost

serves to build the reader’s active, engaged,

“new

crucial to the

most obviously

who

oversight that

become pregnant.

so that the reacier will contemplate

directly into the text itself

was so

also

“Influence”; “John Barth’s.”

Fitz,

mechanism, then,

a

critical

I

an inter-

in

In terms of punctuation, of course, the ellipsis serves to keep a thought

5

between

that

study the novel

of Yale University has pointed out to

to Bras’ not

(apparently by Bras) she had

See

is

following passage: Tristram Shandy, lV.4.220-221

tions as a kind of ironic double negative in that

when

who

overlooked by scholars

that this amounts to an egregious work should now be correcting.

As Professor K. F2avid Jackson however,

my basic point, which

and

the great Brazilian’s

Caldwell

underpinning

Assis rather radically transformed the novel genre,

to be

national and comparative context

we who know

that,

Machado dc

it,

juror, the

must render

real self-destruction

of the narrator,

person

a decision,

our interpretation of the novel’s two basic

and the very

Capitu

conflicts,

his transfor-

mation from the callow youth. Bento Santiago, into the self-centered monster,

“Dom

Casmurro.” ^ See

Schwarz.

Works Cited Alter, Robert. “Sterne

Harold Bloom. Assis,

Machado

de.

and the Nostalgia

New York:

for Realin^” Laurence Sterne

s

Tristram Shandy. Ed.

Chelsea, 1987. 87-105.

The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas. Trans. Cregory Rabassa. Oxford:

Oxford UP, 1997.



.

Quincas Borba. Trans. Gregory Rabassa. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998.



s

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

.

Dom

-

THE CASE OF

MACHADO DE ASSIS

57

Casmurro. Irans. John Chcdson. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997. FITZ

Bloom, Harold. “Joaquim Maria Machado de

New

Exemplary Creative Minds.

Machado de

Caldwell, Helen. California Fit/.,



(May

Machado de

Machado de

of

A.ssi.s

on John Barths The Floating OperaT The

New

World 2.\-2 (1987): 123-1.38.

Boston: CE K. Hall, 1989.

Eiterary History

in

XVI 11.36 (July-December Haberly, David

U

1986): 56-66.

Assis.

as (Proto)

Type of the Modernist Novel:

A

and Interpretation.” The Latin American Literary Revieiv

1990): 7-25.

“Introduction.” Cluincas Borba. \Nns. Gregory Rabassa. Oxford: Oxford UP,

E.

1998.

Heath, Stephen. Gustave Flaubert:

Madame

LaCapra, Dominick. “The

Modern

Trial.”

MacAdam,

Alfred

U

Chicago:

J.

Bovary. Cambridge:

Cambridge UP, 1992.

Critical Interpretations: Gustave Flaubert'

New York:

Bovary. Ed. Harold Bloom.

Madame

Chelsea, 1988. 11 1-130.

Textual Conf'ontations'. Comparative Readings in Latin American Literature.

of Chicago

P,

1987.

Nunes, Maria Euisa. The Craji of an Absolute Winner. Characterization and Narratology in the Novels ofMachado de

Assis.

Westport, CT: Creenwood, 1983.

Santiago, Silviano. The Space In-Betiveen: Essays on Latin American Culture. Trans.

Ana

Lucia Gazzola, and Gareth Williams.

Tom

Burns,

Durham: Duke UP, 2001.

Schwarz, Roberto. Misplaced Ideas: Essays on Brazilian Cidture. Trans. John Gledson. London: Venso, 1992.

and Opinions

Sterne, Laurence. The Life

of Tristram Shandy.

A

Gentleman. Oxford: Oxford UP,

1983. Tanner, Tony. “The ‘Morselization’ of Flaubert

Earl E. Fitz University,

sWzdzmz

is

United

Emma

Bovary.”

Bovary. Ed. Harold Bloom.

Modern

New

Critical Interpretations'. Gustave

York: Ghelsea, 1988. 43-60.

Professor of Portuguese, Spanish, and Comparative Literature at Vanderbilt

where he teaches courses on Brazilian

parative approach to the States.

development of

Professor

Fitz

is

the

literature

and courses

literature in Brazil,

that take a

com-

Spanish America, and the

author of Brazilian Narrative Traditions in a

Comparative Context (MLA, 2005) and Sexuality and Being in the Poststructuralist Universe

of Clarice

Lispector:

projects involve

The Difference of Desire (Texas, 2001). Professor

modern

Brazilian

E. EARL

Memorias Postumas de Bras Cuhas

.

Mosaic of One Hundred

The Brazilian Master and His Novels. Berkeley:

“John Barth’s Brazilian Connection.’’

Problem

A

1970.

P,

Comparatist 10

.

Genius'.

York: Warner, 2002. 67.3-680.

Assis-.

Earl E. “'Fhe Influence of

.

Assis.”

and Spanish American

of inter-American literature as an emergent

field.

literature

Fitz’s

current research

and the development

E-mail: [email protected]

i

>(

Dress and Female Intelligence: Intertextuality in

Esau and Jacob

Pedro Armando de Almeida Magalhaes

Abstract. Within the Brazilian tradition, Esau

and Jacob

invites

comparison with Joaquim Manuel de Macedo’s Memorias do sobrinho de

men

tio,

a satire describing the

to the larger

Machado,

In

life

and

career of a politician.

Western tradition, the novel as

much

Macedo and

as in

of similar metaphors around the use of willingness to

compromise

When analyzing the critics

ideals

from

benefits can be derived

issue

parallels Balzac’s

Balzac,

dress,

whenever

we can

which

political

is

With

Le pere

regard Goriot.

see the recurrence

used to signal a

and economic

it.

of politics in Machado de Assis Esau andJacob

suggest a conformity between

two apparently opposed

political parties

through a metaphor related to the main characters, the twins Pedro and Paulo, well as through the secondary character reflects a typically individualistic

as

D. Claudia, whose cynical discourse

and unconscientious bourgeois behavior.

be emphasized that the metaphor and D. Claudia’s posture place Esau

It

must

and Jacob

broader literary tradition. This paper aims to examine the intertextuality of

in a

these

two components and

Esau and Jacob

is

their effect

The

polarization of the

they

become

is

[Their] beards did not fingers,

Assis’ novel.

about the birth, childhood, and youth of twins Pedro

and Paulo, who were fortunate

adults,

on Machado de

two

is

to be

born into a wealthy, bourgeois family.

predicted at the beginning of the story and, as

established as they join

want

to

come, much

as

opposed

political parties:

they tugged at their chins with their

but political and other opinions formed and flourished.

They were not

60

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

13/14

com-

exactly opinions, as they did not have large or small roots, d hey were (a had

parison) like neckties of a particular color, that they wore until they got tired of the

color

and another one came along. Naturally each one had

believe that the color each

In this quote, the to

show

one wore suited

tie is a

metaphor

own.

his

his personality.

{Esau

One could

and Jacob

also

53)’

makes use of the narrative voice

that

the superficiality of the opposition between the

two young men. As

Pedro aligns himself with the ideas of the Monarchists, Paulo adopts the ideas of the Liberal Republicans, leaving

almost the whole of the

two and

them permanently

the narrative.

rest of

The

in

disagreement for

identical appearance of the

their socio-political context, however, reveals the inconsistency

their political contrast.

of

This opposition therefore goes no further than a piece

of cloth tied round the neck, a garment that actually hides their resemblances.

The

tie

indicates

more the need

for self-imposing individuality

the frailty of the distinctions between political points of view than belief based

on

ideas

The metaphor

and philosophical

ideals.

of the tie extends itself to the twins. Their relation

one of stage acting than of

some

characters.

his bourgeois

the end of the Emperor’s power.-

The

As such, the

name, but

is

more

the dissimulation in the

real difference. It reveals

novel, in the political attitude of

Agostinho Santos, ennobles

and

does the

it

is

twins’ father,

not especially shaken by

recent acquisition of the

of baron

title

does not prevent him from accepting serenely the advent of the Republic. well-to-do bourgeois like title

in order to profit

him should not have any

is

the

Batista corroborates that

a tie

same

which

hanging around

reveals Itself

Ball,” Batista finds

When

Batista. Like Santos,

through the metaphor of the at all costs. In

ends up following the advice of his wife, Claudia.

to the Conservative Party

title

his neck.

as his great friend’s,

namely, his constant search for a political career this, Batista

go of a

from new power games. For a wealthy bourgeois, the

would not be much more than Santos’ attitude

difficulty in letting

A

tie,

order to do

He

belonged

during the Monarchy and, before the “Ilha

himself unemployed but anxious to take part in

Fiscal

politics.

the Liberals attain power, he can find no solution to his problem.

Surprisingly,

D. Claudia finds

Conservative in the

Batista,

first

you were never

a

way out by

place:

a conservative!”

alleging that he

had never been

a

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

“You were with them,

like

someone who attends

a hall,

MACHADO DE ASSIS

THE CASE OF

-

where

it

is

61

not necessary MAGALHAES

same

to share the

dance the same quadrille.”

ideas in order to

Batista smiled lightly

Me

and quickly.

liked witty images

and

him

to be very witty indeed, so that he agreed right away.

him

to a quick rebuttal.

this

But

one seemed

to

his star inspired

ALMEIDA

DE

“Yes, but people don’t

dance with

“However they dance,

the truth

Remember [...].”

The is

(

ideas, they

that

is

all

dance with their

your ideas were

legs.”

camp.

in the liberal

ARMANDO

the dissidents in the province accused you of supporting the liberals

100)3

PEDRO

round the

strategy aims at getting

a success,

due

it is

ble each other so

difficulty of attaining

power;

if

it

to the inconsistency of the political parties that resem-

much

in their difficulty in sticking to a particular ideologi-

Cunningly, D. Claudia discovers the mask by which she can declare

cal line.

her cynicism.

Her sarcasm

a Conservative because

the “tie” of her discourse. Batista was never

lies in

not necessary to have the same ideas in order to

it is

dance the same dance. D. Claudia comes up with

a solution to her

dilemma: she suggests a change of wording, a change of

“tie,”

husband

s

and

declares

who

discover

the importance of flexibility through the imagery of the dance.

D. Claudia can be included

in a gallery

of female characters

come under

the veiled meanderings of power in works that

In Esau

ist.”

andJacob, D. Claudia

the real implications of the

ing to change, as

social mobility

through her cynical convictions,

evidenced by the metaphor of the dance.

is

justify the

means and money

used by those who, knowing

is

sible,

take advantage of any opportunities that

acter

Nobrega

not

come

gar

who

change

an example of

is

as a surprise.

this

and

get rich

Enchanted by the beautiful proposes marriage and stand

how anyone

is

must be

from the

of the novel, he

is

a beg-

twins’ mother, Natividade, to

to this situation,

surprised by the refusal.

could refuse a wealthy

ill.

at the start

to use in

more

he becomes a

favorable capitalist.

Flora, the daughter of Batista and D. Claudia, he

money, he does not understand that she

all-powerful,

how to adapt as quickly as posmay come their way. The char-

by putting the money

economic circumstances. Thanks

is

kind of upward mobility, which should

Poor and nameless

uses the donation he receives

his luck

name of “real-

mechanisms of power: the importance of adapt-

which the ends

In a world in

expresses,

the

life.

Nobrega does not under-

Because his values are tied to

Flora’s decision,

coming

to the conclusion

62

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

The

13/14

andJacob, Pedro and

attitudes of the characters in Esau

Paulo, Batista

and D. Claudia, and Nobrega, mirror the position adopted by the narrator in

A

Meu

Carteira do

Sobrinho de

Meu

Tio {Memories

ics.

Nephew does not

two periods

A

narrator in

Letter

nowadays underestimated by

from

Uncle and Memories of My Uncle's

who

He

and the small commitment

support his personal

demnable

As

“Me

to fragile party ideologies

simply to

both works he comments ironically on con-

interest. In

indeed very successful.

is

in the society described in

assumed

the

practices that are harmful to society, in order to follow a political

which he

career, at

member of

my

of the time, such as disregard for the

states the political attitudes

law, injustice,

criticizes the lack

of the time. “The nephew of

politicians

uncle” declares his individualism by claiming to be a Party.”

is

These two deci-

of a Brazilian politician.

in the life

My

crit-

here, the tone

political issues.

agree with his compatriot Paciencia,

and cynicism of the

ol ethics

is still

what concerns the country

sive satires represent

The

and Memorias do

which predate the novel being analyzed

In these works, in

Uncle, 1855)

of My Uncles Nephew, 1868), by Joaquim

Manuel de Macedo, an author who

openly ironic

My

Tio {A Letter from

drive Macedo’s

to

Esau and Jacob,

protagonist.

behavior on the part of the hero.

One

The “nephew”

money

the motivation

is

cannot hope for

idealistic

celebrates the current values

of the bourgeois world. Moreover, his wife, Chiquinha, bears quite a resem-

blance to D. Claudia in her cunning and wit. She also adopts points of view that suit her, trying to adapt to circumstances. Like Batistas wife,^ is

Chiquinha

not politically naive:



I

know,

need to teach,

and we

eat,

by

your philosophical ideas concerning the material and moral

for example,

although unjustly but happily excluded from

ladies,

men: we, among the guests touch with our served,

we

nature.

The

lips

eat as

intelligent thing to

cooks, and then

banquet

table,

and even

is

as

is

necessary,

however

that

secretly, to satisfy the

eloquent and wisely applied to philosophy and to

do

show

is

to eat as

much

as possible

life,

political

at the family table, barely

one chicken wing; but before the lunch or dinner

much

lesson

at the

political

moral lessons to philosophical and

practical example, the wisest

is

regularly

demands of politics.

The

behind the larder door with the

sobriety before laymens eyes, or in front of the public.

[...]

Cousin Chiquinha was tle,

a

meddling Machiavellian, dressed

black patent leather shoes. (131-132)5

in a

hoop

skirt

with

lit-

,

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

Just as Claudia

knows how

to be flexible

who

in

THE CASE OF

absence of any distinctive identity

among

63

MAGALHAES

large upheavals

time, demonstrating great adaptability to “the latest

his

(Macedo

to Talleyrand

unharmed through

survived

MACHADO DE ASSIS

under changes of power, always

compared

advising her husband, Chiquinha can be 510), the French diplomat

-

whim.” The

ALMEIDA

the Brazilian political parties, sugDE

Machado,

gested in

is

explicit in

Macedo, who

metaphor

prefers to use the

of ministerial uniforms to that of ties in order to express the concealed ideo-

ARMANDO

logical allure: PEDRO

luckily, for the

[...]

flock

belong,

I

whose

ideas,

[...]

men

sound mind,

of

no true

there are

leaders only

become

political parties in Brazil, that

so through ideas

and through

loyal disposition to realize those ideas in power, sine

signify.

[...]

find

I

much

it

make uniforms ders of

human

make them

are only groups

to

hang on the shoul-

coat hangers. (317-318)^

indeed a tendency of the bourgeois world

novel Le phe Goriot {\S5A)

Honore de

However, he does not

as well as collec-

moved by money.

refer to ties, like

political

men-

in his treatment

of the

modern

Machado

Macedo;

of Pedro and Paulo, or uniforms,

prefers

order to establish a comparison. Vautrin

shirts

in

Si j’ai

who

goes out of his

way

encore un conseil a vous donner,

opinions

qua

vos paroles.

les

il

n’y a

en ligne droite, un

S’il

y avait des principes

les

il

n’y a pas de

evenements

et des lois fixes, les

nous changeons de chemises. (172-173)

a

is

demandera, vendez-les.

homme

niais qui croit a I’infaillibilite.

que des evenements;

I’homme superieur epouse

rather,

lois,

il

n’y a

II

Un homme

qui se charge d’aller

n’y a pas de principes,

que des circonstances;

et les circonstances

pour

les

conduire.

peoples n’en changeraient pas

he

type of

ange, c’est de ne pas plus tenir a vos

qui se vante de ne jamais changer d’opinion est un toLijours

like

to tempt the hero Rastignac:

mon

Quand on vous

In the

Balzac, through his cynical character

political attitudes

Mephistopheles

of

and

better to dress in the fashions of the time: the tailors don’t

for ministers to dress ideas; they

Vautrin, also mentions garments while discussing the tality.

parties

to the ideas that those

This non-compromise of ideas and opinions, individual tive, is

is,

their capacity

qua non, there

and gangs who take names without giving importance

names

whose

for the political speculators to

comme

64

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

Manuel de Macedo’s

Like Joaquim Talleyrand,

who

learned

ranclis qiie

[...]

I’humanire pour

empeche on

le

lui jette

hommes! tetes

la

how

narrator, Vautrin praises the Prince of

to adapt to circumstances;

prince auquel chacun lance sa pierre, et qui meprise assez

le

lui

cracher au visage autant de serments qu’elle en demande, a

parrage de

de

13/14

la

France au congres de Vienne: on

houe. Oh!

Suffit. J’aurai

connais

je

les affaires,

une opinion inebranlable

moi! le

lui

doir des couronnes,

J’ai les secrets

ou

jour

j’aurai

de bien des

rencontre

trois

d’accord sur I’emploi d’un principe, et j’attendrai longtemps! (173)

Besides the criminal Vautrin, the hero Rastignac counts on the help of the aristocrat

Madame

de Beauseant,

his cousin,

who

belongs to the upper eche-

lons of the exclusive Saint-Germain neighborhood.

Both of them, each

in his

own

way, look for help in their struggle to find a place in the Parisian

The

Viscountess of Beauseant seems to be as astute as D. Claudia and

Chiquinha when she

reveals her strategies for reaching the top

Plus froidemenr vous calculerez, plus avant vous craint.

vous

N’acceptez

les

laisserez crever a

hommes chaque

vous, vous ne serez rien id

vous

fatit

et les

relais,

si

trdor; ne

As can be seen

in

le laissez

vous arriverez

Mais

si

ainsi

les

au

um

chevaux de poste que

faite

femme

vous avez

of society:

Frappez sans pide, vous serez

femmes que comme

vous n’avez pas une

jeune, riche, elegante.

comme un

irez.

elite.

de vos

desirs.

Voyez-

qui s’interesse a vous.

sentiment

II

vrai, cachez-le

jamais soupc^onner, vous seriez perdu. (135)

Machado, Macedo, and

Balzac,

women

which seemingly

struggle for social advance, revealing that

are allies in the

distinctive cloth-

ing conceals and preaching the dissimulation that serves the ambitious behavior

of the bourgeoisie. In Esau and Jacob,

in social climbing, the affirmation

grand not

ideals,

let itself

she also suggests a

of

if

the

woman

is

one’s greatest ally

political versatility to the

detriment of

much more complex romanticism

be seduced by superficiality,

ties,

that does

or other disguises.

Notes ^

The

os dedos,

original reads: “As barbas

mas

as

nao queriam

vir,

por mais que

opinioes, nao tinham raizes grandes

nem

pequenas.

chamassem o bu^o com Nao eram propriamente

eles

opinioes poh'ticas e outras vinham e cresciam.

Eram (mal comparando)

gravatas de cor

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

particular,

quc

-

THE CASE OF

ao pcsco^), a cspera qiic a cor cansasse e vicsse

cles aravani

cada urn tinha a sua. lanihem sc pode crcr que

de cada uni

a

MACHADO

oiitra.

DE ASSIS

65

Naturalmcnte

mais ou menos, adequada a

era,

MAGALHAES

pessoa” {Esau e Jaco 62-63). ^ Santos’

Assis,

worry

lasts

only a

little

LXVI seems

while, as chapter

to demonstrate.

Esau and Jacob 100. Ihe original reads: ALMEIDA





voce ntinca

Batista,

conservador!

foi

DE [...]

—Voce icieias

estava

com eles, como a gente mesma quadrilha. amava

Batista sorriu leve e rapido;

mas

tanto que concorciou logo;

baile,

onde nao

e preciso ter as

mesmas ARMANDO

imagens graciosas

as

sua estrela inspirou-lhe

a

— Sim, mas gente nao dan^a com que — Dance com que

ideias, clan^a

a

verclade e

for, a

que os dissidentes na

acusavam

provi'ncia

^ See Esau e Jaco, chapters 5

nurn

esta

para danq:ar a

a

c aquela pareceu-lhe graciosissima,

uma

com

rekita^ao pronta.

PEDRO

pernas.

todas as suas idchas iam para os liberais; lembre-se

voce

apoiar os liberais

cic

[.

.

.]”

{Esau

e Jaco

1

03-104).

XLVII and LXXVIII.

My translation. The original

reads:



— Eu conhe^o, por exemplo,

moral do comer,

relativas a necessidade material e

lelizmente excluidas da vida politica,

damos na

e

as suas ideias filosoficas

nos as senhoras, embora injusta mas

pratica material

da nossa vida a mais sabia

liejao

moral aos homens filosofos e

politicos:

nos a mesa dos convidados ao banquete, e ate a mesa da

com

os labios

em uma

tocamos

familia apenas

comemos

jantar regularmente servidos, satisfazer as exigencias

da natureza.

cumpre comer o mais

possiVel atras

e ostentar

A

A

asinha de Irango; mas antes do almocjo ou do

embora

tanto quanto e preciso,

as escondidas, para

li^ao e eloqtiente e sabia aplicada a filosofia e a poh'tica:

da porta da despensa,

e

de inteligencia

com

os cozinheiros,

sobriedade ante os olhos profanos, ou diante do publico.

prima Chiquinha era

um

Maquiavel metido

em

saia

de balao,

e

com

sapatinhos

cie

duraque preto” (Macedo 131-132). ^

The

original reads:

“[...]

politicos a cuja grei pertenejo, Brasil, isto e, partidos

de

lelizmente para os

ou nao

ha,

como

ideias, cujos chefes so

homens de

juizo, para os especuladores

sustento, verdadeiros partidos politicos

o sejam pelas ideias

e pela

capacidade e

disposi^ao de as realizar no poder, sine qua non, e ha somente bandos e seqiielas que se

por simpatias e certos homens, e por oposi^ao a outros bandos e

sem dar importancia a

moda do tempo:

as ideias

que

esses

nomes

significam.

[...]

seqiielas, e

no leal

unem

que tomam nomes

Eu acho muito melhor

vestir-me

os alfaiates nao fazem fardas de ministros para vestir ideias; fazem-nas para

pendura-las nos ombros de cabides

humanos” (Macedo 317-318).

Works Cited Assis,

Machado .

Esau

Esau and Jacob. Trans. Elizabeth Eowe.

de.

e Jaco.

Balzac, ITonore de.

2000.

Oxford UP, 2000.

Rio de Janeiro: Gamier, 1988.

Le pere

Macedo, Joaquim Manuel Eetras,

New York:

Goriot. Paris: Eibrairie de.

Generale

Memorias do Sobrinho de

Pranq:aise,

Men

Tio.

1995.

Sao Paulo: Gompanhia das

66

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

Pedro

Armando

13/14

de Almeida Magalhaes

the State University of

is

a

PhD

candidate in Comparative Literature at

Rio de Janeiro (UERj), and teaches French Language and

Literature at the Alliance Fran^aise. His current research focuses

between

literary

and

historical discourse in

Machado de

Assis’

Esau

Yourcenar’s ECEuvre au Noir. F-mail: [email protected]

on the relationship

e Jaco

and Marguerite

Readings of Balzac

Twentieth-Century

in

Brazil:

The Case of Machado de Assis

Gilberto Pinheiro Passos

Translated by Steve Smith

Abstract. Balzac, one of the most popular authors of the nineteenth century, developed themes (arrivism, the

mode

(the reappearance

beyond France. was one of

I.

It is

power of money) and

a narrative

of the same characters) that were relevant

the contention of this essay that

Balzac’s finest

and most perceptive

Machado de

far

Assis

readers.

Balzadan diffusion

Unlike Stendhal, whose greater number of readers arose only

at the

end of the

nineteenth century, Balzac enjoyed enormous success in his

own

time. This

brought him the displeasure of seeing some of authorization or the interest in benefiting

his novels

published without

payment of royalties, such was the extent of from

publishers’

his success.

Because he was such a popular and

prolific writer,

always present in news-

papers and magazines, he was considered for a long time as a literary figure of the

same

stature as Paul Feval (1817-1877), Paul de

Eugene Sue (1804-1857), lic.

Time

all

or

of whom were also widely recognized by the pub-

passed and the perspective of history allowed

duction of each writer more

carefully,

digmatic author. There

a natural

is

Kock (1793-1871),

critics to

evaluate the pro-

with Balzac reaching the interest

in

level

of a para-

studying his reception in

nineteenth-century Brazil, a time in which the presence of the author of Gobseck

was intensely

among

felt,

contributing to the expansion and maturity of the novel

Brazilian writers

and

readers, as well as their familiarization

with

it.

68

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

In 1841, there

under the

title

was already present

Algumas

from

Paris a

from Portugal,

and

Brazilian periodicals.

Not

coincidentally,

Jose da Rocha, a legally trained journalist

who

arrived

few years prior (one of the leaders of the 1833 Revista da

Sociedade Filomdtica [Philomathical Society Review), a collective student at the

grin,

Law School

under the

Rochas

in

title

As we know,

Europe and

luva misteriosa

in this period the

(

The Mysterious

As

journalistic interest.

Glove), in

1

836.

mystery novel was very successful both

a matter

who

of

fact,

one should not forget that

helped to create the serialized novel,

Marlyse Meyer points out: “The magical lure of ‘continued next

issue’

ated along with the serialized novel. Lazarillo de Tormes was the

1836, and,

this treatment, in

in

This led to Justiniano Jose da

in Brazil, via translations originals.

expressly requests

work

Sao Paulo), published an adaptation of La peau de cha-

A

Balzac was one of the authors

undergo

Life)

evidence of previous translations of his publica-

is

tions in Portuguese newspapers

young Justiniano

in Brazil a translation

da vida particular [Some Scenes of Private

scenas

(Rodrigues 101). There

the

13/14

at the

from an author, Balzac,

end of the same

year,

as

cre-

is

to

first

Girardin

a novella to be released serially.

La

vieille file’’ (31).'

This

one of the reasons

is

SLich as Sainte-Beuve,

literature” raries, all

who

and used them, of

whom

for the strong criticisms

classified the serialized

we know,

as

from commentators

productions

as “industrial

to equate Balzac with his

contempo-

today have practically disappeared. However, in

Brazil,

throughout the nineteenth century, they became an obligatory reference,

works on science,

history,

and

philosophy, was part of the atmosphere of modernization in the country

fol-

partly because the French novel, together with

lowing independence. 2

It is

worth remembering, moreover, that the study of

middle- and upper-class reading habits in Brazil

and beginning of the twentieth

Ordem

e Progresso

continually

[Order and

Progress),

end of the nineteenth

by Gilberto Freyre

in his

shows that only the work of Balzac

“Gomo about

a novelist”), tells us

e

por que sou romancista”

his arrival at the

(“How and

Sao Paulo Academy and

the fascination that Francisco Otaviano’s library held for the academics:

housemate was one of Otaviano’s tage of his literary opulence.

the

is

remembered by those interviewed.^

Alencar, for example, in

why 1 am

at the

centuries, published

volume of

Balzac’s

Belgian typographers

friends,

and

I

was allowed

That was how one day

I

saw

“My

to take advan-

for the first time

complete works, in that loose-leaf edition that the

made

available at a

modest

price” (35).'^

The

future

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

command

author of Iracema did not

-

THE CASE OF

MACHADO DE ASSIS

69

French well enough to enable him to PASSOS

read the original Huently, hut even so he did not get discouraged and,

by

little,

little

he penetrated the readings of Dumas, Chateaubriand, and Victor

Hugo. Fhe narrated

that Balzac will obtain

and

foretell the

vogue

throughout the century, becoming a constant

in the

facts take place in the mid-forties

PINHEIRO

GILBERTO

concerns of authors and Titke, for

critics.

example, the case of the novel

and Machado de than suggested.

Assis’ criticism of

The work

it

in

O primo Basilio by E 9 a de Queiros

878. In these, Balzac’s presence

1

author of

carries, as the

upon contact with

exclaims, “But this

is

more

Ressiirreigao {Resurrection)

indicates, the strength of the plot of Eugenie Grander, acters,

is

when one

of the char-

and

the details of the lives of Luisa

Basilio,

the plot of Eugenia Grander, Sebastian! You’re describ-

ing Balzac’s novel to me! This

is

Eugenia Grandet^E (Queiros 135).^

For the Portuguese and Brazilian public, therefore, the French text must have been widely known, given that the novelist, in an interesting intertextual turn, uses the public’s

Machado de

memory

as

an integral part of

his literary craft.

Assis next discusses the “moral figure” of Eugenie

Grander and

establishes clear-cut differences with relation to Luisa.

This

is

the dialogue between Brazil

through France,

given that

Machado

is

reflecting,

possibilities of transplanting

summary of

effects,

Balzac especially interests

while dealing with the novel, upon the

must have been inspired by Balzac

his

work

{Dreams of Gold, 1872),^ which goes so found inspiration not

Of these,

forms and themes. Brazilian criticism points

out, moreover, that Jose de Alencar

order to propose the

necessarily

complex triangular relationship with varied

in a

always connected to great literary figures. us,

and Portugal, passing

in Balzac,

in the preface to

far as to affirm that

in

Sonhos d’ouro

our author had

but in the preface written by Zola for

Rougon- Macquart of 1871.

We

arrive then at other textual parallels,

which seem

original

especially because they appear in authors aware of the limits

of Brazilian

literature.

and

fruitful

and intentions

Both Jose de Alencar and Machado de Assis

reflected

appropriately on Brazil’s literary development, either in articles that

may

be

consulted with great benefit (such as “Instinto de Nacionalidade” [“Instinct

of Nationality”] and the polemic around or in the context of their

We fectly

must not

own

O primo

Basilio

mentioned above)

works.

forget that in the letter-postface to Senhora, Alencar

is

per-

aware of the social situation of the Court (with his expression, “tama-

70

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

nho da sociedade Huminense” learned in Balzac, which

up on

gives so,

Alencar

is

— apparently— insists

13/14

[“greatness of Rio society”])

that of the “philosophical” narrative,

in favor

of the “dramatic,” a

la

which he

Shakespeare. Even

on the connection between man and environment,

manner of inserting

related to the

and of the lesson

characters in social

life,

clearly

a lesson also theo-

by Balzac;

rized

As

for

Fernando, you are even more unfair. The simple description of the living

space draws

we

already

its

inhabitant,

know him

domestic poverty. Fhe

You

call this

and when the author presents him, lying on the

sofa,

morally by the contrast of his external elegance and his details of clothing

photography;

it

must

be,

and furniture have no other purpose.

however of the character, revealed more

in

“Note

to

these small accidents of intimacy than in the social apparatus. (Alencar,

Senhora” 342)^

So, in Balzac, description loses

its

ornamental

quality, integrating itself to

the action in order to help portray the characters, as critic of

to

shown by an

insightful

the relationship between literature and the representation of society:

him every milieu becomes

a

moral and physical atmosphere which impregnates

the landscape, the dwelling, furniture, implements, clothing, physique, character,

surroundings, ideas,

activities,

and

fates

historical situation reappears as a total

of men, and

at the

same time the general

atmosphere which envelops

all its

several

milieus. (Auerbach 473)

If

we wish

to gather a representative example,

rator into the paradigmatic prietor,

whose description

we should accompany the

Vauquer boardinghouse

in order to observe

its

obliges us to anchor her deeply in the wretched

nar-

pro-

and

asphyxiating perspective of a typified world, because “route sa personne explique la

pension,

comme

la

pension implique sa personne” (Balzac, Goriot5^).

Similarly, the reader’s trast

between the

encounter with Fernando Seixas, through the con-

brilliance

of the clothes and the poverty of the environ-

ment, already establishes the drama that the matter: the universe of

money

will

will follow

and

gets to the heart

with one of the most well-known Balzacian themes, that of the

arriviste,

of the driving forces of Machado de Assis’ Senhora and of A

e

Hand and the

of

have a dominant role in the plot, along

Glove), as critics have highlighted.

mao

one

a luva ( The

— THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

II.

MACHADO DE

ASSIS

71

Thematic convergences and a shrewd reader of Balzac PASSOS

The primacy types

money

of

disgusted Jose de Alencar,

end up avoiding the monetary empire,

either

whose

preferred character

by an escape through time

PINHEIRO

or space or through spiritual redemption (as in the case of Fernando Seixas). In

Machadian oeuvre knows how

contrast, the

to advantageously

manipulate the GILBERTO

Introjectlon of at

power

that

economic

Machado’s creative work and

Brazilian literature, adapting

enables.

life

It is

time to take a closer look

his incessant struggle for the universalization of

and transforming foreign elements belonging

to

the novellstic tradition or recently suggested by popular novelists.

its

The power

of

consequent

social projection are part of Bras

ciary of

money, or

better, the

triumphalism of economic power and Cubas,

a conscious benefi-

power, or Bentinho, whose narrative can also be seen as an

its

encounter of classes.

What

ure in Esau e Jaco {Esau

to say about the banker Santos, an important fig-

and Jacob),

whose monetary

cian Tristao,

or about the disturbing and crafty politi-

activity



the basis for his return to Brazil

does not go unnoticed under the wise eyes of Counselor Ayres?

So that we can go ence,

it

would be

a little further in this field of Brazilian fictional experi-

interesting

between two Machadian

now

arrivistes

work with an extraordinary dispute

to

and

to try to

determine

how much

This book deals with the slow and grad-

evocation there

is

ual absorption

of property by Cristiano de Almeida e Palha

Rubiao,

who

in Qiiincas Borba.

in relation to

brings to Rio de Janeiro a fortune obtained in an unexpected

way, thanks to the inheritance from Quincas Borba. All of this then, by the desire to shine in the big

rounded by

“its

city,

cient

means

is

Wealth and

with

where he would find himself surgirls

newcomer

of a socio-cultural nature, because he already possesses

its

accompanying new

its

referents,

sta-

suffi-

social position unleash a process

of dis-

making France supreme, decorating the

nar-

operatic brilliance, of course, but always in opposition to the

“gauche” nature of Barbacena’s interests us

enhanced,

for success as a “capitalist.”

mantling of provincial rative

is

enchantment, movement, theaters everywhere, pretty

dressed in the latest French fashions” {Quincas Borba 24). Fdis tus, therefore,

Balzacian

more narrowly,

verify the inverse

unknown

professor.

Thus, even here Balzac

thematic source, given that

we

can, at

first,

connection to Rastignac, the poor country bumpkin

who

as a

arrives in the metropolis. In this case Paris, following a torturous process of

apprenticeship and social climbing. Another character, Lucien de {Illusions perdues). In his first trip to the

French

capital,

Rubempre

unaware of Rastignac’s

72

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

moneyed end,

13/14

world of theater and venal journalism.

finds himself in a

impossible not to

remember

this

at

moment

a figure like

Quincas Borha), the self-interested journalist, causing us to

It is

Camacho recall so

(in

many

scenes from Illusions perdues. In Quincas Borha, Brazilian social novelty

is

personified in the presence of

the commercial arriviste (Cristiano).

Machado abandons

tranquil terrain of the old bourgeois

and landed nobility

world of the metropolis to Barbacena.

We

is

more

solid

and

relationships.

The

the

enriched with behaviors distinguished in relation

are dealing with

something new and insidious, which

escapes Rubiao’s distracted understanding. Differently from Rastignac, he

not undertake the apprenticeship necessary for

will

but savage,

a cosmopolitan,

society.

The Rio de tionships.

life in

The

Janeiro depicted

is

far

removed from the old

patriarchal rela-

controlling code will no longer impose sanctions and rewards

based on respect for blood

ties

or the sworn word, but rather on the oppor-

tunism of the lucid vision of the true businessman, Cristiano, into whose wealth goes part of the it,

but

III.

A

who somewhat

money

extravagantly spent by one

fortuitously inherited

who

did not earn

it.

Balzacian suggestion

Such thematic readings gain greater consistency and appropriateness pay attention to an invaluable

factor,

found

if

we

specifically in the preface to the

third part of Illusions Perdues'.

II

y a trois causes, d’une action perpetuelle, qui unissent

I’ambition L’esprit,

du

fargent et

[...]. II reste

I’ambition

noble, le

grand

nom

a faire Thistoire

du negociant

viennent chercher

du bourgeois

ne veut pas tester au milieu des temoins de

personnage a

As one can itself at

Paris. (Balzac, “Preface”

see, the

a historic

enrichi,

in

province a Paris:

du

poete.

sphere qui leur est proper

enrichi a qui sa province deplait, qui ses

commencements

et espere etre tin

765)

suggestion was in the

moment

la

la

I’ambition

air.

which the self-image

Parodically, Brazil

of Rio de Janeiro

found

drew

closer to Paris, according to the accounts of many authors of the period. 9

it

The

countryside in our case was called Barbacena, just as the French capital comes to be called

Rio de Janeiro, the stage of the Francophile Court. Here the

name Pedro Rubiao de Alvarenga might not

ring true

— notwithstanding

its

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

reminder of the reigning emperor



-

THE CASE OF

Fhe

Napoleon

the

mastically



his origi-

III. PINHEIRO

same name

Lucien con-

hero of Illusions perdues, recaptured to

as the

transplanted in time and in space, helping to establish

last detail,

—ono-

the connection with the French work, Balzac’s presence then

between the

lines, that

total lack of success

himself higher than mere mortals:

it

is

could have provided the

in the suggestion that

is,

foundation for the novel, constructed

theme. Thus the

like a Brazilian version of the

proposed

and, at the same time, the need to raise

not enough to be in Rio/Paris,

is

it

is

necessary to be emperor, not the Brazilian one, Pedro de Alcantara, but the

French one,

The

in turn a pale reflection

of his uncle, the great Napoleon

relationship between the country

connected to

and the

city,

a Balzacian

I.

theme

social climbing, finds in this case a fatal application, because

Machado’s pen colors

it

with insanity, which surrounds Rubiao from the

beginning of the book.

IV.

A

If the

narrative process

themes work together in an attempt to shape

Brazil, starting

from French

elements, another very relevant part should be noted: Machado’s second phase brings novels in

which one

way and according

of characters. This configures, in our

sees the return

to the limits already foreseen with precision

by Jose de

Alencar with regard to the “greatness of Rio society,” the continuum of our society with

its

own

features,

which owes

a lot to the French author.

In Balzac, the relationship between people creates an intricate web, in

which what stands out short that

number

which helps

are the to

names, the positions occupied, the origin,

anchor the individual

of characters so great that

author’s intent

is

to create a

it

in the social net.

competes with the

civil

With

registry,

broad and tormented picture of beings

in

a

the

who

debate each other in the so-called “Fiuman Comedy.” This “inferno” does not prove transcendent

Divine

theater, the

gaming

alienate themselves

painful

(as

would be the

Comedy), but on the contrary

this public: Paris, the

case of

its

inspirational source, the

offers itself as the evident reality

of

countryside, the newspaper, the Stock Exchange, the

tables, the

from the

and quotidian

73

PASSOS

him

parallels contintie. In the Brazilian novel, the suggestive

fronts us with the

ASSIS

because, according to Rtibiao, a French

barber, Lticien, a resident of Rio de Janeiro, should return to nal face, that of

MACHADO DE

amorous connections. Readers can no longer reality that

spectacle, in

surrounds them, changed into a

which the only notable lack

is

that of the

GILBERTO

74

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

working

(I)erville),

new

to a

The

submerged

class, still

and

13/14

as a

theme by the bankers (Nucigen), attorneys

great businessmen (Grandet),

whose culture

correspond

narrative expedient of character reappearance allows us, therefore, to

create expectations without, in truth, the author’s having to

on

will

code of conduct.

Maxime de

their characterization.

opprobrium and

spend more time

Trailles will always bring his load

affective exploitation,

and Vautrin the disquiet of

dition as a profound connoisseur of vices and crimes, while

employee of the

still

his

of

con-

being an

police.

Reproducing the preferably contemporary world, Balzac not only makes characters reappear, but also gives consistency to this world through the

embodiment

of figures gravitating

around central plot elements, always with

the intention of thickening and condensing the representation of social reality.

The

part

and the whole answer each other such

lawyer, the usurer, the

young

arriviste, the

more or

neur, the banker, the venal journalist, the criminal,

man

immense

are the solid bases of this

that the courtesan, the less

successful entrepre-

and the indebted noble-

fictional undertaking,

which crossed

the frontiers of his country and, with the export of French culture, radiated

through the Western world. In Brazil, this novelistic mixture will find in

both attentive and



Brazilian reality. In

as

we

—concerned with adapting

said

Assis a reader

foreign sources to

Memorias postumas de Bras Cubas, the reader meets an

eccentric figure, Quincas Borba, ical,

Machado de

who

leaves for Minas, crazy

returning to die in Rio de Janeiro, at the

Between the departure

home of the

and philosoph-

narrator.

Barbacena and the return to the Court, the

for

next novel, Quincas Borba, begins. Here Rubiao plays the role of friend, nurse, secretary, disciple, and, finally, unexpected heir to the belongings of a

dog, also called Quincas Borba. As can be seen,

that Bras tric

Cubas

figure of

is

as

Not by chance, as

he himself

Borba,

tells

are dealing

with the same fact

practically incidental, leaving us, however, with the eccen-

who enchanted and haunted

Quincas Borba,

defunct narrator

we

Comedie hnmaine, although varied by the

fictional aspect present in the

much

as the

therefore,

it

our famous,

poor provincial professor.

occurred to

Machado

to continue the process,

us in the prologue to the third edition (1899) of Quincas

commenting on

the possibility of establishing another extension

and

transposition of characters, in this case the beautiful and mysterious Sofia,

along the lines of the French

series:

.

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

An

illustrious h iend

and conhere

insisted that

I

THE CASE OF

-

follow this

MACHADO DE

ASSIS

75

hook up with another. PASSOS

“Along with Memorias Postumas de Bras Cubas, from which should make all

a trilogy,

to herself.” For

now

these pages

and the

some time

thought that

say no. Sofia

I

is

is

you

derived,

from Quincas BorbaWxW have the third part

Sofia

I

this

might be

possible, but as

I

reread

here completely. Fo have continued her

would

it

PINHEIRO

GILBERTO

have been repeating

her,

and that

repetition

Following the interregnum of

same

return to the case of Esau

the former,

a sin.

{Quincas Borba 3)

Casmurro, Machado, however, does

now more complex and

recourse,

embracing:

this

is

the

and Jacob and Memorial de Aires {Counselor Ayres Memorial)

we meet Ayres

at

having returned to

retired,

Dom

would be

observes the

life

two points

Brazil.

in his

at first

life,

In

later

In contact with the Santos family, he

two twins, Pedro and Paulo, above

of

young and

all

with regard to their

passion for Flora and to concerns for the political beliefs that they hold, tied to

monarchist and republican convictions. Curiously, Machado’s

last

novel

is

made up

mat, covering a relatively short period

of a diary written

the twins from the earlier novel, but only the growing in the

widow

be seen, this

Fidelia

is

a

seeks companionship.

the result of a motivation that goes

V.

and ambiguous

and the accompaniment of her passion

man who

by the diplo-

- 1889 ), without any mention of ( 1888

The

interest

forTristao.

As can

interest in others really

Is

beyond the mere condition of solitary man.

Convergences

Ayres

is

interested in hearing the diverse characters

register their opinions,

the country during

in a historically singular

At

Is

This role places him

in

quite propitious to being an arbiter or confidant,

when

Brazil abolishes slavery and, the fol-

of the Republic

after

more than

three centuries of

slavery.

a crucial

social point

thirty years’ absence.

period

year, sees the birth

monarchy and

to

but also to capture the changes that have occurred in

more than

a narrative situation that

lowing

around him, not only

moment

for nationality,

from the economic,

political,

and

of view, the credibility of a chancellery worker became urgent.

Here there might echo

traces

of Derville, Balzac’s lawyer and notary, the

mindful retainer of secrets and counselor to French families. This

is

a the-

matic convergence, both coinciding with a certain institutional expectation. In order to go

beyond the localism

worth turning our attention

of Derville, tied only to France,

to another character in

it is

an even more meaning-

76

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

fill

way, because he

13/14

present specifically in Illusions perdues 2ind

is

Not by chance, we

nationalist visions.

are dealing with

fit

for inter-

someone connected

The

binomial

Derville/Chatelet can help to better understand Counselor Ayres,

who shows

elements of both: from them he inherits the talent to

stay quiet,

to

diplomatic

the

life,

besides being invited



to

du

Sixte

like Derville

functions of Ayres in Esau

The connection

clever



Chatelet.

listen

and

remake family peace (one of the

to

and Jacob).

diplomacy



we have emphasized

as

— becomes fundaWe

mental and leads us to some textual details indicative of the relationship. see, in the case of Sixte

du Chatelet, the

Monsieur du Chatelet, venu an monde pretendait fort en diplomatie,

profonds par

letir

demontre par discrets, elle

I’exercice

meme

de

We

commode, en

ce sens qu’elle se

hauts emplois; que voulant des

ses

rien dire,

I’homme

sa tete au-dessus

semble alors conduire, ce qui devient Illiisiom

se

[...]

science de ceux qui n’en ont aucune et qui sont

tete mysterieux; et qu’enfin

nage en tenant

Bruyere:

la

Chatelet tout court

Sixte

vide; science d’ailleurs fort

permet aux ignorants de ne

hochements de est celtii qui

la

true “portrait” a

du

tine question

hommes

de se retrancher dans des le

plus fort en cette science

fleuve des

evenements

qu’il

de legerete specifique. (Balzac,

49-50)

turn

now

to the Brazilian text,

diplomatic activity and transforms to dissimulation: “this too

up. All diplomacy

is

it

which

sharpened his

in these

Moreover, Machado de Assis

two

like the

gift for

and

uncovering and for covering

related verbs” (Assis,

insists

French one minimizes

into something related to curiosity

Esau and Jacob 242).

on elements connected

to discretion

and

to the ability to not get involved:

[Ayres] did not play a

prominent

role in this world:

the diplomatic career and was pensioned

You need only know

that he

every occasion, just the right

was

a pleasure to hear

and

off. (3)

wore the protective

approving smile, the bland and cautious

amount

he went through the steps of

style

shell of his profession,

of speaking, the

of expression,

all

air

the

appropriate to

so well distributed that

it

see him. (38)

Ayres did not think anything, but he understood that the others thought something.

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

and

lie

made an ambiguous

When

gesture.

MACHADO

DE ASSIS

77

they insisted, he did not choose either PASSOS

kumd

oh the opposing opinions, hut hotli sides, a rare thing

his

another,

compromise opinion

with compromise opinions

Ayres gave

that satisfied

opinion of

this

PINHEIRO

with delicate pauses and circumlocutions, wiping his monocle on a

kerchief, letting

drop profound or obscure words, turning up

hand-

silk

his eyes, as if in search GILBERTO

of a recollection,

For such a

which he found and used

is

great necessity of a country that

dates (Abolition It is

sympathy of the person

and Republic),

is



facing

as

importance conferred by

again,

traits,

pivotal

in disagree-

without the

diplomacy and with the

his privileged position, so that

the position of guarantor of confessions

— two

and society

necessary that the character inherit the French

Differently

he sums up the

we have noted

families split apart,

differ-

narrating, even

and Jacob.

Balzac’s creation,

bitterness of the Balzacian vision with respect to

Once

one fundamental

is

the possible creator of the novel Esau

from the tangential nature that surrounds

ment.

off his opinion. (39-40)

however, there

festival of staging,

ence: Ayres has, for himself, the

because he

round

to

he can be elevated to

and equalizer of disputes.

Machado de Assis demonstrates

that the use of foreign sources

should be done in accordance with the pressing necessity of his narrative econ-

omy, that

is,

Counselor story.

with the transformations that the Brazilian works demand. To the

falls his

There

is

own

development of the

characterization, as well as the

nothing more appropriate for an international character, versed

in the subjects related to secrets

and confessions, than the diary form ( Counselor

Ayres Memorial) or attribution to hidden authorship {Esau

The

and Jacob).

recording of facts in his personal notebook “hides” actions, just like

and engine

the novelized form of the twins’ narrative serves as framing

“double-edged” gestures. Carefully, Ayres’ decorum and tact act with the depicted political situation of the country. Diplomacy the family counselor as an indispensable complement. There

French narratives, the stimulus of adultery. Everything

happens

money

lavishly spent,

— contemplates,

dence of those around him, and knows that

concert

linked to

not, as in the

nor the scourge of

stealthily, as befits a narrator

into the inner circle of families

is

in

is

for the

who

— introduced

observes, gains the confi-

his style

should be reserved,

almost nebulous.

This theme of a society in need of both help and counselors allows the connections

we make.

Derville, Sixte

ineluctable similarity following

du

Chatelet,

and Ayres maintain an

on the “representation”

of the country.

That

78

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

is,

each one in

13/14

own way and

its

in

accordance with the particular sense of

each work “stages” the history of the country and the families

comprises,

it

with Sixte du Chatelet being almost a magician. In France, the characters fill

their role in the traumatic events

ful-

of the Restoration, a period that unsuc-

cessfully tried to put a stop to the conquests

of the French Revolution.

Society was obliged to incorporate social malcontents, bourgeois financial solutions,

and the constant

threat of regime change. In Brazil, Ayres’ time

is

the most complex from the point of view of sociopolitical institutions. For this,

the two authors took advantage of types inclined to the dance of insti-

tutional about-faces of varied kinds.

One

can

without the shadow of a doubt, that the young Pedro and

say,

Paulo see their illusions

with no fear of

lost

with the advent of the Republic.

and Tristao

error, that Fidelia

illusions of the Aguiars,

but everything

of Counselor Ayres, the narrative choice of

but

care for emphasis,

who must

destroy,

filtered

is

One

once and

can affirm, for

all,

through the meditative

Machado de

Assis,

who

the

style

did not

have been pleased by translating, in

Brazilian terms, readings of an author like Balzac.

Notes ^

O

“Esta criado o magico chamariz ‘continua no proximo numero’ e o roman-feuilleton.

Lazarillo de Tormesioi o primeiro a receber esse tratamento,

ano, Girardin

encomenda expressarnente

a

um

em

1836,

logo no fim do

e,

autor, Balzac, Lima novela para sair

em

mesmo

serie.

La

vieille filled

2

Trade.

See Hallewell

^ See Freyre

^

“Mas

literaria.

isso e

casa era dos

um

Foi assim que

edi(;ao

Publishing

em

amigos de Otaviano, dia

vi

no direito de usufruir volume das obras comple-

e estava

pela primeira vez o

folha que os ripogratos da Belgica vulgarizam por pre^o modico.”

o enredo da Eugenia Grander Sebastiao! Estas-me a contar o romance de

Balzac! Isso e a Eugenia ^ See Assis,

ofithe

Press, 1982.)

181-260.

de Balzac, nessa 5

26- 1 27. (Originally published as Books in Brazil: A History

“Meu companheiro de

sua opulencia tas

1

Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow

GrandetT

“O Primo

Basi'lio”

^ See Broca, Romanticos 257.

remembering Lima

156-157.

On

the reception of the author of Eugenie Grandet,

Barreto’s confession, cited

look for his sources of inspiration in

by Broca, according

Machado de

Assis,

to

it is

worth

which one should not

but in others, including Balzac. See

Broca, Papeis 165. ^

“Quanto

a Fernando, ainda es mais injusta.

seu habitante, e

moralmente pela

do vestuario

e

quando o autor o

apresenta,

antitese de sua elegancia exterior

mobflia nao tern outro fim.

Chamas

A

simples descriQo do aposento desenha o ja

o conhecemos

sua pobreza domestica.

Os pormenores

recostado ao sofa,

com

nos

a isso lotografias; serao,

porem do

carater,

o

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

MACHADO DE ASSIS

79

qual se revela mais nesses niinimos acidentes da intimidade, do que no aparato social.”

By way of example: “este Rio de Janeiro e o Paris da America” ol America”) (Macedo 42). Also see Passos, O Napoleao.

Paris

(“this

Rio de Janeiro

is

the

“Vi rudo por varias linguas.” With regard to other European elements, see Passos, As siigestoes.

The

^ '

original reads: “Ihe agu^oii a vocac^ao de descobrir e encobrir.

Toda

PASSOS

PINHEIRO

a diplomacia esta

dons verbos parentes.”

nestes

GILBERTO

Works Cited Alencar, Jose de. “Note to Senhora." Senhora!Romance Brasileiro. 3rd ed. Sao Paulo: Edic;6es

Melhoramentos,

“Como

.

Assis,

Machado

n.d.

e por

que sou romancista.” Salvador: Eivraria Progresso, 1955.

“O

de.

Paulo/Porto Alegre:

Primo BasHio por E^a de Queiroz.” Critica

W. M.

Esau and Jacob. Trans. Helen Caldwell. Berkeley:

.



Qidncas Borba. Trans. Gregory Rabassa.

.

New

U

of California

Honore

Rio de Janeiro/Sao

P,

1965.

York: Oxford UP, 1998.

Auerbach, Erich. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Trask. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1953. Balzac,

literdria.

Jackson, 1937.

Literature. Trans.

de. “Preface de la Troisieme Partie.” Illusions Perdues. Paris:

Willard R.

Gamier

Freres,

1961. Illusions Perdues. Paris:

.

Le pere

.

Broca,

Brito.

Gamier

Freres, 1961.

Goriot. Col. Textes et Contextes. Paris:

Magnard, 1989.

Coord. Alexandre Eulalio. Col.

Papeis de Alceste.

Repertorios.

Campinas:

Unicamp, 1991 .

Romdnticos, Pre-romdnticos, Ultra-romdnticos: Vida Literdria e Romantismo Brasileiro.

Col. estetica: serie obras reunidas de Brito Broca Gilberto.

Freyre,

Ordem

e Progresso:

Processo

1.

Sao Paulo:

Polls; Brasilia:

INL, 1979.

de Desintegra^do das Sociedades Patriarcal

Semipatriarcal no Brasil sob o Regime de Trabalho Livre: Aspectos de Transigdo do Trabalho Escravo Para o Trabalho Livre e

um

e

Quase Meio Secido de

da Monarquia para a

Repiiblica.

4th

Rio de Janeiro: Record, 1990.

ed.

Hallewell, V. Laurence.

O Livro

no Brasil: Sua Historia. Trans. Maria da Penha Villalobos and

Lolio Lourengo de Oliveira, revised and updated by the author. Col.

Estudos brasileiros

6.

Sao Paulo:

T. A. Queiroz; Editora

Coroa Vermelha:

da Universidade de Sao Paulo,

1985.

Macedo, Joaquim Manuel Elores.

de.

Rosa/0 Rio do Quarto /Uma Paixdo Romdntica/0 Veneno das

Sao Paulo: Eivraria Martins, 1945.

Meyer, Marlyse. Eolhetim:

uma

Passos, Gilberto Pinheiro.

As

Historia.

Sao Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1996.

Sugestoes do Conselheiro /

A

Eranga em Machado de Assis / Esau

e

Jaco e Memorial de Aires. Col. Ensaios. Sao Paulo: Atica, 1996. .

O Napoleao de Botafogo.

Paulo:

Presen^a Erancesa

em Quincas Borba de Machado de Assis. Sao

Annablume, 2000.

Queiros, E^a de.

O primo

Basilio.

Col. Classicos de Ouro. Rio de Janeiro: Edi^oes de Ouro,

1971. Rodrigues, A. A. Gonsalves.

A

Tradugao

em

Portugal (Translation in Portugal). Lisbon: Instituto

80

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

de Cultura

c

Lingua Fortugucsa/Ministerio da Educa^ao, 1992.

Gilberto Pinheiro Passes

is

a professor in the

University ol Sao Paulo, Brazdl.

He

Brazilian literature, notably in the

other

texts:

Memorial de

As

13/14

sugestoes

work of Machado de

do conselheiro

/

A

Franca

Aires (Sao Paulo: Atica, 1996);

(guineas Borba de

Department of Modern

Letters at the

has dedicated his research to the French presence in

Machado de Assis (Sao

her fatal / Andlise da presenga francesa

em

O Napoledo

Paulo:

Dom

Nankin, 2003). E-mail: [email protected]

Assis.

He

em Machado

is

the author of,

among

de Assis / Esaii e Jaco e

de Botafogo. Presenga francesa

Annablume, 2000); and Capita

e

Casmurro de Machado de Assis (Sao

em

a mulPaulo:

The Shandean Form: Laurence Sterne and Machado de Assis

Sergio Paulo Rouanet

Many

Abstract. Tristram

have pointed to material similarities between

critics

Shandy and The Posthumous Memoirs

such similarities affinities are of a

is

this

paper

of Bras Cubas.

it is

No

doubt

suggested that the main

formal nature in the sense that both novels can be seen

as realizations of the

such form

however, in

exist;

same

literary

form.

The study and

characterization of

the aim of this essay.

The Shandean form

Many

critics

have pointed to material similarities between Tristram Shandy

and The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas. yet

I

suggest that the

main

both novels can be seen

Some

No

doubt such

similarities exist,

of a formal nature

in the sense that

as realizations of the

same

authors have remarked that this form

Menippean

satire,

with

and serious elements. ^ has

affinities are

*

some

its I

literary is

form.

related to the so-called

typical mixture of literary genres

have myself hinted

and of comical

at the possibility that this

characteristics of the Baroque, with

form

which Sterne had become

acquainted through his reading of Montaigne, Burton, and Cervantes. These characteristics

would include the sovereignty of the

subject, corresponding to

the political absolutism of the age; fragmentation, as an expression of the

anatomical dismemberment of the corpse; a non-linear view of time, ing the conception of history as natural history; choly, as a reaction to the carnages of war,

and

and of laughter,

as

against mourning. ^ But in general, writers belonging both to the

and

to the

baroque traditions have concentrated on

reflect-

a blending of melan-

satirical

an antidote

Menippean

poems, come-

82

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

13/14

dies, tragedies, philosophical dialogues,

and not on the novel,

the eighteenth century. This

what Sterne

precisely

is

tionship to his predecessors, there creator of a

new

literary

Shandy

we

arose in his rela-

that in this sense he

was the

Curiously enough,

it.

in the very first lines of a

this

was done by Machado

book published 132

— The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas.

years after Tristram

In Bras Cubas’ foreword,

read:

It is,

ish it

work,

in truth, a diffuse

form of

free

a Sterne or

in

which

1,

Bras Cubas,

if

I

have indeed adopted the

of a Xavier de Maistre, have possibly added a certain peev-

optimism of my own. Quite

possibly.

The work of a man

already dead.

Machado de

Assis adds a third

name

de Maistre, that of Almeida Garrett, and explains: eled, Xavier

to that

William Grossman’s of Sterne and Xavier

“All these

people have trav-

de Maistre around his room, Garrett in his country and Sterne

somebody

around

else’s

country.

life.” Finally, in

the

As first

to Bras

Cubas, we can say that he traveled

chapter Cubas draws attention to the liber-

he had taken with chronolog}c instead of beginning his narrative with his

birth,

he had begun

it

with his death

These quotations make this

wrote

a union. (“To the Reader” 3)

In the prologue to the third edition, not included In translation,

ties

I

with the pen of Mirth and the ink of melancholy, and one can readily foresee

what may come of such

in

as

form.

But he did not define de Assis,

no doubt

is

it

Whatever

did.

form has

rator,

it

(1.3-5).'^

clear that

we

are dealing with a form^

at least four characteristics: 1) the

underlined in the text by the words

“I,

and

that

emphatic presence of the narBras Cubas”; 2) a “free” tech-

nique of composition that gives the text a “diffuse” aspect



that

is,

digressive,

fragmentary, non-discursive; 3) the central place assigned to time (the para-

doxes of chronology) and space

(travels);

and

4)

the interpenetration of

laughter and melancholy.

Machado de call it

Assis defined the form, but he did not

the “Shandean form.” In this article

question of the affinities between Sterne and perspectives

I

would

name

like to

Machado

it. I

propose to

re-examine the

in the light of the

new

opened by the concept of the Shandean form.

Hypertrophism of subjectivity

The Shandean

narrative, always in the

first

person,

is

characterized by the

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

extreme volubility of the narrator, and by

his arrogance,

MACHADO DE

sometimes

ASSIS

83

direct, ROUANET

sometimes masked by an apparent deference. Tristram Shandy

is

the prototype of

all

voluble narrators.

He

on

dissertates

PAULO

He

everything, without forgetting studs and buttons. his father, Walter,

of

who

named

opinions

as

has ideas about Lockes psychology, about the influence

names on the destiny of individuals (but

have been

as full of

is

Trismegistus), about the shape of noses,

and about education

He

(he decides to write a Tristapoedia for the education of his son).

veau riche oi world literature.

He

would

for a sad mistake, Tristram

parades his knowledge of

all

is

centuries

a

nou-

and

all

countries in an extravagant display of scholarship, which goes from Cicero and

Quintilian to Rabelais, Montaigne, Cervantes, Montesquieu, and Voltaire.

He He

obeys no rules

disposes of

for in writing

neither those of plausibility nor those of aesthetics.

narrative conventions: “1 should beg Mr. Horace’s pardon,

all

confine myself neither to his rules nor to any man’s rules

shall

1



He

that ever lived” (1.4.7).

is

sadistic in his relationship

with the reader.

Tristram plays with the reader, insulting him, humiliating him, pretending he is

establishing a dialogue with him, but interrupting the conversation

time, arbitrarily.

companion”



The tone

(1.6.10)

starts respectfully

— but immediately

the reader

afterwards he

is

is

all

the

“dear friend and

dunce and

“a great

a

blockhead” (1.11.26). Sometimes the narrator gives to his unhappy victims the illusion that they are free: “I can give

you no

better advice than that they

skip over the remaining of the chapter” (1.4.7). But this advice, if a

mentor?

when he

thee in

lines afterwards

“How could you. Madam, The

ter?” (1.20.58).

even

few

my

it

— but

just

to

pen has now gained over

no

illusions:

last

chap-

he has us in his power, and

another form of whim. “‘Tis enough to have

make

thee,

dare follow

be so inattentive in reading the

narrator leaves us

spares us

power

who would

he will be scolded by his ruthless tor-

use of the advantage which the fortune of

would be too much”

(VII. 6. 503).

sion “fortune of the pen” lays bare the master-slave relationship:

The

expres-

a

parody

it is

of the term “fortune of arms,” the right of the conqueror to reduce the

defeated

enemy

to serfdom. In short, the narrator

is

neither a constitutional

no Magna Carta, nor a despot of the ancien regime, XIV was bound by custom and by tradition. He is rather

king, because he respects

because even Louis

an Eastern Sultan, omne

As

for Bras

Schwarz has

lege soluto.

Cubas, volubility

observed.'’

from one position

He

is

to another,

is

his

most obvious

attribute, as

Roberto

the voluble narrator par excellence. Bras shifts

from one philosophical system

to another.

He

SERGIO

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

expresses his opinion

And

love.

don’t

him but he

yon

13/14

on everything. He thinks jewelers

him, because

a thinking errata, since each station ot life

From

vious ones.

Not only

believe that he has not read Pascal.

also disagrees with

Pascal he goes to boots:

has he read

not a thinking reed but

is

an edition that corrects the pre-

is is

man

are indispensable to

com-

there any pleasure that can

pare to taking off a tight pair of hoots? Naturally there

is

only one step from

who has not discovered an important truth found out by solidarity of human boredom. Moral conscience? A system of win-

hoots to Aristotle, Bras, the

dows

that open, while others are closed. But let us

tional subject of feminine indiscretion.

know

everybody

that he. Bras,

is

come

more

to the

sensa-

Sensational, yes, but vulgar.

Let

capable of profound thoughts that could

have been conceived by Solomon or Schopenhauer.

The

narrator’s relationship

with the reader goes through

from seeming deference

of sadism,

to

all

the variations

open aggression. The

ironic regard

appears in expressions such as “beloved reader” (49.88) or in passages in

which he seems “I

am

(1.7).

to treat the reader as a

He

briefly.

Let

his

him judge

judgment:

for himself”

goes to the extreme of attributing to the reader clever comments,

which he has not made, and of instance, chapter

52 has no

curl his lip at

me

The

is

merely because

of these memoirs” (4.10).

He

is

to collaborate in the book.

chapter 35 has no

and the

reader

him

inviting

title,

reader, as to provide the title a deceptive respect.

who

grown-up, deferring to

going to explain the matter to him

text.

text:

be so good, dear

But, as in the case of Sterne,

infantilized.

we have not

“There yet

no need

is

come

For

it is

him

for

to

to the narrative part

even more repressive with a sensitive reader

dares to disapprove of Bras’ behavior: “Withdraw, then, the unfortunate

phrase that you used, sensitive soul; discipline your nerves, clean your eyeglasses” (34.72). in a corner,

The

narrator doesn’t leave us any choice but that of sulking

sucking our thumb.

undisguised brutality of a bully.

When

dropping

He may

his pretences. Bras has the

punish his readers with

of the fingers” (“To the Reader” 3) or threaten that does not conceal a homicidal intention:

them with

“Such an

insult

snap

would have

be washed away with blood” (34.72). Bras’ abuses are vociferous. is

just “a

death, with a sneer

obtuse and ignorant (49.89). With such incompetent readers,

The

how

to

reader

can one

expect his book to be a good one? Bras washes his hands, transferring to the reader this

all

book

responsibility for the shortcomings of his work: “the great defect of is

you, reader” (71.117).

He

scorns

all

narrative conventions.

intervenes constantly in the narrative, interrupting

its

He

flow according to his

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

He

caprice.

is

almighty and can perform miracles, such

MACHADO DE

ASSIS

85

as that of writing a ROUANET

book

He

after his death.

ple, for, like

identifies himself

Moses, he has described

with Moses, the founder of a peo-

own

his

death.

He

is

even slightly supePAULO

Moses,

rior to

from

at least

a literary point of view, since in relating his death

beginning Bras’ work gained “in merriment and novelty”

at the

secular level, he of disobeying

Digressivity

all

is

a caliph, an absolute sovereign,

and

logical

tor



with

endowed with

the

the power

aesthetic canons.

for studying the digressions in

main

to isolate the

narrative



the

life

Tristram

procedure

is

that the

hook without knowing episodes of his pre-natal

main

narrative

practically anything life,

is

Shandy

and opinions of the narra-

and to decide that everything else would be digression.

this

On

and fragmentation

The most obvious manner would be

(1 .5).

quite laconic.

The problem

We

finish the

about Tristram, except some

the flattening of his nose as a result of the incom-

petence of a doctor, the unfortunate fact of his being christened Tristram, his

two

accidental circumcision, his premature breeching, the

trips

he made to

France, and the fact that he had a mysterious lady-friend he calls “dear Jenny”

and

no

a

less

obscure male-friend

take a

modest second place

father,

Walter Shandy. All

in the

much

We

book,

this fits in a

pages in the Everyman’s edition, is

named Eugenius. As as

compared

to the opinions of his

few pages, and

we must conclude

to his opinions, they

as the

book has 674

that the digressive matter

richer than the narrative matter.

find

many

types of digression, according to the nature of interpolated

material.

Most

They holes.

digressions are

on “opinions,”

as

can be expected from the

title.

cover an astounding variety of subjects, including whiskers and button-

We have already

dealt with these opinions as illustrations of the narra-

tor’s subjectivity.

There

are digressions

Sorbonne theologians,

unborn

babies; a

acters of the

composed of ready-made

in old French,

material, such as a text

by

about the legitimacy of the baptism of

sermon read by corporal Trim, attributed

to

one of the char-

book, the parson Yorick, and actually written by Sterne himself as

part of his duties as clergyman;

and the Latin

text

of a curse written by bishop

Ernulphus, the best and most comprehensive of curses, according to Walter.

A

third type of digression

narrative digressions.

There

is

formed by

parallel stories.

They can be

called

are isolated narratives, such as a short story attrib-

SERGIO

86

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

13/14

to the scholarly Dr. Slawkenbergiiis, partly written in Latin, designed to

iitecl

importance of large noses

illustrate the

word

to the

Queen

And

“nose.”

There

—whatever meaning we choose

of Navarre, dealing with moustaches, and

there

and the nun,

the story of the abbess

is

to give

of the

also a historiette taking place at the court

is

of

full

bawdy innuendos.

in France,

who

faced with

the need to use obscene language in order to persuade a pair of mules to go

forward, decide to dilute their sin by each of them pronouncing one syllable

of the forbidden word. But

two narrative

tinguish

on the

tering

The

ing

who

Toby contains

the episodes of the

all

Le Fever, an

rative of is

in the

war

officer

nursed by Toby

life

of uncle Toby and another cen-

of

first

all

the story of his

Netherlands until

in miniature models.

who

falls

ill

as

he

to an abrupt

the

is

more

above

it.

It

wounded

marrying the widow of

even a

was never

who

tale that

which Trim

castles,

are digressions

told, the story of the

about the book

itself,

of objectivity.

We

are far

le

is

moi

book

hai'ssable

digressions, the

is

most



how

now and

They

self-reflexive nature.

in order to create

and from the

an

illusion

naturalistic pro-

medium through which

real-

proud

to

show

machine, the gears and cog-

to the reader.

typical ones are the digressions

Among

the self-reflexive

about digressions. From

pages, he asks the reader’s indulgence for his digressive

should seem

his

in vain.

the contrary, Sterne makes a point of saying that his

a subjective construction, a beautiful

wheels of which he

first

On

includes

including digressions about digressions.

of transforming the author into a neutral

ity represents itself

the

from

It

King of Bohemia and

again and again

tries to tell

Sterne disdains to efface himself from the

work

nurses

knee and even

a Jewish sausage-maker.

But the most characteristic digressions are of a

gram

at the

includes also the story of Trim’s brother, jailed by the Lisbon

Inqtiisition after

seven

her sus-

delicate organs.

and massages him

at the knee,

and

most famous

Trim’s cycle includes the story of his relationship with a nun, is

the nar-

widow Wadman,

Wadman shocks Toby with

end when Mrs.

picion that his groin injury might have affected

him when he

is

join his regiment,

Le Fever’s death. Third, there

Lintil

of reproduc-

Second, there

tries to

from the

life

his decision

episode of the book, the story of Toby’s courtship of the

which comes

dis-

by uncle Toby’s servant. Trim.

wounded

he was

one on the

cycles,

stories told

cycle of

moment

we can

in addition to these isolated stories,

then to

trifle

upon

the road

[...]

method: “If I

don’t fly off” (1.6.10-

can anyone with a minimLim of imagination travel in a straight

11).

For

line,

instead of exploring

all

possible detours?

How can

one

ride

from

Rome

— MACHADO DE

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

without inserting

to Loreto, for instance,

ASSIS

87

deciphering inscriptions,

stories,

ROUANET

and convening people? At every upon, and

to be looked

state of the

[...]

documents, and endless genealogies

records,

rolls,

journey “there are archives

PAULO

in short, there

[...]

Tristram

no end of

is

tries to justify his

it”

(1.14.37).

myself

Giving up

(VI. 33. 482-483).

promised that he

from now on

will

on

digressions: “a

could be inserted to keep up that

without which digression

necessary,

is

way

for

strange creature

had planned already

it.

He

No

sooner has he

try to avoid digressions,

he relapses and

good quantity of heterogeneous matter balance between

just

wisdom and

a single year.”

And

folly

since a

is

made

feels

When

mortal man!”

movement

he arrives

his frisky digression,

method

of rotation

The

a text in

is

and of

digressions, including

particularly stupid.

(IX. 12- 14.640-644).

it

new

does so by writing

make

to

and takes advantage of the intermediate chapters

when he

Tristram explains his has a

lost

should be “a good frisky one, and upon a frisky sub-

it

later,

of shaving

his habit

am

I

12.640). But Tristram decides to insert this frisky digression

ject too” (IX.

only three chapters pave the

see,

hope of explaining himself through

all

book would not hold together

a

of digressions

full

“And now you

language, he draws diagrams and geometrical figures.

again digresses

which

digressions with

digressions are sometimes so

that the narrator gets hopelessly confused. ”

The

at the

But

alas,

to

one on

“what

a

chapter in which he

he remarks sadly that he had canonical digression in which

which he

says that just as the earth

work

translation, his

has a

movement

of

progression and of digression: “Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine

they are the

you might

life,

the soul of reading. Take

as well take the

the beginning of this, titious parts

digressive

of

can

narrative

main

the

and

I

[.

.

.]

have constructed the main work and the adven-

with intersections, and have so complicated and involved the

it

is

now

other, that the

been kept a-going” (1.22.73-74).

in general, has

understand the diabolical complexity of the work.

The main

cut whenever a digression occurs. In turn, the digressions are cut by

narrative

and by other

as the cuts are multiple, the

As

a loyal Shandeist,

of Bras Cubas

2LS

ematic sense.

He

cal

see,

for instance

For which reason, from

and progressive movements, one wheel within the

whole machinery,

We

you

them out of this book,

books along with them.

digressions.

Each cut generates two fragments,

segmentation process

Machado de Assis

an assemblage of fragments, almost uses

works of universal

and

is

virtually endless.

constructs his Posthumous Memoirs as a

montage, in the cin-

recycles alien fragments, extracted

literature,

from the

which he plunders without any

classi-

inhibition.

SERGIO

88

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

own

In addition, he produces his ratives into pieces.

This

13/14

fragments by breaking sentences and nar-

We

the job of digressions.

is

find in the

book

all

the

kinds of digressions created or used by Sterne. First of

thing,

sions

and

on

come

all

tight boots,

Digressions

chapter

the opinions. Like Tristram, Bras has opinions

in the spirit of true

on the

made up

of the nose and on the equivalence of windows.

of ready-made materials appear in the aphorisms of

would-be

main narration

main one

the

the parallel story of

is

this parallel narration

is

a

fragment splitting

into other fragments. But in addition to the story of

Quincas Borba there brief vignettes in the

Nha-Lolo.

bride,

to the narrative digressions,

Quincas Borba. Each episode of the

on every-

volubility he offers the reader digres-

19 and in the epitaph of chapter 125, which replaces the descrip-

1

tion of the death of Bras’

As

tip

Shandean

are small narratives, short stories of

form of apologues, or

contes moraux.

an edifying nature,

They

are self-con-

who

tained fragments of their own. Such are the episodes of the captain writes verses while his wife is

rewarded

is

young Bras and afterwards

tartar that

But he

it is

he believes he

man

book

is

beaten by the

own, and, linked

to this story, ingests so

Tamerlan, king of Tartars.

is

a glass

materials, correcting the

is

most Shandean. There

workshop, within which the

keeps hammering, smoothing with a

and discarding

who

madman, Romualdo, who

in the self-reflexive digressions that Bras

in his real element. F^is

is

is

helps the narrator and

Prudencio,

beats slaves of his

the fragment of a fragment, the tale of a

much

who

dying, of a muleteer

in a miserly way, of the black

crafts-

forging junctions, choosing

file,

work, starting anew.

If

the glass

is

not

transparent enough, the narrator does not hesitate to clear up compositional details,

by writing

letters to the critics, for Instance:

The book

explain everything?” (138.190). process of

The tone fuse

and

its is

own, which Bras

is

an

“Good God, do

artifact,

I

have to

with a production

invites the reader to inspect, stage

by

stage.

given from the prologue, in which the narrator explains the dif-

free

manner

of the

work and

in

which he makes

logues in general, asserting that the best format

is

reflections

on pro-

the one he has chosen. Fie

amuses himself with self-congratulatory remarks. The book, composed with an “extraordinary method” (“To the Reader” (4.10). art,

I

And what

make

an

artistic talent!

“Observe

3)

the biggest transition in this book.

No apparent seams or joints.

[.

tem and method without the

.

.]

Thus

the

was “supinely philosophical”

now

with what

[...]

book has

skill,

Did you note all

with what carefully?

the advantages of sys-

rigidity that they generally entail” (9.23).

But

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

Bras

is

nor incapable of self-criticism. “The book

is

tedious,

MACHADO

it

DE ASSIS

89

smells of the ROUANET

tomb,

has a rigor mortis about

it

from chapter

alternate

(71.117). Self-praise and self-criticism

it”

One

to chapter.

chapter contains a

wisdom

that

had PAULO

escaped Aristotle (chap. 81). Another one has a splendid ending; “Blessed be

what an impressive

the Lord, says

sad

is

close for a chapter!” (99.153).

another

(23.56),

He

now and

then he

He

He

emphatic” (25.58).

unbecoming, because

He

continuously explains his

am writing and me as author” “Hold on! There goes my pen forget that

1

the pen

1

paper, with grave detriment to

hates emphasis, he loves simplicity.

to the

He

does not

after all his

useless

control himself to avoid prolixity, though

tries to

“Sometimes

fails.

moves along, eating up

chapter he

profound (132.185), another

not

(136.188), and another repetitive (145.196). preferences as a writer.

One

book

anything that

like to say

is

slipping

morally

is

chaste, at least in intention (14.36).

had had before

hints at the several love affairs he

(22.55).

Virgilia,

but he only

allows his pen to enter his house after a process of moral purification. “Badly

bred pen, put a fashionable waistcoat;

and then

hammock”

(47.86).

of the chapters. acter.

One

yes,

The

At times

of them

is

your

tie to

and clothe

style,

it

with a

less

drab

come with me

to this house, stretch yourself in this

narrator never

tires to

their title

is

enough

to

explain the order and content

make

clear their digressive char-

called “Parenthetical” (1 19.173), another “Interposition”

(124.180), and another “To insert in chapter 129” (130.184).

Among

the self-reflexive digressions, the most fascinating ones are the

digressions about digressions, in a constructive process. gory. Bras ion,

The many

proud of having the

is

which the narrator allusions to

style

left,

they guffaw, they threaten the sky, they

kind of style his style to

is

this?

my

style

Gamboa. Wine,

my style

they slip

start

and

is

If

this

fruit,

afternoon snacks

compotes.

to this cate-

are like a pair of drunks;

Barthes

We would

I

when

compared

had

eat, to

roar,

(71.117-118). But what Bras compares

my

analogy seems indecorous to you,

like the

digression as

and they mutter, they

fall”

discourse:^ “I have already

progress of a drunk.

another:

“method” belong

We are reminded of Roland

amorous

on

of a drunkard, walking in zigzag fash-

going back and forth. “This book and

they stagger to the right and to the

reflects

style to the let

in the little

me

offer

house in

be sure, but the meal was

always punctuated with sweet nothings, with tender glances, with childish

whims, with an infinitude of these

asides of the heart that constitute the true,

uninterrupted discourse of love” (73.1 19). Admirable metaphor: the meal has its

normal Bow, codified by tradition

—wine,

fruit, sweets.

But the flow

is

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PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

13/14

by erotic commas, which

pLinctLiated

in their intermittent

manifestation are

made of

the real straight line of the heart: disruptive discourse, itself

inter-

ruptions, the transgressive and digressive speech of Eros severing the connec-

by Logos.

tions established

Time and space In Tristram Shandy, chronological time

is

ity.

In this respect, the narrator can he as

on

his side the best atithority

quoted by Sterne

The concept

by the narrator’s subjectivas

he

because he has

likes,

Europe could provide: John Locke. Eor Locke,

in his reply to

the idea of duration, which of our ideas.

refracted

Shandean

is

an imaginary

critic (II. 2. 85),

time

is

an idea,

obtained through a reflection on the sequence

when we

of succession arises

on the appear-

reflect

ance of several consecutive ideas, and the distance between two such ideas in

our mind

is

what we

therefore time

mind. As

may

call

duration. Duration

is

pass very fast or very slowly, according to our states of

a narrator, Tristram operates in the

that of quantitative time.

It is

medium of duration and

He

time that distorts the time of action a

number



had

deals with time as he

dealt with the reader, in a completely arbitrary manner.

— through

not in

the succession of ideas of the narrator that deter-

mines the temporal articulations of the book.

story unfolds

and

therefore purely subjective,

He

creates a narrative

which the

the objective time within

of techniques. These

somewhat cinematic

techniques include those of immobilization, inversion, delay, and acceleration.

Immobilization achieves what

an allusion to the

one hundred of

Book

I

fairy-tale in

years.

The

classical

example

and chapter 6 of Book

his sister-in-law

was about

we might

the “Sleeping Beauty effect,”

call

which everybody

II.

is

in the castle falls asleep for

the sequence between chapter 21

Hearing

to give birth, uncle

a noise in the

Toby

makes the gesture of throwing away the ashes of his in that position for forty pages of digressions his call

room

baby’s nose

When

which

pipe.

He

and

remains frozen

and only then does he empty

pipe and complete his sentence: what he thought was that the doctor (1.21.64; 11.6.100).

in

says “I think [...]”

it

his father receives the

was crushed by the doctor, Walter

is

was time

to

news that the

so afflicted that in sheer

despair he remains petrified in bed for fourteen chapters and sixty pages (111.30.224). Tristram decides to let Mrs.

tude of listening

many not

as

at a

door for

five

Shandy remain frozen

minutes, but

it

is

much

digressions that he finally decides to unfreeze her. “I

much

as forgot

my

mother,

as if

am

Nature had plaistered

in the atti-

later

a

and

Turk

me

up,

if

after I

had

and

set

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

me down naked upon

MACHADO

the bank of the river Nile, without one” (V.

1

DE ASSIS

91

1.382). ROUANET

rhrough inversion, the narrator reversible. In the usual

upon the arrow

acts

making

of time,

it

cinematic procedure, there are flashbacks and HashPAULO

The book

forwards.

The

beginning and finishes before the end.

starts before the

beginning, which should be the story of Walter and Toby, turns out to

be the story of the pre-natal calamities that befall the hero, such as Mrs. Shandy’s untimely interruption of her husband delicate task of begetting his son. rity

and when he begins

The

memoirs,

to write his

Toby’s infatuation with the widow, that

Through sense,

when he was engaged

in the

end, which should be the hero’s matu-

is,

is

the final episode of uncle

four years before Tristram’s birth.

inversion, the past can be recaptured, retrouve, in the best Proustian

and even be subject

which he warns

to the author’s intervention, such as the passage in

long-dead uncle of Mrs. Wadman’s matrimonial schemes.

his

Similarly, the future can be

embedded

in the past: in the

midst of his uncle’s

imaginary “campaigns,” Tristram transports Toby and Trim into a far-distant

which master and servant

future, in

are already dead.

Slowness and rapidity are the two extremes of the narrator’s rhythm.

Sometimes he actions,

all

the need to

feels

reflections

which means that he must turn

right

ing everything, excluding nothing. tell

the story in his

the road” (1.6.10-1

own manner, 1).

This

endless delay. But at other

moves forward example

is

at

everything, to capture

tell

and

From

“trifling,”

two or three episodes, such

left,

go back and forward, describ-

the very beginning, Tristram begs to

manner

upon

filmed by a very slow camera, can

mean

if this

we can

scarcely follow the film.

details are insignificant,

reason

and the consequence

which

is

that here the narrator

is

is

important, and

delay; at the other extreme,

requires a highly selective camera, with

which

and events follow each other with the speed of lightning. In the slow

movement, small episodes and events drag on interminably, with tedious

German word

oughness

(see the

the rapid

movement,

The

best

he was breeched before time and

The

movement. At one extreme, everything lost,

The

whom we know very little, apart from

as the fact that

that he traveled twice to the continent.

pictures

all

moments, the narrator becomes impatient, and

such speed that

nothing should be

objects,

involves “trifling

even

the biography of Tristram, of

prefers the rapid

all

of the external world in the consciousness of the writer,

years

for

thor-

boredom, Langeweile, long duration);

and even decades

are telescoped into a

few

in

lines.

various attitudes toward time reappear in the graphic eccentricities of

the book.

The

idea of temporal immobility, the

empty time during which

SERGIO

92

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

nothing happens, which nique, 1

is

13/14

in the text

appears in the form of the freezing tech-

expressed graphically in the form of blank chapters, such as chapter

Book

8 and most of chapter 19 of

IX.

The

idea of reversible time,

which

the text takes the form of an inversion in the order of events,

now

an inversion

of appearing

in the internal organization of the text: instead

Book

the beginning, the dedication appears in chapter 8 of

ace in chapter 20 of

Book

III.

The

between rapid and slow

Book IV II,

has only two lines

containing the

full text

Shandean space

young to

amiss that a it

This

man

pages.

who went

cities

and

to France

who and monuments: “Now

made

is

clear

Italy in

by Tristram,

I

his

pen

at

every kennel he crosses over” (VII. 4. 499).

Shandean

all

Sterne: “I have not seen the Palais Royal

think

pictures,

statues

and churches. ”7 What

baroque space of the labyrinth, that of the picaresque novel,

full

— nor

It is

very

alone,

space?

Shandean

I

narrator,

It is

say that

where there it is

the space of the flaneur,^ for a lazy stroll

Shandean

whom

no pre-determined also

delights, or

are

no



after

all,

encoun-

they are “sen-

rather the non-rectilinear space straight lines, because the road

the fldnerie

road.

Who

is

a kind of

else feels so

traveler-narrator? “If he

he goes along” (1.14.37). But even

Garonne, but he may

perhaps, the

certainly true that such

it is

he will have hfty deviations from a straight

traveler has

the

we have of

an anticipation of the space of early modernity,

away from the main

digressions as a

it,

— nor

of

where each day holds an adventure with bandits

would

always zigzag. In a way,

Is

and unexpected

not rare either in Tristram’s or Yorick’s travels

timental travelers.” But

made even

Luxembourg

the

this

is

of mysteries

or an encounter with ladies in distress?

is

it

it

travelers, Yorick, the alter ego

facade of the Louvre, nor have attempted to swell the catalogues

of the

order

scoffs at the

cannot go quietly through a town and leave

by the prototype of

ters are

we have reflected

does not meddle with him, but that he must be turning about and

drawing clearer

it is

5

more than twenty

of a sermon, has

mania of writing about famous

much

reflected, as

not the usual space of travelers of the Grand Tour,

is

their minds.

when

is

storytelling; but

— chapter of — and abnormally long ones—chapter 17 of Book

sprigs of the British aristocracy

improve

pref-

between abnormally short chapters

also in the alternation

at

idea of duration as a subjective experience,

brief or long irrespective of the actual lapse of time, seen, in the alternation

appears as

and the

I,

in

when he

destination.

line to is

is

a

man

make

urban digression,

much of the

at

home

in

least spirit,

this or that party as

not strolling, but galloping, the

He may

stop at the banks of the

“scamper away to mount Vesuvius, from thence to

MACHADO DE

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

ASSIS

Joppa, and from Joppa to the world’s end” (VII. 1 .496-497). Whatever

93

its ROUANET

nature, space

becomes

as subjective as time. Just as

The

time, Sterne de-materializes geometric space.

he had done with clock-

characters travel, but in a PAULO

space reconstructed by the writer’s evocations and fantasies; this remembered space corresponds as

little

remembered time corresponds

to objective space as

to objective time.

Machado de

Assis

is

second to none

ing objective into subjective time. This the essence of

Shandean

in the

Shandean

skill

of transform-

coherent with the law of caprice,

is

Cubas

subjectivity: a despot in everything. Bras

wants also to be the master of time. But he the idea of the ephemeral character of cholic, he wants to control time. This

all is

is

also a melancholic,

things.

As

haunted by

a tyrant or as a

what he does

as a narrator,

melan-

subordi-

nating entirely the time of action to narrative time. In so doing, he uses

all

the strategies of temporal disorganization applied by Tristram: immobiliza-

and

tion, inversion, delay,

By

acceleration.

creating a dead narrator,

Machado de

beyond anything

Assis goes

Sterne had imagined in trying to achieve immobilization. Tristram freezes his characters, but does not freeze himself

he was is

alive,

and therefore subject

that after this, his health

head “ached dismally”

from

telling the story

time twelve-month, I’ll

deteriorates

—and might at

(unless this vile



all

after writing four

memoirs,

his

living authors.

The

proof

volumes, his

“I take

cough

him

my leave of you till this me in the mean time)

kills

your beards and lay open a story to the world you

dream of” (IV.32.350).

from the very beginning

he began writing

deteriorate even further, preventing

of uncle Toby’s amours:

when

have another pluck

little

had

When

to change, like

In contrast. Bras

is

changeless.

He

is

time beyond time, the time of eternity.

in a

installed

He

can-

not speak about death in the future tense, like Tristram but, being a posthu-

mous

author, only in the past tense. Being dead, he cannot die.

grow

get thinner, because “bones never

thin” (23.56).

He

He

cannot

cannot get

older,

because “death does not age” (138.190). After having put himself beyond time. Bras proceeds to

do the same throughout the book.

ating zones of timelessness by

chapters without a

title, titles

of Bras and Virgflia, has no

He

does so by cre-

means of the usual Shandean mannerisms:

without a

title.

The

text.

reason

Chapter 53, about the is

that

it is

not a

first kiss

real chapter,

but a prologue, the prologue of the adulterous love that will be recounted later.

As

time, an

a prologue, placed before the beginning,

Immovable time of perfect

bliss.

it

“This single

corresponds to a zero kiss

united us, this

kiss,

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PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

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ardent and brief.” But after this time-free prologue comes the story ject to all the vicissitudes

of jealousy,

all

of time:

them paid

of

for in full

come and would swallow up

the

first

sub-

itself,

of anger, of despair,

“a life of nervousness,

by one hour, but another hour would

and everything that went with

leav-

it,

ing only the nervousness and the dregs, and the dregs of the dregs, which are satiety

and disgust

—such was

to be the

logue” (53.94-95). Chapter 55 has a

and Eve”) and the names of the text

is

the sexes,

beyond

words alludes

Become

all

is

everywhere the same.

was the pro-

The words

are unneces-

comedy of

the universal

absence of

in this sense the

“How

of change. Chapter 139,

Did Not

I

a Minister of State,” signihes the zero time of a non-event.

Machado de

Shandean

Assis uses with great virtuosity another

make time

inversion, which, again, allows the narrator to

Bras goes back to chapters already written, as

when he

strategy,

Thus,

reversible.

decides to intercalate

chapter 130 in chapter 129. But the best example of temporal inversion central device of the book. Bras’ decision to start his

and not

his birth.

Tristram Shandy, ity to start

This inversion

which

is

more

finishes before the hero’s birth,

also

common

in the

Acceleration, drastically shortening entire years

I

frankly acknowledged by the narrator. says: “Let’s all get set

When

to raise the devil

on the

hills”

prolix.

3.35).

“No,

let

He

(13.34).

to 1822, the date of Brasil’s political ( 1

in

but has not the audac-

book. Delay

we have

and decades of the

mainly

hero’s

life,

he comes to his school years,

starts to talk

jump

to be hit

about

by them,

his school-

again: “Instead, let us

independence and of

my own

Sometimes he checks himself when he notices he

is

jump

first

cap-

becoming

us not prolong the chapter” (22.55).

without any pre-conceived plan. This

is

I

my

prise,

found myself at the door of the Pharoux Hotel.

me

random,

was thinking about these

people,

were carrying

at

what happens when he walks

mechanically towards the Pharoux Hotel. “While legs

is

already examined.

According to the Shandean tradition, Bras Cubas crosses space

I

his death,

anything attempted

my schoolmates,

mate, Quincas Borba, but then decides to

tivity”

the

and jump over the school, the tiresome school, where

learned to read, to write, to count, to hit

and

is

with the hero’s death.

Delay and acceleration are

he

memoirs with

radical than

obtained through the countless digressions, which

is

but

as dialogue-partners,

It is

and

variations of history,

to the absence

this kiss

(“The Venerable Dialogue of Adam

title

and Bras Cubas

replaced by dots and punctuation marks.

because the script

sary,

Virgilia

book of which

along, street after street, until, to I

was

my

sur-

in the habit of

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

dining there; but,

as

on

occasion

this

-

THE CASE OF

had not gone there

1

MACHADO

DE ASSIS

95

deliberately, credit ROUANET

my

for

my

belongs not to me, hut to

arrival

Shandean authors and characters

legs” (66.1 12).

through

relate to space

But

in general,

and not

travels,

PAULO

through automatic perambulations. Traveling

Shandeism was discovered, But we may

as

we have

two ways,

travel in

common

by Machado de Assis himself.

guidebook or

belong to the second group.

travelers

have seen that speaking through Yorick, Sterne

would not describe anything

denominator of

either following a Baedecker

obeying subjective impulses. Shandean

We

seen,

as a

made

it

clear that

he

that usual travelers write about, such as the

Louvre, the Luxembourg, and the Palais-Royal, but only what was of interest to

him. Bras Cubas follows

mental involvements

about serious matters, such

“Of

to other authors. travel diary

my

as the

letter.

He

boasts of his senti-

dawn of Romanticism. This should be

these matters,

and not memoirs, such

life is set

when

example to the

this

Europe, but refuses with great energy to say anything

in

forth” (22.54). Bras

say nothing.

1

as these, in

is

I

left

should have to write a

which only the substance of

unambiguous: space

is

interesting only

evoked, and should enter the narrative only in an impressionistic

it is

manner, determined by the narrator’s associative processes.

Such

is

the space that appears in the book. Like time, space

structed, internalized. Narrated space

memory and

fantasy.

and neighborhoods. Tijuca,

where he

Marcela,

ters

died.

The

The urban It

flirted

is

purely subjective.

is

de-con-

distorted in

It is

space of Rio de Janeiro shrinks to a few streets

reduced to the Rocio, where Bras met Marcela,

is

with Eugenia, to Ourives

Gamboa, where he used

Street,

to see Virgflia,

distance between two points



where he re-encoun-

and Catumbi, where he

the trip from Rio to Eisbon, where

he met the captain-poet, from Coimbra do Eisbon, where he met the muleteer, all

from Venice

where he thought about

to Rio,

his mother’s death



loses

topographical meaning and becomes only an abstract frame of reference

for the illustration of states

of mind.

But what did Machado de Assis mean when he said that Bras Cubas had traveled

around

life?

Obviously, that Cubas, blinded by the vain

vanity and prestige, had not

demned

to turn

this expression

around

it,

managed

like a

moth around

life itself

the flame.

glitter of

but was con-

At the same time,

reminds us of the astronomical metaphor in chapter 150: “In

the wheel of the great mystery,

days

to plunge into

— unequal,

like Jupiter’s

length” (150.202).

The

man

— and of

translational

both rotates and revolves; he has these he

makes up

his year

movement of Cubas around

his

of uncertain life

resulted

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96

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

in a “year”

13/14

of about sixty years, with “days” entirely devoted to

frivolity.

The

astronomical comparison suggests a circular movement, with a return to the

him nowhere. He

starting point. In fact. Bras’ travels led

deal but stayed in

same

the

Thus

place.

gesticulated a great

Shandean

the

characteristic of

motionless time tends to coincide with that of spatial immobility. This

immobility

is

much

travel,

they

Assis, a

the basic vocation of

man who

and

Shandean authors, no matter how

all

of Machado de

this reinforces the self-classification

never traveled, as a scion of the Shandean lineage.

Laughter and melancholy Tristram

is

a melancholic,

time, of death.

by Sterne

rized)

haunted by the ghosts of transiency, of

No wonder is

fleeting

one of the books most quoted (and

plagia-

The Anatomy ofMelancholy, by Robert Burton. But

invari-

that

ably Sterne inserts his melancholic reflections in a context in which they

become comical.

In so doing, he goes back to the tradition of Antiquity,

according to which the philosopher Democritus

alleged to have said to

is

Hippocrates that laughing was the best antidote against melancholy. There

who

no doubt too that he absorbed the lesson of Rabelais, logue to Gargantua that est

de



Voyant

de larmes escripre

ris qtie

le

Pour

I

him

Sterne agrees entirely. For

dueil qui vous

que

ce

mine

wrote in the pro-

consomme

in general the

is

I

Mieux

T hommeP

propre de

rire est le

laughter

et

supreme medi-

cine against disease. In the book’s dedication to Mr. Pitt, he says that he

constantly lighting “the infirmities of

ill

health,

when he

laughs,

ter acts in particular

we

it

adds something to

on

this

and other

man

mirth: being firmly persuaded that every time a so,

Was

I

itime



of

left,

or a

heart)'

(1.6.

like

1

1)

—and

Sancho Panza,

body

politic as

God would should

I

give

upon

my

the

my

to choose to

And

creating disorders in the blood

the

life,

make

a

kingdom,

penny

as the bilious

But laugh-



natural,

[...]

no,

as I

it

it

should not be mar-

should be a kingdom

bad an influence,

should add to

my

I

see,

upon

prayer that

subjects grace to be as wise as they are merry;

and then

be the happiest monarch, and they the happiest people under heaven.

(IV.32.350)

“As

do anything, only keep

and more saturnine passions, by

and humors, have

body

of;

is

by

much more

(v).

ideal subjects:

kingdom of blacks

laughing subjects.

of

produces ideal readers

It

jog on, either laugh with me, or at me, or in short,

your temper”

evils

smiles, but

fragment of life”

disorders of the mind.

is

MACHADO DE ASSIS

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

The book hook)

whole can he seen

as a

— anything

wrote against

is

panacea against melancholy:

as a

“If (this ROUANET

wrote, an’please your worships, against

‘tis

more frequent and more convulsive

the spleen! in order, hy a

97

and

elevation

PAULO

depression of the diaphragm, and the succussations of the intercostal and

abdominal muscles

and other

in laughter, to drive the gall

hitter juices

the gall-bladder, liver anci sweetbread of his majesty’s subjects, with

which belong

inimicitioLis passions

them,

to

down

from

all

the

into their dtiodenums”

(IV.22.311).

Shandy

Tristram

theory into practice. Every time the theme

this

\.vzns\'A\.(ts

makes

of decay or death turns up, laughter self to his

harmless. Thus, addressing him-

“dear Jenny,” Tristram utters grave reflections that could have

out of Ecclesiastes: “Time wastes too

what rapidity

my

it

my

follows

life

every letter

fast;

I

trace tells

pen; the days and hours of

it,

more

me

come with

precious,

dear Jenny, than the rubies about thy neck, are Hying over our heads like

light clouds of a

upon

windy

day, never to return

us both!” (IX.8.636).

But

more

note

this elegiac

is

[...].

Heaven have mercy

interrupted in the follow-

ing chapter, which consists of only fifteen words, well calculated to provoke a bittersweet

tion



I

fit

of fou

would not

Death

“Now,

rire:

for

what the world thinks of

give a groat” (IX. 9. 636).

always turned into a joke.

is

A

good example

which Walter Shandy comments upon the death of Bobby, Philosophy

offers

many

consolations

(V.3.367)

—and

when Walter

the

at

minably about death, but

such

uncle

it

as “to die

is

received the sad news he used

— “he time

same

in

took them

as

is

such a disorderly way that even the

When

all

of

they came”

Magna Carta

Walter managed to say something

the great debt

Toby interrupted with

Walter, death

the chapter in

the result was a terrible confusion. Walter dissertated inter-

entered into his discourse. ble,

is

Tristram’s brother.

consolations for such tragedies, remarks Tristram,

but the problem was that those

that ejacula-

and

tribute

intelligi-

due unto nature” (V.3.367),

eccentric remarks. For the philosopher, says

liberation, because

it

helps

him

get rid of his melancholy: “Is

not better to be freed from cares and agues, from love and melancholy, and

the other hot and cold to his inn, to be

fits

bound

of life, than

like a galled traveler,

who comes weary

to begin his journey afresh?” (V.3.370). Yes, but, as

Tristram duly notes, in saying these noble words Walter had completely forgotten his departed son.

theme nbi

human

siint,

The

great object of melancholic meditation, the

through which philosophers from Antiquity have deplored

mortality and the decline of empires, was conscientiously included in

SERGIO

98

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

“Where

Walter’s reHections: Persepolis

Troy and Mycenae, and Thebes and Delos, and

is

and Agrigenttim?” (V.3.367). But the beautiful

was somewhat marred by the in Greece,

a

13/14

effect

fact that in referring to a certain

of this tirade

voyage made

Walter forgot to inform his brother Toby that he was quoting from

contemporary of Cicero. Thus, not unnaturally, Toby thought that the

had been made by Walter, and asked him

in

which year of our Lord

How

taken place. In no year of our Lord, said Walter.

it

trip

had

so? Well, because

it

Death knocks

at

took place forty years before Christ was born (V.3.369).

The

horror of death

Tristram’s door, but

doubted

his

is

is

similarly neutralized in

Book

who

commission. The reason was that Tristram,

rupted, was at that

VII.

received “in so gay a tone of careless indifference” that he

moment

telling

and of

cied herself a shell-fish,

Like Tristram, Bras

a

monk damned

who

for eating a mussel” (VII.

melancholic, which should

is

hated to be inter-

Eugenius a tawdty story “of a nun

come

no

as

1

fan-

.496).

surprise,

considering that he behaves like a tyrant and that tyrants are especially vulnerable to melancholy

melancholy

are to believe Walter

the illness of the Prince,

is

of the

frailty

we

(if

human

more exposed than anyone

cadenced pace

is

to slowness.

its

rhythm, which the digressive

characteristic of melancholy.

among many

present evertyvhere. Consider, the clock,

whose gloomy less

second to

between two bags, one labeled

But

[...]’”

author, the flight of time,

is

other examples, the metaphor of

tick tock seemed to say at each stroke that Bras live:

life

“I

would imagine an old

devil sitting

and the other death, taking coins from the

former and dropping them into the another gone

else to the

According to ancient authors, the slow and

The fundamental theme of the melancholic

would have one

whom

condition). ^ Melancholy appears in the morbidity that

permeates the whole book, and even in

method condemns

Benjamin, for

latter,

and

saying:

Another gone

[...]

(54.95).

in the authentic

Shandean manner, there

is

laughter too.

Of what

kind? Classical authors recognized two kinds of laughter: pathological laughter,

a

symptom of

Insanity,

body and the mind

illustrated

laughter,

of melancholic humors.

kind in Sterne. In contrast, is

and medicinal

it

There

which could purge the is

ven^

plays an important role in

little

of the

first

Machado. This type

by Pandora’s laugh, the delirium of the narrator: “The

figure

loosed a fierce laugh, which produced about us the effect of a whirlwind; the plants were contorted, (7.18).

It

is

and

illustrated,

a long wail broke the silence of the surroundings”

in the

same episode, by the dying man himself.

MACHADO DE ASSIS

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

already half-demented: “It was

and

erate

The

idiotic” (7.21).

who began

I

Democritus, Rabelais, and Sterne. Like

ter of

immod-

to laugh, with a laughter

other kind of laughter

is

medicinal



99

ROUANET

the laugh-

Machado duly

his predecessors,

PAULO

comedy

provides his reader with

make him

order to

in

he has no illusions about the medicinal effect of

this laughter.

On the contrary,

function seems to be to discredit the very idea that melancholy can be cured

its

at

laugh. But unlike them,

humor

This

all.

and had

failed,

to

might have been able

to cure

a tyrant,

but he was also a clown,

like Tristram,

was the king of buffoons, Yorick. The true vocation of

ego

clown was the

circus.

morning,

was

as

I

This

how

is

through the grounds of

strolling

Hexed

it

I

my

and began

legs

acrobatic feats one can possibly imagine

[...].

it

real

alter

this tyrannical

“One

suburban home, an

used to carry about in

arms and

its

whose

he describes the birth of his fixed idea:

idea took hold of the trapeze that

had taken hold,

him. But

because Bras was not serious enough to produce a

fail,

He was

Invention.

a “plaster” that

is

my

Once

head.

it

do the most daring

to

This Idea was nothing

than

less

the invention of a great cure, an anti-melancholy plaster, designed to relieve

despondency of mankind”

the

(2.7).

The

The

description leaves no doubt.

invention was not sublime, but ludicrous, a juggler’s fancy, an idea so comical that

finished by killing the inventor with a ridiculous death

it

caused by a draught



exalted rank requires

no

a fate

worthy of

utes.

man

also of antitheses,

and watches

importance of

a fly

is

The

all

tation

aware ner.



condemned

to oblivion,

theme of

at the last

The

affairs

What

The second

and last

life’s

stays

is

time,

that the

all

whole show has

We

him of his boredom.

are almost

medi-

—when we become

liaison

fugacity

the

transience, de brevitate vitae

life’s

minute that

word

is

succeeding each other,

and decides

relieve

other.

to interpret these remarks as classical instances of melancholic

the

The end of Bras’

insects,

time. Bras begins to get tired

scene from the point of view of Saturn?

this

been staged to entertain Saturn, to

tempted

first

by the planet of

for his contradictory attrib-

and an ant grappling with each

he comments on the spectacle of love ephemeral,

a saturnine, ruled

which accounts

Saturn appears twice in the book.

of Virgflia

whose

than assassination by poison or by a dagger.

less

This tyrannical and clownish

melancholy but

— pneumonia

a jester but not of a tyrant

this

theme

is

with Virgflia

a spectacle to

being Introduced in a derisive manis

illustrated

amuse

with melancholy. This

vented the production of the anti-melancholic

is

by the struggle of two

a planet



to

make

it

laugh.

not because Bras’ death pre-

plaster,

but because the idea

as

such was ludicrous, an acrobat’s gambol, a pirouette that would never threaten

SERGIO

100

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

13/14

the rule of melancholy. This, however, does not prevent Bras From covering it

with Yorick’s foolscap, for

if

man’s destiny

is

melancholy, man’s dignity

is

to

laugh, even in the face of death, until the final somersault.

Machado’s Shandean mixture of laughter and melancholy appears very beginning. At

book had been written “with the pen

the

all,

Melancholy” (“To the Reader”

Machado makes

ent.

had

It

becomes an was

book was more

pessimistic than

its

Shandean

not to be found in the other authors.

taste”

indirect source of joy.

the face of his dying

mother “was

Of course

but melancholy

itself

melancholy can be for Bras what

it

provoked by the contemplation of a skeleton: less a face

than a

skull. Its beauty, like a bright

had passed; nothing remained but the bones, and bones never grow thin”

(23.56).

The

believe that

period of mourning was his

at the

first

experience of melancholy: “I

was then that the Bower of melancholy

it

morbid flower with

yellow, lonely,

But

of Mirth and the ink of

foreword to the third edition

joy unable to conquer melancholy,

is

for Diirer, a source of sorrow,

day,

in his

of the cups was the same, but the wine was differ-

and sharp

a “bitter

Not only

But

3).

clear that the

its

The workmanship

models.

at the

the two elements seem to be well-balanced. After

first sight,

same time Bras

it

subtle

me

in

began to open,

this ,

and inebriating perfume” (25.58).

discovers that melancholy could be pleasurable.

The j

perfume of the yellow flower was “subtle and inebriating,” and so Bras hugged to his breast his “silent pain, a peculiar sensation,

one

that

might be

>

called the

^

voluptuousness of misery” (25.58). This, incidentally, was what Pandora would

i

promise one day to the dying Bras: the voluptuousness of death.

Laughter Cubas.

book like

It is

is

never

is

from death

in the very title of the

not posthumous because

book, though it

man, the

title. It is

,

The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras

in

in a jesting

was published

Chateaubriand’s Memoires ef outre tombe, the

the original Brazilian

if

far

posthumous

title

becatise

mood. For the

after the author’s death,

of which

it

is

parodied in

was written by

a

dead

of the natural order of things that might have been terrifying

a reversal

book were

a ghost story, btit

becomes comical because of the

objectiv|

ity

with which

it

is

announced. “Fience

I

shall

not relate the extraordinary |

method 3).

that

I

used in the composition of these memoirs” (“To the Reader”

The comical

the fact

Death has

worm

effect arises

from the disproportion between the enormity of

and the soberness of the description.

that

a clownish aspect, beginning with the dedication:

gnawed

mous memoirs.”^

1

my flesh It is

I

dedicate, with fond

“To the

first

remembrance, these posthu-

Baudelaire’s necrophilic tone, with the difference that

1

— THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST

-

MACHADO DE

THE CASE OF

not even Baudelaire dared desecrate death to such an extent.

It

Is

ASSIS

101

not to a ROUANET

worm

that he dedicates his ''fleurs maladives' hut

impeccable, parfait rnagicien des

lettrcs

toTheophile Gautier, pohe ''

finngaisesd

The

reference to “morbid PAULO

may make

Howers”

us shudder, hut not laugh.

de Assis the dedication the

book

to provoke:

melancholy and laughter.

made with

All references to death are

laughter, like

Hamlet holding the

yes, reader,

skull of a fool.

but you are

its

They

a sneer.

tomb, says Bras, hut he adds Immediately

makes us laugh:

The book

main

everything else that

some

After

you had

to

fall,

— but warns

reflection,

we

like

us that there

is

happiness

a plaintive

— “unhappy

my

(71.118)

has an odor of the

He makes

defect.

human

cypress tree,

are associated with

a preposterous afterthought that

allusion to the fleeting character of

tiful”

Machado

the contrary, in

from the very beginning the two reactions that

elicits

whole wants

as a

On

is

lovely

an absurdity in

leaves

of

and beau-

this sentence.

guess that the absurdity comes from the tree cho-

sen for the comparison, for cypresses do not lose their leaves in winter, but this

is

not the point.

The

point

is

that Bras wants to divert the reader’s atten-

tion,

making him abandon the churchyard, where

may

laugh himself to death after solving the riddle.

It

cypresses grow, so that he

should be repeated, however, that the characteristically Shandean blend of

mirth and melancholy works differently in Sterne and in Machado. Sterne uses laughter to escape melancholy

and Machado

to ridicule

all

attempts to escape

melancholy. Tristram’s defining words are the ones he utters in Gascon dialect

when dancing with tristessa!

“I

A I

Nanette, the lovely peasant

had no progeny,

different

I

I

think, to isolate a literary form,

But much work

First,

a

la joia!

Fidon

la

ones of the book:

transmitted to no one the legacy of our misery” (160.209).

that have followed this

Shandean

last

wine

have managed,

Assis.

“Viva

girl:

(VII.43.558). Bras Cubas’ defining words are the

form

— Laurence

is still

Sterne,

its

and compare two creator,

needed to complete these

comprehensive study

is

necessary of

“family,” including, besides Sterne

all

writers

and Machado de

reflections.

the

and Machado

members

of the

de Assis, the

two

—Xavier de

other authors mentioned in Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas

Maistre and Almeida Garrett

—and even

well but did not include in his

Second,

it

list,

such

would be indispensable

to

others that as

Diderot

Machado de Jacques

Assis

knew

le fataliste.

go from form to content, studying

the different realizations of the form in accordance with objective circum-

SERGIO

102

PORTUGUESE LITERARY & CULTURAL STUDIES

stances,

whether of

between

all

Machado de

a personal, local, or historical nature.

pointed to these differences larities

13/14

when he

said that even

and content vary

these authors, the spirit

ship of the cup might be the same, hut the wine

For Machado, the difference lay vailed in the Brazilian novel as

in the

compared

is



the

workman-

different.

pessimism and bitterness that pre-

to

European counterparts.

its

Two

confirms the accuracy of Machado’s assessment.

examples

the issue of the blending of laughter and melancholy,

A cur-

Machado

sory glance at the different realization of the form in Sterne and

On

Assis

there are formal simi-

if

will suffice.

we have

seen that

Tristram believes that mirth can expel despondency, while Bras Cubas thinks that ter

any attempt

is

to

mock

to

all

do so

laughable and that the main function of laugh-

is

efforts to cure melancholy.

On

the issue of the fugacity of

time, both authors share the classical attitude of deploring the transience of all

things and of trying to stop time.

schond and Lamartine’s

“O

It is

Goethe’s

“ Veriveile

temps, suspends ton void

But

du

doch,

bist so

their respective

immobilization strategies are very different. Tristram does so by temporarily “freezing” time, whereas Bras

Cubas does

from the sphere of change. In contrast with believed that only death could deliver

his

that the grapes

had been grown

more sanguine

man from

Roberto Schwarz agrees that the wines are is

by removing himself

so

and the “voluble” and

at the

same time,

as

him

different, yet for

in different social

its

and

the reason

historical soils. It

is

the

European bour-

existence to slave labor (Schwarz 200-201).

Whatever the nature of the difference both

“ancestor,” he

cynical subjectivity of a Brazilian ruling class that

modernity but owed

idealized

good

the flux of time.

difference between the optimistic subjectivity of a modernizing geoisie

for

I



psychological, sociological, or

believe to be the case

assume that the concept of the Shandean form better understanding of both

Machado de

from which he claimed descent

in

will

Assis



it

seems plausible to

be helpful In reaching a

and the

Intellectual lineage

The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas.

Notes among

others,

Gomes, Caldwell, and Senna.

^

See,

^

See especially Merquior, quoted by Sa Rego,

Menippean 3

who

discusses the origins

and nature of the

satire.

See Rouanet,

“Machado de

^ References to cjiiotations

Assis.”

from Grossmans translation of Machado’s Memdrias postumas de

.

THE AUTHOR AS PLAGIARIST - THE CASE OF

MACHADO DE

ASSIS

103

Bras Caibas will be given parenthetically, listing chapter and page numbers. Quotations from Tristram

Shandy W\W be

cited with volume, chapter,

and page numbers. ROUANET

See Schwarz,

^

Um

mestre.

Sec Barthes, Le plaisir and Fragments. PAULO

^ Sterne,

A

Sentimental Journey 89.

Benjamin, Das Passagenwerk.

^

SERGIO

Benjamin, Ursprung des deutschen TrauerspieL Assis, ’

*

“Memorias postumas” 514.

ddie English translation inexplicably omits the words

“com saudosa lembranga.”

Works Cited Assis,

Machado

Epitaph of a Small Winner. Trans. William

de.

L.

Grossman. London:

Bloomsbury, 1997. .

Memorias postumas de Bras Cubas. Obras Completas.

Vol.

Rio de Janeiro: Nova

III.

Aguilar, 1979.

Barthes, Roland. Le plaisir .

du

Editions du Seuil, 1973.

texte. Paris:

Fragments d' un discours amoureux.

Paris:

Editions

du

Seuil, 1977.

Benjamin, Walter. Das Passagenwerk. Ed. Rolf Tiedemann. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1982. .

Ursprung des deutschen TrauerspieL Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1963.

Caldwell, Helen.

Machado de Assis.

Comes, Eugenio. Espelho

U

Berkeley:

of California

P,

1970.

contra espelho. Sao Paulo: Instituto Progresso, 1949.

Merquior, Jose Cuilherme. “Genero e

estilo

em Memorias

Postumas de Bras Cubas." Coloquio!

Le tras {]w\y 1972). Rouanet, Sergio Paulo. “Machado de Assis

e a estetica

da fragmentac^ao.” Revista Brasileira Ease

VII, 1.2 (Apr-June 1995).

O calundu e a panaceia. Rio de Janeiro: Forense Universitaria, 1989. Um mestre na periferia do capitalismo. Sao Paulo: Duas Cidades, 1990. O olhar obllquo do bruxo. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1998.

Sa Rego, Enylton Jose de.

Schwarz, Roberto. Senna, Marta de. Sterne, Laurence. .

The

Life

A

Sentimental journey. London: Everyman’s Library, 1947.

and Opinions of Tristram

Sergio Paulo Rouanet

member several

em

European

one of

is

of the Brazilian

Brazil’s

Academy

capitals.

Shandy., Gentleman.

most acclaimed

of Letters

cultural critics

and has served

as

and

Library, n.d.

essayists.

He

is

Ambassador and diplomat

a in

His numerous books include: Edipo

e o anjo. Itinerdrios freudianos

A

razdo cativa. As Husoes da con-

Walter Benjamin (1981); Teoria critica e psicandlise

sciencia.

New York: Modern

( 1

983);

de Platdo a Freud (1985); As razoes do lluminismo (1987);

Revoltu^do Francesa atraves de Retifde la Bretonne (1988);

A

comja

O

e o

espectador noturno.

sambddromo (1988);

A A

razdo nomade. Walter Benjamin e outros viajantes (1994); Ideias-Da Cultura Global a Universal

(2003); Intenvgagoes

Os dez amigos de Freud flOOS) E-mail: [email protected]



Machado de

de Queiros

Assis, Critic of Eqa

A Symptomatic

o

Misunderstanding^

Joao Camilo dos Santos Translated by Robert Patrick

Abstract: Writing about E^a de Queiros’ novels

and

O Primo

Bastlio in 1878,

Machado de

Assis

O

Crime do Padre Amur

showed

Machado

Machado da Rosa

little

sympathy

Machado?,

tor the Portuguese author. In his essay E
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