By K. David Jackson
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Additional resources for Machado de Assis: A Literary Life
Brás Cubas rewards displeased readers with a snap of the fingers and a good-bye before blaming them for the tediousness of his memoirs: “The main defect of this book is you, reader. You’re in a hurry to grow old and the book moves slowly. You love direct and continuous narration, a regular and fluid style, and this book and my style are like drunkards, they stagger left and right, they walk and stop, mumble, yell, cackle, shake their fists at the sky, stumble, and fall” (71). The narrator of Esau and Jacob eschews structure in announcing the novel’s final two chapters with a theatrical flair reminiscent of commedia dell’arte: “All stories, if one cuts them into slices, end with a last chapter and a next-to-last chapter, but no author admits that.
R. Russell-Wood, carry over to Machado’s work, including dramatic theatricality, complexity, an appeal to the intellect, and the engaging of the reader’s participation in the sophisticated literary game. Duality, contrast, and contradiction form its ideological and structural centers. The critic Mário Faustino considered the free movement of the baroque to be a natural Brazilian style that Machado knew how to equilibrate. By way of this tradition, Machado de Assis joins a list of writers who occupy the position of ex-centrics writing at the edges of the colonial maritime world, theorized as figures leading “a dialogic movement of difference against the background of the universal” (Campos, 2005, 4).
24 Such diverse compounds combine previously unrelated ideas to form a single synthetic concept involving a change in the reader’s underlying cognitive processes of reception. Novel compounds oblige the hearer or reader to discover a link necessary to process the new relationship. 25 Blending of constituent parts may be based on association by concept, by relationship, or by relevance; it is the author who selects the content, which may repeat or be constantly changeable. Chapter 101 of the Posthumous Memoirs, for example, “The Dalmatian Revolution,” is a model of shifting semantic and ethical sands: a sudden bloody, painful, and tragic revolution in Dalmatia calls home the Count, who, to Brás’s annoyance, had been courting Virgília for three months and had succeeded in turning her head.
Machado de Assis: A Literary Life by K. David Jackson