The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas

Narrated by: Edoardo Camponeschi
Length: 7 hrs and 11 mins
4 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

©2018 Neil McArthur (P)2018 Neil McArthur
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A hidden masterpiece

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

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • R
  • 06-21-20

Salty chocolate chip cookie

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

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

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

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

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

1 person found this helpful

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An inspired interpretation of a singular novel.

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

1 person found this helpful

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Totally unimpressed!

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

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The wittiest novel ever written? Uh, no.

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