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Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis

Dom Casmurro (1899)

by Machado de Assis

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978328,803 (4.31)67



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This is a fast, easy read and the best love/triangle story that I have every read. The writing was very funny, somewhat dark but the narrator was wonderful. Machado de Assis shows Bentinho to lack self-confidence with lots of fear and jealous attitudes in his relationship with Capitu. The best part of the book is the ending where the reader is still left with the question,"Did Capitu really betray Bentinho?” I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys good literature, as I think it’s a masterpiece!
( )
  eadieburke | Jan 19, 2016 |
I took 1/2 star off my rating for this Kindle edition due to formatting problems (such as it not keeping words intact - for example, the word not might have the no at the end of a line and the t at the beginning of the next line!) & there were some strange translation choices as well. I was glad to be able to get this Brazilian classic (in English) for free from www.ebook.visitbrasil.com but had to chuckle at times to the blatant tourism propaganda in some of the notes included. For example,

Butterflies are one of the most enchanting parts of Brazilian wildlife. In Brazil, there is an impressive variety of 3,500 species, the majority of which are found in the Amazon.
Some zoos (for example, the Brasília Zoo) spread throughout Brazil have butterfly gardens that show some of the species' diversity.
At the butterfly garden in Campos de Jordão, São Paulo, you can learn about the butterflies and walk among them as well. You get the chance to see their delicate flight, the designs on their wings and even their mating rituals."

Despite the sometimes strange translations (Caputa's eyes were describes as "obliquos" and José Dias is repeatedly referred to as an "aggregate" -- perhaps they meant factor?), Machado de Assis' writing still contained some wonderful images and phrases. One I particularly liked was when Bentinho is describing when he and Caputa first realized that they were in love:

"Do not criticize us, unfortunate captain, hearts aren't sailed like the other seas in this world."

I liked the story (which is quite sad towards the end) & found this an interesting contrast to my beloved English Victorian classics which are from the same time. The basic plot could have been written by Hardy or Gaskell but the flavor would have been completely different. ( )
1 vote leslie.98 | Jan 8, 2016 |
This book is a first-person narrative about the life of Bento.
Bento recalls his youth and adulthood, and tells about his friendships, education, romantic life, and family relationships.
Machado de Assis tells a story about a man consumed by his own jealousy. This book contains one of the most intriguing dillemas of brazilian literature:
Did Capitu cheat on Bento or not? Machado de Assis doesn't reveal it.
Each reader makes his own mind. ( )
  Haidji | Sep 2, 2015 |
“Dom Casmurro” is one of those books that, if you had the good fortune of given a solid Brazilian education in the humanities, you would be quite familiar with. In fact, de Assis is still regularly assigned in literature classes there, and is regarded as one of the greatest writers working in the Portuguese language in the nineteenth century. It’s one of those serendipities of history that we Anglophones don’t know him better; as many commentaries on the novel all too enthusiastically point out, he displays some unusual parallels to writers whose names are more familiar to our ears, namely Flaubert, Balzac, and Zola.

On the surface, it’s a simple enough love story between Bento, a young boy whose mother has ambitions of him becoming a seminarian and his beloved Capitu. Bento actually goes to the seminary for a short time and meets and befriends a fellow seminarian named Escobar. There is a possibility that Escobar also loves Capitu, but de Assis leaves this wonderfully ambiguous. Flaubert, however, never played with the unreliable narrator to the extent that de Assis does in this novel. Because of the open ambiguity of Escobar’s feelings, Bento and his ravenous jealousy are left to narrate the novel as they will – and it does seem that his jealousy becomes a character all its own. It shapes the entire world of Escobar’s intentions, all the while never leaving Capitu the time to shape her own or explain her actions. Does Bento have reason to feel this jealousy, or is it all just a figment of his own imagination?

These questions, which would otherwise form a good denouement for the action, are never resolved. You’re left in the position that Bento is, examining the minute details of his relationship for signs of Capitu’s infidelity. It’s difficult to tell whether someone like Ford Madox Ford knew of de Assis’ work , but if he did I wouldn’t be the least surprised. The similarities with “The Good Soldier” (which postdates this novel by fifteen years) are uncanny: the use of the unreliable narrator in the examination of a love triangle (or is it even a triangle at all?) is extraordinarily riveting and effective. For those weaned on the European canon and interested in branching out and finding new writers whose names might not be as well-recognized in the English-speaking world, you could do a lot worse than Machado de Assis. ( )
1 vote kant1066 | Apr 11, 2014 |
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Uma noite destas, vindo da cidade para o Engenho Novo, encontrei no trem da Central um rapaz aqui do bairro, que eu conheço de vista e de chapéu.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0195103092, Paperback)

The unreliable narrator and the fictional memoir are long-standing literary traditions. Nineteenth-century Brazilian author Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis uses both to brilliant effect in his novel Dom Casmurro. Narrated by Bento Santiago, this memoir looks back over a life filled with the suspicion of betrayal: Bento is convinced that his wife had an affair with his best friend, and that his son was the result of it. Though he has no real evidence to support this belief, Bento becomes so obsessed with it that, in the end, he commits crimes far worse than the suspected adultery to avenge himself. The memoir itself is a kind of justification for his actions; Bento, now alone, recreates the environment of his childhood and attempts to rewrite the facts of his life--in essence, reconstructing the past.

Among readers familiar with Latin American literature, Machado is considered a master. His novels blend black comedy with deadly accurate social commentary and an unerring perception of human psychology to create works that are brilliant, complex without being opaque, and joys to read. The Oxford University Press edition is ably translated by John Gledson and accompanied by critical essays that will help orient readers unfamiliar with Machado's work.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:13 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Like other great nineteenth-century novels - The Scarlet Letter, Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary - Machado de Assis's Dom Casmurro explores the themes of marriage and adultery. But what distinguishes Machado's novel from the realism of its contemporaries, and what makes it such a delightful discovery for English-speaking readers, is its eccentric and wildly unpredictable narrative style. Far from creating the illusion of an orderly fictional "reality," Dom Casmurro is told by a narrator who is disruptively self-conscious, deeply subjective, and prone to all manner of marvelous digression. As he recounts the events of his life from the vantage of a lonely old age, Bento continually interrupts his story to reflect on the writing of it: he examines the aptness of an image or analogy, considers cutting out certain scenes before taking the manuscript to the printer, and engages in a running, and often hilarious, dialogue with the reader. But the novel is more than a performance of stylistic acrobatics. It is an ironic critique of Catholicism, in which God appears as a kind of divine accountant whose ledgers may be balanced in devious as well as pious ways. It is also a story about love and its obstacles, about deception and self-deception, and about the failure of memory to make life's beginning fit neatly into its end. First published in 1900, Dom Casmurro is one of the great unrecognized classics of the turn of the century by one of Brazil's greatest writers. Newly translated and edited by John Gledson, with an afterword by Joao Adolfo Hansen, this Library of Latin America edition is the only complete, unabridged, and annotated translation available of one of the most distinctive novels of the last century.… (more)

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