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sexta-feira, 12 de outubro de 2012

Machado de Assis After a Century, a Literary Reputation Finally Blooms

From The New York Times.
Published: September 12, 2008

When the novelist Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis died 100 years ago this month, his passing went little noticed outside his native Brazil. But in recent years he has been transformed from a fringe figure in the English-speaking world into a literary favorite and trendsetter, promoted by much more acclaimed writers and by critics as an unjustly neglected genius.
Susan Sontag, an early and ardent admirer, once called him “the greatest writer ever produced in Latin America,” surpassing even Borges. In his 2002 book “Genius,” the critic Harold Bloom went even further, saying that Machado was “the supreme black literary artist to date.”
Comparisons to Flaubert and Henry James, Beckett and Kafka abound, and John Barth and Donald Barthelme have claimed him as an influence.
All of that makes for a change of fortune that Machado, with his exquisite sense of the improbable, would surely have appreciated. After all, his most celebrated novel, “The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas,” purports to be the autobiography of a decadent aristocrat reflecting on his life’s disappointments and failures from beyond the grave.
In recognition of this belated vogue, “Machado 21: A Centennial Celebration” is being held Monday through Friday in New York City and New Haven, slightly ahead of the actual Sept. 29 date of his death. The commemorations include round tables and seminars discussing the author’s life and work; readings; screenings of films based on his work; an exhibition of art inspired by his writings; and a performance of some of his poems set to music.
Mr. Bloom describes Machado as “a kind of miracle.” Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1839, Machado was the grandson of slaves, his father a housepainter and his mother a white immigrant washerwoman from the Azores. Enormously cultured and erudite, he was largely self-taught, working as a typesetter’s apprentice and journalist before becoming a novelist, poet and playwright.
Eventually Machado took a post in the Ministry of Agriculture, married a Portuguese woman of noble descent and settled into a middle-class life that allowed him to build a parallel career as a translator of Shakespeare, Hugo and other literary lions. But around 40, when he was already suffering from epilepsy, his health worsened, and he nearly lost his sight, a crisis that seemed to provoke a radical change in his style, attitude and focus.
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