Quincas Borba: A Novel

Quincas Borba: A Novel

Quincas Borba: A Novel

Quincas Borba: A Novel

Synopsis

Along with The Posthumous Memoirs of Br's Cubas and Dom Casmurro, Quincas Borba is one of Machado de Assis' major works and indeed one of the major works of nineteenth-century fiction. With his uncannily postmodern sensibility, his delicious wit, and his keen insight into the political and social complexities of the Brazilian Empire, Machado opens a fascinating world to English-speaking readers. When the mad philosopher Quincas Borba dies, he leaves to his friend Rubiao the entirety of his wealth and property, with a single stipulation: Rubiao must take care of Quincas Borba's dog, who is also named Quincas Borba, and who may indeed have assumed the soul of the dead philosopher. Flush with his newfound wealth, Rubiao heads for Rio de Janeiro and plunges headlong into a world where fantasy and reality become increasingly difficult to keep separate. We encounter roses that speak to each other, discussing the character and actions of their owner, Sofia; even the stars above occasionally comment, sarcastically, on the humans below. When Rubiao falls in love with the wife of his best friend, we see adultery as yet another betrayal of reality. Rubiao's own hold on reality becomes ever more tenuous as he makes elaborate plans for his marriage, even though he has no bride, and fantasizes that he has become Napoleon III. The very nature of reality, the novel seems to be saying, is an agreed-upon fiction told by an unreliable narrator. Brilliantly translated by Gregory Rabassa, Quincas Borba is a masterful satire not only on life in Imperial Brazil but the human condition itself.

Excerpt

The Library of Latin America series makes available in translation major nineteenth-century authors whose work has been neglected in the English-speaking world. the titles for the translations from the Spanish and Portuguese were suggested by an editorial committee that included Jean Franco (general editor responsible for works in Spanish), Richard Graham (series editor responsible for works in Portuguese), Tulio Halperín Donghi (at the University of California, Berkeley), Iván Jaksić (at the University of Notre Dame), Naomi Lindstrom (at the University of Texas at Austin), Francine Masiello (at the University of California, Berkeley), and Eduardo Lozano of the Library at the University of Pittsburgh. the late Antonio Cornejo Polar of the University of California, Berkeley, was also one of the founding members of the committee. the translations have been funded thanks to the generosity of the Lampadia Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

During the period of national formation between 1818 and into the early years of the twentieth century, the new nations of Latin America fashioned their identities, drew up constitutions, engaged in bitter struggles over territory, and debated questions of education, government, ethnicity, and culture. This was a unique period . . .

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