The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas: A Novel

By Joaquim Maria Machado De Assis; Gregory Rabassa | Go to book overview

then, shouldn't the memory of such a large favor be enough to stop him from going public and tarnishing his brother-in-law's reputation? The reasons behind his declaration must have been very powerful in order to make him commit an act of impertinence and an act of ingratitude at the same time. I must confess, it was an unsolvable problem.


CXLIX
The Theory of Benefits

. . . So unsolvable that Quincas Borba couldn't handle it in spite of having studied it for a long time and quite willingly. "So goodbye, then!" he concluded. "Not every philosophical problem is worth five minutes attention."

As for the censure of ingratitude, Quincas Borba rejected it out of hand, not as unprobable, but as absurd, because it didn't obey the conclusions of a good humanistic philosophy.

"You can't deny one fact," he said, "which is that the pleasure of the benefactor is always greater than that of the benefactee. What is a benefit? It's an act that brings a certain deprivation of the one benefitted to an end. Once the essential effect has been produced, once the deprivation has ceased, that is, the organism returns to its previous state, a state of indifference. Just suppose that the waist of your trousers is too tight. In order to relieve the uncomfortable situation you unbutton the waist, you breathe, you enjoy an instant of pleasure, the organism returns to indifference and you forget about the fingers that performed the operation. If there's nothing that lasts, it's natural that memory should disappear, because it's not an aerial plant, it needs earth. The hope for other favors, of course, always holds the benefactee in a remembrance of the first one, but that fact, also one of the most sublime that philosophy can find in its path, is explained by the memory of deprivation or, using a different formula, by deprivation's continuing on in memory, which echoes the past pain and advises alertness for an opportune remedy. I'm not saying that

-193-

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The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas: A Novel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Title Page v
  • Series Editors'' General Introduction vii
  • Preface Warning- Deadly Humor at Work xi
  • Prologue- To the Third Edition 3
  • To the Reader 5
  • I- The Author''s Demise 7
  • II- The Poultice 9
  • III- Genealogy 10
  • IV- The Idée Fixe 11
  • V- In Which a Lady''s Ear Appears 12
  • V- In Which a Lady''s Ear Appears 13
  • V- In Which a Lady''s Ear Appears 15
  • V- In Which a Lady''s Ear Appears 21
  • V- In Which a Lady''s Ear Appears 22
  • X- On That Day 23
  • XI- The Child is Father to the Man 24
  • XI- The Child is Father to the Man 27
  • XI- The Child is Father to the Man 31
  • XIV- The First Kiss 33
  • XV- Marcela 35
  • XVI- An Immoral Reflection 38
  • XVII- Of the Trapeze and Other Things 38
  • XVII- Of the Trapeze and Other Things 41
  • XVII- Of the Trapeze and Other Things 42
  • XX- I Am Graduated 46
  • XXI- The Muleteer 47
  • XXII- Return to Rio 48
  • XXIII- Sad, but Short 50
  • XXIV- Short, but Happy 51
  • XXIV- Short, but Happy 52
  • XXIV- Short, but Happy 54
  • XXVII- Virgília? 57
  • XXVIII- Provided That . . 58
  • XXIX- The Visit 59
  • XXX- The Flower from the Shrubbery 60
  • XXXI- The Black Butterfly 61
  • XXXII- Lame from Birth 63
  • XXXIII- Fortunate Are They Who Don''t Descend 64
  • XXXIV- For a Sensitive Soul 66
  • XXXV- The Road to Damascus 66
  • XXXV- The Road to Damascus 67
  • XXXV- The Road to Damascus 68
  • XXXV- The Road to Damascus 69
  • XXXV- The Road to Damascus 71
  • XXXV- The Road to Damascus 72
  • XXXV- The Road to Damascus 73
  • Xlii What Aristotle Left out 75
  • Xliii a Marchioness, Because I Shall Be Marquis 75
  • Xliii a Marchioness, Because I Shall Be Marquis 76
  • Xliii a Marchioness, Because I Shall Be Marquis 77
  • Xliii a Marchioness, Because I Shall Be Marquis 78
  • Xliii a Marchioness, Because I Shall Be Marquis 80
  • Xliii a Marchioness, Because I Shall Be Marquis 81
  • Xliii a Marchioness, Because I Shall Be Marquis 82
  • Xliii a Marchioness, Because I Shall Be Marquis 83
  • Li Mine 85
  • Lii the Mysterious Package 86
  • Lii the Mysterious Package 88
  • Lii the Mysterious Package 89
  • Lii the Mysterious Package 90
  • Lii the Mysterious Package 91
  • Lii the Mysterious Package 92
  • Lii the Mysterious Package 93
  • Lii the Mysterious Package 94
  • Lx the Embrace 97
  • Lxi a Project 98
  • Lxii the Pillow 99
  • Lxiii Let''s Run Away! 99
  • Lxiii Let''s Run Away! 102
  • Lxiii Let''s Run Away! 104
  • Lxiii Let''s Run Away! 106
  • Lxvii the Little House 107
  • Lxviii the Whipping 108
  • Lxviii the Whipping 109
  • Lxviii the Whipping 110
  • Lxviii the Whipping 111
  • Lxxii the Bibliomaniac 112
  • Lxxiii the Luncheon 113
  • Lxxiv Dona Plácida''s Story 114
  • Lxxv to Myself 116
  • Lxxvi Manure 116
  • Lxxvi Manure 117
  • Lxxviii the Presidency 119
  • Lxxix Compromise 120
  • Lxxix Compromise 121
  • Lxxxi Reconciliation 122
  • Lxxxii a Matter of Botany 124
  • Lxxxiii 13 125
  • Lxxxiii 13 127
  • Lxxxiii 13 128
  • Lxxxiii 13 129
  • Lxxxvii Geology 130
  • Lxxxviii the Sick Man 131
  • Lxxxviii the Sick Man 133
  • Lxxxviii the Sick Man 134
  • Xci an Extraordinary Letter 136
  • Xcii an Extraordinary Man 137
  • Xcii an Extraordinary Man 138
  • Xcii an Extraordinary Man 139
  • Xcii an Extraordinary Man 140
  • Xcvi the Anonymous Letter 141
  • Xvcii between Mouth and Forehead 142
  • Xcviii Suppressed 143
  • Xcix in the Orchestra 144
  • C the Probable Case 145
  • C the Probable Case 146
  • Cii at Rest 147
  • Ciii Distraction 147
  • Ciii Distraction 149
  • Cv the Equivalency of Windows 151
  • Cvi a Dangerous Game 151
  • Cvi a Dangerous Game 152
  • Cviii Perhaps Not Understood 153
  • Cix the Philosopher 153
  • Cix the Philosopher 155
  • Cxi the Wall 156
  • Cxii Public Opinion 157
  • Cxiii Glue 158
  • Cxiv End of a Dialogue 159
  • Cxv Lunch 159
  • Cxv Lunch 160
  • Cxv Lunch 161
  • Cxviii the Third Force 165
  • Cxix Parenthesis 165
  • Cxix Parenthesis 166
  • Cxxi Downhill 167
  • Cxxii a Very Delicate Intention 169
  • Cxxiii the Real Cotrim 169
  • Cxxiii the Real Cotrim 171
  • Cxxv Epitaph 172
  • Cxxvi Disconsolate 172
  • Cxxvi Disconsolate 173
  • Cxxvi Disconsolate 174
  • Cxxvi Disconsolate 175
  • Cxxx to Be Inserted in Chapter Cxxix 176
  • Cxxxi concerning a Calumny 176
  • Cxxxii Which Isn''t Serious 178
  • Cxxxiii Helvetius''s Principle 178
  • Cxxxiv Fifty Years Old 179
  • Cxxxv Oblivion 180
  • Cxxxvi Uselessness But, I''m Either Mistaken or I''ve Just Written a Useless Chapter 181
  • Cxxxvii the Shako 181
  • Cxxxvii the Shako 183
  • Cxxxvii the Shako 183
  • Cxl Which Explains the Previous One 184
  • Cxlii the Secret Request 185
  • Cxlii the Secret Request 186
  • Cxliii I''m Not Going 188
  • Cxliv Relative Usefulness 189
  • Cxlvi the Prospectus 190
  • Cxlvii Madness 191
  • Cxlviii the Unsolvable Problem 192
  • Cxlviii the Unsolvable Problem 193
  • Cl Rotation and Translation 195
  • Cli the Philosophy of Epitaphs 196
  • Clii Vespasian''s Coin 196
  • Cliii the Alienist 197
  • Cliv the Ships of the Piraeus 198
  • Clv a Cordial Reflection 199
  • Clvi the Pride of Servanthood 199
  • Clvii a Brilliant Phase 200
  • Clviii Two Encounters 201
  • Clix Semidementia 202
  • Clx on Negatives 203
  • Afterword Cosmopolitan Strategies in the Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas 205
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