Quincas Borba

Quincas Borba

3.92 (2,216 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , By (author)  , Volume editor  , Volume editor  , Translated by 

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Description

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.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 316 pages
  • 144.78 x 208.28 x 25.4mm | 498.95g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195106814
  • 9780195106817

About Machado de Assis

Joaquim Machado de Assis (1839-1908), the descendent of African slaves, is considered one of the greatest Latin American authors of the last century. His novels include The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas, and Dom Casmurro. Gregory Rabassa is the preeminent American translator of Spanish and Portuguese, whose works include One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas. Celso Ravaretto teaches at the University of Sao Paolo. David T. Haberly teaches at the University of Virginia.show more

Review Text

A graceful new translation of a major (1891) novel by the master ironist (1839-1908) who remains Brazil's greatest writer of fiction. "Quincas Borba" denotes not only the eponymous (possibly mad) "philosopher" whose credo of "Humanitism" disastrously misleads his disciple Rubi??o, but also Borbas's dog (and namesake) - in which form Rubi??o believes his mentor's soul is reincarnated. Further complications are provided by an unreliable narrator who second-guesses his own storytelling strategies, and by an unstable fictive environment where dogs who are philosophers coexist with flowers that converse. Machado's tricky narrative keeps collapsing under the reader's feet, as the ambitious Rubi??o's star-crossed pursuit of sex, power, and fame incarnates 19th-century Brazil's precipitous embrace of European culture while simultaneously - and hilariously - illustrating the vanity of human wishes. A great, teasing, profoundly entertaining book: An unforgettable portrayal of a materially oriented Don Quixote that's also that rarity in any literature - a genuinely philosophical novel. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

2,216 ratings
3.92 out of 5 stars
5 31% (686)
4 38% (839)
3 25% (558)
2 5% (113)
1 1% (20)
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