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Quincas Borba (Library of Latin America) Paperback – 1 Jan 1998

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press USA; New Ed edition (1 Jan. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195106822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195106824
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 2.3 x 13.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 927,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

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 Favaretto teaches at the University of Sao Paulo. David T. Haberly teaches at the University of Virginia."

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By A Customer on 12 Dec. 2000
Format: Hardcover
Even if you never heard of him, it would take you just a look at the reviews of "Dom Casmurro" and "Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas" at Amazon to see that Machado de Assis leaves a lasting impression in his readers. He is certainly the best Brazilian writer ever, a universal master really. In this book, we never get to know if the name Quincas Borba refers to the philosopher or to his dog, yet it hardly matters: this is a book about ambiguity, after all. It is centered in the life of Rube (Rubiao), who inherits a fortune from the philosopher Quincas Borba, who dies at the beggining of the novel. However, even with all that money, he never manages to be happy - only starts to plunge deeper and deeper into madness. This book, together with the other two mentioned before, represents the best work of Machado de Assis. It's funny, it's clever, and it's beautifully written.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A poignant satire of 19th century Brazil 9 Feb. 2001
By Michael J. Mazza - Published on
Format: Hardcover
"Quincas Borba" is one of a series of fine novels by Brazilian author Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis. The author, who died in 1908, is one of the major figures of 19th century South American literature. "Quincas Borba" is a sort of companion volume to another of the author's novels, "The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas." While "Quincas Borba" does not, in my opinion, attain the level of literary inventiveness of its companion novel, it is still a fascinating, and ultimately moving, piece of fiction. It has been translated into a smooth English by Gregory Rabassa.
"Quincas Borba" tells the story of Rubiao, who inherits a fortune, as well as a pet dog, from the eccentric philosopher Quincas Borba. Curiously, the dog is also named Quincas Borba. The novel follows Rubiao as he attempts to find love and fulfillment in 19th century Brazil.
The novel contains many ironic comments on the craft of writing itself, and examines the political, sexual, and economic complexities of Rubiao's world. The author's writing is peppered with intriguing cultural allusions: Poe, Shakespeare's "Othello," Homer, Mozart, Kant, Dante's "Inferno," and more.
"Quincas Borba" is an effective mix of comedy and tragedy. Machado de Assis writes with both insight into and compassion for the human condition. Those interested in 19th century literature, Latin American studies, or the development of the novel should definitely read this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tristram Shandy at the Beach in Rio de Janeiro 18 Dec. 2010
By Gio - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most readers and reviewers of the works of Joachim Maria Machado de Assis (1839-1908) lay emphasis on the 'modernity' of his writing: the playfulness of his narrative structure, the psychological insights he tosses off without the benefit of living after Freud or Lacan, the whimsical diversions and parenthetical fancies. There's nothing wrong with that interpretation; Machado is clearly unlike any other writer in any language in his half of the 19th C. But he had a model, an obvious influence whom he acknowledges in his books: Laurence Sterne (1713-1768), the Emglish author of Tristram Shandy and A Sentimental Journey. The linkage between Sterne and Machado is more than stylistic. It's the centrality of "sentiment" in their narratives. I don't mean "sentimentality" in the current sense of excessively sloppy emotion. In the literature of the 18th C, "sentiment" referred to an heightened sensitivity, a keen aesthetic sympathy, a 'feminine' receptivity to experience, and among English writers like Sterne and Fielding, a disposition toward mockery of conventions. Goethe was a 'sentimental' writer in extremis, but without that fine sense of mockery. Rather than being a modernist, to my mind, Machado de Assis was the last 18th C sentimentalist. That doesn't preclude the fact that his influence on later Brazilian and Hispanic-American writers was modernizing. It was. Machado can legitimately be regarded as the founder of Latin American literature, the first world classic of his whole continent.

Quincas Borba hasn't found a niche in the 'canon' of classics for most anglophone readers, despite the efforts of Harold Bloom, the great canonizer. This recent translation by Gregory Rabassa should open the way to greater recognition. It's fluid and idiomatic in English, and it captures much of the quirky originality of Machado's prose style. Don't look for a well-ordered logical narrative. The author hops in and out of the narrative frame at will. If there's a convention of story-telling, Machado aims to break it. He's sly, elusive/allusive, satirical/sardonic, and insistently mocking, both of his fictive characters and of you the reader. He dances circles around us, sticks out his tongue at our expectations, yet remains as endearing as a mischievous street urchin.

And in fact he was born a mischievous street urchin, a colored child in the slums of a Brazilian city. His life was a unpredictable, almost fanciful, as the tale of Rubião, the chief character of this novel. Rubião has reached early middle age as a lackadaisical school teacher in the province of Minas. By chance, he befriends an eccentric 'philosopher' named Quincas Borba, who instructs him that "to the victor belong the potatoes." When Borba dies, Rubião inherits a vast fortune and a dog, also named Quincas Borba, who may or may not possess the spirit of the philosopher. The new millionaire moves to Rio, falls absurdly in love, suffers obsessions, innocently squanders his wealth with the help of friends ...

... and no one he meets fares much better in terms of rational self interest. Humans delude themselves if they think they are more sensible than dogs. They're whimsical victims of their own sentiments.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of world literature! 17 Feb. 2000
By Eduardo Trindade - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best books I've ever read! The story of the ascencion and fall of a man, his sanity and madness, make us think about our human condition. Machado de Assis is undobted the best Brazilian writer.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genius 30 Oct. 2005
By Eduardo Guisard Aguiar - Published on
Format: Paperback
Machado de Assis is a genius. Born from a very poor family, he learned languages during the Brazilian imperial period where lower classes were very limited to access education. He started with very typical romantic novels although with his own style. He married a well educated portuguese woman who introduced him more selected european literature. After 40 years old Machado wrote what we classified as classics. Machado's style was not a realistic naturalism writer. Machado is Machado. He created his own style helping literature to go ahead of his time. A genius.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! 26 Dec. 2013
By Peanut - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I always liked Machado de Assis' books and this one so far is my favorite. I definitely recommend it for those who love good books.
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