Dom Casmurro: A Novel (Hardcover)
A masterpiece of realism, Machado de Assis’s Dom Casmurro probes the mind of a distrustful husband with delusions of grandeur.
Originally published in 1899, Dom Casmurro is widely considered to be Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis’s masterpiece and a progenitor of twentieth-century Latin American fiction. This exuberant new translation captures all the hilarious, maddening, and utterly compelling idiosyncrasies of one of Machado’s most complex characters.
Bento Santiago, our charismatic yet exceedingly unreliable narrator, nicknamed by his enemies Dom Casmurro, has become a bit of a recluse in old age. He spends his days reading and mourning the past in a house built as a replica of his childhood home. One day, musing over the painted busts of Nero, Augustus, Masinissa, and Caesar, he is inspired to write his own story, a tale of equally epic proportions. Or so, at least, he thinks.
“Yes, let us begin by evoking a famous November afternoon, one I will never forget,” he writes, recalling the day he fell in love with his childhood sweetheart, Capitu. Thus he transports readers back to his youth in a once fashionable neighborhood, when he and Capitu were neighbors playing innocently in the backyard. But after overcoming many obstacles, Bento’s happy-ever-after ending proves short-lived when he is consumed by paranoia and jealousy.
At once oblivious and obsessive, Bento becomes a strangely engaging antihero as he mines the repercussions of his suspicions against the backdrop of a rapidly modernizing Rio de Janeiro. Eloquently translated by Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson—the same duo that sparked a Machado renaissance with their brilliant translations of The Collected Stories and Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas—and brimming with his signature charm, Dom Casmurro is a subversive and groundbreaking dark comedy from one of Brazil’s greatest authors.
About the Author
Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839–1908) was born in Rio de Janeiro and, as well as his seven short-story collections, wrote such groundbreaking novels as Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas, Dom Casmurro, Quincas Borba and The Alienist.
Margaret Jull Costa, who has translated Javier Marías and José Saramago, lives in England.
Robin Patterson has translated José Luandino Vieira and lives in England.
It is one of the unexpected services of Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson’s new translation of Dom Casmurro that they have helped me solve the mystery of my first impression. As I was reading their translation, I pulled out the first one I had read, one of the many that came before. I saw that the difficulty of translating Machado is not that his language is so precise and clear: That would seem to make the task easy. The challenge for the translator is that the writer uses precise and clear phrases (“Good morning!”) in a way that turns their precision and clarity against them and suggests something else. Rather than letting these lines stand, slyly winking and furtively smiling, the earlier translator had tried to nudge the reader too firmly toward that something else . . . More than perhaps any book I know, Dom Casmurro has to be read more than once. It teaches us to read in much the same way that Vermeer teaches us to see — by looking, and then looking again.”
— Benjamin Moser - New York Times Book Review
A beguilingly slippery tale by Brazil’s greatest proto-modernist writer . . . In this readable translation . . . Machado proves himself a gifted portraitist of flawed human characters who harbor psychological depths.
— Kirkus Reviews
This fresh translation of Machado de Assis’ masterpiece by award-winners Costa and Patterson highlights the ambiguities in the great Brazilian writer’s original Portuguese text, amplifying themes of deception, uncertainty, and defiance . . . Calling out some diverse literary references while avoiding over-explanation, translators Costa and Patterson allow readers to draw their own conclusions. The resulting work reminds us just how delightfully enigmatic Machado de Assis can be.
— Brendan Driscoll - Booklist