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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Don Casmurro, by Machado de Assis

There are so many great books, I feel a need to, every once in a while, look back and share a book of note that I recommend from my library. Ferris and I chose this book as one of our 2011 summer reads.

My Review
Dom Casmurro is a tender and intimate look at a budding love that flowers and dies before it has had the opportunity to experience the seasons of a lifetime. The roots remain for a while, alive and struggling for life, but the climatic conditions are not enough to sustain it. The once beautiful flower suffers a slow and painful death. One can attempt to replace the plant with a fabric imitation, but without real life, it would be soul-less. Such is the essence of Machado’s lovely portrait of a man so consumed by love, that with fits of obsessive jealousy, he destroys it.

Machado’s is a timeless theme, yet the elegance with which he develops his characters is unique. There is, Jose Dias with his beloved superlatives and his tendency to walk with, “a casual slow step; not the lethargic gate of a lazy man, but a logical calculated slowness, a complete syllogism, the premise before the consequence, the consequence before the conclusion”. Exquisite! There is Benito, the protagonist, narrator and beloved of Capitu. The man who feels, “Daydreams are like other dreams; they are woven according to the patterns of our wishes and memories.” Yet, he forgets to bear this in mind when sharing his story. Thus, the reader is left to question the accuracy of Benito’s narrative. Machado plays with the reader through Benito’s voice so we are left to wonder, what is real and what was only real in the eyes of Benito. Finite conclusions cannot be drawn. Such is the mystery and genius of Machado’s writing. His is a story that continues to play in the readers psyche, long after its reading.

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