Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis : biography
Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (), often known as Machado de Assis, Machado, or Bruxo do Cosme VelhoVainfas, p. 505 (June 21, 1839 – September 29, 1908), was a Brazilian novelist, poet, playwright, short story writer, and advocate of monarchism. Widely regarded as the greatest writer of Brazilian literature,Candido; Antonio. (1970) Vários escritos. São Paulo: Duas Cidades. p. 18Caldwell, Helen (1970) Machado de Assis: The Brazilian Master and his Novels. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, University of California Press.Fernandez, Oscar Machado de Assis: The Brazilian Master and His Novels The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Apr., 1971), pp. 255–256 nevertheless he did not gain widespread popularity outside Brazil in his own lifetime. He was multilingual, having learned French, English, German, and Greek later in life, all by himself.
Machado's works had a great influence on Brazilian literary schools of the late 19th century and early 20th century. José Saramago, Carlos Fuentes, Woody Allen and Susan Sontag are among his admirers,João Cezar de Castro Rocha, . Portuguese Literature and Cultural Studies 13/14 (2006): xxiv. the American critic Harold Bloom calls him "the supreme black literary artist to date".Harold Bloom, Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds (New York: Warner Books), 674.
Titles and honours
- Member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters (1896–1908).
- President of the Brazilian Academy of Letters (1897–1908).
- Knight of the Order of the Rose (1867).
- Officer of the Order of the Rose (1888).
Machado's style is unique, and several literary critics have tried to describe it since 1897.Romero, Silvio (1897) Machado de Assis: Estudo Comparativo da Literatura Brasileira. Rio de janeiro: Laemmert. He is considered by many the greatest Brazilian writer of all time, and one of the world's greatest novelists and short story writers. His chronicles do not share the same status. His poems are often misunderstood for the use of crude terms, sometimes associated to the style of Augusto dos Anjos, another Brazilian writer. Machado de Assis was included on American literary critic Harold Bloom's list of the greatest 100 geniuses of literature, alongside writers such as Dante, Shakespeare and Cervantes. Bloom considers him the greatest black writer in Western literature, but his classification of him as black is based on United States's conceptions of race. These are not the same in Brazil. Daniel, pp. 10–76
His works have been studied by critics in various countries of the world, such as Giuseppe Alpi (Italy), Lourdes Andreassi (Portugal), Albert Bagby Jr. (US), Abel Barros Baptista (Portugal), Hennio Morgan Birchal (Brazil), Edoardo Bizzarri (Italy), Jean-Michel Massa (France), Helen Caldwell (US), John Gledson (England), Adrien Delpech (France), Albert Dessau (Germany), Paul B. Dixon (US), Keith Ellis (US), Edith Fowke (Canada), Anatole France (France), Richard Graham (US), Pierre Hourcade (France), David Jackson (US), G. Reginald Daniel (US), Linda Murphy Kelley (US), John C. Kinnear, Alfred Mac Adam (US), Victor Orban (France), Daphne Patai (US), Houwens Post (Italy), Samuel Putnam (US), John Hyde Schmitt, Tony Tanner (England), Jack E. Tomlins (US), Carmelo Virgillo (US), Dieter Woll (Germany) and Susan Sontag (US).Sontag, Susan. Forward. Epitaph of a Small Winner. By J.M. Machado de Assis. Trans. William Grossman. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990. xi-xxiv.
Critics are divided as to the nature of Machado de Assis's writing. Some, such as Abel Barros Baptista, classify Machado as a staunch anti-realist, and argue that his writing attacks Realism, aiming to negate the possibility of representation or the existence of a meaningful objective reality. Realist critics such as John Gledson are more likely to regard Machado's work as a faithful description of Brazilian reality—but one executed with daring innovative technique. In light of Machado’s own statements, Daniel argues that Machado’s novels represent a growing sophistication and daring in maintaining a dialogue between the aesthetic subjectivism of Romanticism (and its offshoots) and the aesthetic objectivism of Realism-Naturalism. Accordingly, Machado’s earlier novels have more in common with a hybrid mid-nineteenth-century current often referred to as “Romantic Realism." Daniel, pp. 190–237 In addition, his later novels have more in common with another late nineteenth-century hybrid: literary Impressionism. Historians such as Sidney Chalhoub argue that Machado's prose constitutes an exposé of the social, political and economic dysfunction of Second Empire Brazil. Critics agree on how he used innovative techniques to reveal the contradictions of his society. Roberto Schwarz points out that Machado's innovations in prose narrative are used to expose the hypocrisies, contradictions, and dysfunction of nineteenth-century Brazil. Daniel, pp. 153–218 Schwartz, a Marxist, argues that Machado inverts many narrative and intellectual conventions to reveal the pernicious ends to which they are used. Thus we see critics reinterpret Machado according to their own designs or their perception of how best to validate him for their own historical moment. Regardless, his incisive prose shines through, able to communicate with readers from different times and places, conveying his ironic and yet tender sense of what we, as human beings, are. Daniel, pp. 190–237
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