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Day 2

The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas by Machado de Assis

Ch 11-19

March 9, 2021 by Larry Rohter

M offers a first glimpse of what it was like to live in a society built on slavery in XI. The matter-of-factness with which Brás Cubas (BC) recounts the way he tormented house slaves as a child—one of whom he rides like a horse—augments our disgust.

The lavish dinner in XII is one of my favorite set pieces in PM. M skewers the pretensions of BC’s family, the pompous rhetoric of the court, and the sexual hypocrisy of the era, all as seen through the eyes of a child hungry for dessert. Delicious!

An essentially transactional view of relations between the sexes—whether love, marriage, or an affair—recurs throughout PM, especially in this bloc. BC, giddy with desire, learns the hard way when he falls for the beautiful, calculating Marcela.

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