Friday, June 19, 2015

K. David Jackson's "Machado de Assis: A Literary Life"

K. David Jackson is professor of Portuguese and director of undergraduate studies of Portuguese at Yale University. He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Machado de Assis: A Literary Life, and reported the following:
On page 99 we are deep into the ways that Machado makes fun of methodical books: "...without going back to Cervantes or Rabelais, we have enough with Fielding and Smollett, many of whose chapters get read only through their summaries." Machado borrows particularly from Sterne's Tristram Shandy and Maistre's "Voyage autour de ma chambre" for fragmentation and perspective. His picaresque narrator, Brás Cubas, who is already dead, begins a digressive story nevertheless full of his disdainful and comic observations on life, derived from the great aphorists. Machado converts a world literary library into his own particular fiction, making it all his own, such that the illusion of imitation is one of the keys to his modern writing. My book shows why Machado is a great world author and one of the inventors of literary modernity, thus why he deserves readership alongside James, Proust, even Nabokov and Saramago. He analyzes the city-universe of Rio de Janeiro with subtle wit, comic humor and innovative narrative strategies.
Learn more about Machado de Assis at the Yale University Press website.

Writers Read: K. David Jackson.

--Marshal Zeringue