Machado De Assis and Feminism Re-Reading the Heart of the Companion

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This study examines the author's potentially radical understanding of an interaction between the sexes in the course of which a series of social conventions uncontested in 19th-century Brazil are brought into question. The first two chapters are devoted to an exposition of accepted critical interpretations of Machado's position regarding the notoriously difficult gender relations in his novels. The rest of the book offers an alternative interpretation of the nine novels from a feminist theoretical perspective which situates his writing as a radical revision of contemporary received wisdom on sexual roles, and as profoundly interventionistic in the sexual politics debate. It offers a detailed analysis of patterns of male and female discourse, the institutions of marriage and motherhood, widowhood, and relationships of solidarity between women. It develops themes toward an entirely new reading of these novels as constituting a body of writing participant in and sympathetic with the then-embryonic women's movement in Brazil.


"Lisboa's careful explications of the novels reveals an uncanny correspondence between Machado's craft in casting characters and motives, particularly women and their circumstances, and contemporary feminist theory. . . . Her book is a knowledgeable addition to the critical appraisal of a much neglected literary master. Recommended for graduates, researchers, faculty, and specialists." - Choice

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