Machado de Assis
Multiracial Identity and the Brazilian Novelist
By (author) G. Reginald Daniel
Publication date:15 May 2012
Length of book:344 pages
PublisherPenn State University Press
Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839–1908) was Brazil’s foremost novelist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As a mulatto, Machado experienced the ambiguity of racial identity throughout his life. Literary critics first interpreted Machado as an embittered misanthrope uninterested in the plight of his fellow African Brazilians. By midcentury, however, a new generation of critics asserted that Machado’s writings did reveal his interest in slavery, race, and other contemporary social issues, but their interpretations went too far in the other direction. G. Reginald Daniel, an expert on Brazilian race relations, takes a fresh look at how Machado’s writings were inflected by his life—especially his experience of his own racial identity. The result is a new interpretation that sees Machado as endeavoring to transcend his racial origins by universalizing the experience of racial ambiguity and duality into a fundamental mode of human existence.
—Pedro Meira Monteiro, Princeton University