Machado de Assis (Brazil, 1839)
"Memorias Postumas de Bras Cubas/ Epitaph of a Small Winner" (1881) +
"Quincas Borba/ Philosopher or Dog?" (1891) +
"Dom Casmurro" (1899) +
The book pretends to be a memoir written by a man who came to be known as Dom
Casmurro. He lives alone with a servant.
At the age of 15 Bentinho was destined to become a priest. His father had
been a plantation owner who one day hired an
omeopatic doctor, Jose Dias, to look after the health of his slaves.
His father died when Bentinho was eleven, but Jose Dias remained to live
with his family. The other people in the house were also widowed like his mom:
uncle Cosme and cousin Justina. His mother, Dona Gloria, had sold the plantation but kept
living in the same house where she had lived with his father. She always wore
His mother had vowed to God that if she had a boy she would send him to the
seminary to become a priest. God gave her a boy and now Dona Gloria was
sending Bento to the seminary against his will.
His best friend was Capitolina or Capitu, a 14-year-old girl, daughter of
their humble neighbor
Padua, who had once contemplated suicide after losing his job.
Jose Dias had warned his mother than the two teenagers were alone too often
while Bento was eavesdropping.
Capitu told Bento that his best bet was to make an alliance with Jose Dias
and hope that he would convince his mother not to send him to the seminary.
The two teenagers finally kissed and promises each other eternal love.
However, Bento began to have the first fits of jealousy.
Jose was willing to help because he was dreaming of traveling to Europe and
saw Bento as the ideal traveling buddy.
The father who welcomed Bento to the seminary also provided indirectly a way
to get out of there: he mentioned to his mother and to Justina that one could
withdraw if the "call" was not there.
Bento tried to talk to his mother but she was inflexible: she owed Bento's
priesthood to God who had given her the son she had wanted so badly.
Jose suggested a new strategy: cough and pretend to be sick.
Capitu followed a different strategy: she ingratiated Bento's mother to the
point that Dona Gloria couldn't live without Capitu and began to secretely
realize that she could have been a perfect daughter-in-law.
Sancha was a widower who only lives for his daughter Sinhazinha, who was
Capitu's best friend.
Once in the seminary, Bento's jealousy got worse and Capitu felt insulted.
At the seminary his best friend was Escobar, who shared his desire not to
become a priest.
Finally, Jose Dias arranged for Bento to leave the seminary and travel to Rome
to ask for a papal absolution.
Escobar too left the seminary. He became a successful businessman and marries
Sancha, Capitu's best friend. Bento studied law. After graduating and while
starting a profitable business, he married Capitu. He still had fits of jealousy
despite the delivery of his first son, Ezekiel. The two couples remained close
friends until one day Bento found himself attracted to Sancha and felt that
she was reciprocating. All of this simply because they had touched each other's
hand accidentally. He could not dispel the thought, no matter how repellent he
found it to contemplate adultery with his best friend's wife, who happened to
be his wife's best friend too. However, tragedy struck: Escobar died and
Sancha returned to her family. Bento's jealousy took a dangerous course when
one day Capitu mentioned that their son Ezekiel had Escobar's eyes. Suddenly
Bento became obsessed with the suspicion that Ezekiel might be Escobar's
son. Bento started noticing more and more similar traits and eventually started
seeing in his son the image of the dead friend. After attending a performance of
Othello, in which the protagonist kills his innocent wife, Bento prepared to
commit suicide. Then he almost served the poison to his little son. Finally
he confronted Capitu. She was shocked to hear the accusation that she had
cheated on him but accepted to divorce him. They delt with the matter discreetly:
she simply traveled to Switzerland with Ezekiel and never returned. Bento's
mother died, Jose Dias died, and eventually Capitu too died. Ezekiel came
to visit Bento. Bento had ambivalent feelings for him, still believing him
to be the son of his best friend. Ezekiel died of typhoid fever in the Middle
Bento remained convinced of having been the victim of adultery, but there is
"Esau e Jaco" (1904)