Machado de Assis

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (21 June 1839 – 29 September 1908) was a novelist, poet, playwright and short story writer from Rio de Janeiro. He occupied the 23rd chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

RIP Gregory Rabassa, translator of many Brazilian books

Gregory Rabassa passed away yesterday (June 13) at a hospice in Branford, Connecticut. He was 94. Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, and translator of many of the greatest Latin American authors, Rabassa translated into English Machado de Assis, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Osman Lins, Clarice Lispector and Jorge Amado.

See an interview with Gregory Rabassa conducted by Elizabeth Lowe in 2007 at the annual conference American Literary Translators Association about his translation process – and the impossibility of translation. And below, Gregory Rabassa reads his 1992 Poem ‘This Dream’ on his 92nd birthday party at the Russian Samovar on 52nd St. in NYC.

He was also the author of If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents



Original title: Helena (1876)
Author: Machado de Assis
Translator: Helen Caldwell

In 1850 Rio de Janeiro, Estacio tries to uncover the mysterious past of Helena, his presumed half sister, who has been brought to the family home and with whom he falls in love.

Helena_Machado de Assis

Hardcover: 197 pages
Publisher: University of California Press (1984)
Translator: Helen Caldwell
ISBN-10: 0520048121
ISBN-13: 978-0520048126
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Paperback: 197 pages
Publisher: University of California Press (1987)
Translator: Helen Caldwell
ISBN-10: 0520060253
ISBN-13: 978-0520060258
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Counselor Ayres’ Memorial / The Wager: Aires’ Journal

Original title: Memorial de Aires (1908)
Author: Machado de Assis
Translator: Various, see each edition below

The last of Machado de Assis’s novels, published in 1908, the year of his death, Counselor Ayres’ Memorial has been regarded as his swan- song and, given its melancholic tone, his ‘reconciliation with life’. In fact it is much more interesting than that. Its central character is Counselor Ayres, a Brazilian diplomat who has retired to Rio de Janeiro after many years abroad. The novel purports to be his diary for the period between January 1888 and August 1889: in fact, it soon becomes plain to the reader that it also tells a story, centred on an old married, and childless couple, Aguiar and Dona Carmo, and two young people, now in their twenties, the widow Fidélia and Tristão, in whom they have taken an intense interest. Fidélia’s marriage was happy, but brief: she also braved the anger of her father, the plantation owner Baron of Santa Pia, to marry the son of a traditional enemy of his. Her husband died in Lisbon, and she has gone into permanent mourning, swearing never to marry again; in the two years since his death, she has visited his grave daily. Tristão is the son of friends of Aguiar and Dona Carmo, and was virtually adopted by them as a child; later, rather than go into his father’s business, he decides to get a lawyer’s degree and finally to go to Europe with his parents. (This is an excerpt of a review by John Gledson, at Babel Guide to Brazilian Fiction, Boulevard Books, 2001)

The Wager_2_Machado de Assis

Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Peter Owen Publishers (Mar. 1990)
Translated as: The Wager: Aires’ Journal
Translator: R.L. Scott-Buccleuch
ISBN-10: 0720607728
ISBN-13: 978-0720607727
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Ayres Memorial_Machado de Assis

Hardcover: 205 pages
Publisher: University of California Press (1 July 1992)
Translated as: Counselor Ayres’ Memorial
Translator: Helen Caldwell
ISBN-10: 0520022270
ISBN-13: 978-0520022270
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Ayres Memorial_2_Machado de Assis

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: University of California Press (1 July 1992)
Translated as: Counselor Ayres’ Memorial
Translator: Helen Caldwell
ISBN-10: 0520047753
ISBN-13: 978-0520047754
Click here to buy this book

The Wager_Machado de Assis

Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Peter Owen; New Ed edition (1 July 2005)
Translated as: The Wager: Aires’ Journal
Translator: R.L. Scott-Buccleuch
ISBN-10: 0720612306
ISBN-13: 978-0720612301
Click here to buy this book



Strolling through Bloomsbury yesterday, after attending great events at the Festival of Culture, I popped in Skoob, a second hand bookshop at The Brunswick, and was pleased to find some “Machados”. They had at least Helena, Epitaph of a Small Winner, and The Wager, which you can see in the top photo. I love finding Brazilian books in second hand shops and really need to hold myself back to resist the temptation of buying all of them! As I arrived with only 10 minutes to the closing time, I could not explore the wonderful collection further. I guess there will be other treasures of Brazilian literature, not only by Machado de Assis.

Skoob is a temple for secondhand books (according to Time Out), with a selection of 55,000 uncatalogued works  cover almost every subject imaginable to rummage through.

Skoob Books,
66, The Brunswick,
Marchmont St,
London WC1N 1AE
10.30am-8pm Mon-Sat; 10.30am-6pm Sun

Out now: Miss Dollar and other unpublished stories by Machado de Assis

Miss Dollar: Stories by Machado de Assis is a new collection of short stories by Brazilian novelist, poet, playwright and short story writer Machado de Assis, just out now. The bilingual paperback (548 pages) has just been released by New London Librarium and it is not quite available yet (only on the American version, for the time being). Most of the stories are from Machado’s earlier, formative period, and had never been published in English before (as Machado’s works are in public domain, it is possible to find some of them done by independent translators). Miss Dollar, which gives name to the collection, was written in 1870 and published in Contos Fluminenses. It is one of the latest “romantic” pieces of writing by Machado.

Miss Dollar_Machado de Assis

By Machado de Assis, Ana Lessa-Schmidt has worked on Ex Cathedra: Stories by Machado de Assis, together with 13 other specialist translators. She has also translated Religions in Rio, by João do Rio, and is now translating Vertiginous Life (Vida Vertiginosa) by the same author (expected in September 2016). She is also working on a new translation of Love—Intransitive Verb (Amar—Verbo Intransitivo), by Mario de Andrade (which has been launched in English as Fräulein, in a 1933 Macaulay Company edition, translated by Margaret Richardson Hollingsworth.)

New London Librarium, a small literary press in Hanover, Connecticut, has been releasing a bilingual series of translations of Brazilian authors, as well as books on Brazilian history, issues, and culture. The series is being funded in part by four grants from Brazil’s National Library  specifically for support of the translation to English of works by Brazilian authors. Some of the other books by New London Librarium are:

  • Law of the Jungle: Environmental Anarchy and the Tenharim People of Amazonia by Glenn Alan Cheney, translated into Portuguese by Daniela Vidigal
  • Quilombo dos Palmares: Brazil’s Lost Nation of Fugitive Slaves  by Cheney
  • Journey on the Estrada Real: Encounters in the Mountains of Brazil by Cheney
  • Promised Land: A Nun’s Struggle against Landlessness, Lawlessness, Slavery, Injustice, Corruption, and Environmental Devastation in Amazonia by Cheney


Miss Dollar

Original title: –
Author: Machado de Assis
Translators: Ana Lessa-Schmidt and Greicy Pinto Bellin

This is a bilingual edition with the Portuguese original alongside the English translation.

Ten short stories by Brazil’s most renowned writer. Most come from his earlier, formative years, stories never before translated into English. Though lacking the literary sophistication of Machado’s later work, these stories illustrate and dramatize the intricate social workings of nation growing out of the Portuguese roots of kings and courtiers and into the new rules of a new republic in a rapidly changing world. The preface by Ana Cláudia Suriani da Silva and the introduction by Greicy Pinto Bellin, both respected Machadian researchers, give the reader literary insight into what is happening between the lines of these stories. Generous notes provide background information on Brazilian culture. (Source: Publisher)

Miss Dollar_Machado de Assis

Paperback: 548 pages
Publisher: New London Librarium (May 17, 2016)
Translators: Ana Lessa-Schmidt and Greicy Pinto Bellin
ISBN-10: 0996674748
ISBN-13: 978-0996674744
Click here tio buy this book

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