Contemporary literary critics consider Machado de Assis, a nineteenth-century Brazilian writer from Rio de Janeiro, one of the most talented and erudite writers of all time. Brazilians claim with delight that Machado de Assis is their Shakespeare. It is therefore to be expected that the centenary of the great author’s death (2008) would produce a plethora of new works that attempt, once again, to interpret his famous and at times frustratingly enigmatic writings. Daniela Magalhães da Silveira’s monograph emerged out of this context. This book is based on her doctoral dissertation, supervised by Sidney Chalhoub, one of the first scholars to draw our attention to the valuable lessons that Machado provides to historians and not just to literary critics.

The book does not really have an introduction, nor is there a conclusion. Silveira provides the reader with an inexplicably long explanation for her...

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