The author’s purpose is to re-create the atmosphere of the Rio de Janeiro in which the characters of Machado’s fiction lived. To this end he has collected topical references in the tales, novels, and plays, and strung them together under such headings as “Ouvidor, a sedutora,” “Da cadeirinha ao bonde,” “Formação da mulher,” and “Senhores e escravos.” In occasional notes, supporting evidence is quoted from Machado’s journalistic writings.
Even though Táti weaves his references into a graceful and readable pattern, the result is somewhat cloying because of the multiplicity of details cited. That the author sometimes uses in his notes material that may not be Machado’s at all (e.g., p. 57, n. 2) is inconsistent, but hardly damaging, since the citations are contemporary in any case. Much more serious is the lack, save for an occasional detail, of any sense of chronology. Astrojildo Pereira has shown, in the opening essay of his Interpretações (Rio, 1944), that Machado was the faithful interpreter of a changing society; Táti, with his backward and forward jumps, gives his reader the impression of a generally static world.
The references and quotations are all identified by book title and page. Such a system is adequate where only one text exists; for the rest, chapter number or story title should also have been given. The situation is further confused by Táti’s use of an assortment of Jackson editions dating from 1937 to 1957; as pagination varies from one printing to another, verification becomes extremely difficult.
For all its shortcomings the book is at least ample proof that, however much critics may accuse him of absenteeism, Machado was actually in close touch with the society in which he lived and mirrored it abundantly in his fiction.