The international recognition of Machado de Assis began in the 1950s and proceeded with no reference to Brazil. In those same years a part of Brazilian criticism took the opposite direction: Machado's greatness was to be explained by his overcoming deadlocks that were central to Brazilian literature and culture. Sooner or later these readings should compete and clash. To what extent are they incompatible? Machado himself was aware of the problem and dramatized its ironies, outlining unexpected perspectives.