Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (June 21, 1839 - September 29, 1908) was a Brazilian realist novelist, poet and short-story writer born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is the most important name in Brazilian literature and his works had a great influence on Brazilian literary schools of the late 19th century.
Son of Francisco José de Assis (a housepainter, descendant of freed slaves) and Maria Leopoldina Machado de Assis (a washerwoman), Machado de Assis lost both his mother and his only sister at an early age. He started to work for newspapers in Rio de Janeiro, where he published his first works and met established writers such as Joaquim Manuel de Macedo.
In 1869 Machado de Assis married Carolina Xavier de Novaes, a descendant of noble family. Soon the writer got a public job, and stability that permitted him write his best works.
Machado de Assis began by writing popular works which sold well, but are not read much nowadays. His style changed in the 1880s, and it is for the sceptical, ironic, comedic but ultimately pessimistic works he wrote after this that he is remembered (the first novel in his 'new style' was 'Epitaph for a Small Winner', known in the new Gregory Rabassa translation as 'Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas'). In their brilliant comedy and ironic playfulness, these resemble in some ways the almost contemporary works of George Meredith in the UK, but Machado de Assis' work have a far bleaker emotional undertone. He is probably the greatest of all Brazilian writers.
Machado died in Rio de Janeiro, on September 29, 1908.
List of Major Works
- 1872 - Ressurrection (Ressurreição)
- 1874 - The Hand and the Glove (A Mão e a Luva)
- 1876 - Helena
- 1878 - Iaiá Garcia
- 1881 - The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas (Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas, also known in English as Epitaph for a Small Winner)
- 1891 - Quincas Borba
- 1899 - Dom Casmurro
- 1904 - Esaú and Jacó (Esaú e Jacó)
- 1908 - Counselor Aires's Memorial (Memorial de Aires)