Saturday, September 13, 2008

Remembering Machado de Assis's Death, Life, and Works

Earlier this year, I profiled the Brazilian author Machado de Assis, who is arguably the greatest writer in Portuguese ever and who died 100 years ago this month. In accordance with this centennial and his recent flourishing in English, the New York Times has an article up on Machado de Assis and his surgence (it's not really a "resurgence," given that he was never in vogue in English). It's an interesting read, though it doesn't offer anything amazingly new or groundbreaking (if I didn't know better, I'd say Rohter was ripping me off). If any readers are in New York this week, they should definitely check out the commemmorations of films and presentations. I can't attest to any of the films based on Machado de Assis's works. I can't really speak to the films based on his works, but I think the criticisms and challenges raised in the article are valid. To me, as strange as it sounds, I always felt Assis and Philip Roth were similar in that you could never really fully capture the essence and visions of their works on the big screen, because so much of it is so closely bound in their narrative voice and writing style, two things that simply do not get translated to film. Still, I can't say the movies are no good, and so anybody who can should check them out this week.

And it should go without saying, but, for God's or anybody else's sake, if you haven't read any Machado de Assis, get out there and get some to read. You won't be disappointed.