Flora Thomson-DeVeaux’s acclaimed new translation of a Brazilian literary masterpiece

Wednesday, Jun 3, 2020

 The Brazil LAB Advisory Board Member Flora Thomson-DeVeaux ’13 is in the news with the release of her translation of Machado de Assis’ masterpiece “The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas” (Penguin Classics). Thomson-DeVeaux’s new translation is “a glorious gift to the world,” as Dave Eggers has noted in a recent review in the New Yorker.
 
Machado de Assis was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1839. The grandson of ex-slaves, he is heralded as “the greatest writer ever produced in Latin America” (Susan Sontag) and “a writer one hundred years ahead of his time” (Salman Rushdie). In this cunning novel, the ghost of a decadent and disagreeable aristocrat decides to write his memoir. He dedicates it to the worms gnawing at his corpse and tells of his failed romances and halfhearted political ambitions, serves up harebrained philosophies, and complains with gusto from the depths of his grave.
 
Pedro Meira Monteiro, Professor and Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, says that “not only are the endnotes impressively accurate and useful for foreign readers, but also the translation does honor to Machado de Assis's style as it keeps an eye out for multiple layers of meaning and slippery descriptions, respecting the contours of a novel that, even as it feigns nonchalance, is in fact stunningly profound. . .  Thomson-DeVeaux is able to preserve the elegance, humor, sincerity, and roguishness of this masterpiece of Brazilian literature.”
 
A must read for this summer and beyond. 

Cover of The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas