Machado de Assis is generally regarded as one of Brazil's foremost men of letters and best novelists. This study examines the author's potentially radical understanding of an interaction between the sexes in the course of which a series of social conventions uncontested in 19th-century Brazil are brought into question. The first two chapters are devoted to an exposition of accepted critical interpretations of Machado's position regarding the notoriously difficult gender relations in his novels. The rest of the book offers an alternative interpretation of the nine novels from a feminist theoretical perspective which situates his writing as a radical revision of contemporary received wisdom on sexual roles, and as profoundly interventionistic in the sexual politics debate. It offers a detailed analysis of patterns of male and female discourse, the institutions of marriage and motherhood, widowhood, and relationships of solidarity between women. It develops themes toward a reading of these novels as constituting a body of writing participant in and sympathetic with the then-embryonic women's movement in Brazil.
Publisher: The Edwin Mellen Press Ltd