A masterpiece of realism, Machado de Assis’s Dom Casmurro probes the mind of a distrustful husband with delusions of grandeur.
Bento Santiago, our charismatic yet exceedingly unreliable narrator, nicknamed by his enemies Dom Casmurro, has become a bit of a recluse in old age. He spends his days reading and mourning the past in a house built as a replica of his childhood home. One day, musing over the painted busts of Nero, Augustus, Masinissa, and Caesar, he is inspired to write his own story, a tale of equally epic proportions. Or so, at least, he thinks.
“Yes, let us begin by evoking a famous November afternoon, one I will never forget,” he writes, recalling the day he fell in love with his childhood sweetheart, Capitu. Thus he transports readers back to his youth in a once fashionable neighborhood, when he and Capitu were neighbors playing innocently in the backyard. But after overcoming many obstacles, Bento’s happy-ever-after ending proves short-lived when he is consumed by paranoia and jealousy.
At once oblivious and obsessive, Bento becomes a strangely engaging antihero as he mines the repercussions of his suspicions against the backdrop of a rapidly modernizing Rio de Janeiro. Eloquently translated by Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson—the same duo that sparked a Machado renaissance with their brilliant translations of The Collected Stories and Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas—and brimming with his signature charm, Dom Casmurro is a subversive and groundbreaking dark comedy from one of Brazil’s greatest authors.