Brás Cubas

The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas, a novel by Joaquim Maria Machado De Assis. Translated from the Portuguese by Gregory Rabassa.

This delightful little book was recommended from the afterlife by Billy Fingers! I can’t remember exactly what Billy said about the book, but he was recommending that his sister, who was writing down his communications from beyond, read it, to help her understand the dynamic of mediumship.

After reading the book, Brás Cubas doesn’t enlighten about the afterlife so much as give a picture of 19th century Brazil. Brás Cubas in the book is writing from the other side, but is reflecting on his life as a high-society member of late 1800’s Rio de Janeiro. And reading it as such, it is a quite delightful book. It grants the reader a picture of privileged life in a society emerging from European domination. For that, it is definitely well worth perusing.

Again, I do not know why Billy Fingers would recommend this book! But it does bring about several reflections on my part.

One is that this is a book of literature in Brazil. My Brazilian daughter-in-law says it is required reading for high school students, especially those going on to university. Apparently it is widely read and discussed in Brazilian society.

Another observation is that Brazilian culture is very accepting and conducive to mediumship. Spiritism is quite highly practiced in Brazil, a religion devoted to communications from the Spirit dimension. For example, Chico Xavier is a highly respected author, who wrote down hundreds, if not thousands, of communications from beyond during his lifetime. Some of Xavier’s works have been made into movies, and many are translated into English and are quite accessible.

Machado’s book therefore fits quite nicely into that culture, and perhaps even promotes an acceptance of the reality of the afterlife and communications from it.

While it would be great to read this novel in its original language, this new English translation is a delight. Published by Oxford University Press, it is a unique view of late-19th century Brazil, a worthwhile read for anyone, at whatever level of interest.