XCV - (Re)leituras -- Ressurreição, by Machado de Assis, comments by André Bandeira
Superb novel. Easy to read, the first relevant novel of the Godfather of brazilian literature, combines a XXth Century style with a romantic content. But is it that romantic? Of course not. It tells the story of a die-hard bachelor who leaves his lover because he cannot proceed with a relationship more than six-months and finds himself being pushed to a new relationship with a beautiful widow, thanks to the artful widow's brother. Once the acquaintace has been made, love labour comes all from the widow, both in building it up, as well as in cutting it out. When the heavy bachelor has already the marriage marked in the calendar, he opens an anonymous letter, in the middle of a tricky conversation with a high-society intrigant, who apparently dropped by for a veteran's advice on his current mistress. One never gets to know that it was the intrigant who wrote the letter. Never mind: the content is more important than the container, the narrative never gets arrested by the characters. The letter says that, if the bachelor consents in marrying the beautiful widow, he will die as her late husband, counting the cheats till the top of the Golgotha. The letter unfolds anonymous but the warning goes straight to bachelor's discernment and he briskly cancells the marriage. Machado de Assis ends up, undoing the intrigue, but giving the final plot to a widow, who, despite standing for her love, still decides to live the rest of her life, alone. She could never marry a beloved, who fireworks in second thoughts. The narrator concludes in saying that the bachelor wanted to benefit from the happiness around him and long, intimate relationships, at the same time. Therefore, the bachelor was «essentially» marked as unhappy, despite being named Félix. He never emerged from his mistrust because he could never get contentment in the other's wedding crowns, especially those ones weaved by women. He wanted to be loved the way he felt to be loved and not the way society wanted him to deserve love. That is why he ressurected indeed, from the dead at heart, but he lost both trust and the sweet memory of illusions while in the grave of untouchability. This means that the romantic bachelor never managed to fool himself long enough,in order to live beyond death with something similar to life. This is very brazilian and not romantic at all: in the land of love, you get a beautiful widow and you don't ask questions about the past. If you want to count real love, you are not entitled to enjoy the pleasures of love. Anything else --that is what the social superman Machado de Assis means -- would irreversibly show the nudity of women who are beautiful, but who widowed while one was bacheloring around, pricking and never being pricked. This is not social critique. This is a thrilling cynicism, so thrilling as the limpid Assis's prose. So limpid as fresh water springing, or as a razor blade, glazing in the middle of a tropical wrackle.