Free eBook Quincas BorbaAuthor Machado de Assis –

When the mad philosopher Quincas Borba dies, he leaves to his friend Rubiao the entirety of his wealth and property, with a single stipulation: Rubiao must take care of Quincas Borba's dog, who is also named Quincas Borba, and who may indeed have assumed the soul of the dead philosopher Flush with his newfound wealth, Rubiao heads for Rio de Janeiro and plunges headlong into a world where fantasy and reality become increasingly difficult to keep separate Brilliantly translated by Gregory Rabassa, Quincas Borba is a masterful satire not only on life in Imperial Brazil but the human condition itself

10 thoughts on “Quincas Borba

  1. Ahmad Sharabiani Ahmad Sharabiani says:

    Quincas Borba (Realistic trilogy #2), Machado de Assis
    Quincas Borba is a novel written by the Brazilian writer Machado de Assis. It was first published in 1891. It is also known in English as Philosopher or Dog? The novel was principally written as a serial in the journal A Estação from 1886 to 1891. It was definitively published as a book in 1892 with some small but significant changes from the serialized version. Following The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas (1881), this book is considered by modern critics to be the second of Machado de Assis's realist trilogy, in which the author was concerned with using pessimism and irony to criticize the customs and philosophy of his time, in the process parodying scientism, Social darwinism, and Comte's positivism, although he did not remove all Romantic elements from the plot.

    تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوازدهم ماه نوامبر سال 2014 میلادی
    عنوان: کینکاس بوربا ؛ نویسنده: ماشادو د آسیس؛ مترجم: عبدالله کوثری؛ تهران، نشر نی، 1393؛ در 445 ص؛ شابک: 9789641853794؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان پرتقالی سده 20 م

    داستان «کینکاس بوربا»، درباره فیلسوفی ست، که عقاید و طرز تفکر عجیبی دارد. جناب «کوثری» درباره ی مضمون این رمان، در قسمت «سخن مترجم» می‌نویسند: «کینکاس بوربا، فیلسوف نامتعارفی است که فلسفه‌ ای نامتعارف‌تر از خود دارد، و ماشادو در ترکیب اجزای این فلسفه، عناصری از مهم‌ترین فلسفه‌ های رایج در سده نوزدهم میلادی را به کار گرفته، به این منظور که در نهایت آن فلسفه‌ ها را به نقد بکشد و حتی دست بیندازد. اما گستره رمان به این نقد شیطنت‌آمیز محدود نمی‌شود...»؛ پایان نقل. ا. شربیانی

  2. Deepthi Deepthi says:

    Let us talk about sanity and insanity for a while:
    How do you differentiate sanity and insanity? If you were sane before, how would you know that you have started to become insane? Is there a sign or system to detect the change? If I am sane, and I discover that I am losing my sanity, should I run for a cure or should I become a spectator and witness my insanity engulfing everything that is left sane within? Ok, leave that. If I, with my personal intuition, find that a person I know is turning insane, I should try to help him/her, right? I should try and make that person “normal”. Yes, I should help. Or does that person really need help? Who am I to judge and decide? After all, he/she is more visibly happy than his/her former “sane self”. Ok, leave that. To quote Machado de Assis, all these are nothing but “questions impregnated with questions”. Let’s move forward.

    Let’s talk about Machado de Assis for a while:
    After reading Dom Casmurro and Devil’s Church and Other Stories, I immediately picked up Quincas Borba. Usually, I do not read an author’s works consequently, but De Assis left me with no choice. It is very unfortunate that his creative talent is almost unrecognized outside Brazil. His prose is filled with irony, satire, wit and wisdom. At times, I found myself laughing out loud and at times, my eyes were moist with tears. At times, he reminded me of Hamsun and at times, of Proust. This does not mean that he lacks originality but quite the contrary. His mastery lies in the simplicity of his prose which evokes complexity. It amuses the heart and at the same time demands the mind to ponder.

    So, dear reader (as De Assis addresses), please read his works if you haven’t already. Who knows, you might end up discovering a new favorite author for yourself. When you read his novel, you would discover a web being created around you. Machado de Assis creates this web without your consciousness and permission. This is the web of his characters, their thoughts, your thoughts, their happiness, your sorrows; all merging into one. As you would turn the final page of his novel, the web would mercilessly spit you out into your own reality. You would then discover, dear reader, that an unfamiliar part of you has been left behind in the web. Whose web? Assis’s web? Your web? Who knows! Let's move forward.

    Let’s talk about Quincas Borba for a while :
    As you might have already guessed, this book deals with sanity, insanity and everything in between. This story starts with Quincas Borba, an old philosopher(who might be insane) and his dog who is named after him. After his death, the old philosopher leaves his wealth and dog for Rubiao, a poor ex-teacher who took care of the philosopher in his final days. Rubiao constructs a vague belief that Quinca Borba-the philosopher’s soul might have taken shelter in Quincas Borba-the dog’s body. But that is another story.

    Now, Rubiao is rich. With wealth, come friends. In no time, his social circle increases in circumference. He gets introduced to Palha and his wife, Dona Sophia. Sophia, being attractive and graceful, instantly captures Rubiao’s heart. At first, he consoles himself that it would be highly immoral to expect anything minutely similar to his feelings in return. But love, as love, is supposed to be love, Rubiao declares his love to Sophia(who later falls in love with Carlos Maria). She declines. And thus, our poor Rubiao’s plight begins. What happens to him, his love and his dog? I would leave that for the future reader to discover.

    Along with the already mentioned characters, this novel includes some other vital characters who live their lives in parallel to Rubiao’s. Most of these are shades of grey, instead of being just black or white. And maybe, this is what makes them seem real; almost familiar. My two most favorite characters were Quincas Borba-the dog and Quincas Borba-the philosopher; in the same order. Though these two characters just fill a mere couple of pages of the novel, they act as a foundation for rest of the story. Their presence is felt throughout. Along with Rubiao’s, it is the shadows of these two which haunt the reader afterwards.

    Let’s move forward.

    Some after-thoughts which will take only a while:
    The conclusion of this story leaves the reader with some unanswered questions. One of them would be: This novel got its title from the dog or the philosopher? Hard to tell. Like mentioned before, there is a lot of merging and faint lines the reader has to deal with.

    Let’s move forward.

    Like Carlos Maria, some of us choose to remain sane all our lives. Like Sophia, some of us choose insanity over sanity. Like Rubiao, some of us naturally turn insane. Whose life and fate is better than the rest? Who is more happy and content than the rest? Who knows!

    Let’s move forward.

    I must confess, the last page of my copy has a stain of my tears that were shed while reading the final lines. I turned the back cover of the book into its initial position and closed my eyes to muse over the prose. A faint image of 'Quincas Borba-the dog' appeared in front of my eyes. His image became stronger and clear as he wagged his tail and demanded affection. I imagined myself jumping and hopping with him. We ran after one another, later cuddled to sleep and dreamt about Rubiao and 'Quincas Borba-the philosopher', whom we loved dearly. I hoped it made him happy. I soon discovered that, I too had left an unfamiliar part of me in the web that was around me a few moments ago. My web? Assis’s web? Who knows! And I wouldn’t want to know.

    Let’s move forward.

  3. Scott Hutchins Scott Hutchins says:

    I picked this up in a used bookstore, because it has one of the best titles I've ever heard of. There's a question mark that isn't showing up on Goodreads -- it's Philosopher or Dog? (Also I have the little Avon paperback with its Rousseau-esque Latin American covers.) Machado de Assis is the Flaubert of Brazil, and his books (or at least the two I've read) have a suspense to them that isn't plot related but stems from the fact that he's always telling you exactly what you want to know next -- even if you didn't know that's what you wanted to hear. This is an amazing book.

  4. Steven Steven says:

    Moral quilts made of one piece are so rare! (79)

  5. Jim Jim says:

    Regular guy from the provinces provides care and attention to a dying philosopher who leaves him all his money and property provided he care for his pet dog after he dies.

    Said regular guy moves to Rio to live in his inherited mansion.

    Naturally, he is an easy mark for them city slickers who enable him to slowly but surely spend his inheritance.

    Without clear explanation, said regular guy begins to lose his mind and he's sure he's the Emperor Napoleon.

    Eventually, (view spoiler)[he escapes back to his home town in the provinces where he soon expires, followed by the dog. (hide spoiler)]

  6. Czarny Pies Czarny Pies says:

    Machado de Assis is an extraordinary satirist of the grasping manners of the bourgeoisie of 19th century Brazil. In this book he shows that it is a dog's life for everyone including the poor dogs.

    This book is extremely funny. Brazilian society was very much like that of the USA in the 19th century in that neither country had an aristocracy and both still had slavery. American readers will feel very much at home with this excellent novel from the Mark Twain of the Southern hemisphere.

  7. Oswaldo De Freitas Oswaldo De Freitas says:

    Very good book written by Machado de Assis, arguably the best Brazilian writer of all time.
    Although, Quincas Borba, in my opinion, is not at the same level of Dom Casmurro, and Memorias Postumas de Bras Cubas, it is among the best books of the universal literature.
    In time, I plan to read the entire works of this African-Brazilian genius that is Machado de Assis.

  8. Gustavo Vazquez Gustavo Vazquez says:

    Machado de Assis is often considered the greatest Brazilian writer ever, and it's evident he uses the Portuguese language in a explendid way - he is a master of the language for sure. He was a kind of writer that doesn't exist anymore - he reminds me a bit of Swift and Stern, and Poe - at the same time wise and foolish, serious and funny, sad and happy, many times in the same sentence. The story is about Rubião, a normal guy who receives a large inheritance from Quincas Borba, a slightly nuts philosopher, with one demanding - Rubião must take good care of Quincas Borba, the dog of Quincas Borba (yes, the same name). Rubião goes to Rio de Janeiro and tries to live the life of a rich man, but he is quite naîve and is a easy prey to others.

    Most important of all, he falls in love with Sofia, wife of one of his friends, and turns into a very jealous man before starting to losing control of his reason.

    I won't tell much of the story. IMHO the book is almost a 5 star masterpiece. The book as a whole deals with question like friendship, love, loyalty, sanity, money - I mean, universal themes. Other great quality is the characters are never one-sided, but quite complex. But the greatest problem is some of those secondary characters. In one hand the are fully developed; on the other, many times (mainly on the second half of the book), Assis dwelves too much in their lifes and the main plot is forgotten. In some stances those parts are fast and funny, but some times they take too long and, to be sincere, don't add that much to the story. I have read Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas many years ago, and I have a foggy remembrance that something like this happens too - a strong beginning, but in the last chapters things loose steam. I will re-read the Memórias soon.

    For foreign readers I'm a bit unsure. First, you will need a very, very good translation. As Assis' lexicon in Portuguese is quite wide, I believe you need a translator capable of repeating this. Second, everyone will need some good footnotes to fully understand the text. There is mentions to events probably people from the XIX century would easily understand, but that we wouldn't - i.e., some details from the Napoleonic Wars etc. Some geographic information would be good, but the story itself is universal and more dependent of time than location.

    The book stands tall in Brazilian literature, and maybe I can say among XIX century literature as a whole - it has stood the test of time very well. You also have many angles to read it - it allows many distinctive readings and the meaning of it all. A great book and a true classic.

  9. João Paulo João Paulo says:

    I remember the time I first readed this piece, at the Elementary School. In these very young ages, I was never a big fan of that so called brazilian realism. Erroneously thought these works were simply boring and excessively stilted. But Quincas Borba was a mark. Easy and shocking, extenuating and madly, sincerely humane. Then, changed my opinion — it opened my mind and vision of literature, art and why not to say, life, in a general way. In my modest opinion, this is the real masterpiece of Machado de Assis, surpassing the famed Dom Casmurro.

  10. Annelise Lestrange Annelise Lestrange says:

    I started to read this book with very low espectations. I'd already read some books from Machado de Assis and I know how good he is, but this particular book hadn't seem that great. Until I started reading it.
    I was lazy and was getting my time to start, thinking how boring it would be. Then Quincas Borba and his ideas came. (view spoiler)[ And when he died and I thought it would became boring, there was Palha and Sofia. (hide spoiler)]