Epitaph of a Small Winner A Novel

Machado de Assis; Translated by William L. Grossman; Foreword by Susan Sontag

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

240 Pages


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"I am a deceased writer not in the sense of one who has written and is now deceased, but in the sense of one who has died and is now writing." So begins the posthumous memoir of Braz Cubas, a wealthy nineteenth-century Brazilian. Though the grave has given Cubas the distance to examine his rather undistinguished life, it has not dampened his sense of humor. In 160 short chapters, he covers the basics of his existence and expands into philosophical explorations that sometimes follow meandering paths of thought to unexpected places, at times exuberant and hilarious, at other times cynical and at odds with the world that surrounds him.  In the tradition of Laurence Sterne and Jonathan Swift—and as a clear forerunner of the works of Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges—Epitaph of a Small Winner, first published in 1880, is one of the wittiest literary self-portraits.


Praise for Epitaph of a Small Winner

"Machado de Assis was a literary force, transcending nationality and language, comparable certainly to Flaubert, Hardy, or James . . . Epitaph of a Small Winner is clearly one of those books which we call definitive. It is there, complete, done: a study of ironic disillusionment couched in the most delicate suavity of despair."—The New York Times Book Review

"No satirist, not even Swift, is less merciful in his exposure of the pretentiousness and the hypocrisy that lurk in the average good man and woman. Machado, in his deceptively amiable way, is terrifying."—The New Republic

"Machado de Assis . . . is held by many to be not only Brazil's greatest writer but on a par with Henry James, Flaubert and Hardy [with] his enchantingly digressive style, sly humor and merciless exposure of hypocrisy and pretentiousness."—Liz Calder, The Guardian

"A masterpiece of Epicurean irony."—The New York Times

"[Machado] is really a post-modernist writer . . . Alongside [his] very nineteenth-century irresistible habit of confiding directly in his readers, we find a text that has been deliberately and playfully fragmented . . . He demonstrates the irresistable tug of our basest desires, and the emptiness of our high philosophies."—Louis de Bernières, author of Corelli's Mandolin

1. The Death of the Author
2. The Plaster
3. Genealogy
4. The Fixed Idea
5. In Which a Lady Appears at the Door
6. Chimene, Qui L'eut Dit? Rodrigue, Qui L'eut Cru?
7. The Delirium
8. Reason versus Folly
9. Transition
10. On That Day
11. The Child Is Father to the Man
12. An Episode of 1814
13. A Jump
14. The First Kiss
15. Marcella
16. An Immoral Thought
17. Concerning the Trapeze and Other Matters
18. Vision in the Hallway
19. On Board
20. I Acquire a Bachelor's Degree
21. The Muleteer
22. Return to Rio
23. Sad but Short
24. Short but Happy
25. In Tijuca
26. The Author Is Undecided
27. Virgilia?
28. Provided That . . .
29. The Visit
30. The Flower of the Thicket
31. The Black Butterfly
32. Born Lame
33. Blessed Are They That Go Not Down
34. To a Sensitive Soul
35. The Road to Damascus
36. Concerning Boots
37. At Last!
38. The Fourth Edition
39. The Neighbor
40. In the Coach

41. The Hallucination
42. What Aristotle Overlooked
43. "A Marchioness, for I Shall Be a Marquis"
44. A Cubas!
45. Notes
46. The Inheritance
47. The Recluse
48. Virgilia's Cousin
49. The Tip of the Nose
50. Lobo Neves’ Wife
51. Mine!
52. The Mysterious Package
53. . . .
54. The Pendulum
55. The Venerable Dialogue of Adam and Eve
56. The Opportune Moment
57. Fate
58. A Confidence
59. An Old Friend
60. The Embrace
61. A Project
62. The Pillow
63. Let’s Run Away
64. The Deal
65. Eyes and Ears
66. Legs
67. The Little House
68. The Master
69. A Grain of Folly
70. Dona Placida
71. The Defeat of this Book
72. The Bibliomaniac
73. Afternoon Snack
74. The Personal History of Dona Placida
75. To Myself
76. The Fertilizer
77. In Error
78. The Governorship
79. Compromise
80. The Secretaryship

81. The Reconciliation
82. A Moatter of Botany
83. Thirteen
84. The Conflict
85. The Top of the Mountain
86. The Mystery
87. Geology
88. The Invalid
89. In Extremis
90. The Old Colloquy between Cain and Adam
91. An Extraordinary Letter
92. An Extraordinary Man
93. The Dinner
94. The Real Reason
95. The Blossoms of Yesteryear
96. The Anonymous Letter
97. Between Lips and Forehead
98. Deleted
99. In the Pit
100. Probably True
101. The Dalmatian Revolution
102. To Forget for a Moment
103. Case of Forgetfulness
104. It Was He!
105. The Equivalence of Windows
106. A Dangerous Game
107. A Note from Virgilia
108. Beyond Understanding
109. The Philosopher
110. Thirty-one
111. The Wall
112. Public Opinion
113. The Soldier
114. End of a Dialogue
115. Luncheon
116. Old Letters
117. Humanitism
118. The Third Force
119. Parenthetical
120. Compelle Intrare

121. Down the Hill
122. A Lofty Purpose
123. The Real Cotrim
124. Interposition
125. Epitaph
126. Disconsolation
127. Formality
128. In the Chamber of Deputies
129. No Remorse
130. To Insert in Chapter 129
131. Concerning a Calumny
132. Not Profound
133. Helventius’ Theory
134. Fifty Years
135. Oblivion
136. Unnecessary
137. The Shako
138. To a Critic
139. How I Did Not Become a Minister of State
140. Which Explains the Preceding Chapter
141. The Dogs
142. The Confidential Request
143. I Won’t Go
144. A Limited Purpose
145. Mere Repetition
146. The Platform
147. My Folly
148. An Insoluble Problem
149. Theory of Benefits
150. Rotation and Revolution
151. Philosophy of Epitaphs
152. Vespasian’s Revenue
153. The Psychiatrist
154. The Ships of Piraeus
155. A Loyal Thought
156. Pride of Servitude
157. The Most Brilliant Phase
158. Two Old Friends
159. Insane
160. Negatives

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Machado de Assis (1839-1908) is considered one of Brazil’s greatest novelists.
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