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Iaiá Garcia

Iaiá Garcia

Translated by ALBERT I. BAGBY
Copyright Date: 1977
Pages: 192
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    Iaiá Garcia
    Book Description:

    The last of four novels that preceded Machado de Assis's famous trilogy of realistic masterpieces,Iaiá Garciabelongs to what critics have called the Brazilian author's "romantic" phase. But it is far more than that implies. Like his other early works,Iaiá Garciaforeshadows the themes and characters of Assis's most masterful novels.

    Iaiá Garciaintertwines the lives of three characters in a subtly and wryly developing relationship. While the youthful Iaiá is growing into womanhood, a tentative love affair occurs between the aristocratic Jorge and the prideful Estela. This affair is afflicted by ironic shifts of fortune and in time the maturing Iaiá becomes a rival for Jorge's attentions. Assis's portrayal of the relationship among these three characters is a perceptive study of uncompromising pride, thwarted love, jealousy, misunderstanding, bewilderment, and attainment.

    As the translator, Albert I. Bagby, Jr., contends, the story of Iaiá, Jorge, and Estela reflects the formula that Assis saw as fundamental to human life: "Will and ambition, when they truly dominate, can struggle with other feelings, but they are the weapons of the strong, and victory belongs to the strong." In Assis's view success comes to the strong and failure to the weak. But both inhabit a world that is neutral-neither helping one nor hindering the other. The outcome of events inIaiá Garciamay not seem entirely optimistic, but neither is it pessimistic. And Mr. Bagby concludes, "Perhaps to understand the optimism of Assis one needs only to be... a hard, pragmatic realist.... "

    Whether hard realists or unregenerate romantics, readers of this novel will find it a compelling tale of love lost and won. Like his earlier translation of Assis'sThe Hand & the Glove, Mr. Bagby's English rendering ofIaiá Garciafrom the original Portuguese is done with both accuracy and sensitivity.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6191-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Preface
    (pp. v-vi)
    Albert I. Bagby Jr.
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xxii)

    Time and some painstaking research over the last two decades have served to clarify a number of misconceptions—some malicious, some romantic—about the childhood of Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis. Born June 21 and baptized November 13, 1839, he was the son of Francisco Jose de Assis and Maria Leopoldina Machado de Assis. His Paternal grandparents were freed slaves, mulattoes, natives of Rio; his maternal grandparents were born in Portugal and presumably were white. Assis’s mother was a native of one of the Azores. when the boy was ten she passed away, and five years later his father remarried....

  4. Chapter One
    (pp. 1-10)

    Luís Garcia had just moved through the doorway on his way out, when a servant appeared and handed him the following letter:

    “Tell her I’ll go. Is Madam here on the hill?”

    “No, sir, she is on Invalidos Street.”

    Luís Garcia was a civil servant. In 1860 he had chosen a modest house in a sparsely populated spot in Santa Teresa, where he had since lived as a widower. He wasn’t a friar, but like them, he wanted solitude and tranquility. The seclusion wasn't complete not the tranquility uninterrupted, but they were always greater and more attainable here than down...

  5. Chapter Two
    (pp. 11-20)

    The time designated was not convenient for Luis Garcia, whose work hours did not easily allow for interruption. Nevertheless, he went to the Rua dos Invalidos.

    Valeria Gomes was the widow of an appeals court judge who had died two years earlier and with whom Lu is Garcia’s father had exchanged some favors. There were not constant and close relations between Luis Garcia and the widow, but she and her deceased husband had always held him in high esteem and treated him with much affection. After the judge’s death, Valeria had appealed to Luis Garcia two or three times for...

  6. Chapter Three
    (pp. 21-33)

    Luís Garcia had little effect on Jorge’s spirits. Once he had declared his intentions, the youth no longer faltered. He did not ignore the fact that the undertaking to which he had set himself was beset with difficulties. The war, especially after the Curupaiti disaster, promised to last a long time; no one was discouraged, and the government was effectively backed by the people. Jorge obtained the title of “captain of the volunteers.”

    Twenty days after the conversation on the terrace of Invalidos Street, Jorge appeared at Santa Teresa, in uniform and ready, in such a way, however, that it...

  7. Chapter Four
    (pp. 34-39)

    It was completely dark when horge arrived at Estela’s house. Mr. Antunes was at the door and might have been expecting him; he received the visitor with some agitation and sadness.

    Four months had passed since the scene at Tijuca, and during that time Jorge had gone many times to the house on Dona Luisa Street. Estela had neither avoided nor mistreated him; she was as serene and cool as always, speaking very little to him, it is true, but with such freedom that it seemed there had not been the slightest misunderstanding between them.

    For his own part, Jorge...

  8. Chapter Five
    (pp. 40-45)

    Jorge’s first letters were all to his mother. They were long and effusive, enthusiastic, careful, and even childish. Discounting the scant portion of truth there might have been in them, enough remained that Valeria’s heart understood; it was a sweetening balm to her in his absence, dispelling her apprehensions.

    Jorge soon familiarized himself with military life. The army, encamped, at Tuiuti, was not beginning any new operations; it was a matter of gathering the necessary elements in order to continue the campaign in a sure and decisive manner. Since there was no important action in which he could test his...

  9. Chapter Six
    (pp. 46-57)

    Before going directly to the heart of the action, let us see through what turn of destiny Estela’s marriage came about.

    Few could have guessed toward the end of 1866 that the campaign would last for another four years. General Mitre’s calculation with regard to the three months from Buenos Aires to Asuncion had, to be sure, already fallen into the abyss of historic illusions.¹ Proclamations are like lotteries; fortune makes them sublime or vain. Nevertheless, that of the Argentine general, which was already an erroneous assertion, expressed the conviction of three nations at the time. From the first confrontation...

  10. Chapter Seven
    (pp. 58-66)

    Three months after his arrival in Rio de Janeiro, Jorge had settled all of the family business. What he had inherited was enough to relieve him of having to practice law or pursue any other profession, as long as he was not ambitious and handled the use of his income wisely. He had just the qualities for that, some natural, others acquired with time. The four years of war, together with recent events, had done away with certain worries which in 1866 had been the only ones on his mind. A footloose life, elegant squandering, and seductions of youth had...

  11. Chapter Eight
    (pp. 67-75)

    Arriving in Rio, Jorge received news that Luís Garcia was ill. He wasn’t counting on the incident, and it left him in a predicament. He didn’t want to visit him, but he could hardly keep from doing so. Luís Garcia had been a close friend of his father; Jorge himself had affection and respect for him, which was reason enough to make it advisable to perform the duty of courtesy. But, on the other hand, to go to Santa Teresa was to risk Estela’s suspicion. Jorge hesitated for two long days. True, he felt a certain excitement at the idea...

  12. Chapter Nine
    (pp. 76-82)

    The new order of things disturbed Estela profoundly. Jorge’s behavior on the occasion of her husband’s illness did not seem to her to conceal any personal motive; but during his convalescence, and especially after it, it seemed to her that the young man’s plan was to ingratiate himself with the family. To what end? Estela supposed that, after such a long time, Jorge’s love for her was probably completely over, like the first fruit of a season. She did not deny him gratitude when she saw the favors he had afforded her sick husband with so much solicitude, discretion, and...

  13. Chapter Ten
    (pp. 83-92)

    In preparation for the trip Luis Garcia began to arrange some old and scattered papers. Now, four or five days later, he decided to finish the job, even though he had been relieved of that undertaking. It was New Year’s Day-a beautiful, refreshing morning, with clear, blue skies. They had gone to mass at the convent chapel, then had breakfast as a family, including Mr. Antunes, who was wearing a top coat for the first time and manifested that morning a reverent aspect, or even a venerable one.

    Iaiá had awakened extremely happy and lively. Mr. Antunes had taken her...

  14. Chapter Eleven
    (pp. 93-102)

    Once they were inside, Procópio Dias did not hurry to give or ask for the explanation. He ate first, confessing that he had acquired that custom, and Jorge was quick to oblige him. The improvised meal, composed of cold meats and two or three goblets of pure wine, left him at peace with nature. Now that he was satisfied, it was time for the explanation.

    It did not come easily. Lying indolently on a sofa, Procópio Dias was smoking with sensuous pleasure and speaking cautiously, using that deliberate and quiet tone of a man who meditated while digesting his food....

  15. Chapter Twelve
    (pp. 103-111)

    Fifteen days later Procópio Dias appeared at Jorge’s house, with mourning in his face and dress. Late the day before he had received news from Buenos Aires of the death of a brother, his last relative—news which obliged him to sail the following day and remain in the Rio da Prata for five or six weeks.¹ It couldn't be said that he was sad; rather, he was solemn—solemn and preoccupied. The trip to Buenos Aires had nothing to do with his brother’s funeral but with the inheritance, which, though it wasn’t substantial, was worth a little.

    Procópio Dias...

  16. Chapter Thirteen
    (pp. 112-127)

    That same night Jorge found a letter at home from Buenos Aires. Procopio Dias told him about the trip and his activities thus far, and said that he had hopes of being away only a very short while. That was one-third of the letter. The other two-thirds was expressions of feelings, homesickness, and complaints, and one name at the end, one name only, and one which was the key to his writing. Jorge read these secrets attentively, and sketched out an answer the same night. It was not easy to combine the discretion he wished to maintain in his relations...

  17. Chapter Fourteen
    (pp. 128-136)

    As he rode home Jorge was troubled and restless; he was recalling the conversation he had just had with Luis Garcia’s daughter. Fortune had confronted him with an enigma, and time was providing him with the solution; or was it the solution? The young man’s mind recoiled, not trusting in reality, at least not in apparent reality. But apparent reality imposed itself on him from time to time, and Jorge reconstructed all the circumstances of those last weeks and even those of the previous months. What were Iaia’s aloofness, rudeness, and hostility if not a mask for a different feeling,...

  18. Chapter Fifteen
    (pp. 137-147)

    Estela’s forehead didn’t reveal the sadness of one vanquished. Love lingered in her heart like an unwelcome guest, and the spectacle of those last months had only aggravated it. But Estela’s moral strength subjugated it. The struggle had been long, violent, and cruel; her awareness of what was right and her own self-respect won out in the end. It was perhaps not difficult to perceive beneath the serenity of her face the exhaustion which great moral tempests leave behind. No one saw the tempests.

    Nevertheless, on the day the love between the two became evident to her, Estela felt a...

  19. Chapter Sixteen
    (pp. 148-160)

    Luís Garcia’s death presented another complication. The first two months having passed, Jorge intended to have the wedding with little public ceremony as a simple act of domestic concern, rather necessary because of the situation the two young women were in. Mr. Antunes had gone to live with them, and now he was the natural head of the family; but Jorge had not forgotten that Luís Garcia had little confidence in the person of his father-in-law. Furthermore, he had placed Jorge directly in charge of the household. Now it was his duty to legalize and honor the dying man’s wishes....

  20. Chapter Seventeen
    (pp. 161-166)

    Iaia went to meet Raimundo.

    “Did you deliver it?” “No, I didn’t,” said the black man.

    Iaia remained motionless for a few moments. Raimundo took the letter from his pocket and held it in his hands without daring to raise his eyes; finally he did raise them and said firmly:

    “I didn't think it was right for you to write to that man, who is neither your father nor your fiance, so I came back to speak to Mistress Estela.”

    “Give it to me,” said the girl abruptly. “You don't need to.”

    Raimundo gave her the letter and shook his...