The later novels of Machado de Assis -- notablyDom CasmurroandEsau and Jacob-- are well known in this country, but the earlier novels have never been translated. Here, inThe Hand and the Glove(the Brazilian master's second novel), rendered in English for the first time by Albert I. Bagby, Jr., readers will find a younger, gentler Assis, writing a romantic comedy that is yet permeated with the lively wit characteristic of his later works.
The story is a simple one-of love lost and love found. Of love lost by Estêvão, amiable but vacillating, who is bemused by his own romantic posturing, and by Jorge, superficial and calculating. Of love found by Luis Alves, whose self-possession and determination seem destined to carry him far. The love of all three men is the proud and beautiful Guiomar, sure of her own heart but unsure, until faced by rival claims, of where to bestow it -- a foreshadowing of Capitú, the intriguing heroine ofDom Casmurro.
"English-speaking readers," says Helen Caldwell in the Foreword, "who are already acquainted with Machado de Assis will welcome this latest addition to the translated novels. True, it is a period piece; but its quaintness is a charm to carry us back to the Rio de Janeiro of the 1850s -- to vanished courtly elegance arid attitudes.... Now, we too can know what drew [Assis] back to this early tale, for The Hand and the Glove recreates in English the elegant background, the charming heroine, the comedy, and the light-hearted ebullience of the Portuguese original."