Cover image for The wager : Aires' journal
The wager : Aires' journal
Machado de Assis, 1839-1908.
Uniform Title:
Memorial de Aires. English
Publication Information:
London : Owens, 1990.
Physical Description:
165 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Translation of: Memorial de Aires.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Set in Rio de Janeiro on the eve of the abolition of slavery in 1888, this tells the poignant story of an elderly diplomat captivated by a beautiful young widow. Imbued with autumnal sadness, it shrewdly and ironically portrays a man coming to terms with the passing of the world he knows, and with his own old age and death.

Author Notes

Machado de Assis's achievement in both novels and poetry make him Brazil's paradigm of a writer. His novels are characterized "by a psychological insight as well as a broad view of social conditions in Brazil and the world. The seriousness of the realistic view is highlighted with ironic humor." Beginning as a romantic, Assis developed a style that embraced realism, naturalism, and symbolism. "Epitaph for a Small Winner" (1881) reveals his essential pessimism, as the only consolation for Bras Cubas is that he has not passed on his misery to any offspring. About his writing in "Dom Casmurro" (1900), it was said "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."

Born in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, Machado de Assis was orphaned early in life. He advanced from typesetter, to proofreader and finally to journalist before entering the Brazilian civil service. He was the author of nine novels, more than 200 short stories, opera libretti, drama, and lyric poetry.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

De Assis (1839-1908) displays in his ninth novel the dry wit and measured understanding of human nature that earned him his reputation as Brazil's first major writer. Avoiding the explosive political situation in late-19th-century Brazil (slavery had just been abolished), the book concerns itself with the small, self-contained world of the Rio bourgeoisie. It purports to be the journal of a retired diplomat named Aires whose literary efforts are sidetracked when he meets enchanting young widow Fidelia Noronha. Fidelia has come under the protection of the Aguiars, an elderly, childless couple who hope to reintroduce her into society and orchestrate a possible marriage. Aires gives up his dream that Fidelia will fall in love with him when the Aguiars' godson Tristao, a doctor and rising politician in Lisbon, returns to visit his native country. Both the Aguiars and Aires are delighted by the young people and do everything to throw them together. When Fidelia and Tristao, with the thoughtless, careless passion of youth, disappoint them, the elderly friends are forced to consider their own mortality and find solace among themselves. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved