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From European Modernity to Pan-American National Identity

Literary Confluences between Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire and Machado de Assis

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Greicy Pinto Bellin

This book analyses the relationships between the writers Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire and Machado de Assis, showing their impact on representations of literary modernity and literary national identity in the Americas. The central argument is that Machado de Assis parodied Baudelaire by criticizing the French influence on Brazilian literature of his time, as well as emulating Poe by searching for a Pan-American identity in the representation of the urban scene, nationalism, the female figure and the world of work. Pan-Americanism emerges from both Poe’s and Machado de Assis’s critical reflections on literary national identity in non-hegemonic contexts as a way of deconstructing the idea of literary modernity.
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Preface and Acknowledgements

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This book is the result of ten years of continuous research and discussion about Machado de Assis’s works, which resulted in my doctoral dissertation, defended in 2015, and in my post-doctoral research, finished in 2016. Throughout this period, I always tried to focus on the confluences between Machado and writers from different parts of the world, especially the United States, a relationship which is not very well explored by Brazilian and foreign critics. Hence, this book intends to fill this gap by establishing a dialogue between Machado and two other icons of literary modernity: Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Baudelaire.

The comparison seems impossible or, at least, odd, considering the established critical traditions around the three writers. By the time Machado founded the Brazilian Academy of Literature, he was considered by Sílvio Romero, one of his most famous detractors, as having nervous problems, while Poe was an alcoholic and opium addict, and Baudelaire a true reveller wandering through the streets of Paris. However, the close reading of their texts in comparison with one another will show us the extent to which Poe influenced Baudelaire, and Machado emulated Poe to parody Baudelaire and vice-versa, in a literary warfare the objective of which was to establish literary modernity in a Pan-American context. And when I say Pan-American I am referring not only to Brazil and the United States, but to all Latin American countries that were subject to literary imitation and the problems related to the search...

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