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The Land of Chimeras

Written by Machado de Assis

Edited by Iana Araújo

Translated by Vanessa Guedes

Copyedited by Natalle Moura

Proofread by Lucas Rafael Ferraz

Cato re­gret­ted go­ing by sea a couple of times when he could have gone by land. The vir­tu­ous Ro­man was right. Am­phitrite’s af­fec­tions are vi­ol­ent, some­times even dread­ful. The deeds on the sea doubled in value be­cause of this cir­cum­stance. And it is also be­cause of it that pla­cid souls avoid sail­ing or, to speak more ad­equately, those of prudent and safe spir­its.

But to ex­plain the pro­verb that says: the work rises un­der­neath the feet — go­ing by land is not ab­so­lutely safer than by sea, and the story of the iron tracks, how­ever small, tells more than a few sad epis­odes.

Ab­sorbed in these and other re­flec­tions was my friend Titus, poet at twenty, no money and no mous­tache, seated at the rot­ten work desk where a candle glowed si­lently.

I must move for­ward to the phys­ical and moral por­trait of my friend Titus.

Titus is not tall or short, which means that he is of me­dium height. Frankly, such height could be called el­eg­ant in my opin­ion. Hav­ing an an­gelic face, sweet and deep eyes, his nose a dir­ect and le­git des­cend­ant of Al­cibi­ades, a gra­cious mouth, and wide fore­head as the lair of thoughts, Titus could serve as a model to the arts and as a be­loved ob­ject to the fif­teen or even twenty-year-old sweet­hearts.

Like medals, and like all things in this world of bal­ance, Titus has an­other side. Oh! Such a sad thing is the other side of the medals! Be­ing a model to the arts from the waist up, Titus is a pi­ti­ful per­son when it comes to the rest. Won­der­fully crooked feet, bow­legged, such are the cons that my friend’s per­son of­fers to those who are thrilled by the mag­ni­fi­cent pros of the face and the head. It seems that nature had di­vided it­self to give Titus the best and the worst of it and put him in the miser­able and dis­con­sol­ate plight of the pea­cock, who ad­orns it­self and con­tem­plates ra­di­antly, but whose pride is knocked down and fades away when it looks at its legs and feet.

In his mor­als, Titus presents the same doubled as­pect from the phys­ical. He has no ad­dic­tions but pos­sesses weak­nesses of char­ac­ter which some­what break the vir­tues that oth­er­wise dig­ni­fied him. He is good and has the evan­gel­ical vir­tue of char­ity; he knows, like the di­vine Mas­ter, to break the bread of sub­sist­ence and feed the hungry with the true joy of con­science and heart. Moreover, it is not re­por­ted that he would ever harm the most im­per­tin­ent an­imal, or the most in­solent man, two identical things, in the short days of his life. On the con­trary, it is said that his pity and good in­stincts once led him to be al­most crushed while try­ing to save a mon­grel who was sleep­ing in the street and al­most got run over by a car. The mon­grel saved by Titus be­came so fond of him that she never left his side. At the mo­ment we are see­ing him ab­sorbed in vague thoughts, she is ly­ing on the table, ser­i­ous and severe, con­tem­plat­ing him.

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Machado de Assis

Joa­quim Maria Machado de As­sis, born on 21 July 1839, is ar­gu­ably the most im­port­ant Brazilian au­thor of all times. He is con­sidered by North-Amer­ican critic Har­old Bloom as the most im­port­ant black au­thor of all times. He penned the ro­mances The Posthum­ous Mem­oirs of Brás Cu­bas and Dom Cas­murro, works that fig­ure amongst the most im­port­ant and in­flu­en­tial of Brazilian lit­er­at­ure. Dur­ing his ca­reer, Machado wrote sev­eral short stor­ies, and in many of them he flir­ted with fant­astic ele­ments, be­ing one of the earli­est Brazilian au­thors to ex­plore the genre.

The Land of Chi­meras is one of such stor­ies, full of ma­gic and fant­astic be­ings. It was first re­leased on Novem­ber 1st, 1862 and Eita! is proud to present its first ver­sion in Eng­lish.


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