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The short story of formation according to Machado de Assis: three characters learning to live in the Brazilian society

Grant number: 14/03014-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2014
Effective date (End): December 31, 2015
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Literature - Literature Theory
Principal Investigator:Gabriela Kvacek Betella
Grantee:Ana Carolina Menocci
Host Institution: Faculdade de Ciências e Letras (FCL-ASSIS). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Assis. Assis , SP, Brazil


"Short story of formation" is an expression that makes reference to the "novel of formation", whose original expression, Bildungsroman, became a kind of classification criterion usually applied to works in which a formative quality can be perceived or, at least, the presence of a formative cycle, comprising a certain number of experiences in the life of a character. In the present work, we use the expression "short novel of formation" as the starting point for an analysis of Machadian plots that represent a process of formation, or better, a process of learning, of individual search for success, projection or alliance, through moments in the trajectories of short stories' main characters, whose viewpoints vary between the first person, the third-person and the dialogue. Our object of study is composed by Machado de Assis' three short stories: "Conto de escola" (from Várias Histórias, published in 1896), "O caso da vara" (from Páginas recolhidas, published in 1899) and "Teoria do Medalhão" (from Papéis avulsos from 1882). We take the three protagonists amidst a process of growing up, of formation. In the first two short stories, the characters are children, and in the third, a youth: Damião, Pilar, and Janjão, whose formative cycles of personal traits and values take place in the middle of awkward situations, to which they are subjected, each one for his own reason, and to which they are kept bound, completing the first cycle of corruption, treason, and pretense, "deformations" that are necessary, although questionable, to the men that distinguish themselves in the social relationships of that 19th century Brazil. We aim to investigate the short stories as examples of the successful use of dialectics between the representation of local particularities and the assimilation of universal characteristics of the fiction. Machado knew how to conform to the mode of short stories construction both the narrative form of the fictional memoir, of the third person, and of the dialogue and the context of the transition of the Brazilian society. (AU)

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