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Psychology and concept of person as aesthetic issues of the first version of 'Quincas Borba'

Grant number: 16/20407-6
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Master's degree
Effective date (Start): January 15, 2017
Effective date (End): June 14, 2017
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Literature - Brazilian Literature
Principal Investigator:Jefferson Cano
Grantee:Janaína Tatim
Supervisor: Kenneth David Jackson
Host Institution: Instituto de Estudos da Linguagem (IEL). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Research place: Yale University, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:15/12780-6 - Psychology and concept of person as aesthetic issues in the first version of Quincas Borba, BP.MS


This project aims to obtain a internship grant to study in a foreign country. We propose the traineeship at Yale University, under the supervision of Prof. PhD Kenneth David Jackson, for the period January, 15 to June, 15, 2017. I will demonstrate the need of this grant to develop the research project in progress, as well as my training and qualification as a researcher, internationalization of the research conducted in Brazil and exchange of academic experience. This ongoing research project approaches the first version of Quincas Borba, which corresponds to the longest publishing process of a novel by Machado de Assis, and appeared in the pages of A Estação, between the years 1886 and 1891. The tendency of literary criticism to date is to address this version with a comparative purpose in relation to the final version of the book, a justified and profitable interest. However, this gesture of criticism has neglected a vertical approach to the richness present in the unique excerpts of the first version, especially in terms of aesthetics and first order issues of Machado's writing. My reading sees in this version a privileged document on the Machadian novel writing process, witnessing a unique moment in which, through the novel, a response to a horizon of external and historical debate was elaborated. The various technical elements of Quincas Borba indicate Machado's investment in psychology as an aesthetic source, as they are surrounded by aspects of the human psyche. In my hypothesis, this investment is still a reverberation of issues exposed in Machado de Assis' critique to the novel O primo Basílio, by Eça de Queiroz. At the time, Machado repudiated the "realistic doctrine" driven approach of the characters. On the basis of his criticism was the notion that the design of the characters should be based on the necessary logic of actions arising from their moral conflicts, that is, in the construction of an internal verisimilitude sustained by the range of the characters' moral constitution in conflict with the others and with the world. The poetry of Realism, in the view of the Brazilian writer, on the other hand, seemed to relegate the characters to a reified representation and sometimes even in an animalized way. Therein, fiction characters were like puppets moved by the author's strings to demonstrate prejudices sustained in the alleged scientific discourse of that time, such as human being as animal determined by instincts, race and the environment. Machado de Assis, however, did not refute the so called scientific discourse in a narrow or apathetic way. On the contrary, the estate of his personal library attests his attention to these works that, rather than descriptive, formed a worldview. Many of the volumes indicate his interest in works that addressed psychology from point of view of science, which may have functioned as a source of his focus on psychological aspects. In Quincas Borba, Machado scrutinizes the plots of an intricate game of loving and financial interests, so that the subjective and inter-subjective dimension that sustains this plot becomes a structural aspect. Thus, the research aims to demonstrate how the first version of this novel holds the task of reworking the issues exposed in that literary debate, by analyzing the manners human psychology is inserted in the novel. It becomes thus a document of the formation process of the critical awareness that Machado proposed in front of the current discourses of his time, which sought to explain the world and human action under the aegis of the nascent modern sciences. This critical awareness concerns also his close observation of the changes in the socially shared forms of subjectivity in Brazil, especially the observation of the tensions of subjectivity in the paradigm of the individual - in the case of Quincas, particularly, due to the mimesis of the modernization process of a slave society and, at the same time, the capitalization of relations. (AU)

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