Photograph: Marc Ferrez, 1890
"The Time of the Cadaver: Machado de Assis's The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas”
Ingrid Brioso Rieumont, Spanish and Portuguese
What might a posthumous time be? The adjective “posthumous” as proposed in The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas (1881), a novel written by Brazilian writer Machado de Assis, denotates a form of existence that does not go “beyond” the grave, but “after” it. This paradox is well explained by Brás Cubas himself, an unreliable narrator who declares he is not an author who is dead, but a dead author who writes, a “defunto autor.” The Posthumous Memoirs are narrated from this “posthumous” temporality, a duration between a biography (or life before death) and an epitaph (death without any life). In this presentation I will explore the formal and historic implications of thinking about this temporality/category as proposed by Machado de Assis’s novel, in the context of XIX-century Brazil and onward.
Ingrid Brioso Rieumont is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese studying nineteenth to twenty first-century Latin America, particularly Cuban and Brazilian literatures and cultures, slavery and photography, placing time at the center of her reflection.
Her dissertation, The Time of the After, thinks through the tension between the concepts of the “endings” of political processes and of life, and the possibility for something different to emerge, an afterwards. Drawing from enslaved portraiture and literary texts from nineteenth to twenty-first century Cuba and Brazil, she studies scenarios that come to speak of the existence after the end, and force the end to face something unknown or unpredicted. She is recipient of a 2018 Donald and Mary Hyde Summer Fellowship from Princeton and a 2018-2019 Goizueta Graduate Fellowship from the Cuban Heritage Collection. A sample of her work is forthcoming in Cuban Studies.