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Why you should read “The posthumous memoirs of Brás Cubas”, the romance that gone viral on TikTok

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

In May 2024, the American Courtney Henning Novak decided to post a video on her TikTok account talking about a book she was almost finishing: The posthumous memoirs of Brás Cubas, a famous Brazilian romance from the writer Machado de Assis.

Courtney is doing a project called “Read around the world”, in which she will read at least one book from every country, following an alphabetic order. She had already given positive opinions about other texts, but when she got to “B”, Courteney said things she had never said before like: “Why didn’t you warn me this is the best book that’s ever been written?” and “Now I have to learn Portuguese”, some sentences describing how much she loved the story. 

Courtney’s video about Brás Cubas via Instagram

This is classic literature in Brazil, the kind that high-schoolers are ordered to read, and the ones who actually do it, always enjoy. But why should you read such a “random” book? Here are some reasons that were probably responsible to enchant Courteney and that will convince you to start your reading. 


Yes, you read it right, and that’s not a spoiler. As the title says, the book’s content is a posthumous memoir. Some people would think the book has another narrator but Brás Cubas, who is dead, but he is the one telling his own story! That’s presented to the reader at the beginning of the book, there’s no mystery. 

Picture of the book by @annieoslivros via intagram


This is a crucial fact because that leads the way he tells the happenings: a dead person doesn’t care about the judgments that can be made, because that can’t affect him anymore. Brás Cubas is very sincere and this gives the feeling that you’ll get to know everything about his life until the end of the book. It brings you closer to the narrator. 


     The whole proposal of the book is already a big irony: how can a dead person write about his life? However, that’s not the only irony present in the book. If you search about Machado de Assis, you’ll find out that his writing style contains a lot of irony. This is probably his favorite figure of speech and works well because it makes the text funnier and the lecture more fluid. His characters become attractive to the readers, it’s all about the charm the wordplay brings. 

LIFE, DEATH and everything in between

Brás Cubas has experienced both sides, and that’s why he has some good advice for the readers. Also, he is always thinking about what he could have done differently and what he is proud of. That will certainly help you to shape your life while you still have the time.

Escaping from the common sense that main characters need to be the good guys and perfect people, Machado de Assis wrote one that is an anti-hero. As he is the narrator, at first, he doesn’t show himself as this person, but as the reading happens, the readers start to notice his mistakes and weaknesses. In literature, it’s called anti-hero, but if you stop to think about it, he is like everybody; he is nothing but a regular person. 


Besides being written in the XIX century, the book still reveals a lot of Brazilian society’s cultural, political and economic aspects. If you are from Brazil, you will for sure understand why some things are represented like they are. If you aren’t, that’s the perfect opportunity to know a different culture and analyze what Brazil shares with your country, and what is totally different. I hope this is the sign you were looking for to start reading this masterpiece


The article above was edited by Manuela Miniguini.

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Julia Paixão

Casper Libero '27

Estudante de jornalismo na Faculdade Cásper Líbero. Pendente para cultura, entretenimento e política. Student of journalism at Cásper Líbero. Likes culture, entertainment and politics.