Bento Santiago, an engaging yet unreliable narrator, suspects his wife, Capitu, of having an affair with his closest friend. Withdrawn and obsessive, our antihero mines the origins of their love story: from childhood neighbors playing innocently in the backyard to his brief spell in a seminary to marriage and the birth of their child.
Machado takes his time unrolling his scenes ... Everything is explained. Every character is introduced in microscopic detail. Everything seems bright and sharp, and we have all the time in the world — until, right at the end, the author muddies everything. We realize that there were clues scattered everywhere. But what do they mean? ... It teaches us to read in much the same way that Vermeer teaches us to see — by looking, and then looking again.
A beguilingly slippery tale ... The trick of this short novel is that the reader must decide whom to believe ... Whatever the case, in this readable translation... Machado proves himself a gifted portraitist of flawed human characters who harbor psychological depths.
It is marked by his fantastic imagination, both comic (as when he consults with maggots who are eating books he needs for a dissertation) and tragic (evidence of his beloved wife's infidelity is circumstantial at best). Deftly translated, Dom Casmurro is a book full of humor, sweetness and a tender melancholy.