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The book aroused a scandal in its time for its frank descriptions of sex and desire.


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The book aroused a scandal in its time for its frank descriptions of sex and desire.

30 review for Cousin Bazilio: A Domestic Episode

  1. 4 out of 5

    Luís

    I fell in love with this 19th-century Portuguese novel, a souvenir novel from my stay in Porto. Having never read Portuguese literature, classical or contemporary, at the time of this reading, I was delighted to take this opportunity! Luiza is a young bourgeois who allows herself to seduced by her youthful love, her cousin Bazilio. The latter is a dandy who wants to have a good time while he's in Lisbon, I quote: "this love story was pleasant and fascinating because it couldn't be more complete! I fell in love with this 19th-century Portuguese novel, a souvenir novel from my stay in Porto. Having never read Portuguese literature, classical or contemporary, at the time of this reading, I was delighted to take this opportunity! Luiza is a young bourgeois who allows herself to seduced by her youthful love, her cousin Bazilio. The latter is a dandy who wants to have a good time while he's in Lisbon, I quote: "this love story was pleasant and fascinating because it couldn't be more complete! There was a little adultery, a little incest". This event sets the tone, but it is not over: there is still the servant Juliana, frustrated and humiliated by her condition, who dreams of greatness and hates her mistresses. This novel promised a tragic story of adultery and blackmail - even promised a little too much since the back cover spoils the end of the book. We, therefore, know that the novel will end badly, but fortunately, the suspense and the tension have affected mainly me and held in anticipation. We find in this novel, everything that makes the classics, the careful writing, psychology studied in-depth, but with the modernity of tone and rhythm that made me devour it. My only regret is the end, maybe a little too "easy" unveil the hidden text. Thanks to the omniscient narration, the novel is very dynamic, the tension rises and falls according to the chapters. We know Luiza's state of mind, we can guess that of Bazilio and Juliana's intentions are very clear: how far will this take us? Juliana is a compelling character. We hate her for what she feels for Luiza and makes her suffer while understanding her terrible frustration, especially since in a sense it's a way of fighting social injustice. I loved immersing myself in this novel and its atmosphere! It is a superb surprise that I recommend to all!

  2. 5 out of 5

    David

    Want to read a book on the life of the rich in Lisbon in the 1830s? A young woman, Luisa, is married to an older engineer, Jorge. She leads what seems a charming life. They have everything, a nice house, a governess, a cook and lots of friends. They go to the opera, play music on the piano and gossip. She loves to read romance novels as a distraction. But is she happy? Ah minha rica senhora, how nice to have a lover? Even better a Brasilian lover? Your husband is away on business and all those ro Want to read a book on the life of the rich in Lisbon in the 1830s? A young woman, Luisa, is married to an older engineer, Jorge. She leads what seems a charming life. They have everything, a nice house, a governess, a cook and lots of friends. They go to the opera, play music on the piano and gossip. She loves to read romance novels as a distraction. But is she happy? Ah minha rica senhora, how nice to have a lover? Even better a Brasilian lover? Your husband is away on business and all those romance novels play into your boredom. Your cousin returns from Brasil. He has been in love with you since childhood. You meet in his little house, called Paradise. You feel guilty and off to church you go. Is she happy now? Yes, until the governess steals a love letter and blackmails Luisa. Basílio laughs it off and leaves town for Paris, fearing a scandal and bored of Lisbon. And then her husband returns. Her life falls apart as she placates the governess, doing her work in the house. The husband is upset and asks the maid to leave but Luisa, fearing the governess will tell everything to the husband, starts to crack. Luisa asks her husband’s best friend Basílio for help. In doing so, things get “worse” leading to the culmination of the story. So one must ask who is to blame? A bored housewife. Luisa cheated on her husband. Basílio lead her on with his charms. Her best friend encouraged her into this romance because her husband was absent. Her husband seemed more interested in work. Her husband’s best friend kept secrets. The selfish maid who saw all but greed brought her to crime. She was jealous of everything Louisa had. The neighbor who feared a scandal was brewing but told no-one. That is a lot of finger pointing. This book asks a lot of questions. Portuguese high class society had rules and in breaking them, they had consequences. Luisa suffered those consequences. After the conclusion of this book there is a letter written to a friend by Eça explaining his motives. Following in the footsteps of the great French writers like Balzac, Hugo and Flaubert, there is nothing like social commentary. Portugal has their own social commentator, Eça de Queirós. And I am grateful for that.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sonia Gomes

    Eca de Queiroz introduced Realismo in Portugal. What a pleasant breakfast, Luísa stretched her arms indolently; she could see Jorge watching her cleavage where her robe had fallen open. Jorge liked her looks, although not beautiful in a conventional way, her masses of beautiful brown hair and her wide brown eyes were good to look at, her curvaceous figure was delicious add to it a pleasant nature and Luísa was what every man would dream and want in a wife. But Luísa was bored, her day yawned befo Eca de Queiroz introduced Realismo in Portugal. What a pleasant breakfast, Luísa stretched her arms indolently; she could see Jorge watching her cleavage where her robe had fallen open. Jorge liked her looks, although not beautiful in a conventional way, her masses of beautiful brown hair and her wide brown eyes were good to look at, her curvaceous figure was delicious add to it a pleasant nature and Luísa was what every man would dream and want in a wife. But Luísa was bored, her day yawned before her, what to do? How to get the day to move faster? Go to the milliner, she had dozens of hats of every hue. Dresses, by the dozens to match her numerous hats. A visit to the dressmaker was really unnecessary. Library, that again tedious, she had read piles of those milk-and-water romances, they were turning to be oh so predictable. The lovers most of them from noble families, feigning dislike for each other only to marry ultimately. The settings always opulent, the situations decadent, tea parties, balls, hunts everything catered for a life of hedonism, which only royalty and nobility could afford. Luísa smiled, when had she gone for a hunt, those novels were a far cry from her life. As for sex, the novels ignored it, sex just did not happen, if the couples so much as exchanged a kiss that was bold. Now what Luísa really liked were her conversations with her friend Leopoldina, that woman was something, dozens of lovers and such erotic stories. You make me blush Leopoldina, no, no how can one do such things. Angel, my angel, Leopoldina would laugh with a superior air born of experience and knowledge. Of course Luísa had to pretend that such eroticism scandalised her, horrified her, but they both knew that was a façade, of course Luísa had to pretend not to like those racy stories, act as though sex was not for her, didn’t you know a Lady of Society never likes sex? Just grins and bears it. Come now we know better, who in their right mind can resist sex? And then one fine day in conversation with that stick-in-the-mud Sebastião, Jorge decides that she, Luísa was not to talk to Leopoldina anymore, was to stop her from visiting, a total embargo on Leopoldina. In their opinion Leopoldina was destroying her innocence. Luísa had no problems if her innocence was in tatters, she wanted her so called ‘purity’ to be sullied, to be besmirched, she was a full blooded woman, purity my foot. Of course Jorge wanted her to be the perfect, demure wife, but what Luísa really wanted was excitement, romance and most of all to experience what Leopoldina did, oh yes that was a thrilling prospect. Vaguely she heard Jorge blabbing, oh how he would miss her, he said. Jorge was going on a field trip. Luísa would miss him too but she knew that Jorge would not be sad for too long, he would find women, he would have his flings. She breathed in deeply, and then a snippet in the corner of the newspaper caught her eye. Her cousin Basilio, was visiting the country. She was excited, went red and warm, remembering those moments of awakening when Basilio visited her so often and they would go on those long, long walks stealing kisses and caresses whilst Mama had little naps. Oh how she had loved Basilio, loved him intensely with all the passion of a young girl. And then all of a sudden he had gone away to make his fortune. Had he really made his fortune? Would he visit her? Suddenly her day did not seem endless, in fact it seemed shorter and she had so much to do. Of course Basilio would visit her; he could never resist a woman besides he already knew her, those walks, those luscious kisses all under Mama’s very nose. He was sure she had turned delectable, a red plum waiting to be picked. Basilio thought of women as fruit to be nurtured, to be picked when ripe and savoured. Visit her he did and was not surprised that she was not at all averse to his attentions, she was coy, flirted with him and yes as Basilio had foreseen she was ready to fall in his arms much like a ripe peach. On suggesting that they rent a room for more privacy, Luísa never balks, never even bats an eyelid, oh to experience everything that Leopoldina was talking about. She imagines the setting for the idyll to be congenial, opulent perhaps, but to her surprise it is just a shabby little room in a derelict area. Despite the sadness of the room the affair continues. Although Luísa has to travel a long distance to get to the shabby little room, which now seems home, she does not pull back. She is feverish at the thought of not meeting Basilio. Even when Juliana, the wretched servant catches hold of some of Luísa’s letters and blackmails her, Luísa hangs on to the sordid liaison. Despite the fact that Luísa now realises that to Basilio she is just a toy, he is not even courteous, treats her badly, but she hangs in there. Jorge prolongs his stay; he is away for so long that we wonder, does he have a relationship of his own? Then Jorge returns and Basilio flies the coop, it’s too murky a situation for Basilio, why tangle with Jorge, anyway there were no more surprises to be had from Luísa, he was done with her. Things go from bad to worse for Luísa; her guilt weighs on her so heavily that she falls ill. Just when she is about to recover Jorge shows her a letter that Basilio has written, accuses her, but Luísa so traumatised falls apart, never recovers and dies of an unnamed illness. Now questions arise. Why did Eça de Queiroz who was writing a novel of realism ‘kill’ Luísa? What was he afraid of? Did he want to show that the sin of ‘adultery’ in a woman, can never be forgiven, can never be condoned, a woman can never go scot free; so did Eça punish Luísa by killing her? Or was Eça afraid of a much more devastating situation, was he terrified that women would begin to like their sexual freedom? Had Luísa lived would she have taken more lovers, much like the wanton Leopoldina? Did he fear was that he had created a monster, much like Frankenstein which he did not know how to rein in? Oh Eça you opened a can of worms which was very difficult to close…

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bob Newman

    A is for Adultery, B is for Blackmail A So, you know, this dandified dude comes back to Portugal from Brazil and looks up an old flame. She’s his cousin. How bad is that? He’s a practiced and proficient seducer and on the surface has beautiful manners and of course, a bit of dough to spread around. He snares her, though she’s happily married. Hubby is away on an extended trip to the provinces. (Nowadays, given Portugal’s size, he could easily have driven home on the weekends. But this is in the 1 A is for Adultery, B is for Blackmail A So, you know, this dandified dude comes back to Portugal from Brazil and looks up an old flame. She’s his cousin. How bad is that? He’s a practiced and proficient seducer and on the surface has beautiful manners and of course, a bit of dough to spread around. He snares her, though she’s happily married. Hubby is away on an extended trip to the provinces. (Nowadays, given Portugal’s size, he could easily have driven home on the weekends. But this is in the 1860s.) OK, so the dame is weak, but she’s passionate. He manipulates her shamelessly. She has two female servants at home and a lot of neighbors who are Olympic-level sticky beaks. Due to these latter, they wind up frequenting a rather crummy love nest downtown, but the dude slowly tires of her. On top of that one of the servant women, a very sneaky, unpleasant lot, purloins a few love letters that have passed between the duo. She starts getting ideas---mainly, “pay up or I tell hubby all”. B Things get serious. The dude splits for Paris with no qualms at all. Ah, well, he has to leave this nice piece behind, but hey, there are better ones in Paris. That’s about the depth of his feeling. Where were Mike Hammer (Miguel Martelo?) and Sam Spade when we really needed them? Nowhere, man. The blackmailing servant rides rampant, the poor woman is beside herself, hubby returns, things start to go downhill. The harsh-voiced, malignant servant overdoes it and…… ……what happens? Hey, you’ve gotta read this one. I don’t think the general theme of this book is that interesting to those of us who have seen a zillion movies and telenovelas, and read any number of romantic tales in our wasted youth. However, though I’ve written up this review sort of tongue-in-cheek, I should say that Eça de Queirós broke through standard, over-drawn romances to provide readers with a very realistic portrait of both adultery and blackmail; he drew characters that jump off the pages and will no doubt live forever in Portuguese literature. Their words, their behavior, their various quirks and failings, their friendships and sincere/insincere advice are most believable. He has a good handle on human nature. As usual, the author doesn’t fail to point out the sad condition of the country back then. I’ve given it four stars for these reasons, not because the story itself will thrill anyone.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    This is a flaubertian style novel by the Portuguese canonical Eça de Queirós, though Queirós has more humor and wit than Flaubert. It's a great 19th century read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    The way that Margaret Jull Costa translated this novel, so that it sounds modern, made not only the change from Portuguese to English easy, but also the change in language from 1878 to 2016 easy! In the book where almost no one is lovable, the story and narration carries us through the characters mistakes and forces us to watch the characters disgusting personality traits. Bazilio himself talks about raping his cousin and then complains that there is no soda water at a restaurant saying 'this co The way that Margaret Jull Costa translated this novel, so that it sounds modern, made not only the change from Portuguese to English easy, but also the change in language from 1878 to 2016 easy! In the book where almost no one is lovable, the story and narration carries us through the characters mistakes and forces us to watch the characters disgusting personality traits. Bazilio himself talks about raping his cousin and then complains that there is no soda water at a restaurant saying 'this country is vile'. I love the hypocrisy and satire of this novel, and I always look out for Margaret's translated works.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Daniela S.

    Muito mais entusiasmante do que Os Maias It was more enjoyable than Os Maias/ The Maias

  8. 5 out of 5

    Fábio Shecaira

    Machado de Assis, Brazil’s most notable novelist, did not like Eça’s book. Machado wrote that the characters were insipid (with the exception of Juliana, the housemaid), the plot contrived and the language crude and sensual. I more or less agree with Machado’s first two criticisms (although I think he could have acknowledged the book as a humorous satire of the Portuguese bourgeoisie). My main disagreement pertains to the point about style: Machado’s critique of Eça’s rough “realism” sounds prud Machado de Assis, Brazil’s most notable novelist, did not like Eça’s book. Machado wrote that the characters were insipid (with the exception of Juliana, the housemaid), the plot contrived and the language crude and sensual. I more or less agree with Machado’s first two criticisms (although I think he could have acknowledged the book as a humorous satire of the Portuguese bourgeoisie). My main disagreement pertains to the point about style: Machado’s critique of Eça’s rough “realism” sounds prudish to me. Indeed, it is the directness and explicitness of Eça’s prose that makes some scenes so compelling, including that in which Jorge discovers that he has been betrayed. The detailed description of his feelings—a confusion of anger, fear, lust, and compassion—is an example of Realism at its best.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sótis

    I've read this book to a Literature homework and it surprised me. The writing is fluid, the characters are charismatics (little space to say that I'm in love for Jorge) and besides the book is a realist work, we found many elements of the naturalism, which in my opinion, make it better. Totally recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sonia Gomes

    What a pleasant breakfast, Luísa stretched her arms indolently; she could see Jorge watching her cleavage where her robe had fallen open. Jorge liked her looks, although not beautiful in a conventional way, her masses of beautiful brown hair and her wide brown eyes were good to look at, her curvaceous figure was delicious add to it a pleasant nature and Luísa was what every man would dream and want in a wife. But Luísa was bored, her day yawned before her, what to do? How to get the day to move f What a pleasant breakfast, Luísa stretched her arms indolently; she could see Jorge watching her cleavage where her robe had fallen open. Jorge liked her looks, although not beautiful in a conventional way, her masses of beautiful brown hair and her wide brown eyes were good to look at, her curvaceous figure was delicious add to it a pleasant nature and Luísa was what every man would dream and want in a wife. But Luísa was bored, her day yawned before her, what to do? How to get the day to move faster? Go to the milliner, she had dozens of hats of every hue. Dresses, by the dozens to match her numerous hats. A visit to the dressmaker was really unnecessary. Library, that again tedious, she had read piles of those milk-and-water romances, they were turning to be oh so predictable. The lovers most of them from noble families, feigning dislike for each other only to marry ultimately. The settings always opulent, the situations decadent, tea parties, balls, hunts everything catered for a life of hedonism, which only royalty and nobility could afford. Luísa smiled, when had she gone for a hunt, those novels were a far cry from her life. As for sex, the novels ignored it, sex just did not happen, if the couples so much as exchanged a kiss that was bold. Now what Luísa really liked were her conversations with her friend Leopoldina, that woman was something, dozens of lovers and such erotic stories. You make me blush Leopoldina, no, no how can one do such things. Angel, my angel, Leopoldina would laugh with a superior air born of experience and knowledge. Of course Luísa had to pretend that such eroticism scandalised her, horrified her, but they both knew that was a façade, of course Luísa had to pretend not to like those racy stories, act as though sex was not for her, didn’t you know a Lady of Society never likes sex? Just grins and bears it. Come now we know better, who in their right mind can resist sex? And then one fine day in conversation with that stick-in-the-mud Sebastião, Jorge decides that she, Luísa was not to talk to Leopoldina anymore, was to stop her from visiting, a total embargo on Leopoldina. In their opinion Leopoldina was destroying her innocence. Luísa had no problems if her innocence was in tatters, she wanted her so called ‘purity’ to be sullied, to be besmirched, she was a full blooded woman, purity my foot. Of course Jorge wanted her to be the perfect, demure wife, but what Luísa really wanted was excitement, romance and most of all to experience what Leopoldina did, oh yes that was a thrilling prospect. Vaguely she heard Jorge blabbing, oh how he would miss her. Jorge was going on a field trip. Luísa would miss him too but she knew that Jorge would not be sad for too long, he would find women, he would have his flings. She breathed in deeply, and then a snippet in the corner of the newspaper caught her eye. Her cousin Basilio, was visiting the country. She was excited, went red and warm, remembering those moments of awakening when Basilio visited her so often and they would go on those long, long walks stealing kisses and caresses whilst Mama had little naps. Oh how she had loved Basilio, loved him intensely with all the passion of a young girl. And then all of a sudden he had gone away to make his fortune. Had he really made his fortune? Would he visit her? Suddenly her day did not seem endless, in fact it seemed shorter and she had so much to do. Of course Basilio would visit her; he could never resist a woman besides he already knew her, those walks, those luscious kisses all under Mama’s very nose. He was sure she had turned delectable, a red plum waiting to be picked. Basilio thought of women as fruit to be nurtured, to be picked when ripe and savoured. Visit her he did and was not surprised that she was not at all averse to his attentions, she was coy, flirted with him and yes as Basilio had foreseen she was ready to fall in his arms much like a ripe peach. On suggesting that they rent a room for more privacy, Luísa never balks, never even bats an eyelid, oh to experience everything that Leopoldina was talking about. She imagines the setting for the idyll to be congenial, opulent perhaps, but to her surprise it is just a shabby little room in a derelict area. Despite the sadness of the room the affair continues. Although Luísa has to travel a long distance to get to the shabby little room, which now seems home, she does not pull back. She is feverish at the thought of not meeting Basilio. Even when Juliana, the wretched servant catches hold of some of Luísa’s letters and blackmails her, Luísa hangs on to the sordid liaison. Despite the fact that Luísa now realises that to Basilio she is just a toy, he is not even courteous, treats her badly, but she hangs in there. Jorge prolongs his stay; he is away for so long that we wonder, does he have a relationship of his own? Then Jorge returns and Basilio flies the coop, it’s too murky a situation for Basilio, why tangle with Jorge, anyway there were no more surprises to be had from Luísa, he was done with her. Things go from bad to worse for Luísa; her guilt weighs on her so heavily that she falls ill. Just when she is about to recover Jorge shows her a letter that Basilio has written, accuses her, but Luísa so traumatised falls apart, never recovers and dies of an unnamed illness. Now questions arise. Why did Eça de Queiroz who was writing a novel of realism ‘kill’ Luísa? What was he afraid of? Did he want to show that the sin of ‘adultery’ in a woman, can never be forgiven, can never be condoned, a woman can never go scot free; so did Eça punish Luísa by killing her? Or was Eça afraid of a much more devastating situation, was he terrified that women would begin to like their sexual freedom? Had Luísa lived would she have taken more lovers, much like the wanton Leopoldina? Did he fear was that he had created a monster, much like Frankenstein which he did not know how to rein in? Oh Eça you opened a can of worms which was very difficult to close…

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Fletcher

    I really hated the ending. Wasted potential.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Arthur Nascimento

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book was the first time I ventured into the Literary realism realm. It was actually much better than what I expected. I kept saying to myself that this book would try to imitate real life, so I wasn't going to get a happy ending. I really did not. The characters work well as the caricatures Eça was trying to show the portuguese society as being. And even with Luísa being FAR from innocent, I still felt sad when she met her (deserved) death. Maybe because I felt that Jorge did not deserved to This book was the first time I ventured into the Literary realism realm. It was actually much better than what I expected. I kept saying to myself that this book would try to imitate real life, so I wasn't going to get a happy ending. I really did not. The characters work well as the caricatures Eça was trying to show the portuguese society as being. And even with Luísa being FAR from innocent, I still felt sad when she met her (deserved) death. Maybe because I felt that Jorge did not deserved to be cheated on (even if he reportedly cheated on Luísa first). Basílio is a complete monster with no redeemable qualities whatsoever. In that aspect, even the smug snake Juliana is better than him... And she dies! Why couldn't Basílio die too, that Karma Houdini moron?! Anyway, the book is great and to-the-point. It is a well executed allegory, full of references and little touches that denote the death of the Romantinesque era in literature. Read it for what it is, but again: don't expect a happy ending (or even a bittersweet one). This is a daring piece of history, not a fairy-tale with twists. Not that you would ever think it is....

  13. 5 out of 5

    Madalena

    In true Eça-style, this book is a great mix of psychological drama and incisive exploration of Portugal's culture and society in the late 1880s. Eça is one of the masters of natural dialogue, colourful descriptions of city life and the ability to bring readers into the emotional world of the characters he creates, all of whom are fully three-dimension even if when they represent examples of specific ideas such as the good husband, the well to-do girl turned cheating wife, the frustrated and deep In true Eça-style, this book is a great mix of psychological drama and incisive exploration of Portugal's culture and society in the late 1880s. Eça is one of the masters of natural dialogue, colourful descriptions of city life and the ability to bring readers into the emotional world of the characters he creates, all of whom are fully three-dimension even if when they represent examples of specific ideas such as the good husband, the well to-do girl turned cheating wife, the frustrated and deeply religious old madame, the vindictive maid... Amongst others, the book looks at Portugal's upper class obsession with London and Paris, the tensions between the moneyed class and the working class, between innovation and bureaucracy and the country's obsession with rank and manners. Like in other works, he uses sex to level the playing field and show that despite the many social and religious taboos masquerading people's real sexual lives (examples Luisa and Conselheiro Julião), most of us are moved by the same things.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nightingale_jt

    Not yet the best book I've read of Queirós. Even though, Eça in this book is more erotic and sexual (okay, haven't read yet about father Amaro, but I've heard is not that explicit). He does not describe at detail, but he was a bit erotic. Well, the story helps! It's about, hum, I'll let you guess, adultery and how people can make mistakes so easily and how easy is for a naive person to get caught in a net that's not good for her. It has funny characters, like the governess and the cook of the ho Not yet the best book I've read of Queirós. Even though, Eça in this book is more erotic and sexual (okay, haven't read yet about father Amaro, but I've heard is not that explicit). He does not describe at detail, but he was a bit erotic. Well, the story helps! It's about, hum, I'll let you guess, adultery and how people can make mistakes so easily and how easy is for a naive person to get caught in a net that's not good for her. It has funny characters, like the governess and the cook of the house. Well, it's an adultery story better than Madame Bovary. But be ready, cousin Basílio only cares about a human body, not a human person, to has sexual relations to.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mady

    A Portuguese classic. And surprisingly a very easy read! Luisa is a lovely lady married to a reliable but not so exciting Jorge. Basílio is her cousin, who left her when he emigrated to Brasil and on his return to Lisbon tries to find his way to her heart again. But, of course, secrets are never easy to remain so!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Vasco

    Fantastic read! My favourite portuguese author by far! Chapter after chapter I was laughing all the way through the whole tragedy of it all! Very accurate portrait of the Lisbon society back then, with a tasteful touch of humor. A must-read definitely!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maria Carmo

    Eça paints the portrait of intricate patterns of relationship, at a time when society functionned according to very strict rules... The portraits of his Characters are, as always, superb. His humor is almost caustic sometimes. A must read. Maria Carmo

  18. 4 out of 5

    Isabel Ferreira

    Wonderful!! Brimmed with lovely prose and an engaging plot.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Eneida

    Read the original in Portuguese.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Oliver Hazan

    Perfection. A young wife is blackmailed by her maid following an indiscretion. Truly unique: more mocking than Zola, more suspenseful than Balzac. Fantastic.

  21. 4 out of 5

    John

    Possibly the most valid reason for anyone to read fluently in the Portuguese language.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andre Pimentel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Eça de

  23. 4 out of 5

    Adam Frederik

    Hysteria, drama, fever and love. All served with a mild irony and an elegant sense of character. Do not know of a movie adaptation, but surely there must be several.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Maria Clara

    frustrating...ly good.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joana Simões

    The story of a recently married couple. The husband needs to go away for work. The wife is left alone. Her cousin Basílio appears and they get involved.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jeruen

    I rarely pick 19th-century Portuguese novels, but sometime ago I figured it's about time to revisit José Maria de Eça de Queiroz, so I picked up Cousin Bazilio. I read a novel of his 7 years ago, The Crime of Father Amaro , and I devoured that. So I was also looking forward to this one. And yes, 300 pages later, I must say I devoured this one too. See, Cousin Bazilio is not about Bazilio at all. Rather, our main character is Luiza, a young bourgeois woman in 19th-century Lisbon. She is married I rarely pick 19th-century Portuguese novels, but sometime ago I figured it's about time to revisit José Maria de Eça de Queiroz, so I picked up Cousin Bazilio. I read a novel of his 7 years ago, The Crime of Father Amaro , and I devoured that. So I was also looking forward to this one. And yes, 300 pages later, I must say I devoured this one too. See, Cousin Bazilio is not about Bazilio at all. Rather, our main character is Luiza, a young bourgeois woman in 19th-century Lisbon. She is married to Jorge, an engineer. Jorge goes to the Alentejo for an extended business trip, and while he is away, Luiza's cousin Bazilio shows up. It turns out that Luiza and Bazilio used to be lovers, and Bazilio being the horny man, slowly seduces Luiza, until they establish an affair, setting up a routine in a rented room somewhere in the city. Of course since this is the 19th century, there is a division between the bourgeoisie and the servants. And yes, the servants are nosy, and while the bourgeoisie powder their nose and have social scandals left and right, the nosy servants already know about it and spread the rumours all across town. This is what happens with all the side characters in the book, but nevertheless there is the conflict presented in the form of Juliana, who is the asexual and ugly servant of Jorge and Luiza, who finds out about the affair, steals some letters implicating Luiza and Bazilio, and uses these letters to blackmail Luiza. This only leads to tragic consequences. I won't elaborate how the novel ends (but there are deaths involved), but overall it shows how emotions can take over people, and how people can have psychosomatic conditions. Several people get sick, in a way that cannot be explained by modern 21st century medicine. The only rational explanation I could come up with is that these diseased people are diseased because it is a manifestation of their dark conscience. It's like they have a severe burden of guilt, and it appears physically in the form of a high fever. I must say I am not a fan of Luiza. Perhaps it is because I could decouple sex and love, but I could definitely imagine myself having sex with someone else and not falling in love with this person. Luiza on the other hand cannot. Bazilio is the most insensitive man in the novel, and only seduces Luiza because he wants to fuck her, but when Luiza is not around, he is definitely an arrogant bastard, as is evident by his reaction at the very end of the book when he finds out that Luiza has died. He didn't even bat an eye, and instead he proposed to just go to a bar and get a drink. This is the type of man that Luiza considered running away to, in order to escape her husband. I wished Luiza would be a little bit more objective and rational. In any case I definitely enjoyed this book, and would consider reading more of Eça de Queiroz's novels in the future. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. See my other book reviews here.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Len Hayter

    With our modern experience of so many novels, plays, films, soap operas and TV mini-series about sexual infidelity, we probably regard the subject as blasé. If so it is difficult to appreciate the effect this novel would have had at the time of its publication. You have to place yourself in a conservative catholic society in the 19th-century and see if you would be outraged or shocked, perhaps quietly amused – if a lady, in the shelter of your fan. The story is simple enough, yet told with style, With our modern experience of so many novels, plays, films, soap operas and TV mini-series about sexual infidelity, we probably regard the subject as blasé. If so it is difficult to appreciate the effect this novel would have had at the time of its publication. You have to place yourself in a conservative catholic society in the 19th-century and see if you would be outraged or shocked, perhaps quietly amused – if a lady, in the shelter of your fan. The story is simple enough, yet told with style, humour and pathos. Luiza lives quietly with her husband Jorge in Lisbon. Jorge has a well paid job as an engineer with the government's Department of Works and Luiza lacks nothing – in the material sense: money, possessions, a nice enough house, a couple of servants. Jorge, however, is not an exciting man. He is stalwartly middle class with middle class friends, some more lively than himself, but all contented with life. Luiza's best friend is Senhora Leopoldina, they sat next to each other in college and she is the daughter of Viscount Quebraes who used to be a page to King Dom Miguel. Unfortunately Leopoldina has gone down in the world and gone much further down in Jorge's opinion. He doesn't want her to set foot in his house and wants Luiza to renounce her. Luiza is bored, until two things happen: her husband is set on a mission to the south of Portugal by his department for a few weeks; and Cousin Bazilio returns from Brazil, a wealthy man now, and in character the direct opposite of Jorge. Bazilio has been living in France but keeping in touch with Portuguese affairs through the newspapers. He has read that Jorge is away from home and decides to visit the young woman he had once known as youngster and with whom he had flirted. Luiza surrenders to temptation and they have an affair. It could have gone in the direction of a bedroom farce after that: Jorge returns home early, has suspicions, Luiza, Bazilio and Jorge dodge each other from room to room, until finally Luiza sees the error of her ways, Bazilio retires from the scene disgracefully abashed, and all ends in renewed marital bliss. The author chose not to do that, but takes the story into tragedy. Luiza is careless with her love letters and one of the servants, the scheming and jealous Juliana, finds them and blackmails her. The characters come to life. Luiza is not just the bored little rich girl playing games, we see her descend through fear of exposure into a victim exploited financially by Juliana and emotionally by Bazilio, who is now an uncaring, brutish playboy. Juliana is a vicious, angry woman but not without reason – Luiza does not treat her gently when Jorge is around. Jorge himself shows his tender, affectionate side towards the end – if only he had displayed it at the beginning happiness would have prevailed. Juliana is thwarted eventually and Bazilio retreats back to France. But there are tears all round at the end. A tragedy of errors rather than a comedy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Inês Garrido

    Eça de Queiróz is a renowned Portuguese writer that published some of the Portuguese literature more famous (and infamous) classics, such as 'Os Maias' or the 'O Crime do Padre Amaro'. This book sets place in Lisbon, sometime between the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century and, as Eça's books usually do, it tells not only the tale of a character (Luísa) facing a moral dilemma, but also beautifully describes the society in which she lives. Eça always had an amazing knack at Eça de Queiróz is a renowned Portuguese writer that published some of the Portuguese literature more famous (and infamous) classics, such as 'Os Maias' or the 'O Crime do Padre Amaro'. This book sets place in Lisbon, sometime between the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century and, as Eça's books usually do, it tells not only the tale of a character (Luísa) facing a moral dilemma, but also beautifully describes the society in which she lives. Eça always had an amazing knack at describing places, people, morals and behaviours and this book is no exception. The writing is as fluid as ever, the choice of words is rich and, as the story moves forward, you can antecipate the quandary in which the main character will most surely face and the lack of power she has to avoid it. For anyone who enjoys an old classic, a must-read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dan Mueller

    Way better than expected. Flagged this author after visiting Lisbon last year randomly. It is actually a hilarious novel, obviously a little dated being from the 19th century. The thing I loved the most was the detailed character development. The irony was also super fun to see unfold.

  30. 5 out of 5

    João Vaz

    First Eça in English: decidedly not the same. But I could still take pleasure in his prodigious adjectivization. And humor!, good God, how I laughed!

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