In a post-doctoral research recently undertaken with the aid of a FAPESP scholarship, we made a survey of the references that Machado de Assis made to Shakespeare and all his works throughout his career. The results from this careful investigation showed us interesting data. Regarding the author's short stories, we could verify that Machado quoted eleven Shakespearean plays in 47 narratives published between 1864 and 1899. The most referred to plays in this genre were, in the most expressive part, tragedies, given that there is a relevant preponderance falling on Romeo and Juliet that appears in no less than 18 of them. When we focus our attention on this material, we can see that there is an intertextual poetics that orientates and guides the work. In these short stories written over 35 years, Machado returns to Romeo and Juliet, recreating characters and situations to ironise, recontextualise and subvert concepts and expectations of the tragedy especially concerning love and love relationships to a critical and constructive dialogue with the play - the biggest celebration of romantic love of western literature, in the words of Harold Bloom. In the midst of this several matters come into play such as Machado's public reader and the vehicles of publication. This research project aims at seeking and studying the elements that help to compose this poetics and investigating by which means the presence of Romeo and Juliet in Machado de Assis' short stories works in the sense of portraying issues of his contemporary world.
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