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"Um vasto prazer, quieto e profundo"

The description of a mouse being tortured in Machado de Assis's short story "A causa secreta" [English translation: "The Secret Heart"] may seem timid if compared with the scenes of agony narrated by the Marquis De Sade. Nevertheless, a detailed reading will find in this short story essential conditions for the outburst of a mysterious form of pleasure that is usually associated with the image of a "sadist". A closer look might surprise the reader even more with the acknowledgement that the sadism of the protagonist takes on shapes that are more verisimilar than the inconceivable accounts of cruelty of the Marquis's dissolute characters. By means of a dialogue between an aesthetic dimension (realism) and an ethic dimension (evil), this essay confronts these two authors in an attempt to propose an interpretation of Machado de Assis's short story.

Machado de Assis; Marquis de Sade; "A causa secreta" ["The secret heart"]; Sadism; Cruelty; Brazilian literature

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