Short Story #1: The Fortune-Teller by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis

Title:  The Fortune-Teller

Author: Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis

Short Story #1 out of 365

Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)

Date Read1/1/2014Book cover: Worlds Greatest Short Stories - Dover Thrift Ed 
SourceThe World's Greatest Short Stories, Dover Thrift Edition, edited by James Daley.  The story can also be found here on the Project Gutenberg website.


Rita visits a fortune-teller that tells her that her lover, Camillo will not leave her.  Camillo, an agnostic to all things spiritual chafes her for doing so as he is afraid it will expose their illicit affair to her husband (and his good friend).  Camillo stays away for Rita for some time, until an urgent message from her husband, Villela, requests his presence.  Camillo's anxiety about Villela's intent (Does he know?) holds him back until he stumbles upon the same fortune-teller that Rita visited.  He enters and she assures him that he and Rita will be fine.  Somehow assured by the mystic, Camillo races toward Villela's home, finding new inspiration and faith in the spirit realm.  Upon entering the house, he finds Rita dead and Vilella quickly dispatches him.


Having first come across Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis this past summer when I read an anthology of his, I was familiar with the elements in this story such as the love affair, the mystic, complicated relationships, and even, older women in relationships with younger men; all of it is common ground for Machado de Assis.  The twist at the end I slightly anticipated but was surprised how brutal and quick it came.  I very much like Machado de Assis's stories as he's able to forge such rich worlds, particularly around relations and culture in such brief stories.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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