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1. The Tale of the Unknown Island
2. The Elephant's Journey
3. Blindness (Movie Tie-In)
4. The Gospel According to Jesus
5. All the Names
6. Baltasar and Blimunda
7. Death with Interruptions
8. Ensayo sobre la ceguera / Blindness
9. El Evangelio Segun Jesucristo
10. The Year of the Death of Ricardo
11. Ensayo sobre la lucidez (Narrativa
12. The Notebook
13. Levantado del suelo/ Picked Up
14. Seeing
15. The Cave
16. Cain (Spanish Edition)
17. Todos los nombres/ All the Names
18. Todos Os Nomes (O campo da palavra)
19. El viaje del elefante (Spanish
20. The Double

1. The Tale of the Unknown Island
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 51 Pages (2000-10-05)
list price: US$10.95 -- used & new: US$2.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156013037
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A man went to knock at the king's door and said, Give me a boat. The king's house had many other doors, but this was the door for petitions. Since the king spent all his time sitting at the door for favors (favors being offered to the king, you understand), whenever he heard someone knocking at the door for petitions, he would pretend not to hear . . ." Why the petitioner required a boat, where he was bound for, and who volunteered to crew for him, the reader will discover in this delightful fable, a philosophic love story worthy of Swift or Voltaire.
Amazon.com Review
"A man went to knock at the king's door and said, Give me aboat."

Even without the "Once upon a time," it's clear from the opening sentenceof José Saramago's mischievous and wise The Tale of the UnknownIsland that we have entered a somewhat fractured fairy tale. Of course,it could be argued that all of his works are, in some form or another,fairy tales, from the whimsical, revisionist History ofthe Siege of Lisbon to the darker dystopia of Blindness. Originally published as a short story in Portugal, Unknown Islandcontains all of the elements Saramago is famous for--dry wit, a seeminglysimple plot that works on many levels, and an idiosyncratic use ofpunctuation, among other things. It begins as a satire concerned with theabsurdity of bureaucracy as supplicants arrive at the king's door forpetitions while the king himself waits by the door for favors:

Since the king spent all his time sitting at the door for favors (favorsbeing offered to the king, you understand), whenever he heard someoneknocking at the door for petitions, he would pretend not to hear, and onlywhen the continuous pounding of the bronze doorknocker became not justdeafening, but positively scandalous, disturbing the peace of theneighborhood (people would start muttering, What kind of king is he if hewon't even answer the door), only then would he order the first secretaryto go and find out what the supplicant wanted, since there seemed no way ofsilencing him.
On this particular occasion, the man at the door asks for a boat so that hecan search for an unknown island. When the king assures him that all theislands have already been discovered, he refuses to believe it, explainingthat one must exist "simply because there can't possibly not be anunknown island."A palace cleaning woman overhears the conversation, andwhen the king finally grants his supplicant a boat, she leaves the royalresidence via the door of decisions and follows the would-be explorer.Saramago then moves from satire to allegory as his two dreamers prepare fortheir voyage of discovery--and nearly miss the forest for the trees. TheTale of the Unknown Island packs more charm and meaning into 50 tinypages than most novels accomplish at five times the length. Readers alreadyfamiliar with the Nobel Prize-winning Saramago will find everything theylove about his longer works economically sized; for those who have not yetexperienced the pleasures of his remarkable imagination, UnknownIsland provides a charming introduction. --Alix Wilber ... Read more

Customer Reviews (29)

2-0 out of 5 stars Meanders before completely petering out
A short fable by Portuguese writer Jose Saramango (it could hardly be called a novel at a scant 51 pages... with illustrations) that starts strongly, but meanders, becomes less interesting, and then finally peters out before the big "revelation" of The Unknown Island. I like the tone, the flavor of this harkens-back-to-olden-times-of-storytelling piece, but the author's run-on sentences and paragraphs, his dialogue that is smooshed into the narrative action, just becomes tiring and not as effective a stylistic device as I think he intended. The drawings by Peter Sis are not nearly as inspired or as evocative as the ones he did for Dominguez's "The House of Paper," which adds to the disappointment I had with this book. Short, but definitely not sweet.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sweet Tale
I give this book as a gift every chance I get. It is nicely translated from Portugese to English, and the story is captivating with an old world flavor. In the end it is a testament to the real value in life's acquisitions.

5-0 out of 5 stars Servitude and Freedom
The fable can be read in different ways. For example, we can interpret the protagonist's efforts to sail off to the discovery of the Unknown Island as an impulsive, yet human need--we need to cast off in order to arrive to a place where no kings will rule us from their distant domains. Additionally, we can also see Saramago's empathic treatment of the cleaning woman as a symbolic reminder of the prevalence of class even in mythical creations. Furthermore, the end of the fable suggests the redeeming value of love to our understanding of freedom and, thus, of our humanity.

Without being an expert in Levinas, I hear in this story some echoes of his idea of seeing and recognizing the other in front of us in order to transcend. From this perspective, I am more inclined to assign the role of protagonist to the cleaning woman, who abandons her servitude to the king and gives herself to another human being as if she understood that there can be no personal freedom without the other's freedom, without recognizing his needs and struggles.

4-0 out of 5 stars Haunting mythic poetic story
This beautiful little fable has been compared to Antoine de Saint-Exupery's "The Little Prince."It can easily be read in one short sitting, but skip the jacket blurb, which detracts from the impact of the book itself.A man goes to the door of petitions to ask the king for a boat so that he can find the unknown island.The king is busy waiting at the door of favors for boons from his subjects, so the door of petitions is finally answered by the cleaning woman.When the persistent petitioner finally receives his boat from the king, his destiny becomes linked with that of the cleaning woman.The peculiar punctuation of this book makes the reader search within for meaning and adds to the book's poetry, depth, and wisdom.

If you've already read this book and want more in this vein, try Snow : A Novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read
This is an excellent book. It is a very fast read as it is quite small. However, the story shines through its imaginative plot and fantastic characters. Saramago's style lets you escape instantly into the fantasy being unwound. Recommended to all. I can't imagine a person I know who wouldn't enjoy this tale. ... Read more

2. The Elephant's Journey
by Jose Saramago
Hardcover: 224 Pages (2010-09-08)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$14.73
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0547352581
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

In 1551, King João III of Portugal gave Archduke Maximilian an unusual wedding present: an elephant named Solomon. The elephant’s journey from Lisbon to Vienna was witnessed and remarked upon by scholars, historians, and ordinary people. Out of this material, José Saramago has spun a novel already heralded as “a triumph of language, imagination, and humor” (El País).

Solomon and his keeper, Subhro, begin in dismal conditions, forgotten in a corner of the palace grounds. When it occurs to the king and queen that an elephant would be an appropriate wedding gift, everyone rushes to get them ready: Subhro is given two new suits of clothes and Solomon a long overdue scrub.

Accompanied by the Archduke, his new wife, and the royal guard, our unlikely heroes traverse a continent riven by the Reformation and civil wars. They make their way through the storied cities of northern Italy: Genoa, Piacenza, Mantua, Verona, Venice, and Trento, where the Council of Trent is in session. They brave the Alps and the terrifying Isarco and Brenner Passes; they sail across the Mediterranean Sea and up the Inn River (elephants, it turns out, are natural sailors). At last they make their grand entry into the imperial city. The Elephant’s Journey is a delightful, witty tale of friendship and adventure.


... Read more

Customer Reviews (38)

2-0 out of 5 stars Needs better editing
I know that Mr. Saramago won a Nobel prize in Literature. This work is certainly unworthy of any kind of prize.

This is about 200 pp, more like a novella, and chronicles the journey of Solomon the elephant with his mahout (elephant handler) Sobhro through western and central Europe in the early 1550s.

I realize that Mr. Saramago has always written his prose without using the standard punctuation marks for dialogue, i.e., quotations, and that he never capitalizes proper nouns. That shtick might have been amusing and made a point when he was younger, but frankly his "style" was tiresome. Come on, get over yourself.

The characters of Solomon the elephant and his mahout Sobhro are certainly compelling, but the narrative had so much extraneous rambling commentary about a variety of topics. Combined with Mr. Saramago's annoying writing style, I found this book a true slog during its mere 200 pages. If his foolish lack of proper punctuation and capitalization is to slow down the reader, then he has succeeded in slowing me down to a snail's pace. But then portions of reading this book was like watching a snail crawl.

I would not have continued reading this if I didn't have to do so for the Vine program. This book is one of the books that has convinced me that the Vine Program is not suitable for me. Too little precious time to waste on unwanted readings.

1-0 out of 5 stars Kindle Buyer Beware!!!
This review is NOT about the content of the book.I am sure it is a wonderful story.Unfortunately, the publisher and Amazon provided the buyer such a dismal product that the book is virtually unreadable in Kindle format.There are no paragraphs, little capitalization, and little punctuation.This includes quotes for dialogue.It is impossible to tell when one person stops talking and another starts.DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THE KINDLE VERSION OF THIS BOOK.

5-0 out of 5 stars Where does an elephant sit? - anywhere it wants to!
I loved this book. It is fitting that this was published posthumously.After a marvelous career as a writer and having become a Nobel Laureate, I like to think this was the kind of tale Mr. Saramago would have wanted to have complete his work.

It is the type of story which I listened to from my grandfather and father who were born in another country and had circumvented the earth several times between them.This book reads like such a tale.Mr. Saramago tells the reader a tale, which, by the way, is a historical fact.However, he tells it with the asides and explanations which my grandfather and father would add to such tale.

The main story is that of the Indian elephant, Solomon and his Mahout, Subhro.The elephant was a gift to the Portuguese King, Joao, and Joao decides to give the elephant, as a belated wedding gift, to Archduke Maximillian of Austria.Like the proverbial white elephant, the beast has outlived the first excitement of arrival in Lisbon and now sits, or stands, in a rear part of the castle, gulping down tons of forage and gallons of water, but not having many other duties assigned to it.Since the only reason His Mahout resides in Lisbon is the elephant, the same could be said of the keeper's productivity level.Speaking of white elephants, I couldn't help but think that the most Roman Catholic King of Portugal might have decided to unload Solomon on Maximillian as a warning against the Archduke's tendency toward Lutheranism.This all happened in the time of the Protestant Reformation having taken hold and the meetings of the Council of Trent to "fix" the damage which this "heretical" movement was causing the Roman Catholic church.

At any rate, the elephant is offered and accepted, and the Portuguese contingent sets off for the border with Spain where Solomon is handed over to the forces of the Archduke.This group processes to the sea where they board a ship and sail toward Genoa, Italy.From there they travel into the Alps, just before Christmas and live through all the bad weather and accumulation in the Bremmer Pass.This, of course, brings up memories of Hanibal, whom we are told only had "little elephants".Having successfully gotten through the Pass without any loss of life, they reach Austria, where the news has travelled before them and crowds have gathered in the villages, complete with celebrations of dancing and song.The Archduke, of course, thinks they have gathered for him, but we know the draw is really Solomon.

This is, of course, more than the story of the physical journey of these groups of people, the Portuguese guard, the Austrian guard and, of course the Austrian heir to the throne of, at the time, one of the most influential countries in Europe are all changed by this journey.Each of these groups starts out thinking of themselves as the center of the show.However, we know the center of the show is Solomon or, as the Archduke renames him, Suleimann; he also renames the Mahout who, instead of the mystical, romantic sounding name of Subhro, will now be called Fritz).The simplicity of this great beast and his keeper, who live for each other, brings self recognition to many of the characters including the commander of the Portuguese soldiers and many others who come in contact with the elephant and his keeper during this journey.

This book is a welcome change from the many romance and mystery novels which are available.It tells of a much simpler time when things, we take for granted, didn't exist.Do read it.

Oh, and by the way, never buy treated elephant hair from an Indian Mahout even if he does claim it will grow hair.

4-0 out of 5 stars A lighthearted and engaging adult fairy tale
José Saramago's latest novel, published after his death earlier this year, borrows its action from an actual historical event:the gift of an elephant by the king of Portugal to the Archduke of Austria in 1551 and the elephant's subsequent journey to its new home.Filled with charm and whimsy, The Elephant's Journey reads like an adult fairy tale.The uncomplicated plot, which follows the elephant's path through Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Austria, provides plenty of superficial entertainment as humorous events (a fabricatedmiracle) alternate with more suspenseful ones (a harrowing mountain crossing).Just beneath the story's straightforward surface lie more complicated issues of class conflict and religious tensions, though Saramago chooses not to fully explore these more serious issues in this lighthearted novel.

Saramago maintains a witty and satirical tone throughout The Elephant's Journey.No character is spared from his teasing manner, including Saramago himself:
"There is no wind, although the mist seems to form slow whirlpools as if boreas himself were blowing it down from the far north, from the lands of eternal ice.However, to be honest, given the delicacy of the situation, this is hardly the moment for someone to be honing his prose in order to make some, frankly, not very original poetic point."

Some may find Saramago's way of presenting dialog to be confusing.In typical Saramago form, conversations unfold in long paragraphs of run-on sentences with the occasional comma and capital letter providing the only clue that the speaker has changed.This format lends a natural quickness to the spoken exchanges but can be difficult to follow at first.Although rather simplistic and frivolous compared to Saramago's more major novels, The Elephant's Journey is a warmhearted and engaging tale.

2-0 out of 5 stars A Long Slog
This is a very difficult book to read.No capitalization of proper names. No paragraphs.No quotations to separate speakers.If this journey was written as a creative writing workshop some of the more elitist of teachers might praise it as being innovative.I would have given it a fail! It is not innovative from the majority of readers. I read and enjoy the works of Cormac McCarthy who also doesn't use quation marks; but, at least he separates speakers by different lines.

Saramago meanders around for pages in Portugal (portugal) describing a wolf sighting that amounts to nothing and a bumbling priest who gets kicked by Solomon while journeying a few days to the border. Then in the blink of an eye, the mahouts name and elephant's name are changed and suddenly they are in the Alps on their way to Vienna. With a bit of proper editing this book could ahve been a enjoyable read rather than a tiring trudge. Wait for the YouTube video/film (maybe a short subject contender for Cannes). ... Read more

3. Blindness (Movie Tie-In)
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 352 Pages (2008-09-02)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$2.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156035588
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description


A city is hit by an epidemic of "white blindness" that spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and assaulting women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers—among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears—through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation and a vivid evocation of the horrors of the twentieth century, Blindness has swept the reading public with its powerful portrayal of man's worst appetites and weaknesses-and man's ultimately exhilarating spirit.

Amazon.com Review
In an unnamed city in an unnamed country, a man sitting in his car waitingfor a traffic light to change is suddenly struck blind. But instead ofbeing plunged into darkness, this man sees everything white, as if he "werecaught in a mist or had fallen into a milky sea." A Good Samaritan offersto drive him home (and later steals his car); his wife takes him by taxi toa nearby eye clinic where they are ushered past other patients into thedoctor's office. Within a day the man's wife, the taxi driver, the doctorand his patients, and the car thief have all succumbed to blindness. As theepidemic spreads, the government panics and begins quarantining victims inan abandoned mental asylum--guarded by soldiers with orders to shoot anyonewho tries to escape. So begins Portuguese author José Saramago's grippingstory of humanity under siege, written with a dearth of paragraphs, limitedpunctuation, and embedded dialogue minus either quotation marks orattribution. At first this may seem challenging, but the style actuallycontributes to the narrative's building tension, and to the reader'sinvolvement.

In this community of blind people there is still one set of functioningeyes: the doctor's wife has affected blindness in order to accompany herhusband to the asylum. As the number of victims grows and the asylumbecomes overcrowded, systems begin to break down: toilets back up, fooddeliveries become sporadic; there is no medical treatment for the sick and noproper way to bury the dead. Inevitably, social conventions begin tocrumble as well, with one group of blind inmates taking control of thedwindling food supply and using it to exploit the others. Through it all,the doctor's wife does her best to protect her little band of blindcharges, eventually leading them out of the hospital and back into thehorribly changed landscape of the city.

Blindness is in many ways a horrific novel, detailing as it doesthe total breakdown in society that follows upon this most unnaturaldisaster. Saramago takes his characters to the very edge of humanity andthen pushes them over the precipice. His people learn to live ininexpressible filth, they commit acts of both unspeakable violence andamazing generosity that would have been unimaginable to them before thetragedy. The very structure of society itself alters to suit thecircumstances as once-civilized, urban dwellers become ragged nomadstraveling by touch from building to building in search of food. The devilis in the details, and Saramago has imagined for us in all its devastationa hell where those who went blind in the streets can never find their homesagain, where people are reduced to eating chickens raw and packs of dogsroam the excrement-covered sidewalks scavenging from corpses.

And yet in the midst of all this horror Saramago has written passages ofunsurpassed beauty. Upon being told she is beautiful by three of hercharges, women who have never seen her, "the doctor's wife is reduced totears because of a personal pronoun, an adverb, a verb, an adjective, meregrammatical categories, mere labels, just like the two women, the others,indefinite pronouns, they too are crying, they embrace the woman of thewhole sentence, three graces beneath the falling rain." Inthis one womanSaramago has created an enduring, fully developed character who serves bothas the eyes and ears of the reader and as the conscience of the race.Andin Blindness he has written a profound, ultimately transcendentmeditation on what it means to be human. --Alix Wilber ... Read more

Customer Reviews (418)

4-0 out of 5 stars Reading with Tequila
I saw and loved the movie Blindness before even realizing it was based on a book. It's an amazing story. While the movie lacked the depth of the book, I think the movie was easier to understand and get into. My problem with the book stems from the writing style. The book is a collection of run-on sentences filled with commas. There isn't a quotation mark to be found. Most correct punctuation rules are completely disregarded. I found it very difficult to tell who was speaking, which wasn't helped in the least by the lack of names. The blind need no names, the book claims. Characters are defined by a distinguishing characteristic - the doctor, the first blind man, the boy with the squint, etc.

The story is self-explanatory. The city goes blind. Mayhem ensues. While seemingly basic, the way the story unfolds in truly terrifying. The blindness isn't the enemy. The other people are. When put into a this type of situation, people's true (and often horrific) colors show. Saramago goes beyond surface concerns and manages to get at the core of the issue. He throws every horrendous possibility at his characters, making them truly earn their survival.

Blindness offers one of the strongest female characters I've everencountered - the doctor's wife. This book deals with the very worst ofmankind's treatment of one another. The things she witnesses andexperiences would break anyone and yet, this unnamed women isinspirational in her ability to carry on.

As a modern American reader, I found myself asking the obvious questions. Why weren't the soldiers wearing bio hazard suits? Why wasn't the government working on a cure as opposed to this poor attempt at quarantine? Things of that nature.

Very few books could survive this type of formatting nightmare, but the story manages to shine through the mess. Blindness is an amazing tale of surviving when all hope is lost.

5-0 out of 5 stars Blindness by Jose Saramago
The stoplight turns green. It is at this moment, replicated throughout the world and symbolic of man's universally subconscious desire for movement, that movement begins to cease as an everyman becomes inexplicably blind. The phenomena is at first local, spreading through a handful of people with the slightest contact. The government picks up on this and places them in a hurried quarantine, but this doesn't do the slightest to staunch the epidemic and soon everyone throughout the world is struck blind, save a kindly doctor's wife who leads her group through the inhumanity of the quarantine and into society of their own.

The book excels in its bleakness, its stark depiction of man's essential character, its detached tone as it describes the most brutal of circumstances, and in its ultimate salvation. There is a light (no pun intended) at the end of this tunnel, but in order to get there the reader has to face countless times Saramago's view that modern man's id is inherently primitive, which isn't necessarily innovative but comprehensible here due to the book's beautiful sense of nuance and in the myriad of moments of grace that suspend its funereal tone. Ultimately it is one long, phantasmagorical allegory on man's vices and inabilities, and for the skill in which Saramago translates that to the reader the book alone is a triumph. I don't think I'm going to hurry to re-read it anytime soon, though.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Beauty in Blindness: A Story of Human Struggle
If you took away everything--your career, your possessions, your loved ones, and even your sense of being in the world--what is left?
The answer is chaos. Stripped to the bare bones of life, the characters in this book prove to you what it means to be human.
What a beautiful, masterful book. No wonder Saramago has been so highly praised; he more than deserves it.
As a side note, if possible, buy the original version, without the movie tie-in...who needs preconceived information about the characters before you even meet them? Let your mind create them using the guidelines given in the book. :)

3-0 out of 5 stars Blindness
The premise of this book was amazingly done.Jose Saramago's blindness is about an unknown city where one day, someone suddenly goes blind.

Its not the normal blindness however, he sees only a milky white.And soon it is found that it is contagious.In the beginning days the people going blind are rounded up and put into an old insane asylum in hopes that the contagion will not spread. There they become the nameless, only known by what they once were like a taxi driver, or a girl with dark glasses.

While there, only one person, an Opthamalogist's wife, still retains the ability to see.She pretends to be blind to stay with her husband and as the asylum gets fuller she helps those in her area.The biggest fear is the guards outside who prevent anyone from leaving, by force if necessary.

Another obstacle is a blind man with a gun and the members of his ward.Holding hostage the food, he demands valuables, and eventually women in exchange for not starving.Even the seeing woman must bow to his wishes so that he does not shoot anyone.The scenes in this area of the book are very graphic.There is no hesitation in describing bodily functions, rape, and violence.

Trying to survive the worse extremes and filth, the group in the Doctor's wife's ward stick together until then end.A fire at the asylum allows everyone to leave, but the world they return to is not the world they left.Most everyone around is blind and with no running water or electricity, the streets are filthy and full of excrement.People rove around searching for food and attacking those who might even have a small piece of moldy bread.

It is up to the one seeing person to lead her group to safety and try to ensure that they don't all die of disease or starvation.

While I loved the idea of this book, I was very turned off by the writing.I've seen it described that reading his writing was very much like being blind and trying to see.That he was trying to bring you in to the blind person's world, and for that he won a Nobel prize.My thought is that his writing is very much like an artist creating a masterpiece, and then covering it with a sheet in the exhibition.While it might be clever to do something like that, what is the world missing by not being able to see the true work of art?I found myself skimming several lines at a time just because of the lack of breaks and paragraphs.I could handle the different people all talking at once with no designators for the most part, but the lack of paragraphs killed this book for me.

Overall I'd say that this book was just average for me.I would have enjoyed it a great deal more if it were easier to read.Wonderful idea, not so wonderful execution.

Copyright 1995
293 pages

4-0 out of 5 stars Eat the weak
More about the author's interpretation of human nature than an actual plot about losing vision."This is the stuff we're made of, half indifference and half malice."(p. 32)
In the plotline, domesticated animals apparently did not lose their sight, although they were quickly forced into a feral lifestyle. But, with the exception of the doctor's wife, the entire ebb and flow of a benign organized society descended into scatological foraging, a chaos in which a few members seized whatever advantage they could over the rest for survive and to satisfy their baser desires.The end of public utilities brought the scatological theme to a crescendo. Yuck!
I still ponder the conscience of the doctor's wife who could not bring herself to kill more of the bad boys, take their gun, and share the food more equitably.Instead, her conscience brought about a conflagration which killed many more good and evil alike.
Even the doctor's wife's altruistic efforts to feed her small group brought about more death and destruction.
Frankly, I found the dog of tears to be the most sympathetic character.
My attorney said it all turns out okay in the end, but in reality the total breakdown of an effective government, destruction of the food delivery system, disruption of public utilities, and the deaths in the various strata of society, could spell a likely outbreak of violent anarchy.
Oh, well...Maybe it does turn out alright.We'll just have to read "Seeing," the apparent sequel, to find out.
... Read more

4. The Gospel According to Jesus Christ
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 396 Pages (1994-09-28)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156001411
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This is a skeptic’s journey into the meaning of God and of human existence. At once an ironic rendering of the life of Christ and a beautiful novel, Saramago’s tale has sparked intense discussion about the meaning of Christianity and the Church as an institution. Translated by Giovanni Pontiero.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (82)

5-0 out of 5 stars Father Figures

Sons look up to their fathers and try to emulate them. They also defy them, striking out on their own, or attempting to do so. Why should this be any different in the case of the young Jesus Christ? This amazing novel by Nobel prizewinner José Saramago asks just this question, concentrating on a time-frame largely passed over in the Bible, the adolescence and young manhood of Jesus, although several familiar events occur out of their gospel sequence.

There is something compelling about reading a story whose general outlines are well known but whose details are totally fresh. The suspense comes from waiting to see, not what happens next, but HOW it happens. It is a tradition as old as bardic times, when audiences might hear GILGAMESH, the ILIAD, or BEOWULF, and marvel at the familiar events being told in new ways. It demands the existence of an accepted canon, fixed in outline but variable in detail. And it also requires that the stories should touch upon something deeply important, the religious beliefs of a people. It may be a shock to think of the life of Jesus Christ in these terms, but the many gospels, biblical and otherwise, certainly provide variations on the common theme, and the religious implications are indisputable. When I picked up a copy of Saramago's retelling of the story, I intended just to use it for reference, but I found myself reading from beginning to end, enthralled.

It is hard to talk objectively of a religious book, since different readers will be affected by what they bring to it. This is a novel, a very free retelling of the story that will be anathema to fundamentalists. But every page shines with the belief that religion matters and divinity exists; it is not a book for atheists either. I myself come to it from a strong religious upbringing which changed in my twenties to what I can only call an interested agnosticism. I also read it immediately after two other books: Saramago's DEATH WITH INTERRUPTIONS, which broke my fear of this challenging author, and Philip Pullman's THE GOOD MAN JESUS AND THE SCOUNDREL CHRIST, which tells the story of Jesus entirely in human terms, rejecting the miracles and apocalyptic elements as inventions of the Christian church. I knew from DEATH WITH INTERRUPTIONS that Saramago had little patience with the work of the church, and rejects a God who can allow such death and bloodshed in his name and do nothing to intervene. One chapter in THE GOSPEL has God listing in alphabetical detail all the martyrdoms that would befall the saints of the church, not to mention the horrors of the crusades and the inquisition.

But I leap ahead. Judging from the beginning of the book, which dispenses with the virginity of Mary and places Jesus and his siblings in the midst of a normally squabbling family, I had thought that Saramago would also present an entirely human Jesus. But his context is emphatically a religious one, contrasting two opposing strands. There is the complex system of observances in which Jesus would have been brought up as a devout Jew. And Mary (who, as a woman, is marginalized in religious law) receives mysterious visits from an angel who leaves minor miracles in his wake. Angel of God, or messenger of the Devil? Saramago leaves the matter open, and continues to do so. Jesus spends four years as apprentice to a shepherd known only as Pastor, whose true nature is ambiguous until the end. Even in the conversation between God and Jesus referred to above, Satan appears as a third participant, on friendly terms with God and joining in from time to time. Indeed, Satan often seems the more attractive of the two.

Saramago's Jesus will have several fathers. First and most obviously Joseph, who is treated with unusual detail here as a vigorous and competent man burdened by guilt because of one original sin -- that, knowing of Herod's intended massacre of the innocents, he used his knowledge to save only his own family without warning his neighbors. Saramago parallels Joseph's life to that of Jesus in uncanny ways, even down to his death at the same age. When Jesus learns the circumstances of his birth, he too is assailed by guilt. It is now that he meets Pastor, who becomes like a second father to him, presiding as he drops the strict Jewish observances in favor of a more humanistic morality; there is a significant occasion when Jesus refuses to kill the lamb he has been given for the Passover sacrifice. His apprenticeship ends when he meets his third and true father, God. Now fully a man, he meets Mary Magdalene and lives with her for the rest of his life. He also begins the series of miracles recorded in the gospels, though not yet understanding where his powers come from. In a second meeting enshrouded in mists in the middle of the Sea of Gennaseret, God makes clear what he wants of him: nothing less than the foundation of the Catholic Church through his son's example and sacrifice. But when Jesus realizes the horrors that will ensue, he tries to defy God by bringing about his own death, not as the Son of God but as King of the Jews -- a claim designed to force the Romans to execute him on political grounds. He fails, of course, in secularizing his role; and for good or ill, the rest is history.

3-0 out of 5 stars Shouldn't Amazon state the case size?.The case is so small I decided not to read it.
The case was way SMALL, so I had to order another edition.It would be a great help if Amazon stated the case size, something like Very Small, Small, Medium, Large.I received an edition from the publisher Harvill (ISBN 9781860466847) and the case is real small (it seems Harvill has several editions for this same book), this one a picture in the cover with big letters J and S in blue and wine-red and a heart crossed by a sword on the lower left corner of the cover.

5-0 out of 5 stars You can't cheat a Cheater
I was at the attorney's office again inquiring how to deal with crazy people without them suing me.And, that is not as easy as it sounds.
Usually, our conversations are a bit rambling, and we end up talking about the army, tea baggers or the nuts who run the various governments.
But, this time, he got on the subject of Jose Saramago, a Portuguese writer who did not believe in punctuation or quotation marks, particularly "Blindness" which I have just begun and which the attorney considered a masterpiece.
He was practically raving about the author, the rambling sentences, punctuation, and story impact.
Now, I have had plenty of folks recommend a book or an author, but not with such fervor.
Giovanni Pontiero translated "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ" from the original Portuguese into English.(Translators can make or break a book and Pontiero seems to have done an excellent job.)
The Life of Jesus, as portrayed by Saramago does not exactly meet Preacher Phil's exacting standards, but actually makes more sense than the pulpit version.Or perhaps it makes as much senselessness.The preacher's theory is that we should spend every second of your existence praising our Creator and, when we die, fly to the bosom of Abraham where we will spend every second of our existence into eternity and beyond praising our Creator.Phooey, I give my pets a better deal than that.
But, this is exactly what the novel's Jesus is faced with.His God, perhaps in collusion with Pastor, wishes to kill him, and create centuries of martyrdom and slaughter to aggrandize more worshippers than the other gods.Jesus fails the double cross.
Perhaps, the moral of the story is you cannot cheat a Cheater.Figure it out yourself.But, in any case, the author presents a powerful story and I am looking forward to reading his other titles.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lacking Faith in His Own Doubt ...
... author José Saramago sacralizes his skepticism by writing this humanized biography of the mythical Jesus of Nazareth up to by not a moment beyond his death by cruxifixion. Fully half of the book describes Jesus's family life and childhood up to age thirteen, at which time the boy's father is unjustly executed by Roman soldiers. Thereupon Jesus leaves his widowed mother and siblings in Nazareth, and begins his quest to expiate his own and his father's guilt over the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem at the time of his birth. After four years as a `shepherd' under the tutelege of `Pastor" (the Devil), Jesus meets God in the desert and learns something of his destiny. As he seeks to return to his home in Nazareth, he encounters Mary Magdalene, who initiates him into physical love and who vows to follow him devotedly. His career of preaching, his miracles, his gathering of disciples, and his decision to seek crucifixion all are depicted tersely in the final chapters of this "Gospel", along with manifold predictions of the future of the disciples and of the religious empire they will found.

Evangelical Christians, be advised! This book will offend you. Its portrayal of the life of Jesus is far more blasphemous than the infamous story of the Prophet Mohammed that earned Salmon Rushdie a death sentence by `fatwah'. Author Saramago would surely have been burned at the stake in the Rome of the Holy Inquisition, or in the Geneva of John Calvin, but Christians have evolved morally since then.

Nevertheless, Saramago's `theology' is blatantly heretical by the standards of any established Judeo-Christian Confession. God and Satan are inseparable and interdependent in Saramago's "Gnostic" vision, and both stand to `gain' by the expansion of God's dominion over Earth that will result from the blood sacrifice of God's explicitly created Son on the cross. Notice that fatal word "created". That's heresy enough for both Orthodox and Catholic Christians, who proclaim the Trinity co-eval and uncreated. The asymmetrical relationship of Creator and Created is perhaps the central theme of Saramago's Gospel. The act of creation, Saramago suggests, inevitably delimits and diminishes the potency of the creator. A shoemaker loses control of a shoe's state-of-being as soon as he's stitched it together; the leather will stiffen, the sole will wear out. A father procreates, but a son is soon willfully independent. God's Son has a mind of His own, and is none too cooperative about eschatological matters. There may be a serious lesson in all this for mankind in its efforts to create intelliegent machines.

The really interesting part of this book -- the philosophical agonizing over the limits of God's omnipotence -- doesn't begin until page 169, with the chapter in which the boy Jesus confronts the rabbis in the Temple. (If the book has a literary weakness, it's that it hesitates too long to raise its stakes.)Limited Omnipotence may seem immediately to be an oxymoron, but Saramago's Jesus offers no other way to make sense of the Judeo-Christian narrative of sin and salvation. Weary as `this reader' is of such a narrative, I find Saramago's convoluted theology extremely interesting, and possibly the best `defense' of human Free Will in the intellectual marketplace. It's the capacity of the Created to disappoint its Creator that constitutes its `freedom.'

You won't enjoy this book, I promise you, unless you are susceptible to its earnest philosophical/theological meditations. Saramago, you might say, plays God the Narrator according to his own sort of script; at times, he professes omniscience and at other times he chooses to act coy and deny his authority over his own tale. As a ploy, it's either wonderfully clever or else bloody annoying, depending altogether on the reader's willingness to let him get away with it. I'd read Saramago before; I knew what I was taking on, but I found "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ" far more profound and provocative than I expected. Saramago surely deserved his 1998 Nobel Prize.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking creatively written
For those who wish they might have lived to watch Jesus grow up, this might be interesting reading.The author provides a fictional (based on historical information, however) narrative of a human boy's journey to manhood.A sort of reality check from the earth-bound side.Jesus was a real flesh and blood boy, foibles and all, the author proposes. A most interesting and compelling read.Read with an open mind. ... Read more

5. All the Names
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 264 Pages (2001-10-05)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$4.76
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156010593
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Senhor José is a low-grade clerk in the city's Central Registry, where the living and the dead share the same shelf space. A middle-aged bachelor, he has no interest in anything beyond the certificates of birth, marriage, divorce, and death that are his daily routine. But one day, when he comes across the records of an anonymous young woman, something happens to him. Obsessed, Senhor José sets off to follow the thread that may lead him to the woman-but as he gets closer, he discovers more about her, and about himself, than he would ever have wished.

The loneliness of people's lives, the effects of chance, the discovery of love-all coalesce in this extraordinary novel that displays the power and art of José Saramago in brilliant form.

Amazon.com Review
"As soon as you cross the threshold, you notice the smell of old paper."The Central Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths is the setting for All the Names, NobelPrize-winning Portuguese author José Saramago's seventh novel to betranslated into English. The names in question are those of every man,woman, and child ever born, married, or buried in the unnamed city wherethe Registry is located, and are the special province of Senhor José who isemployed there as a clerk. Over the centuries, the paper trail in thishopelessly arcane bureaucracy has grown so monumental, so disorganized that

one poor researcher became lost in the labyrinthine catacombs of thearchive of the dead, having come to the Central Registry in order to carryout some genealogical research he had been commissioned to undertake. Hewas discovered, almost miraculously, after a week, starving, thirsty,exhausted, delirious, having survived thanks to the desperate measure ofingesting enormous quantities of old documents that neither lingered in thestomach nor nourished, since they melted in the mouth without requiring anychewing.
The nondescript Senhor José labors long and thanklessly among the archives; his is a tepid, lonely life with only one small hobby to leaven his leisure hours: he collects "news items about those people in his country who, for good reasons and bad, had become famous." One night, it occurs to him that"something fundamental was missing from his collection, that is, theorigin, the root, the source, in other words, the actual birth certificateof these famous people"--and that the information is within easy reach onthe other side of a connecting door that separates his meager lodgings fromthe Registry itself. And so begins Senhor José's midnight raids on thestacks as he shuttles between the Registry and his own room bearingprecious records that he carefully copies before returning them to theirrightful places. Still, this minor aberration might have remained theclerk's only transgression if not for a simple act of fate: one night,along with his celebrity records, he accidentally picks up a birthcertificate belonging to an ordinary, unknown woman--a woman who becomessuddenly more important than all the others precisely because she isunknown. Celebrity is cast aside as Senhor José begins a search for thismysterious quarry--a quest that will lead him into conflict with hissuperior, the Registrar, and ensnare him in the kind of messy personalhistories and tangled relationships he has thus far avoided in his ownlife.

A recurring theme in many of Saramago's novels is the very human strugglebetween withdrawal and connection.Whether it is the Iberian peninsulaliterally breaking off from the rest of Europe in The Stone Raft or anentire country afflicted by a devastating malady in Blindness, he isfascinated by the effects of isolation on the human soul and,correspondingly, the redemptive power of compassion. All the Namescontinues to mine this rich vein as the repressed clerk follows his unknownAriadne's thread out of the labyrinth of his own strangled psyche and intolife. Readers will find here Saramago's trademark love of the absurd, hisbrilliant imagery and idiosyncratic punctuation, as well as the unflinchingyet tender honesty with which he chronicles the human condition. --AlixWilber ... Read more

Customer Reviews (60)

3-0 out of 5 stars Kindle version is LOADED with errors
I'm 26% through with the book, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I like the unusual style and punctuation of Mr. Saramago's writing.

But the Kindle version is LOADED with errors. Yes, you can tell they are errors even considering the unusual writing style. In fact, my experience leads me to think this is a sloppy scanning job.

Am I right, publisher?

Alice of Wonderland

4-0 out of 5 stars worth the effort
i enjoyed this, though it was a challenge to get used to the writing style (entire conversations become paragraphs going on for pages with only commas and capitals to separate).

4-0 out of 5 stars Senhor Jose is nuts
Living alone with a door to the Central Ministry where he worked by day as a low level clerk compiling vital statistics, Senhor Jose had no one to talk to, not even a cat.His only amusement was scrap booking famous persons, that is until the day he came across the unknown woman.Obsessed, Jose made unauthorized use of the Central Ministry, broke into a school and barged into acquaintances and family of the woman. And, when he discovered his subject had committed suicide, he was not deterred.To top it off, the actual volume of the Ministry's records had been reduced by silverfish and mice (p.137).Then there was a goofy shepherd who switched grave numbers to ensure that headstones were placed over the wrong departed.Senhor Jose knew there was nothing you can do about death (p. 196), and concluded nothing in the world makes sense (p. 234).But, Jose's nuttiness does not go unnoticed by the Registrar himself who excused Jose and expunged the woman's death from the official records. Perhaps the Registrar is a nut also. An intense examination of obsession and loneliness...And, so it continues...We leave Jose trapped in his own life's maze.So, if you wish to live forever, make sure your death certificate is never recorded. It would be even more interesting if the shepherd were named Pastor!

1-0 out of 5 stars did not care for writing style
This is a hard book to read because of lack of punctuation, quotation marks and paragraph indentations. Also I really could not find a point to this entire story. Mostly it is a recording of a man's thoughts, reflections and daydreams. I felt like I wasted my time with this one. It was very BORING!

5-0 out of 5 stars Minor problem with translation
Saragamo does not use quotation marks.In the dialogues between two persons, he indicates a switch between speakers by a comma, followed by a word that begins with a capital letter.This is a problem in English when the word is "I", because "I" is always capitalized. As a result, it is sometimes difficult to determine when the speaker switches.The translator could have eliminated this problem by using the non-capitalized form of "i" when it was not the first word following a switch of speakers.Although not gramatically correct, it would have made it easier for the reader. ... Read more

6. Baltasar and Blimunda
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 360 Pages (1998-11-05)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156005204
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
From the recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature, a “brilliant...enchanting novel” (New York Times Book Review) of romance, deceit, religion, and magic set in eighteenth-century Portugal at the height of the Inquisition. National bestseller. Translated by Giovanni Pontiero.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (46)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not a Book for Haters
I read this book a couple years ago, and seriously it's the best novel I've ever read.It's all about how love and magic and poetry can and should supercede all else.Some see it more as a history, some as a love story, but I see it more as a statement about how to live a life and why.Really, if you haven't read this book, then do it.Worst that can happen is you don't get the point.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent service
Excellent, fast service. I encourage anyone thinking about purchasing a used book and you can use this vendor, do so. You're unlikely to be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars First book since childhood that I read two times
Epic love story set during the construction of the convent at Mafra, now one of Portugal's most popular tourist sites. Sometimes the narration got to rambling and I had to reread passages. I didn't think the Passarola had any chance of flying so it was amusing when it did. The ending was so devastating, and it made me want to write a screenplay adaptation. Since childhood, I have never revisited a novel, even if it was one of my favorites. I found myself coming back to this one a couple of months after the first read. It really stayed with me.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Banquet of Words, Sauced with Irony
Baltazar and Blimunda is a novel of historical pageantry, set in Portugal in the early 18th Century. Like most historical novels, the fun comes from the luscious descriptions of a past made exotic by time - lusty, vivid, scurrilous, pungent, gritty. The better the historical novelist is at his craft, the less his characters seem "just like us" in flamboyant costuming. Saramago is very good at his craft; none of his characters - king, priest, or peasant - show any signs of psychological modernity. They truly exist in a pre-modern paradigm, a "mentality" long lost.

[I can vouch for this! One of the players in B&B is my old friend, the composerDomenico Scarlatti, and Saramago's portrayal of him is tantalizingly accurate.]

Perhaps this degree of historical insight is easier for Jose Saramago than for other historical fictionalists because he himself exists in a 19th Century mentality - half the temporal distance back to his subject matter - at a time when 'heresy' was still a burning topic of thought, when the hierarchies of society and of creation were just beginning to topple, when skepticism was still dangerous and therefore enchanting. In short, there is something anachronistic about Saramago's mindset, and if you look for pertinence in his work, you're likely to be disappointed. Read him for his lush verbal skills, for his inventiveness, and above all for his sly wit.

Saramago is often linked by critics to the so-called "magic realists" such as Gabriel Marquez, most of them writers in Spanish, but Saramago has a closer heritage among the little-known writers of Portugal and Brazil. His particular sardonic irony is inherited from the Brazilian Machado di Asis, a very great writer that few Americans have even heard of. Farther back in time, there's the epic poet Camoens; the 'voyage' themes of B&B make frequent allusions to Camoens's Lusiad. Like most historical novels, B&B draws heavily on the reader's knowledge of history and of the locale; I hasten to confess that some of my relish for this book comes from recognizing the scenery, remembering the food, catching the acrid scents of Portugal per se. But I imagine the allure can pull you either way; after reading this extravagant prose, don't be surprised if you find yourself consulting travel brochures about Lusitania.

4-0 out of 5 stars 3.5 out of 5:Enchanting prose and believable love story
This book is filled with absolutely enchanting prose with a very unique style. Saramago portrays an enduring love between the two main characters. There's plenty of magical realism, which keeps the book lively and fresh. The book as a whole, however, is a bit dull in places.Overall, a worthwhile read. ... Read more

7. Death with Interruptions
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 256 Pages (2009-09-02)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$2.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0547247885
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago's brilliant new novel poses the question -- what happens when the grim reaper decides there will be no more death?
On the first day of the new year, no one dies. This of course causes consternation among politicians, religious leaders, morticians, and doctors. Among the general public, on the other hand, there is initially celebration—flags are hung out on balconies, people dance in the streets. They have achieved the great goal of humanity: eternal life. Then reality hits home—families are left to care for the permanently dying, life-insurance policies become meaningless, and funeral parlors are reduced to arranging burials for pet dogs, cats, hamsters, and parrots.

Death sits in her chilly apartment, where she lives alone with scythe and filing cabinets, and contemplates her experiment: What if no one ever died again? What if she, death with a small d, became human and were to fall in love?
... Read more

Customer Reviews (44)

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply Stunning
Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa, Death with Interruptions is one of Nobel-laureate novelist José Saramago's last novels--he passed away in June 2010.

In less skilled hands, the unconventional structure of the novel--long paragraphs, commas setting off exchanges of dialogue with no quotation marks--might detract. Yet this structure is an integral part of this little gem's beauty, lending an immediacy to the narrative that would otherwise be missing. Such is Saramago's skill, nothing is missed, nothing is lost due to confusion.

The premise: Imagine waking up on New Year's day to learn that death, with a lowercase "d," has taken a vacation. Man has achieved immortality. Let the celebrations begin.

But in time reality sets in. Families must now care for the terminally dying (they have no more hope of dying than of getting well), life insurance policies become worthless, and, to stay in business, funeral homes now make final arrangements for family pets.

All while death, in the guise of a skeleton, chills in her--yes, her--apartment.

After several months, death decides to reinstitute the institution of death, but with a caveat: no longer will death come unannounced. To give those about to die time to prepare, to get their affairs in order and to say goodbye to their loved ones, death now sends a scarlet letter, announcing the date of the recipient's demise.

Soon it's business as usual--until, for the first time, one of the scarlet letters comes back to death, unopened. Not once, but three times. Odd, considering no return address is affixed to the envelope and no knows of her residence.

Death is puzzled, muttering under her breath to anyone who will listen, but no one is there, save for the scythe that leans against the wall, indifferent to her musings because, for centuries, she has ignored it.

She decides to hand deliver the letter to the recipient, a cellist of little renown, aged 50-something, balding and unremarkable. She rolls her bones into his residence--he lives alone and shares a bed with a dog:

"Perhaps they're dreaming about each other, the man about the dog, the dog about the man, the dog dreaming that it's morning already and that he's laying his head down beside the man's head, the man dreaming that it's morning already and that his left arm is grasping the soft, warm body of the dog and holding it close to his breast."

Death seats herself, invisible to the cellist and his dog, on a sofa to watch them sleep. Eventually the man stirs and rises to get himself a drink of water. The dog trails after him and death trails after the dog. As the man drinks from a glass, the dog slakes his thirst from a water bowl. The man lets the dog out the back door and waits for him to return, while death tries to imagine what it must be like to feel thirsty.

The man and his dog return to bed and death reseats herself on the sofa. A short time later, the dog leaves the bed to jump onto the sofa and:

"For the first time in her life, death knew what it felt like to have a dog on her lap."

And she finds she can't leave the scarlet letter for the cellist.

Death later dons flesh and attends a concert during which the cellist plays a solo. Afterward,they meet, exchange a few words and she promises to return for his next performance, two days hence; but she stands him up. The cellist laments his hope that she would attend, revealing so much in so few words about his life.

To say more would be to spoil the simplest of love stories--suffice it to say the denouement will melt the most frigid of hearts. It did mine.

A simple tale simply told, this parable might well be the most moving piece of literature I've ever read.

My highest recommendation.

Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings

5-0 out of 5 stars Who Needs Death?
This is the first Saramago book that I have read, but it will not be the last. I had previously been put off by the physical appearance of his text -- those rectangular blocks of gray print with no indents, no quotations, and very few paragraphs. But what I had not realized was the depth of his intelligence, the brilliance of his invention, or most importantly the extent of his wit. This is a satire, based on the simple premise that Death, or rather the small-d death responsible for this particular country, takes a seven-month holiday and in all that time no one dies. A good thing? Not necessarily, because the inability to die affects also the terminally ill and the victims of horrendous road accidents, so that soon the hospitals, hospices, and eventide homes are full to bursting. The undertakers are out of work. Before long, the maphia (sic) have gone into the business of transporting moribund family members over the border so that they may end their lives elsewhere.

But Saramago does much more than merely play with amusing what-ifs; there are philosophical implications also. There is, for instance, a telephone conversation early in the book between the prime minister and the cardinal. While the politician juggles impressively vapid press-releases, the churchman points out that without death there is no need for a church, and that it is his duty to pray for the resumption of death so that his flock may ascend to eternal life. Of all the numerous targets in the book (the author is an equal-opportunity skeptic), Saramago reserves his strongest ire for organized religion; as one of the characters remarks, "god is god and he's done almost nothing but fail." But it is not just the church that needs death; Saramago's point is that it is vital to life, and indeed we should all welcome it, even in its unpredictability.

None of the people in the book are given proper names. Nonetheless, individual characters do begin to emerge, starting with death herself (for in romance languages the word for death is always feminine). Even when she decides to resume work, there is one person (a professional cellist -- Saramago clearly knows music) who somehow manages to elude her. So she visits his home, watches him walking his dog, attends his rehearsals and one of his performances, and finds herself falling in love. The book, which had begun as an intellectual game, ends in warm humanity. Medieval artists used to depict the Dance of Death as a sinister reaping by a skeleton with a scythe. Saramago gives us a dance WITH death, in the form of an attractive young woman who comes into our willing embrace. Would it were ever so!

5-0 out of 5 stars Saramago -- for fun.
It's just so much fun.When the Cardinal calls, outraged, to say that the cessation of death imperils the Church, when the narrator explores the fate of insurance companies or funeral homes in a country without death or launches upon an analysis of the handwriting found on death violet-colored stationery.It's just so much fun.

Saramago skewers society and its institutions -- yet portrays individuals with tenderness and dignity.I think he is one of the best for creating characters who are truly and convincingly good.

Half of the book is spent exploring the idea of a country without death, half to showing what happens when death herself trips up and falls in love.It is all a romp.

Please ignore people who say Saramago is "difficult".They are just trying to make themselves feel elevated -- and we should call their bluff.If you're reading Saramago for the first time, you'll need to accustom yourself to a few differences in the use of punctuation and the paragraph -- innovations which function so smoothly it is likely they will be adopted by other writers.

Two hundred pages of delight and then -- a big bang-up old-fashioned ending that made me catch my breath.Such fun!Especially if mortality's been sending you small shocks lately, this is one to put on top of your reading list.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect as always in the Saramago's case
Excellent book. I think most of the 5 stars reviews tell everything about the book and I can't add anything else about the story. I just want to add something about Saramago's style.
I'm Brazilian and, of course, I read it in Portuguese. Besides this book, I also read "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ", "Blindness" and "Seeing". Saramago has a very peculiar way of punctuation and this bothers some people. In my opinion, it's hard in the beginning but you get used to it very soon. His style is unique and this is one of the several reasons for his Nobel Prize.
I read some one star reviews complaining exactly about this issue and saying that this was a bad translation problem which is not true, not at all. The few pages I read in English are following exactly the original way of punctuation.

I really recommend this book for everybody.

4-0 out of 5 stars What happens on the following day?
"The following day, no one died."

It almost pains me to not give 'Death with Interruptions' the highest possible rating, because it is Jose Saramago, and because the writing is beautiful, and because it ends so very elegantly. It may, in fact, be one of the most perfect endings I have ever read. Even so, I have to be honest and say that I feel that other parts of the book are flawed, and if I didn't know I would be rewarded, I might not have stuck it out to the end.

The concept, like much of Saramago's work, is immediately engaging: what if death stopped taking lives for a time? Within the borders of a single country, for a certain time, nobody dies. What if death did the unthinkable - what if she changed the rules?

The results, in Saramago's able and imaginative hands, are at times sad and at other times ridiculous, but they never fail to be plausible. I can see everyday people, politicians, criminals, and businessmen reacting in much the way he describes. 'Death with Interruptions' doesn't have the powerful shock value of 'Blindness' or the simple elegance of 'The Stone Raft,' but it is always believable.

For such a small book, however, 'Death with Interruptions' tries to be too large a story. Saramago, in my opinion, is best when he focuses on the everyday person, when he takes big world-shaking events and places them into the context of the individual experience. Much of 'Death with Interruptions' is about government and religious leaders making big decisions, and in those parts, he lost me. When the story found the individual family whose tragedy sought a solution to death's sudden absence, or when it later found the man who was able to defy death herself, those are the moments when the book really found its center and its focus, when the story became everything I hoped it might be. But it has to be said, some of the other parts of the book, the parts where we lose focus on the individual and look at the movements of a nation, almost lost me.

Saramago's use of language is lyrical, almost poetic. His ideas are groundbreaking and original. His vision is fearless. And when he's really on his game, his stories are breathtaking marvels. 'Death with Interruptions' is nearly all of that. It loses focus at a few key moments, but finds it again, and the ending is everything it could have been and more. The ending makes reading the book worth it.

The ending, when it comes, is beautiful. ... Read more

8. Ensayo sobre la ceguera / Blindness (MTI) (Spanish Edition)
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 384 Pages (2009-08-17)
list price: US$10.99 -- used & new: US$9.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 8466321497
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A driver waiting at a red light suddenly becomes blind. So does his wife and the doctor who examines them. They are the first cases of an epidemic of blindness. A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation, a vivid evocation of the horrors of the twentieth century, and a terrifying allegory of the dark times of the new millennium, Blindness masterfully portrays man's worst appetites and weaknesses and man's ultimately exhilarating spirit. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars Cuativante reflexión sobre diversos temas
La compré y en menos de una semana, entre otras tantas ocupaciones, me la leí. Es una de las novelas que cautiva desde sus inicios. Estudia diversos aspectos de la condición humana, sin decaer un solo instante.

Con Saramago tenemos la narración pura, esa que se basa en la bondad del decir y no en los efectismos del contenido o la intriga, tan usuales en las novelas--guiones cinematrográficos-- a que nos tienen acostrumbrados los autores de habla inglesa contemporáneos.

Definitivamente recomiendo este clásicó de la novela contemporánea.

3-0 out of 5 stars A story without brightness
What if mankind suddenly became blind? What would everyday life be like if our eyes could only see a white light? The subject seems interesting but the developing of it becames sometimes dull during the book. Saramago spends about 100 pages describing the life of a group of people who have been locked up in a building for quarantine. Too many details make this episode a little boring. The story resumes when these people can finally escape from the building and have to face with "the world" without sight. I could be politically correct (as most of the reviews that I read) and say this book is spectacular. My opinion is that the author missed the chance to tell a great story and got lost in the details.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ensayo sobre la ceguera (Blindness)
"Ensayo sobre la ceguera" es una obra muy intrigante y bien escrita sobre el comportamiento del ser humano durante una crisis; les va a gustar a los aficcionados de Saramago. El único problema con la historia es cómo termina.

"Blindness" is a well-written, intriging work about human nature during a crisis. Fans of Saramago will like it. The only problem is how the story ends.

5-0 out of 5 stars Espectacular
Saramagodespunta y se reafirma como uno de los mejores palabristas de nuestros tiempos. Su estilo único de contar una historia y su estructura novelistica rompe esquemas literarios y nos abre una ventana a un mundo nuevo de expresión escrita. Al principio nos asusta, o a algunos podrían hasta rechazar su inigualable manejo del lenguaje, pero en poco tiempo nos atrapa, y nos embarca en un hermoso y exquisito viaje del que nunca desearías terminara.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very captivating book!
I already read this book a few years ago, and like the other people above said, it`s an incredible history you can't not put down the book once you started reading, because you get involve into it. Personally I recommended, I was thinking to read it again... ... Read more

9. El Evangelio Segun Jesucristo / The Gospel According To Jesus Christ (Spanish Edition)
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 496 Pages (2010-09-20)
list price: US$12.99 -- used & new: US$12.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 846631542X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Spanish Description: Jose, en lugar de ser carpintero sin ningun tipo de inquietud, es recreado por el autor como un personaje complejo y fascinante, atormentado por la culpa y el arrepentimiento por haber preferido salvar a su hijo antes que alertar a la poblacion sobre las intenciones de Herodes. El evangelio segun Jesucristo, que tanto sorprendio al mundo catolico, presenta una vision mundana de los hechos relativos al Nazareno: las circunstancias de su nacimiento, los primeros interrogatorios a su madre, los encuentros con angeles y demonios, el descubrimiento del amor junto a Maria Magdalena, los dialogos existenciales y la angustia por saber cual es el verdadero sentido y funcion de su existencia ante los ojos de Dios. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars El Evangelio según Saramago
Un día estaba caminando el escritor portugués por una calle, creo que de Sevilla, cuando al pasar por enfrente de un quiosco le pareció ver un curioso libro titulado: El Evangelio según Jesucristo, siguió caminando con el libro en la cabeza, al no poder quitárselo decidió regresar para comprar el libro, pero ya no estaba, o quizás nunca lo estuvo. Suficiente señal para Saramago para decidir que ese libro necesitaba ser escrito, y así lo hizo. El resultado, El Evangelio según Jesucristo, levantó enormes controversias en el mundo cristiano, y el elogio universal de la critíca especializada.

10 años después, cae este libro en manos de esta humilde venezolana, quien no puede evitar maravillarse y espantarse por esta lectura. El libro no debería titularse El Evangelio según Jesucristo, sino según Saramago, porque el gran protagonista de la obra, y sobre quien pesa todo el dilema moral de la culpabilidad, es el carpintero José. La vida de Jesús adulto ocupa menos de la mitad del libro, yse revuelve alrededor de la culpabilidad heredada de su padre por haber permitido la matanza de los inocentes en Belén. La prosa de Saramago es impecable y llena de humor, la impostación de problemasen la prehistoria cristiana que podemos pensar como contemporáneos como crisis existenciales, ataques de pánico, es realmente genial. La novela puede resultar a momentos demasiado irreverente para aquellos que a pesar de no ser cristianos practicantes, hemos nacido y hemos sido criados como católicos. Nuestra religión y la de nuestros ancestros es puesta en ridículo.Todo sea por amor a la literatura.

5-0 out of 5 stars perturbador
espero que este comentario salga,el libro es perturbador y emocionante, es una perspectiva diferente de lo que pudo haber sucedido, claro que en cosas de la historia original tendremos que atenernos a hacer conjeturasbasadas en la biblia, ya que nadie mas narro esa historia y si asi fue, fuedesde un punto de vista muy diferente. el libro se deja leer, es ameno yentretenido, esta muy bien escrito y la historia de saramago, se sustentamuy bien.

luis mendez

5-0 out of 5 stars Brillante!
Una perspectiva distinta de la vida de Jesus de Nazareth; una historia que pone a pensar a cualquiera que la lea, a preguntarse si esto o aquello de lo que dice Saramago pudo o no ser de esa manera.

Excelente! ...

5-0 out of 5 stars perturbador
este libro, es perturbador, pero asi deben ser los libros escritos cuandon buscan indagar un tema hasta el fondo y en este caso el autor aunque fantasea a veces, nos presenta lo que podria haber pasado a grandes rasgosen la vida de jesus de la cual tenemos poca informacion a no ser la queesta en la biblia que lo muestra sin cara o rostro, desprovisto dedescripcion corporal, y con solo unos anos de su vida al descubierto. estanovela, nos muestra a jesus sintiendo miedo, dudas, en incluso en conflictocon sus hermanos,enganado por dios y por el diablo que rigen nuestrosdestinos y nos tienen como marionetas de su juego, cada uno necesitando delotro para poder subsistir. es un buen libro, aunque no se como lo tomara lacomunidad cristiana, no es para nada blasfemo. muestra a un hombre comosaramago, usando hasta el limite su libre albedrio para hayar lasrespuestas o si no al menos para indagar hasta el fondo de ellas. es unlibro escrito en una bella prosa, imitacion de la biblia y del lenguajepoetico, un poco barroco a veces, pero siempre amena e interesante


5-0 out of 5 stars El Jesus como Hombre
Otra forma de leer sobre el Jesús como Hombre y sus relaciones con la familia y otros aspectos de su vida, nos ubica en una situación diferente tanto de la Iglesia Católica como de La Ultima Tentacióndel autor GriegoNikos Kazantzakis. Siempre que sale una historia de Jesús se presta anuevas interpretaciones de lo que pudo haber sucedido desde el punto devista Histórico. Tal vez solo las bibliotecas del Vaticano tengan un pocomas de la verdad. De todas formas narrativamente esta novela esexcelente! . ... Read more

10. The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 368 Pages (1992-04-27)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$6.14
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156996936
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The year: 1936. Europe dances while an invidious dictator establishes himself in Portugal. The city: Lisbon-gray, colorless, chimerical. Ricardo Reis, a doctor and poet, has just come home after sixteen years in Brazil. Translated by Giovanni Pontiero.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

3-0 out of 5 stars Harder to relate if you're not Portuguese
Saramago is my favorite living author, yet I felt I missed a lot of this novel's power simply because I am not very familiar with Portuguese literature (Pessoa and other writers), culture or history. I am familiar enough with 20th century history and the years leading up to World War II, so I wasn't completely lost, but I suspect if I had been raised in Portugal I would have given this novel a much higher rating. Some knowledge of Franco's rise to power in Spain would also increase your enjoyment of this work.

Even missing some of this knowledge, Saramago's writing is still a wonder to me. Although it can be dense and demanding, he always has had the ability to keep me focused and turning pages and this novel was no exception. His characters and their thoughts are, as always, well-developed and you can easily see some of yourself in each one of them.

I recommend it as a strong piece of writing, with the caveat that you might not get all of what he intended his readers to get out of the novel if you are not familiar with Portugal's history and culture or with the state of geopolitics in the 1930s.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Disturbing
I highly recommend this great book by a great, Nobel-Prize winning author.It is so well written that it almost rises to a book of poetry, vaguely reminiscent of fellow Nobel-Prize winning William Faulkner; the psychological drilling is deep, but worth the effort.Though Saramago's writings are more structured and less rambling than Faulkner's, the passion, thetone, and the eloquence are the same, at least for me.

This book is all about out-of-control circumstances in pre-War Portugal and how a fictitious doctor and poet of pre-War Portugal, Ricardo Reis, deals with them.Insanity is in the air, and deadly nationalism is rising along with the military coups and Nazism in neighboring countries. Quite by chance, he arrives in his native Portugal in 1936 just in time for this brewing storm, after spending the previous 16 years in Brazil. It reminds me a lot of the great and disturbing 70's movie Cabaret, where pre-War, Brown-shirt Germany was seen through the prism of a decadent Berlin cabaret, and the people who worked or played there.

Ricardo Reis does little else than think; it is his way of life, and circumstances give him a lot to work with. He is very much a loner, passably sociable on the outside, but self-centered, moody, timid, guarded on the inside, a lot like you and me if we were honest enough with ourselves.But unlike most of us, I hope, his most intimate relationship seems to be with Death itself.This might be the logical end of existentialist thought; things are bad, God is non-existent or non-caring, Death is the answer. (Ithink Life is the answer, and the transcendent Christian God who gives peace despite circumstances.)

In a nutshell, I like HOW Saramago writes more than WHAT he writes about.

The book is a bit heavy but well worth the read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Saramago At His Best
This is Saramago at his best. The very first sentence of the novel sets the mood. The writing has a dream-like, floating feel throughout. Saramago indeterminately mixes tenses; he often goes from "I" to "he" (speaking of the same character) in the same paragraph. But he does this purposely to enhance his idea of identity and relationships.

Marcenda's left hand is an additional character in the novel. In one scene it is described as appearing to "glory at being seen".

After reading "The Year of the Death of Richardo Reis" I can understand why he won the nobel prize. If I had only read "Blindness" then I wouldn't have understood. In my opinion, "Blindness" is merely an intellectualized Stephen King novel; intellectualized because of the writing and because it is allegorical. It reminds me of Camus' "The Plague". In and of itself "Blindness" wouldn't have deserved a Nobel Prize, but in conjunction with his other works, especially this one being reviewed, Saramago certainly deserves the award.

If you haven't read Pessoa but like Saramago, you should put Pessoa next on your reading list.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book but easy to misunderstand
This book is usually on most readers' list of top three Saramago masterpieces.But in reading the English language reviews I realize that most people are missing a very simple aspect to the entire book.Of all of Fernando Pessoa's poetic personae, Ricardo Reis was the least politically engaged with the world, the artist in the ivory tower, contemplating the world of beauty. Saramago, as experienced readers intuit, is a very different sort of artist, for whom literature is a form of moral and political engagement with the world.Saramago has pointed out in interviews that one of the premises of this novel was the confrontation between the politically disengaged artist and an Iberia that was quickly becoming enshrouded in Fascism.

Understanding this confrontation might make this novel more sensible to English speaking non-Portuguese 21st century readers.

5-0 out of 5 stars A supplement to the previous review
The previous reviewer suggested that the "ghost" character Pessoa may have been based on an actual person. It's true. Fernando Pessoa was an outstanding Portuguese poet. What's interesting here is that Pessoa wrote under several pen-names, and in some cases he would write praise or criticism in one pan-name of his own writing done in another pen-name. These pen-names were characters in and of themselves. The various pen-names had back grounds and histories which gave each one a unique perspective to "their" writings. One of Pessoa's pen-names was Dr. Ricardo Reis.

Saramago's Dr. Reis is faithful to the background devised by Pessoa, and the facts regarding Pessoa himself, so these conversations between Reis and the ghost Pessoa can be seen as conversations with one's self. It's brilliant. It's beyond brilliant.

If you are interested in an excellent Pessoa book, try The Book of Disquiet. ... Read more

11. Ensayo sobre la lucidez (Narrativa (Punto de Lectura)) (Spanish Edition)
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 464 Pages (2005-01-01)
list price: US$11.99 -- used & new: US$7.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 846631959X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
What would happen if an entire population decided to cast a blank vote in their town elections? In this new novel, a policeman and the woman who was able to maintain her sight in the novel Blindness, are samples of the moral heights that these anonymous citizens are able to reach when they decide to exert their freedom. Saramago, a writer who has become the awakening conscience of a time blinded by the mechanisms of power, sends out an alert: There may be a day when we will have to ask, Who has signed this in my name? That day may very well be today.
Description in Spanish: Durante las elecciones municipales de una ciudad sin nombre, la mayoría de sus habitantes decide individualmente ejercer su derecho al voto de una manera inesperada. El gobierno teme que ese gesto revolucionario, capaz de socavar los cimientos de una democracia degenerada, sea producto de una conjura anarquista internacional o de grupos extremistas desconocidos. Las cloacas del poder se ponen en marcha: los culpables tienen que ser eliminados. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Trabajo en Equipo !!
Un pueblo sin nombrar cual sea este cosa muy comun en saramago... se ponen de acuerdo hartos del pasado y de los gobiernos que los han oprimido y en las elecciones siguientes acruan de manera general votando por quien mas los convencia....
El Voto BLanco!!
como un pueblo con su organizacion bien fundada solo en las ganas de hacer las cosas y sin el yugo del gobierno opresor ni policia es necesaria!!
Interesanete de leer sobre todo cuando las elecciones se aproximan..

5-0 out of 5 stars A first-rate addition to Saramago's works
I hated to see the remaining pages of "Essay on Lucidity" dwindle, so much did I enjoy reading every word of Saramago's latest novel. This is a first-rate addition to the upper tier of Saramago's works.

In the Nov. 8, 2004, issue of "The American Conservative" magazine, the managing editor, Kara Hopkins, advocated not voting in the pending presidential election. "Silence is a profound expression," she argued, "and enough unraised voices eventually turn even the most partisan heads." "Elections," she contended, "maintain the illusion of opposing parties exchanging ideas rather than political animals competing for power. Selling voting as the ultimate expression of citizenship . . . legitimizes the process that keeps them in control and makes the public docile by enforcing the notion that we rule ourselves."

It is as if she read Saramago's mind, or vice-versa. In "Essay on Lucidity," some 70 percent of the residents of the capital of an unnamed country (presumably European, but, Saramago announces sardonically, not Portugal) turn in blank ballots in an election, refusing to vote for the Party of the Right, the Party of the Center, or the Party of the Left. The government, dominated by unsavory and unprincipled authoritarians, is horrified that the façade of democracy has broken down and orders the election to be reheld. But the percentage of blank votes is higher than before.

The government's reaction, though often fumbling, is vicious and lethal. It uses various Orwellian techniques and, as it deems necessary, violence to punish the capital's residents and try to return them to the fold. Saramago narrates events at a languid pace, sometimes using his long commentaries disarmingly to hide some horror that may be announced in a single sentence at the end of an anodyne, soothing paragraph.

This is a fable. It is not intended to be entirely realistic, and the reader must suspend disbelief at times. In the real world, a European country that took Draconian measures against its citizens for refusing to vote would be subject to various external sanctions and pressures and would have to back down. From 1993-1997 Canada tolerated having as its official opposition the Bloc Québécois, whose goal is to dissolve the country. But Saramago is so masterly a writer that he makes the implausible possible. The reader does soon ask, "Why would any government that observes the forms of democracy behave this way?" A plot twist that appears in the middle of the novel provides an answer. I've already seen too many reviews give it away, and I'm not going to follow suit.

In "Essay on Lucidity," Saramago continues his dance with the Portuguese language in ways that are charming. Even more than in "The Cave," his characters speak a Portuguese that is so formal as to exceed the tone of much formal writing. If anyone spoke this way in Brazil, he or she either would not be understood or would be regarded as mannered and pompous. That would probably also be true even in the most educated circles of Portuguese society. But Saramago's use of the King's Portuguese doesn't come across as pretentious; rather, it's a celebration of the outer reaches of classic Portuguese. I often think that Saramago's goal is to restore a full-fledged type of Portuguese that is fading, perhaps thanks to an onslaught of televised soap operas and the like. Like Shakespeare, whose facility with language and extraordinary vocabulary altered English forever, Saramago may succeed in elevating Portuguese to a language different from the form that preceded his literary career. That would have to be the supreme achievement of any writer of literature.

4-0 out of 5 stars Inventando el enemigo
Todo comienza cuando en la capital sin nombre de un país cualquiera acostumbrado a escoger entre las vertientes que el proceso democrático occidental denomina derechista, centrista e izquierdista, una aplastante mayoría de los ciudadanos decidió votar en blanco, como una muestra de disconformidad con el régimen político que supuestamente los representa.

El resultado es cuestionado por quienes ocupan el poder, y convocan la celebración de una segunda votación, en la que los ciudadanos reafirman un mayor desencanto popular que en la primera. La cúpula gubernamental sospecha de una conspiración masiva en su contra, organizada por subversivos o anarquistas dispuestos a acabar con la idea de lo que consideran debe ser una democracia.

Un estado de emergencia es declarado, seguido de la formación de una red de espionaje para señalar quiénes habían votado en blanco y descubrir quiénes encabezaban la supuesta conspiración. Al no lograr avanzar en su investigación, el gobierno declara el estado de sitio y abandona la ciudad rebelde, como un castigo a los disidentes capitalinos, que se las ingenian para mantener la ciudad funcionando.

Durante una reunión de ministros, se propone una explicación que, después de un comienzo un tanto lento, hace que la trama adquiera velocidad: se intenta conectar la epidemia de ceguera de cuatro años atrás, con la epidemia del voto en blanco. Saramago ata así esta obra a su anterior, Ensayo sobre la ceguera, en la que solo una mujer quedó con vista.

Con la prensa, casi en su totalidad inclinada en favor del gobierno, se logra inventar al enemigo que no se tiene. Avanzando en la lectura, el lector logra entender que los votos en blanco no son otra cosa que una expresión ciudadana de insatisfacción con el funcionamiento de la democracia.

La primera parte de Ensayo sobre la lucidez avanza con la lentitud de un suero medicinal. Un lector que desconozca a Saramago, sus personajes y lugares sin nombre, y que no esté acostumbrado a la literatura sociopolítica que requiere mente alerta y abierta, puede abandonar la lectura en los primeros capítulos. La flojera inicial de elementos de acción y suspenso, esenciales estímulos para el lector que más que aprender tiene como propósito entretenerse, puede decepcionar a más de uno.

La política como tópico literario puede, y en este caso logra al menos durante las primeras 150 páginas, retardar el desarrollo de la novela. Si el lector regular logra pasar de ahí, cuando el suero exprime sus últimas gotas, proseguirá con la energía y curiosidad suficiente para motivarse a terminar las casi 400 páginas restantes.

En pleno siglo XXI, algo de esta obra me molesta. La mujer, ente imprescindible en las sociedades y gobiernos modernos, no obtiene el rol merecido que Saramago destacara en Ensayo sobre la ceguera. Aquí es relegada a un segundo plano, organizando la limpieza de las calles cuando el gobierno falla en hacerlo o cuando el autor trae de los pelos un final inesperado, necesitando un muerto. En este caso, una muerta.

Algunos críticos han sugerido leer primero Ensayo sobre la ceguera. Estimo que no es necesario. Saramago, a medida que va introduciendo elementos aparecidos en la anterior obra -como la presencia de la mujer que nunca perdió la vista-, se cuida de describirlos someramente.

Esta es una obra diferente y, como tal, debe promoverse.

5-0 out of 5 stars Reflexión sobre la democracia
Es domingo de votaciones en la capital pero durante las primeras horas no llegan los electores a las casillas, cae una tormenta, las autoridades explican el abstencionismo por las condiciones atmosféricas, así que deciden repetir la jornada electoral. El nuevo día de las elecciones el clima es perfecto, los ciudadanos acuden a las urnas y votan, es más de medianoche cuando termina el escrutinio de las boletas, el recuento de los votos se transforma en el recuento de los daños, los votos válidos no llegan al veinte por ciento (8 para el partido de la derecha, 8 para el partido del medio y 1 para el partido de la izquierda), cero votos nulos, cero abstenciones y ochenta y tres por ciento de votos en blanco, cunde el desconcierto, la estupefacción, ahora el gobierno debe interpretar la decisión ciudadana, ¿cómo?, ¿cómo se responde a una mayoría que decide ejercer su derecho dejando la boleta en blanco?, simple en la lógica del gobierno, se reprende a la capital con la indeferencia de las autoridades y tras un breve lapso en que se comprueba que no basta, se castiga con el abandono, se condena a los habitantes a quedarse sin gobierno, pues este decide trasladarse a otra ciudad, como los ladrones, escapando en la madrugada.
Así arranca la novela más reciente de José Saramago, Ensayo sobre la lucidez (Alfaguara, 2004) obra en la que de nueva cuenta el escritor ejerce con maestría sus dotes de fabulador, creando una alegoría acerca de la responsabilidad ciudadana al ejercer su derecho de elección y la incapacidad de los hombres en el poder para actuar en correspondencia con la voluntad de la sociedad. Lo que en manos de otro autor podría ser un denso ensayo sobre las relaciones de poder, Saramago lo transforma en un relato mordaz que logra mantener la atención de lector gracias a un ritmo que se sostiene por un sentido del humor constante, la ironía y la capacidad del narrador para detener la mirada en los detalles que revelan el pulso de una ciudad, con unas cuantas palabras sencillas consigue elaborar un cuadro con el que, además de hacer avanzar la acción, ofrece un paisaje en que las opciones de interpretación se multiplican, por ejemplo: "Las luces comenzaron a apagarse cuando el último camión de la tropa y la última furgoneta de la policía salieron de la ciudad. Uno tras otro, como quien se despide, fueron desapareciendo los veintisiete brazos de la estrella, quedando sólo el dibujo impreciso de las calles desiertas y la escasa iluminación pública que nadie pensó en devolver a la normalidad de todas las noches pasadas. Sabremos hasta qué punto la ciudad está viva cuando los negrores intensos del cielo comiencen a disolverse en la lenta marea de profundo azul que una buena visión ya es capaz de distinguir subiendo del horizonte, entonces se verá si los hombres y las mujeres que habitan los pisos de esos edificios salen hacia su trabajo, si los primeros autobuses recogen a los primeros pasajeros, si los vagones del metro atruenan velozmente los túneles, si las tiendas abren sus puertas y suben las persianas, si los periódicos llegan a los quioscos".
Saramago cuenta no sólo con la habilidad literaria de un sentido del humor aguzado, además dispone de una técnica que le permite desarrollar la historia a partir de una situación extrema, esa es una de las constante en su obra novelística, inicia sus textos con situaciones límites de las que pareciera imposible mantener la tensión a lo largo de varias páginas, así ocurre, por ejemplo, con la separación de Portugal de Europa en La balsa de piedra, el descubrimiento del otro en El hombre duplicado, el cambio histórico radical debido a una palabra en Historia del cerco de Lisboa, o la perdida de la visión que sufre una ciudad entera en Ensayo sobre la ceguera (cuyos personas principales aparecen de nueva cuenta en esta novela), la forma en que lo hace en Ensayo sobre la lucidez es a través de reducir gradualmente el foco de atención, lo que inicia con la historia de una ciudad en rebeldía se torna el relato sobre la dignidad de un personaje, manteniendo la alegoría propuesta desde el principio; lo que era una pieza coral la va transformando en la actuación solista del comisario del policía.
Este ir centrando la atención de la historia de la decisión colectiva a la búsqueda del comisario de policía es empleado por Saramago para establecer un nexo entre dignidad y congruencia, como a través de la lucidez se pueden alcanzar y/o defender, ya un solo hombre o miles de ciudadanos, relacionando así el destino de un personaje con el de la ciudad, así logra mantener arriba la tensión de la historia durante más de 400 páginas.
La intención del voto en blanco colectivo no es derribar el sistema y tomar el poder, sino producto de la desilusión "si votaron como votaron era porque estaban desilusionados y no encontraban otra manera de expresar de expresar de una vez por todas hasta dónde llegaba la desilusión, que podrían haber hecho una revolución, pero seguramente moriría mucha gente, y no querían eso", mientras que las decisiones que toma el comisario de la policía son resultado de una reflexión acerca del compromiso individual, el personaje se plantea que "Nacemos, y en ese momento es como si hubiéramos firmado un pacto para toda la vida, pero puede llegar el día en que nos preguntemos Quién ha firmado esto por mí", al protagonista de la segunda parte de la novela se le revela esta frase justo cuando cumple con la misión de trastocar la realidad, como miembro del establishment se le encomienda respaldar con información la idea de que el voto blanco es un complot, y él se rebela para apreciar la decisión de los votantes como una manifestación de lucidez.
Ningún hombre es una isla, obliga a reflexionar la liga entre el destino colectivo y la toma de decisión individual, ningún hombre es una isla y lo que haga, por mínimo que sea, afectará a los otros. En Ensayo sobre la lucidez el lector encontrará al mejor Saramago, el autor que se atreve a ser un moralista imaginativo, uno que sin dejar de poner el dedo en la llaga, augura un destino mejor si la sociedad civil se organiza; un libro que vale la pena leer porque la capacidad fabuladora de Saramago invita a la reflexión.
... Read more

12. The Notebook
by José Saramago
Hardcover: 288 Pages (2010-04-06)
list price: US$23.95 -- used & new: US$13.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1844676145
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A unique journey into the personal and political world of the Nobel laureate and author of Blindness.Provocative and lyrical, The Notebook records a year in the life of José Saramago, beginning on the eve of the 2008 US presidential election. In these pages, he evokes life in his beloved city of Lisbon, revisits conversations with friends, and meditates on his favorite authors. Precise observations and moments of arresting significance are rendered with pointillist detail, and together demonstrate an acute understanding of our times. Characteristically critical and uncompromising, Saramago dissects the financial crisis, deplores Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, traces the ongoing inquiry into the execution of the Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes on the London Underground, and charts the transition from the era of George W. Bush to that of Barack Obama.

Available for the first time in English, The Notebook offers a rare glimpse into the mind of one of the most original writers of our era. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating essays
I was unfamiliar with Jose Saramago until I began reading this set of essays to prepare for a trip to Portugal.Since he is a Nobel Laureate, I wanted to get a feel for the his way of thinking.He's quite outspoken in his opinions, which are very political, and I can understand why he is not well known in this country, since he has some very unpleasant things to say about US politics.

5-0 out of 5 stars Like sunshine in a dungeon
You would think that this book was writen by a man in his prime, so vivid is the prose, so fresh the ideas, so vibrant the writer's voice urging the youth to abandon their passive attitude and use their fervour and flameto change the world! Indeed, Saramago remained active to the end, a spokesman for human rights, unwavering in his beliefs and uncompromising in his stance.This book is what it claims to be, namely a notebook, a type of diary where Saramago writes his thoughts about events which made an impression on him, much of which expresses his political views on events and politicians.He describes G.W.Bush as being abysmally ignorant...veering towards the absurd.He does not mince his words when it comes to expressing his opinions and talks about people and topics many would regard as controversial. There are about 150 separate topics listed according to date, starting from September 2008 and ending in March 2009.

Although he was left wing he does not hesitate to critisize the left, saying they have no idea where they are actually heading.In his unique way he tackles varied topics, from religion and the Catholic Church to people he respects and admires like Rosa Parks. He expresses his hopes and aspirations for president Obama, analyzes the Palestinian situation and even gives a "recipe" on how to kill a man.It is a short concise book whose content is lucid and succinct.Irrespective of your own feelings about the issues he deals with in his book, his brilliance as well as his alertness of mind make this book invaluable reading.I can but feel gratitude for such thinkers who help broaden my own spectrum of thought.

5-0 out of 5 stars THE NOTEBOOK
I haven't finished the book thus it wouldn't be a good review. Of the part that I have
read -- it is wonderful. What else could one expect from Saramago.

5-0 out of 5 stars José Saramago: Ave atque Vale
One of the century's finest writers has died.José Saramago was an author who began writing late in life but in the time he wrote he managed to share with the world some very disturbing thoughts and yet at the same time make those disturbing thoughts into very beautiful literature.Few who have readBLINDNESS, ALL THE NAMES, SEEING, DEATH WITH INTERRUPTIONS, THE DOUBLE, to name but a few of his works, will ever forget the impact his writing had/has on us.This book THE NOTEBOOK takes on a different kind of strange journey - a remembrance of the time when reporting in the media meant communication of the world as it was happening.Not everyone will agree with all of his thoughts, but no one will deny they should not be addressed.

Now, with our information fed in bits, chips, and pixels on such wildly diverse formats as Twitter, Facebook, TV talk shows and reality series we must face the fact that reportage of the quality found in these essays is a thing of the past.Unless...unless more people will read this book, remember Saramago, and start to think again.José Saramago will be much missed.Grady Harp, June 10

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Wonderful
Absolutely wonderful. Commentaries on world matters, George Bush, the economic crisis, religion, and much, much more by one of the greatest living writers. Erudite, literary, compassionate, provocative. Compare these with the commentary currently available...well, there is no comparison. If you love his novels, you will find the Notebook as compelling. If you have not read his novelsperhaps The Notebook will serve as a good introduction. Then, I would suggest All the Names, whose themes resonate in some of these brief, but weighty observations. ... Read more

13. Levantado del suelo/ Picked Up from the Ground (Narrativa (Punto de Lectura)) (Spanish Edition)
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 432 Pages (2009-02-27)
list price: US$12.99 -- used & new: US$9.65
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 8466369449
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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''Levantado del suelo'' is the novel that proved Saramago to be a mature writer. Through the Alentejo family, Saramago conveys the story of rural Portugal from 1910 until 1979, including the ''Revolución de los Claveles''. The author captures the language of the peasants using a concise and brilliant style, with a dose of black humor that shows Saramago's talent for painting a perfect picture with words. Descripcion in Spanish:Se publicó por primera vez en 1977, y cuenta la historia portuguesa desde comienzos de siglo hasta la revolución de los claveles, desde la posición de los más desfavorecidos, de los servidores del latifundio, de los que nada tienen, desde la perspectiva crítica de la tercera persona del narrador que no tolera la injusticia social. Esta obra narra, con tono de letanía, la monotonía de una vida repetitiva de mero subsistir de los trabajadores que sufren unas condiciones anacrónicas, injustas y casi medievales. Levantado del suelo presenta una vida dura en la que se trabaja de sol a sol por un sueldo mísero que no alcanza para nada, si se es mujer sólo se consigue media paga y si todavía se es niño, menos jornal todavía. Se trabaja ciando quiere el patrón y por lo que quiera pagar. El amo tiene derecho a todo incluso a perseguirte porque sus ovejas están pastando en sus predios, sólo porque el poderoso no tiene noción de todo lo que posee. El capataz, que consigue un poco más de sueldo, tiene derecho a humillarte, azotarte, castigarte y pegarte. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Uno de los grandes!!
Jose Saramago, definitivamente uno de los grandes de la literatura clasica y contemporanea universal, como todas sus obras esta es una mas llena de riqueza literaria y narrativa. ... Read more

14. Seeing
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 320 Pages (2007-04-09)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$0.92
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156032732
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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On election day in the capital, it is raining so hard that no one has bothered to come out to vote. The politicians are growing jittery. Should they reschedule the elections for another day? Around three o’clock, the rain finally stops. Promptly at four, voters rush to the polling stations, as if they had been ordered to appear.

But when the ballots are counted, more than 70 percent are blank. The citizens are rebellious. A state of emergency is declared. But are the authorities acting too precipitously? Or even blindly? The word evokes terrible memories of the plague of blindness that hit the city four years before, and of the one woman who kept her sight. Could she be behind the blank ballots? A police superintendent is put on the case.

What begins as a satire on governments and the sometimes dubious efficacy of the democratic system turns into something far more sinister. A singular novel from the author of Blindness.

(20060521) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

1-0 out of 5 stars Worst book I have ever read in my entire life
*Warning - Spoilers

This book is completely and totally awful.The writing style is atrocious.Throughout this entire novel, which is filled with dialogue, there is not a single quotation mark.A series of people speaking may be simply separated by commas in never ending run on sentences.A single paragraph may carry on for several pages.Don't believe me?Thankfully Amazon lets you read the first few pages in the "Look inside" feature and you can see for yourself.This is truly the worst writing I have ever seen.

On to the plot.The plot is stupid.A city holds an election,and for some unknown reason most people cast blank ballots.Rather than say, "Ok, then we will determine the winner based on the ballots that are not blank", the government freaks out and declares martial law, considers sending in paratroopers, and all sorts of insanity.What the paratroopers are supposed to do once they land is never thought through.Basically the government completely freaks out, while in reality there was no explanation for the blank ballots - people independently all decided to cast blank ballots.So what does the government decide to do?Assassinate the protagonist of the prequel to this book, along with her dog.Because why not.

Do not waste your time or your money.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Political Fable

The city holds its democratic elections with the party's of the right centre and left vying for power. Mysteriously over 70% of the ballot papers are blank, rising to 83% in a hastily called re-run.Seen as an act of sedition, the Government sets about restoring political authority with subterfuge, placing the city in a state of siege and doing all it can to find the perpetrators....
An inticate plot in which Saramago looks at how the political elite react when the system fails to serve its purpose in maintaining the status quo, a theme made more subtle as the system under scrutiny is democracy, supposedly mans highest form of rule, which is as blind as any other when under threat and refuses to accept that the blank votes are the electorate speaking.Iran is a recent example of the people not voting in accordance to the political elite as was the Ukraine.
'Seeing' is often amusing and at times brutally frank in its realism, all told in Saramago's individual style where no one has a name, just a job title or a characteristic item of clothing to identify them, lending to the fable quality of the tale.
'Seeing' is actually a sequel to 'Blindness'; the lead characters in 'Blindness' all appear, this time as prime suspects of the blank vote rebellion. Luckily I had read 'Blindness' some years before (though I have to admit I wasn't 100% blown away by it)which saved me from being bemused by mention of the blindness plague. I found 'Seeing' much more impressive and has made me want to re-read 'Blindness' now I am more familiar with Saramago's style and take on things.
A thought provoking and impressive book.

4-0 out of 5 stars great read!!
After reading the book "Blindness" by the same author, then you will be able to understand this one.It's like the continuation.It"s well crafted in the way he says his stories.Makes you turn the pages and not to want to keep it down.

1-0 out of 5 stars A complete disappointment
This is the first book I read by Jose Saramago. I read it in English. Absent a disastrous translation, it has been a total disappointment so far. I have read 236 pages (out of 306 pages the book has) and it has failed to capture my interest.I have kept reading just in case something interesting happens. But nothing so far. The book lacks the virtuosity and the imagination you would expect from a Nobel Prize winner. The book is about the plot 95% of the time. The psychology of the main characters is practically absent. There are no personal conflicts worth mentioning. This is a very shallow book. After I finish reading this book, I will give Saramago another try. But after reading "Seeing" I will less forgiving with a second book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Don't think of it as a sequel, review by 17-year old
I enjoyed Blindness, and expected Seeing to be made of the same material: lyrical, nerve-wrecking, bewildering. Like its precursor, Seeing juxtaposes witty dialogue with somber lines that evoke reflection, but in other respects the two books are dissimilar. Seeing is nearly as compelling as Blindness, but it's funnier, and with less real substance-- less happens.

I'd suggest readers to think of Seeing not as a sequel to Blindness, though obviously the two books are related, but as a stand-alone book in the same universe. This way, they won't have any unfair expectations; this way, they can appreciate Seeing as a humorous companion to Blindness, and not get caught up in the second book's relative lack of depth and hasty resolution. After all, one can hardly criticize the author for keeping his style fresh. ... Read more

15. The Cave
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 320 Pages (2003-10-15)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$1.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156028794
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Cipriano Algor, an elderly potter, lives with his daughter Marta and her husband Marçal in a small village on the outskirts of The Center, an imposing complex of shops, apartments, and offices to which Cipriano delivers his pots and jugs every month. On one such trip, he is told not to make any more deliveries. Unwilling to give up his craft, Cipriano tries his hand at making ceramic dolls. Astonishingly, The Center places an order for hundreds, and Cipriano and Marta set to work-until the order is cancelled and the three have to move from the village into The Center. When mysterious sounds of digging emerge from beneath their apartment, Cipriano and Marçal investigate, and what they find transforms the family's life. Filled with the depth, humor, and the extraordinary philosophical richness that marks each of Saramago's novels, The Cave is one of the essential books of our time.
Amazon.com Review
José Saramago is a master at pacing.Readers unfamiliar with the work of this Portuguese Nobel Prize winner would do well to begin with The Cave, a novel of ideas, shaded with suspense.Spare and pensive, The Cave follows the fortunes of an aging potter, Cipriano Algor, beginning with his weekly delivery of plates to the Center, a high-walled, windowless shoppingcomplex, residential community, and nerve center that dominates the region.What sells at the Center will sell everywhere else, and what the Centerrejects can barely be given away in the surrounding towns and villages.Thenews for Cipriano that morning isn't good.Half of his regular potteryshipment is rejected, and he is told that the consumers now prefer plastictableware.Over the next week, he and his grown daughter Marta grieve fortheir lost craft, but they gradually open their eyes to the strange bountyof their new condition: a stray dog adopts them, and a lovely widow entersCipriano's life.When they are invited to live at the Center, it seemsungracious to refuse, but there are strange developments under the complex and a troubling increase in security, and Cipriano changes all their fatesby deciding to investigate.In Saramago's able hands, what might havebecome a dry social allegory is a delicately elaborated story ofindividualism and unexpected love.--Regina Marler ... Read more

Customer Reviews (49)

2-0 out of 5 stars Over My Head
The Cave is one that I just slogged through for a variety of reasons.Jose Saramago is from Portugal and is a self described atheist and pessimist.I should have looked him up on Wikipedia before I started reading this.But he also won the Nobel Prize for literature.Maybe I could learn something.

The novel is translated from Portuguese.Dialogue is embedded in the text.It's one big paragraph so I found it very difficult to read.Cipriano and his daughter, Marta are very likable characters. They struggle to make an honest living as potters.Marta's husband Marcal works at The Center as a security guard.The family will all move to The Center as soon as Marcal's promotion comes through.

Frankly it took me awhile to understand what The Center really was all about.Or why Cipriano was so desperate to please the people there with his wares.The family didn't move until the last 50 pages and then immediately discovered the cave with the dead bodies.I didn't really get the symbolism so I skimmed through the last 100 pages or so.The family left The Center, went back home, picked up the dog and Cipriano's new girlfriend and drove off into the sunset.I didn't understand why they didn't just go back home.

Linda C. Wright
Author, One Clown Short
One Clown Short

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved this book!
Amazing. Just amazing. I had read Saramago's "Blindness" years ago and loved it so that's why I picked up "The Cave." It's easy to see why this author received the Nobel Prize for Literature (1998). The translation from Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa is excellent. Saramago's stylized writing shows the process by which many of us think as we contemplate, struggle, and make decisions. I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves a great story with depth of character. We see uneducated people, a potter, his daughter, and her husband, an entry-level security guard and see how their minds work as they think through their situation. I'll read this book again someday! Wow!.

2-0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Unsatisfying
As I have mentioned in my review of "The Double", Saramago is, to his credit as well as, in this particular case, his great detriment, not much for subtlety. Saramago is, in this respect, a veritable throwback, one who retains a dogged faith in literature's capacity to ennoble and edify. As such, his tales are studded with tangential aphorisms and moral propositions, all of which are expressed in his characteristically strident, eloquent style. One senses, throughout all of his fiction, a certain sagacity, and I mean this in the most literal sense possible- it is the literary voice of a wizened, temperate elder who has withstood and survived the tragedies of existence. This, perhaps, is what gives his prose its unmistakable cadence- at its purest Saramago's texts resemble epic songs, spoken parables that have as much melody as they do pedagogic value.

There are times, however, when the garrulous ramblings of this octagenarian oracle begin to have a soporific effect on the senses- "The Cave", for all of its fine intentions, feels both contrived and insubstantial. Beyond this, there is a certain lethargy to the prose that is entirely absent from his best work- lots of inconsequential asides (half-baked, flimsy excurses on language that have been better articulated in "The Double", "Seeing" etcetera) and tiresome details (I would venture to say that you will learn a good deal about pottery from this text) slow this book down to a plodding, somnambulistic pace. Compounding matters is the lachrymose sentimentality of it all- tears flood virtually every page of the novel, and while Saramago gives his protagonists license to bawl with abandon, seldom is the reader compelled to do the same.

All of this, of course, would be no cause for complaint had the central conceit of the novel been more intelligent. Beyond the fact that the novel feels a bit like a hackneyed take on the "country family" tune (think Steinbeck, Eliot's "Adam Bede", Hamsun's "Growth Of The Soil", Laxness' "Independent People"), the notion of the hegemonic state-cum-supermarket has been better handled by Ballard and Le Clezio. Saramago's parting shot- the comparison of life under the yoke of free-market capitalism to Plato's Cave, is so feeble that one wonders why Saramago had even bothered to weigh in for the joust. Yes, we are all bedazzled and benumbed by the pyrotechnics of mass marketing, yes, this kaleidoscope of simulacra has blurred the demarcations between fantasy and reality, magic realism has told us as much a million times over, but what solution does Saramago have to offer here?

Putting aside the fact that his 'concrete analysis of the concrete situation' (Saramago quotes Lenin himself early on in the novel) is disappointingly vacuous, Cipriano's remedy is equally useless- move away, flee, deterritorialize. The family evacuates to the outer frontiers, far away from the despotic reach of the Centre. Surely Saramago cannot renege on his original premise- that the Centre has colonized everything, that every corpuscule is subject to its command. There is nowhere left to go, and instead of inciting the Algors to conduct some sort of meaningful resistance, however miniscule, Saramago has them run headfirst into an uncertain future. I'm not sure it all holds together, and I have come away from this novel with the impression that, for once, this enormously gifted intellect has overreached himself by joining the anti-globalization fray. This comes as a great surprise, as "Seeing" demonstrates just how keen Saramago's eye can be when it tries to discern the nebulous contours of politics and ideology. It is hard to believe that this threadbare, weak-kneed tract was written by the same man who penned "Seeing", which I regard as a crucial salvo against liberal democracy, as well as essential reading for all leftist aspirants, alongside the contemporary philosophy of Badiou, Agamben, Nancy, Zizek, Hardt & Negri ("Seeing" being, effectively, the literary counterpart of H&N's concept of the 'multitude').

It breaks my heart to say this, for I am a great fan and forsworn disciple of this Portuguese master. To my mind, one would do better reading Zizek's brilliant analyses of the conjunction between psychoanalytic dream theory and capitalist ideology.

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful Illuminated Masterpiece
As sixty-year-old Cipriano Algor's days as a potter come to an abrupt end due to economic pressure, he, his daughter Marta and son-in-law Marçal, struggle to redefine their lives and build a direction for their futures.The conflict between Capriano's life as a potterwith direct ties to nature, versus the looming prospect of life at the Center, an amoral, controlled world of meaningless experience and entertainment, is at the heart of this complex and beautiful novel.

_The Cave_ is stylistically similar to Saramago's other works -- creative punctuation, meandering paragraphs, sudden breaks in dialogue -- that can be challenging for readers pampered by bestselling American authors,but the beauty and depth of his prose are worthy rewards.His sentences flow like rivers of ideas, and any dedicated reader of Saramago wouldn't have it any other way.

The theme of Plato's cave recurs throughout, and an understanding of this parable is essential.Here, however, (and without spoiling the plot for those who like surprises) the idea of the cave and a life in shadow and darkness seems to point the way to illumination rather than ignorance.The characters seem to enter into darkness, and only by doing so can they find their way into light.

One compelling motif from Saramago's other novels appears here as well: the "dog of tears."Indeed, the dog named Found is arguably an essential character and symbol in this book.He represents the heart of philosophy itself.Certainly, the same story could not have been told without him.

As Plato's parable of the cave has been essential reading for the educated for thousands of years, Saramago's _The Cave_ is essential reading for a world of people disillusioned by the puppetry of politics, sapped by a Walmart economy, and spellbound by the noise and clamor of entertainment and the media.This is one book that deserves to be read.

1-0 out of 5 stars Digested and banal truth presented as revelation
This is one of the books that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. You really want to spit after reading it. The "truth" about the honest working class and the evil corporations is more than banal simplification - at most it says nothing about the nature of man, and most probably it is simply misleading. The language of the book is flowing well, but there is no real message. It is a fruitless flow of well written words. If you really would like to know about the nature of man read Kundera. I would not recommend this book to anyone but the most pompous readers who do not know the difference between the true and the false and become enchanted by the flow of the empty words. ... Read more

16. Cain (Spanish Edition)
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 200 Pages (2009-12-28)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$12.34
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6071103169
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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If in The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, Jose Saramago presented us with his vision of the New Testament, in Cain he comes back to the first books of the Bible. An unorthodox itinerary takes him to decadent cities and stables, palaces of tyrants and battlefields, led by the hand of the central characters of the Old Testament, with the music and refined humor that are the hallmark of his work.

Cain clearly demonstrates the modern and surprising aspects of Saramago s prose: the ability to weave a completely new tale out of a story we all know. An ironic and satirical journey where the reader is present at a secular and in a way, involuntary battle between the creator and his creature.

Spanish Description:
Que diablo de Dios es este que, para enaltecer a Abel, desprecia a Cain. Si en El Evangelio segun Jesucristo Jose Saramago nos dio su vision del Nuevo Testamento, en Cain regresa a los primeros libros de la Biblia. En un itinerario heterodoxo, recorre ciudades decadentes y establos, palacios de tiranos y campos de batalla de la mano de los principales protagonistas del Antiguo Testamento, imprimiendole la musica y el humor refinado que caracterizan su obra.

Cain pone de manifiesto lo que hay de moderno y sorprendente en la prosa de Saramago: la capacidad de hacer nueva una historia que se conoce de principio a fin. Un ironico y mordaz recorrido en el que el lector asiste a una guerra secular, y en cierto modo, involuntaria, entre el creador y su criatura. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Caîn and Jose Saramago
I read this book over and over, and each time it gives me more to think and laugh about.A friend and I meet to read Caín aloud, enjoying the rhythm of Saramago's conversation, and conversation is how I would describe Saramago's writing.As we read we can feel Saramago is present and chatting with us, apparently about this and that as the mind wanders and returns, while somuch is being observed about ourselves and humanity.

5-0 out of 5 stars nice
Jose Saramago's new novel is out now.It has a nice cover, came promptly, highly recommended.I reused the box for my pet mice.

Saludos. ... Read more

17. Todos los nombres/ All the Names (Narrativa (Punto de Lectura)) (Spanish Edition)
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 304 Pages (2008-04-25)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$9.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 8466319131
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Don Jose, the main character in this story by Saramago, is a lonely and insignificant government worker at the office of vital statistics. As an innocent pastime, he starts collecting news about the rich and famous. When he notices gaps and contradictions in the lives of these public figures, he decides to fix them by registering fantasy events in the record books.Description in Spanish:En el ambiente opresivo, cerrado y polvoriento de la Conservaduria General del Registro Civil trabaja como escribiente don Jose, un soltero solitario que un buen dia decide su particular registro de personas famosas. No contento con los datos que le proporcionan periodicos y revistas, resuelve completarlos con los que posee, tan a mano, en el Registro. Para ello no tendra mas remedio que violar alguna de las normas de la Conservaduria. ''Todos los nombres es la historia de amor mas intensa de la literatura portuguesa de todos los tiempos.'' Eduardo Lourenço ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Una gran novela psicol�gica
?Ser? la obsesiva dedicaci?n met?dica de los cient?ficos y artistas ?quienes al fin y al cabo no son m?s que coleccionistas de conocimiento y manifestaciones humanas? una completa p?rdida de tiempo?... recomiendo leer este libro para encontrar respuesta a esta pregunta.

Mauricio Orozco Alzate

3-0 out of 5 stars The duty of not forgetting
Jose Saramago is one the most important writers in the 20th Century. His 'Memorial do convento', 'O ano da morte de Ricardo Reis', 'O evanghelo segundo Jesus Cristo', and 'Ensaio sobre a cegueira' are true literatureclassics, both in depth and form.Those novels were almost all-embracing,covering an incredible diversity of subjects in the space of 300-400 pages. Now, with 'Todos os nomes', Saramago probes deeper into one of thosesubjects that are so dear to him:how to defeat death.Probably becauseof this, 'Todos os nomes' has a simple plot, but is highly philosophicaland symbolic.

Saramago's theme in 'Todos os nomes' is best stated as aquestion:When do people truly die?Saramago seems to be saying that, inthe world of the living, the dead must also have a place, and it is ourduty to remember them.Therein also lies our dignity.In this enterprise,ironically, individual names don't matter; they are all, in the finalanalysis, the same because everybody (the famous and the not-so-famous) isequal in death.

Even though I enjoyed 'Todos os nomes', I found somesections verbose and trivial because too much time is spent in relatingthings that don't add much to the main theme.In those cases, it seemed asif Saramago didn't have a clear idea of where he was heading to in thenarrative.But the main character of 'Todos os nomes', Sr. Jose(incidentally, the only character that has a name in the novel), is trulyengaging, probably because in his obsessive nature he has an intenseinternal life that reminds us so much of ourselves.

Perhaps 'Todos osnomes' is not one of Saramago's best novels.It is, however, one thatdeserves attention, particularly from those interested in Saramago'sworldview.

5-0 out of 5 stars One exhausts superlatives
This is one of the most engrossing, absorbing and challenging books I have read this year. The deceptive simplicity of the plot, which I do not wish to give away, is belied by the fabulous richness and complexity of thelanguage Saramago uses. It deals with such diverse themes as loneliness,obsession, self-doubt, personal development and fruition with a mastery Ihave rarely seen equalled. An excellent book, and a deserving Nobel-Prizewinner.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mas alla de un acercamiento
El autor en este libro, a través de su estilo,lleva al lector a explorar el mundo de la duda dentro de un contexto social en el que los actos se encuentran ¨predeterminados¨. El ir y venir del personaje y del lectorhacen de esta obra todo un deleite espiritual.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excelente Tecnica Descriptiva con Habilidady Vocabulario
Jose Saramago da sin duda alguna una muestra de su habilidad descriptiva a la misma vez que nos presenta un vocabulario extenso y bien planteado.Es especial la forma en que cambia de tercera persona a primera persona yviceversa, dandole un toque genial a su redaccion. ... Read more

18. Todos Os Nomes (O campo da palavra) (Portuguese Edition)
by Jose Saramago
 Paperback: 279 Pages (1999-12-20)
-- used & new: US$42.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 972211137X
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19. El viaje del elefante (Spanish Edition)
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 208 Pages (2009-02-27)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$12.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 987041169X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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During the mid-sixteenth century, king John III presented his cousin Maximilian, the archduke of Austria, with an Asian elephant. This novel recounts the epic voyage of Salomon the elephant, and the journey it undertook to satisfy royal whims and absurd strategies. El viaje del elefante is not a historical account; it is a mix of real and imaginary facts that leads us to recognize reality and fiction as an indissoluble unity -a characteristic trait of great works of literature. It is also a reflection on the human condition, where humor and irony, marks of the ruthless clarity of the author, come together with the compassion with which Saramago views human weaknesses. Written ten years after being awarded the Nobel Prize, El viaje del elefante reveals a writer in the pinnacle of his literary splendor. Description in Spanish: A mediados del siglo XVI el rey Juan III ofrece a su primo, el archiduque Maximiliano de Austria, un elefante asiatico. Esta novela cuenta el viaje epico de ese elefante llamado Salomon que tuvo que recorrer Europa por caprichos reales y absurdas estrategias. El viaje del elefante no es un libro historico, es una combinacion de hechos reales e inventados que nos hacen sentir la realidad y la ficcion como una unidad indisoluble, como algo propio de la gran literatura. Una reflexion sobre la humanidad en la que el humor y la ironia, marcas de la implacable lucidez del autor, se unen a la compasion con la que Jose Saramago observa las flaquezas humanas. Escrita diez anos despues de la concesion del Premio Nobel, El viaje del elefante nos muestra a un Saramago en todo su esplendor literario. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

2-0 out of 5 stars tequilasunrise:
I have read other Saramago books. In my opinion some are good and some are not. This book El viaje del elefante is not so good. Entiendo que quiere enfatizar el comportamiento humano, pero le da muchas vueltas y alarga demasiado las explicaciones. Me gusta su candidez en describir el animo de la iglesia catolica de la epoca, su influencia y al mismo tiempo su poder. Me resulto aburrido.

5-0 out of 5 stars Again Saramago
Saramago has done it again.Once you start this fabulous narration it is impossible to stop.Again, as in all of his works, Saramago offers a hidden treasury of fantasy. I can only hope but for Amazon to make avail for us in the Americas, as soon as possible, his latest non-fiction.

5-0 out of 5 stars Saramago como siempre
Nuevamente el estilo de saramago no deja de sorprenderme. Escribe en una oracion gigante lo que pudo haber dicho en dos palabras sin embargo gusta, no molesta. Esta novela es una narracion insolita del viaje de un elefante regalo del rey de Portugal al archiduque de Austria donde la condicion humana es siempre protagonista como en todas las novelas de saramago. Altamente recomendado para quienes han leido otras obras de este autor.

5-0 out of 5 stars Maraviiloso Como Siempre El Maestro Saramago!
A mediados del siglo XVI el rey Juan III de Portugal decidió regalarle su elefante al archiduque Maximiliano de Austria aprovechando su estancia en Valladolid.

El elefante, de nombre salomón y más tarde solimán por capricho del y disposicion del Archiduque y siempre en minusculas...

Bueno, soliman atravesó Portugal y Castilla, el Mediterráneo, Italia, los Alpes y finalmente el Danubio hasta Viena. A mitad de camino hubo un milagro y al final otro. Esa es la historia.

Subhro es un tipo de los pies a la cabeza con sus anhelos, sus inquietudes y la mayor dosis de sentido común de entre todos los que salen al paso del elefante.

Este viaje es planeado por el Archiduque pero unica y sencillamente la voluntad de soliman antes salomon seran los que marquen el ritmo de este mismo.

Saramago una vez mas hace y deshace con el ser humano. Desde el mas minimo detalle del comportamiento ante los presajios, creencias, supersticiones, etc, etc. Y sobre todo vuelve a salir la comunicacion entre el autor y el lector. Para quien ya haya leido antes a Saramago sabra que de repente el esta dirigiendose a uno como lector y de un punto se va a otro y de repente ya nada tiene que ver con la historia y el mismo lo reconoce...

Es una maravilla su historia!
... Read more

20. The Double
by Jose Saramago
Paperback: 336 Pages (2005-10-03)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$0.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156032589
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Tertuliano Máximo Afonso is a divorced, depressed history teacher. To lift his spirits, a colleague suggests he rent a certain video. Tertuliano watches the film, unimpressed. But during the night, when he is awakened by noises in his apartment, he goes into the living room to find that the VCR is replaying the video. He watches in astonishment as a man who looks exactly like him-or, more specifically, exactly like he did five years before, mustachioed and fuller in the face-appears on the screen. He sleeps badly.

Against his better judgment, Tertuliano decides to pursue his double. As he roots out the man's identity, what begins as a whimsical story becomes a "wonderfully twisted meditation on identity and individuality" (The Boston Globe). Saramago displays his remarkable talent in this haunting tale of appearance versus reality.

(20041004) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars Easily one of my favorite books!
Im always recommending this book because i love it so much! However, i do recommend it to people with similar tastes as mine who would appreciate the book. I understand that this is not a book for everyone as the author has a unique writing style, something that to me was refreshing and i loved the ending. This was the first book i read about 3 years ago when i first joined a book club and we all enjoy reading and analyzing it!

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent narratology and identity study.
This is the first book of Saramago's that I've read. It's really good and recommendable. It has a great idea and you get a glimpse at the the life of some topics that are on the margin of today's society: acting extras and minor actor and teacher's lives. The narratological aspects of the text are quite applaudable:in a Tristram Shandian-type style, the narrator points out what has been discussed before andmentions what is to come. The narrator tells the reader what things will not happen again and what is important for the reader to note. This isn't just a parlour trick and it's use in the text of this nature, which isn't just a bedstand book, is intriguing. The narrator at times keeps his distance and at other times comes up and sits down right next to the reader.

The only complaint I have is the length. The text was a bit hard to get into at first and I imagine this 320 page text could have been reduced by about 40 pages without affecting much aside from the pace.

Great book and I look forward to reading more of Saramago's highly interesting prose.

4-0 out of 5 stars A challenging, worthwhile read
First appearing in English in 2004, "The Double" is Jose Saramago's take on a theme that has captured the imagination of authors as varied as Dostoevsky and Stevenson, Borges and Stan Lee/Jack Kirby.It is the story of a man - a depressed and apathetic history teacher named Tertuliano Maximo Afonso - who, while spending a listless evening watching a B-Grade film, discovers that one of the film's bit players is his perfect double.This discovery sets Afonso on a journey to find and confront this other man - a confrontation that is by turns unsettling and shot through with black humor, and one that ultimately leads to tragic consequences.

Both a detective story and rumination on identity personal and public, shared and private, "The Double" is woven throughout with engaging, diffuse prose.Just a glance into its pages reveals the trademark liberties Mr. Saramago takes with narrative form.His paragraphs generally run many pages at a time, periods are kept to a minimum, commas abound, and quotations are eschewed in favor of a capitalized letter indicating where one speaker ends and another begins.These peculiar formal elements allow the narrator to build into a specific rhythm that would not be possible through more conventional narrative forms, and it imbues the text with an often beautiful, and just as frequently challenging, cadence.It's lovely stuff if you dig this sort of thing.

In fact, the narrator's digressive, meandering style is the real star of the story.One gets the sense that none of the characters (with a few exceptions) could live anywhere but between the two covers of this book, whereas most people are likely to know someone (a loquacious grandfather, an aunt without an "off" switch) who, although unlikely to be as droll, biting, or eloquent as the narrator, could match him in quantity if not quality.By comparison the main characters come off as little more than coat racks upon which the narrator can hang his prodigious oratory.

This is where the novel stumbles - if only a little.

On the one hand, the narrator is a joy.His lengthy asides discourse on semiotics, the origin of the universe and belief in God, identity and lovemaking and monkfish, and more besides.His tone is playful and seldom preachy.

On the other hand, a narrative voice alone doesn't make for a good novel and even if the most gifted narrator aims his talents at describing, say, paint drying on a wall, he's still only describing paint drying on a wall.

Tertuliano Maximo Afonso is a lot like that recently painted wall.At least for the first half of the novel the guy is an absolute bore, paralyzed by indecision and moral cowardice.As the story picks up steam (not long after the introduction of his double, Antonio Claro) his character receives some depth and nuance but, even then, he is mostly an inert presence.

For better or worse, the narrator of "The Double" often has to abandon his characters in order for the story to be truly engaging.

The plot - a potboiler at heart - is made of sturdier stuff.Mr. Saramago's fiction - for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1998 - frequently treats with outlandish themes: doppelgangers; a sudden, inexplicable rash of mass blindness; an entire peninsula breaking free of its terrestrial moorings and floating away into the sea.Like his other tales, "The Double" handles its unbelievable premise with the utmost believability and Saramago never wavers, never flinches, at seeing his premise through to its conclusion.

As the plot twists and turns and finally culminates in a wonderfully satisfying denouement, one has the feeling of having taken a ride with a master storyteller in firm control of his craft.There is some wish that Mr. Saramago had given more personality to his main protagonist (something Philip Roth was able to do with Swede Levov in "American Pastoral" a character who, for different reasons, suffered from a similar degree of moral lassitude as Afonso), but then we rarely get everything we want.What we have received from Jose Saramago in "The Double" is a novel that, for its flaws in characterization, can still charm, challenge, delight, and disturb us.

4-0 out of 5 stars DOUBLE THE EXPERIENCE
A shift from Saramago's usual themes, but written in the same classical, vintage J.S style. This, like all Saramago's works I've read to date,except Blindness which was the easiest read so far, has not been an easy read.

The double takes us on a psychological journey through identity, physical and spiritual, and provokes a lot of reflection on the meaning of self, alterego,and all other solecisms of identity.

Tertuliano Maximo Afonso, Antonio Claro, Helena, Maria de Paz, are the central characters in this tale of identities being confused and the attendant consequences.More than that, it exposes the inherent flaws of the human condition,deceit,larceny,prevarication,fear,raconteur, all the elements that lead to the history teacher and the actor exchanging identities,eventually leading to the denouement of death.

Saramago is one of my favourite authors and ,though his works are not the easiest to read, one still finds reward in the exercise of thought, stretching language to its limits ; thus making us more punctilious in our reading.However, one who is not used to his style of writing may be easily put off and I did find some passages a bit tedious attimes.

Without giving to much away, suffice it to say, the end is rather amusing.A surprise if I might add.For an author as old asJ.S, one cannot but marvel at the limitless boundaries of his imagination

4-0 out of 5 stars More entertaining when read in big gulps (4+ stars)
This is a funny and engaging novel, but you might not find it so if you try reading it as a nightcap after a tiring day. I found the unparagraphed style very discouraging to read, and it was hard to make it through more than a few pages a night. Often I didn't feel like opening it at all; the book was on my nighttable for so long I got sick of seeing it there, and almost put it back on the shelf having made little headway. Luckily, I had a long afternoon in which I could read the last 60% or so of the book all in one go, and I very much enjoyed it. So I recommend that you read it in big blocks, rather than chopping it up too much.

This was the first book I'd read by Saramago. I thought it had a lot in common with "Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me" by Spanish author Javier Marías. Not only the rambling, discursive style and the dark humor, but also a plot that turns on confusions of identity. (The plot similarity is more of a resonance than a copy, since some key elements are very different from one book to the other.) Marías published his book seven or eight years before this one, and put together some memorable comic scenes, while what one recalls from this book are more often Saramago's isolated remarks. So, despite some lovely comments about dogs (esp. "[W]hat dogs want most in life is for no one to go away" @234), "The Double" slightly gets the worse of that comparison. But enjoyable to read to the end, so long as you sustain your momentum. ... Read more

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