Yeah, I'd start with All The Names too: it's moving, Kafkaesque at times, a bit absurd too. It's a very complete novel.
Baltasar and Blimunda (Memorial do Convento), try this one first. What lies inside us? Is there any God to save us, any paradise we have to conquer? Or the world is the only Eden we will ever know?
A Viagem do Elefante, Saramago's new novel, has just come out, just in time for the Portugal release of the movie adaptation of Blindness: I can't wait to see this movie. Has anyone seen it?
I am a Saramago devotee as well. I am totally enamoured by his narrative style, usage of grammar, and plots; such ingenuity. I read someone remarking on Saramago coming really close to Pessoa; if you haven't already do give The Year of the Death of Richardo Reiss a try. This narrative takes from Pessoa's death to a year in the life of Richardo Reiss - Pessoa's most famous hetronym. The manner in which Saramago enlives the 'characters', the 'mutilated self', and 'hetronyms' is possessed with precise narrative and intellectual rigour. It makes one wonder who is this book about; Pessoa, Richardo Reiss, or Saramago's Pessoa. The author at once becomes an illusive and authoritative figure.
I am, currently, writing my thesis on Sound. The theoritical chapter on sound begins with a discussion on Blindness; I am attaching it below. If it reads disconnected that is because I have taken out the 'theoritical' bits - justifying its inclusion in my thesis - out
In a nameless city the residents find themselves succumbing to an affliction without any apparent reason or warning. In the middle of the day or whilst waiting for the traffic signal, people lose their sight. They find themselves suddenly blind. The affliction soon assumes an epidemic proportion. Though it is never categorically stated, the affliction is taken to pass from one to another through touch. The blindness which people experience is ?not dark but a brilliant, impenetrable white? and, by this virtue, is subsequently referred to as the white evil. Blindness as a collective experience begins to unleash chaos in the city whilst also making those who can still see wary of the contagion. In order to limit its impact, the blind are held hostage in a disused mental asylum at the edge of the city. What follows is a systematic collapse of systems: administrative, infrastructural, social, moral, and ethical. Vagaries of all kinds are resorted to by people to negotiate the world through their blindness; filth, jealously, rage, and violence abound but so do love, magnanimity, and tenderness in its own ?blind? way. The human nature is stretched to its limit; the residents - blind and who can still see - not only question the existing norms but also set newer ones. The blindness does abate - slowly and gradually - but only after a catastrophic encounter between the blind, who escape the asylum, and non-blind. One of the main characters of the book is the doctor?s wife who escapes the predicament. Her husband does not; to be close to him, she feigns blindness. Bearing the burden of witnessing almost-apocalyptic events, she ruminates towards the end as people recover their sight, ?Why did we become blind, I don't know, perhaps one day we'll find out, Do you want me to tell you what I think, Yes, do, I don't think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.?
This, in short, is the plot of Jose? Saramago?s sixth novel published in 1995.
The reflections of doctor?s wife in Blindness, ?I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see?, makes ?seeing? a political act. By introducing two narrative strategies, a] the suddenness with which people lose sight as a punctum of reality and, b] the simultaneous collapse of infrastructural and moral systems, with the onslaught of blindness, Saramago compels the readers to question the validity of the reality based on seeing; is what is seen - taken as reality - meant to be so by those in power; is it the indoctrination of the system to not see what it doesn?t want to be seen; how closely does the systems of morality rely on externality of sight? Through slight - though ingenious - tactics Saramago involves other sense than sight, touch and smell. It is through touch that the affliction is spread - or so it is believed - for the case of the doctor?s wife is a clear anomaly. Once the systems, especially the administrative and infrastructural, start collapsing, the blind are associated with the ever-increasing smell of filth and decay. Though the state tries to control these sensory assaults by limiting the afflicted, these provide a tactile power to the afflicted to subvert the system. In doing so, Saramago displaces the power of authority, knowledge, experience, and reality from the eyes to the rest of the body. The body, with all its sensorial elements, becomes the means to frame reality as well as challenge it.
The maker of kitsch does not create inferior art, he is not an incompetent or a bungler, he cannot be evaluated by aesthetic standards; rather, he is ethically depraved, a criminal willing radical evil. - Hermann Broch
I find Seeing and Death at Intervals far superior. The first, a semi-sequel to Blindness, has one of the most subversive ideas I've ever read: cast blank votes to take down a government. The fear this simple democractic act creates on the rulers and the violence they react with is a fine allegory of our current world.
And the second novel is an amusement about one of the last taboos: death. Paradoxically, it's also Saramago's funniest novel. And possibly his greatest love story. It's so many thing simultaneously, it eclipses the simplicity of The Double.
Have you guys read his last novel? The topic is very interesting but in some way it really dissapointed me
What are your thoughts on this one?
Are you talking about A Viagem do Elefante?
They treat him better in Spain than in Portugal. For one they've never censored his books. And when the Spanish organised a beautiful Saramago exhibition, the Portuguese Minister of Culture didn't even bother to show up. Saramago has made Spain his home and repays all the kindness with simultaneous translations of his work. I understand and admire that.
Death with interruptions - translated by Margerett Jull Costa
Is this the book you are referring to ? If so, I just bought a copy of the same. Looks interesting.
Read Death With Interruptions. It's a very funny, very well-written novel. It's Saramago relaxing and having a bit of fun really, although still tackling some very heavy themes.
We' actually talking about the novel he wrote after this one, called A Viagem do Elefante, which hasn't been translated into English yet.
Daniel, I also read that Saramago's collection of blog writings won't be released in Portugal after all. There's no release date yet. That leaves me rather sad, seeing how other countries will get it before we do. But in the end they can be read in his blog anyway.
I don't know if they will still publish it in spanish, I really hope so.
However you guys have the advantage that with his diaries, Cuadernos de Lanzarote, only two volumes were published in spanish and in portuguese they released a third volume. Am I correct on that?
Can anyone please the name the translator(s) to English so I can find the books?
I'm not really from outer space: I'm just mentally divergent.
I'm not really from outer space: I'm just mentally divergent.
Still not read any of his books. Damn.