Cain — his rewriting of the biblical story — was his final novel, and is in some ways a fitting conclusion. Cain's is the story of mankind, and Saramago was one of those authors much concerned with the plight of mankind. Like all good Nobel laureates, he was the kind of writer who wrote about the human condition, with a capital H and a capital C. The novel begins in characteristic Saramago style.
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Del al 31 de Ordenar por. 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.
They have achieved the great goal of humanity: eternal life. 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? A driver waiting at the traffic lights goes blind.
An opthamologist tries to diagnose his distinctive white blindness, but is affected before he can read the textbooks. It becomes a contagion, spreading throughout the unnamed city. Trying to stem the epidemic, the authorities herd the blind into a mental asylum. The wards are terroriesd by blind thugs. And when fire destroys the asylum, the inmates burst forther and the last links with a supposedly civilised society are snapped.
On the first day of the New Year, no one dies. Funeral directors are reduced to arranging funerals for dogs, cats, hamsters and parrots. Life insurance policies become meaningless. Amid the general public, on the other hand, there is initially celebration: flags are hung out on balconies and people dance in the streets. But will death's disappearance benefit the human race, or will this sudden abeyance backfire? How long can families cope with malingering elderly relatives who scratch at death's door while the portal remains firmly shut?
Then, seven months later, death returns, heralded by purple envelopes informing the recipients that their time is up. Death herself is now writing personal notes giving one week's notice. However, when an envelope is unexpectedly returned to her, death begins to experience strange, almost human emotions.
Tertuliano Maximo 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. Called 'the book lost and found in time' by its author, Skylight is one of Saramago's earliest novels.
The manuscript was lost in the publishers' offices in Lisbon for decades, and is only now being published in English. Lisbon, lates. The inhabitants of an old apartment block are struggling to make ends meet. There's the elderly shoemaker and his wife who take in a solitary young lodger; the woman who sells herself for money, clothes and jewellery; the cultivated family come down in the world, who live only for each other and for music; and the beautiful typist whose boss can't keep his eyes off her.
Poisonous relationships, happy marriages, jealousy, gossip and love - Skylight brings together all the joys and grief of ordinary people. A city is hit by an epidemic of "white blindness" that spares no one. Authorities confine the first to go 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 through the barren streets to freedom -- a procession as uncanny as the suroundings are harrowing. Blindness is an unsettling portrait of man's inhumanity to man -- and of humankind's resilient spirit. Born in Portugal in in the tiny village of Azinhaga, Jose Saramago was only eighteen months old when he moved with his father and mother to live in a series of cramped lodgings in a working-class neighbourhood of Lisbon. Nevertheless, he would return to the village throughout his childhood and adolescence, its river landscape and olive groves seeping deep into his memory.
Shifting back and forth between Azinhaga and Lisbon, this touching book is a mosaic of memories, a gathering together of the fragmented recollections that make up the idea of one's youth. Lust, love, humiliation, aspiration - the raptures and miseries of childhood are beautifully captured: Saramago's grandparents bringing the weaker piglets into their bed to keep them warm; the young Jose proudly carrying his first balloon on a string, only to be mocked by two strangers as it empties of air, the shrivelled remains dragging behind him; and, his first encounter with literature as he listens entranced to a friend's mother reading out weekly instalments of Maria, the Fairy of the Forest, and the seven-year-old Jose doggedly teaching himself to read by deciphering articles in the daily newspaper brought home by his father.
Written with Saramago's characteristic wit and honesty, "Small Memories" traces the formation of an artist fascinated by words and stories from an early age and who emerged, against all the odds, as one of the world's most respected writers.
Despite the heavy rain, the officer at Polling Station 14 finds it odd that by midday on National Election day, only a handful of voters have turned out. Puzzlement swiftly escalates to shock when the final count reveals seventy per cent of the votes are blank. National law decrees the election should be repeated but the result is even worse. The authorities, seized with panic, decamp from the capital and declare a state of emergency.
When apathy and disillusionment renders an entire democratic system useless what happens next? Traces the formation of an artist fascinated by words and stories from an early age and who emerged, against all odds, as one of the world's most respected writers.
After killing his brother Abel, Cain must wander for ever. He witnesses Noah's ark, the destruction of the Tower of Babel, Moses and the golden calf. He is there in time to save Abraham from sacrificing Isaac when God's angel arrives late after a wing malfunction.
Written in the last years of Saramago's life, Cain wittily tackles many of the moral and logical non sequiturs created by a wilful, authoritarian God, forming part of Saramago's long argument with God and recalling his provocative novel The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. This deeply personal work, follows the changing fortunes of the Mau-Tempo family - poor, landless peasants not unlike the author's own grandparents. Saramago charts the lives of the family in Alentjo, southern Portugal, as national and international events rumble on in the background - the coming of the republic in Portugal, the First and Second World Wars, and an attempt on the dictator Salazar's life.
Yet, nothing seriously impinges on the farm labourers' lives until the first stirrings of communism. Despite the heavy rain, the presiding officer at Polling Station 14 finds it odd that by midday on National Election day, only a handful of voters have turned out. Puzzlement swiftly escalates to shock when eventually, after an extension, the final count reveals seventy per cent of the votes are blank - not spoiled, simply blank.
National law decrees the election should be repeated eight days later. The result is worse; eighty-three per cent of the votes are blank. The incumbent government receives eight per cent and the opposition even less. The authorities, seized with panic, decamp from the capital and place it under a state of emergency. Who are the insurgents? Why the desire to destabilise the country? The authorities leap from one possibility to the next, but achieve nothing. The lack of hostility exacerbates things, since how can justice be meted out when not a single law has been broken?
To all intents and purposes the administration is blind. Similarities to the plague of blindness that struck the city four years ago become apparent. Seeing explores how simply this could be achieved and how devastating the results might be.
Watching a rented video, Tertuliano M-ximo Afonso is shocked to notice that one of the actors is identical to him in every physical detail. He embarks on a secret quest to find his double and sets in motion a train of events that he cannot control. Saramago's novel explores the nature of individuality and examines the fear and insecurity that arise when our singularity comes under threat, when even a wife cannot tell the original from the imposter-.
What happens when Tertuliano Maximo Afonso, a professor of history, discovers at thirty-eight that there is a man living in the same city who is identical to him, but not related by blood at all. How do we know who we are? What do we mean by identity? What defines us as individual, unique people? Could we ever come to terms with the existence of another person with our voice, our features, our everything, down to the smallest distinguishing mark?
Could we change places with our double without those closest to us noticing? Jose Saramago's new novel can be read as an existential thriller, but it is above all a work of literature that immerses us in the essential questions of life.
When King and Church exercise absolute power what happens to the dreams of ordinary people? In early eighteenth century Lisbon, Baltasar, a soldier who has lost a hand in battle, falls in love with Blimunda, a young girl with visionary powers. From the day that he follows her home from the auto-da-fe where her mother is condemned and burned at the stake, the two are bound body and soul by a love of unassailable strength.
A third party shares their supper that evening: Pardere Bartolemeu Lourenco, whose fantasy is to invent a flying machine. As the inquisition rages and royalty and religion clash, they pursue his impossible, not to mention heretical, dream of flight. The last years of Salazar's dictatorship provide a backdrop for The Manual of Painting and Calligraphy.
The story is told by H, a second-rate artist commissioned by a wealthy client to paint a family portrait. As he works, he reflects on his struggleto survive in a bourgeois world obsessed with status and affluence. His portrait focuses animosity, his sitters are left uncomfortably exposed.
The novel explores wider issues: the functions of art and literature; the critic's role; and, in H's tour of Italian galleries, a meditation on the influences shaping western culture. Back in Portugal, H is embroiled in political fear and mistrust when a friend is arrested by the secret police. He falls in love, too, and by the end of the story defines his objectives and achieves an inner freedom. This coincides with the Portuguese Revolution of and Salazar's overthrow.
A city is hit by an epidemic of sudden blindness. The authorities segregate the newly-blind and all who have come into contact with them. It is not long before the criminal element take over, the compound is set on fire and the blind escape - only to find a deserted, looted city.
Cain by José Saramago – review
Del al 31 de Ordenar por. 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. They have achieved the great goal of humanity: eternal life. 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?
Cain by Jose Saramago