Saturday, July 21, 2012

José Saramago

Main masterpieces: 

  • Memorial do Convento (1982)
  • O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis (1984)
  • A Jangada de Pedra (1986)
  • O Evangelho Segundo Jesus Cristo (1991)
  • Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira (1995)
  • Caim (2009) 

Historical period in literature: 
Contemporary literature, Historical Realism period


Effort to revive the Portuguese history and identity through a new language

Saramago’s literary world consists of four key elements. First the question of modern man in a double logic of assuming a critical position on the past and at the same time, learn from the past. Second the introduction of supernatural elements but never keeping away from the real world. Third the attempt of a new language different in punctuation. Finally the journey not only in the real world but also inside the Man through imagination. With these elements of 'time', 'supernatural', 'torrential narrative' and 'journey' that interpenetrate his works searched for utopia through allegorical allusions, criticism and ethics.
Apart from the elaborate work of language, Saramago deeply deals with the problems of the contemporary Portugal and the identity of Lusitanian people. Besides showing the direction in which Portugal should follow and its world view, Saramago searches for the man's identity lost in modern society.
In conclusion, the magnitude of Saramago's works lies in the effort to evoke the history and identity of the 'lost homeland', together with the search for a new literary language in which states his experimental spirit.


Literary Awards

Among the awards stand out the Camões Prize (1995) highest distinction given to the Portuguese-language writers, and Nobel Prize in Literature (1998), the first awarded to a Portuguese language writer.

Quotes that are worth remembering

"I think we are blind. Blind people who can see, but do not see."
"I never appreciated 'positive heroes' in literature. They are almost always cliches, copies of copies, until the model is exhausted. I prefer perplexity, doubt, uncertainty, not just because it provides a more 'productive' literary raw material, but because that is the way we humans really are."
"I can't imagine myself outside any kind of social or political involvement."
"Human vocabulary is still not capable, and probably never will be, 
of knowing, recognizing, and communicating everything that can be humanly experienced and felt."
"As citizens, we all have an obligation to intervene and become involved - it's the citizen who changes things."
"A human being is a being who is constantly 'under construction,' but also, in a parallel fashion, always in a state of constant destruction."

Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira adapted into movie in 2008

Original title: Blindness
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Cast: Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Gael García Bernal, Danny Glover, Yoshino Kimura, Alice Bragam Sandra Oh

Watching movie trailer

Consulted sources:  

Portal da Literatura Portuguesa

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