Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Double-José Saramago

So I finally finished this book. Having read several others byJose Saramago, I don't think this is his best effort, but it was still worth the time.

In some of his novels, including this one, when Saramago is writing dialogue, he does not use quotation marks and does not start a new paragraph when a new person speaks. What results are huge Proustian sentences, that are really just a dialogue without proper punctuation. It is an interesting and appropriate format (for some of the time the other speaker is not really a separate external being), but leads to a very dense and slow read, and a few times I had to go back to the beginning of the paragraph to figure out who said what.

Saramago is a master of putting people in bizarre situations and the describing how the protagonist and those around him react; kind of like putting ants into a jar and then shaking it up. The results are often disturbing because it is easy to see ourselves react in the same, and often deplorable, manner. In "Blindness" it was a mysterious disease that left the majority of a town without sight. In "The Double," it was a man's discovery of the existence of an exact physical replica of himself living in the same city.

He also wrote a book called "The year of the death of Ricardo Reis" which is magical, but as it deals with the works of another Portuguese writer, Fernando Pessoa (who is a bizarre character himself), I would recommend at least reading up on him before cracking Saramago's novel.

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