Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Saramago 101

This evening [at Starbucks] I finished reading an excellent book. An engrossing page-turner!
The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, by none other than the one and only Jose Saramago.
I am soon getting a digital camera [“Wow, get with the times, Cipriano!”] I ordered the thing last night, and I thought I would borrow a great idea from Arukiyomi. When he reviews his books, he takes photos of the book against a background of where he was when he finished reading it.
But see, for me, I would always be in a Starbucks, so it would be quite boring, I guess. Anyhoo – tonight I finished this wonderful book by my favorite living author. I have often spoken of how unique Saramago’s style is, but let me encourage you to trust him.
Fall into his capable grasp and control. I will cite an example from Ricardo Reis.

OK, in this passage [from pages 248-249] two people are conversing, Ricardo and Marcenda. Ricardo is a doctor and he's in love with Marcenda, and she has had a paralyzed left hand for many years now… let us voyeuristically listen in –

Now then, how is your health, Ricardo Reis inquired. Marcenda replied, Much the same, I doubt that I will be going back to the specialist, at least not the one here in Lisbon. There are no signs of improvement, no indication of movement or that you are getting back some feeling. Nothing that encourages me. And what about your heart, That is functioning perfectly, do you wish to check it, I am not your doctor.

Several things are radically unconventional here, you may have noticed.
Firstly, lack of question marks, when in interrogative mode. The first six words, and then the sentence beginning with “There are no signs…” are questions asked by Ricardo. ["And what about your heart?" is another question, while we're at it! As is her answer!]
Secondly, change in speaker does not merit a fresh line, nor even a fresh sentence! Nor any quotation marks at all.
Thirdly, even this practice is rather arbitrary.
Note the complete full-stop sentence Nothing that encourages me. That was a change in speaker, Marcenda answering Ricardo’s question. But the very next “sentence” initiates a dialogue separated only by commas. Ricardo – Marcenda – and back to Ricardo.
Why the full stop in that one sentence [Nothing that encourages me → . ←] and not in the next grouping of sentences?
You will have to ask The Master himself!
All I know is that reading him is always a wonderful experience, and it only takes a few pages to fall under his spell.
He DESTROYS conventional grammatical rules and is NEVER CONFUSING!
I have already pre-ordered his next book, coming out in October, and have just found out tonight that there will be at least one more thing to read from this living literary legend.
Jose Saramago.
There is no one like him.

For further study, click HERE.
To see how positively adorable this man is, click HERE.



Arukiyomi said...

thanks for the link Cip! I can't remember who I got the idea off actually now I think about it. FWIW, it's not always where I finish the book - especially if I happen to have the book on me in an interesting location e.g. starting off Dracula in Sighisoara, the heart of Transylvania. Looking forward to you reaching the digital age though!

Beth said...

Amazing that his unconventional writing style works - that we can follow that dialogue.

cipriano said...

Yes Arukiyomi, I am about to enter the digital age.
Your idea, of the photos of books in settings of completion, is brilliant, even if plagiarized.
Saramago is amazing. Please read him.
Pre-order his new upcoming book, as I have just done.

Isabella said...

So you liked it?

(I haven't read this one yet.)

cipriano said...

I must be honest Isabella and tell you that this is perhaps my least favorite of all of Saramago's novels, but... having said that, Saramago being Saramago... it is still better than 90% of any other literary alternatives out there.
A magnificent book.