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Journey to Portugal: In Pursuit of Portugal's History and Cultureby Jose Saramago
Synopses & Reviews
José Saramago was only eighteen months old when he moved from the village of Azinhaga with his father and mother to live in Lisbon. Nevertheless, he would return to the village throughout his childhood and adolescence to stay with his maternal grandparents, illiterate peasants in the eyes of the outside world, but the fount of knowledge, affection, and authority to the young José. This book is a mosaic of memories, a simply told, affecting look back into the authors boyhood: the tragic death of his older brother at the age of four; his mother pawning the familys blankets every spring and buying them back in time for winter; uncles in fits of jealousy, aunts prophetic, comforting or drunken; his beloved grandparents bringing the weaker piglets into their bed on cold nights. And his early encounters with literature, from the memory of listening entranced to the weekly installments of Maria, the Fairy of the Forest to poring over an entertaining dialogue in a Portuguese-French conversation guide, not realizing that he was in fact reading a play by Moliere. Written with his characteristic wit and honesty, Small Memories traces the formation of an individual and an artist who emerged, against all the odds, as one of the world's most respected writers.
When José Saramago decided some twenty years ago to write a book about Portugal, his only desire was that it be unlike all other books on the subject, and in this he has certainly succeeded. Recording the events and observations of a journey across the length and breadth of the country he loves dearly, Saramago brings Portugal to life as only a writer of his brilliance can. Forfeiting sources of information such as tourist guides and road maps, he scours the country with the eyes and ears of an observer fascinated by the ancient myths and history of his people. Whether an inaccessible medieval fortress set on a cliff, a wayside chapel thick with cobwebs, or a grand mansion in the city, the extraordinary places of this land come alive with kings, warriors, painters, explorers, writers, saints, and sinners. Always meticulously attentive to those elements of ancient Portugal that persist today, Saramago examines the country in its current period of rapid transition and growth.
Infused with the tenderness and intelligence that have become familiar to his readers, Saramago's Journey to Portugal is an ode of love for a country and its rich traditions.
About the Author
José Saramago was born in Portugal in 1922. His work includes plays, poetry, short stories, nonfiction, and seven novels. In 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Amanda Hopkinson translates contemporary literature, mainly from Latin America, and is a reviewer for leading British newspapers.
Nick Caistor, journalist and producer of BBC programs, has translated the work of several authors including Eduardo Mendoza and Juan Carlos Onetti.
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