That’s it! I don’t think I will be able to concentrate for the rest of the day. I have just heard the terrible news that José Saramago, the great Portuguese writer and Nobel Laureate has passed away.
It is indeed a terrible loss as we will no longer be able to get new and fascinating stories from his pen, but we have a great deal to read from his books and essays. We can indeed read and re-read those wonderful books such as “Blindness” or “All the names” and be able to let him take us in unimaginable tangential routes to discover yet an extra piece of our own soul, of our humanity.
For me Saramago is one of those writers that takes you by the hand and does not let you go, or rather you do not want to let go. His style might seem to be a bit difficult to grasp, particularly with those page-long sentences without punctuation, however, once you manage to break the seemingly hard skin, you find that inside a ripe, juicy story is waiting to satiate your hunger for compelling and great ideas.
I will never forget reading for the first time “Blindness” or “Enssaio sobre a ceguera”. I found myself immersed in that strange whiteness and I still can’t believe how he managed to write the book without giving names away. Furthermore “Seeing” or “Enssaio sobre a lucidez” was a pleasent surprise, as I was already familiar with the Doctor’s wife. I also remember watching the film and although the Dog of Tears was not as I envisaged, the rest was almost perfect. Saramago himself said, with tears in his eyes, that that was exactly how he imagined it.
By far, one of my favourite books is “The Double” or “O homem duplicado”, how much I laughed with the story of Tertuliano Maximo Afonso and Maria da Paz. It became some sort of soap opera for me, I could not get enough. I kept on nodding as I read “The gospel according to Jesus Christ” or “O evangelho segundo Jesus Cristo”, and kept on scratching my head with “The stoneraft” or “A jangada de pedra”.
As I heard the news, I could not help thinking about “Death at intervals” or “As intermitências da morte”. Death will not be sitting alone in her chilly apartment with scythe and filing cabinets anymore. Saramago will be there telling her all his marvellous stories. If only she had come yesterday to start her tantalising experiment, just for a few days, and so the next day nobody would have died, including Saramago.
I shall be honest and confess that I am writing this with tears in my eyes…