I started reading Saramago about two years ago.
Of course, as a French Portuguese, his name was not totally unknown to me.
The first book I bought from him is his collection of columns entitled A bagagem do viajante, that could be translated by The traveller’s trunk.
This title obviously caught my attention.
To the extent that I have spent the last few years dragging a suitcase (or 2, or 3…) from a country to another, I guess I don’t have to be surprised that I chose this book rather than another one.
This book is a compendium of chronicles that Saramago published between 1969 and 1972 in the newspapers A Capital and Jornal do Fundão. As a former member of the Communist Party, he was also the head of the daily newspaper Diário de Notícias after the fall of Salazar’s regime.
I would say that these chronicles oscillate between moments of introspection and a recurrent form of analysis of the sensory feeling.
This analysis of psychology is often the object of a subtle sarcasm.
I say “subtle” because although the author—who otherwise defined himself as a pessimist—seems to make a judgement about emotions, he always manages to do so with a certain amount of kindness.
I think that this universe of details almost always poetized manages to take the reader into a timeless universe.
I am among the lucky ones who can read in Portuguese this author unfortunately little translated into other languages, probably because of his style, made up of long elegant sentences.
However, I recommend that everyone discover this author in a language that is familiar to him.