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Search tags: Portuguese-literature
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review 2018-07-01 10:54
Give Me a Boat: “The Tale of the Unknown Island” by José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa (translator)
The Tale of the Unknown Island - José Saramago,Peter Sís,Margaret Jull Costa

 


“A MAN WENT TO KNOCK AT THE KING’S DOOR AND said, Give me a boat."

In “The Tale of the Unknown Island” by José Saramago


I love the way Saramago builds this parable by using the Portuguese King D. João II and Columbus. He went to Lisbon in 1476 and remained here for several years, seeking the support of King D. João II and gathering nautical and geographic intelligence from the returning sailors. Why did we want to embark on the Age of Discoveries? Easy: We saw a niche begging to be literally explored. On the other hand, Spain was fighting the Moors, the Turks were attacking Italy, and Austria and France and Britain were fighting each other in the Hundred Year War. Portugal, on the other hand, was a united kingdom with relatively few internal problems and enemies. Smart, uh? We’re always looking for an opportunity to shine bright…

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-06-22 19:02
Fin-de-siècle Urban Nightmares: “Lucio's Confession” by Mário de Sá-Carneiro, Margaret Jull Costa (translator)
Lucio's Confession - Mário de Sá-Carneiro


"Deep down, I did hate those people – the artists. That is, those false artists whose work consists of the poses they strike: saying outrageous things, cultivating complicated tastes and appetites, being artificial, irritating, [and] unbearable. People who, in fact, take from art only what is false and external.”

 

In “Lucio's Confession” by Mário de Sá-Carneiro, Margaret Jull Costa (translator)

 



From the street, two floors below my hotel window in a dreary urban business park slash hotel district, I heard desperate, blood chilling cries for help. I rushed to the window, expecting to see the victim of a hit and run car accident lying bloodied at the curb-side but instead, I saw a young man with a tear stained face wearing only a long sleeved, open-cuffed shirt walking this way and then that, each time with purpose, until the moment he changed his mind. Shouting, pleading with his hands outstretched. For a heartbreaking moment, I thought he looked like my estranged stepson.

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-06-20 10:13
Et ego in illo: “Baltasar and Blimunda” by José Saramago, Giovanni Pontiero (Translator)
Baltasar and Blimunda - José Saramago,Giovanni Pontiero

“If Adam was punished for wishing to resemble God, how do men come to have God inside them without being punished, and even when they do not wish to receive Him they go unpunished, for to have and not to wish to have God inside oneself amounts to the same absurdity, and the same impossible situation, yet the words Et ego in illo imply that God is inside me, how did I come to find myself in thus labyrinth of yes and no, of no that means yes, of yes that means no, opposed affinities allied contradictions, how shall I pass safely over the edge of the razor, well, summing up, before Christ became man, God was outside man and could not reside in him, then, through the Blessed Sacrament, He came to be inside man, so man is virtually God, or will ultimately become God, yes, of course, if God resides in me, I am God, I am God not in triune or quadruple, but one, one with God, He is I, I am He, Durus est hic sermo, et quis potest eum audire.”

In “Baltasar and Blimunda” by José Saramago, Giovanni Pontiero(translator)

(“ […] Se a Adão por querer assemelhar-se a Deus, como têm agora os homens a Deus dentro de si e não são castigados, ou o não querem receber e castigados não são, que ter e não querer ter Deus dentro de si é o mesmo absurdo, a mesma impossibilidade, e contudo Et ego in illo, Deus está em mim, ou em mim não está Deus, como poderei achar-me nesta floresta de sim e não, de não que é sim, do sim que é não, afinidades contrárias, contrariedades afins como atravessarei salvo sobre o fio da navalha, ora, resumindo agora, antes de Cristo se ter feito homem, Deus estava fora do homem e não podia estar nele, depois, pelo Sacramento, passou a estar nele, assim o homem é quase Deus, ou será afinal o próprio Deus, sim, sim, se em mim está Deus, eu sou Deus, sou-o de modo não trino ou quádruplo, mas uno, uno com Deus, Deus nós, ele eu, eu ele, Durus est hic sermo, et quis potest eum audire.”

In “Memorial do Convento” by José Saramago
)


Arriving in Mafra, let us imagine ourselves as part of the crowd that, on October 22, 1730, attended the consecration of the convent. Impossible not to be impressed by this façade more than 230 meters in length. To the centre, the basilica with its dome and bell towers, and on each side the imposing turrets. The portico columns clearly showed the neoclassical influence, complemented by several sculptures in the same style. Saramago tells us that 40,000 workers worked night and day so that the Basilica could be finished on D. João V's birthday.

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2017-10-19 17:01
Tomato Soup is Lava: "Time Ages in a Hurry" by Antonio Tabucchi, Antonio Romani (Translation)
Time Ages in a Hurry - Antonio Tabucchi,Martha Cooley,antonio romani

Tabucchi’s notion of time (e.g., aging) is a weird one. I grew up thinking it didn't really exist, that it was just something us humans invented as a measurement, like cm or mm. But I also used to think tomato soup was lava. Time is the only God, because it behaves in exactly the way any self-respecting God should: it continues to do its thing utterly dependably, and ignores everything else. The problem, I think, is that our scientific knowledge of time is so limited that in any discussion, we can't avoid drifting into metaphysics, which doesn't really add to the discussion. Regarding "time" as an entity, I feel we are like a caveman looking at the Mona Lisa and wondering how it was done what it could mean. We simply don't understand the extent of what we're looking at, and, like every generation, fall into the familiar trap that, because we are the here-and-now, we are the cleverest there's ever been, so we KNOW the answer, when, in fact, we're not much smarter than all the thousands of generations before us. The generations who follow us will behave in exactly the same way.

 

 

If you're into Aging and the Notion of Time in particular, read on.

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review 2017-10-06 11:12
Baroqueness in Literature: "A Brusca" by Agustina Bessa-Luis
A Brusca - Agustina Bessa-Luís

"A Brusca" corresponds to a project with a less systematized approach, with the eponymous title of the first tale, with its forty pages. These tales are linked by the title, which reproduces the name of a site, a ruralism in connection with the Portuguese territory contemplated already in "Mundo Fechado" (Closed World) (first novel published in 1948), and especially from "A
Sibyl" (1954), for a whole line of novels.

 
Portuguese is a very plastic language, difficult and ceremonial, but also very surprising for being so baroque. I can feel this baroqueness in all of Agustina's fiction. Is it possible to fully translate it into other languages? To my knowledge Agustina has never been translated into English. I think only the novel "A Sibila"  was translated into German ("Die Sybille")
 
How will Agustina sound in English and German? 
 
 
Read on, if you're into this kind of thing.
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