sexta-feira, 18 de junho de 2010

Faleceu José Saramago...

Portugal está tão mais pobre. Paz à sua alma.

José Saramago, Nobel Prize-Winning Writer, Dies
Published: June 18, 2010

José Saramago, the Portuguese writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998 with novels that combine surrealist experimentation and a kind of sardonic peasant pragmatism, has died at his home in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, his publisher said on Friday. He was 87.
The Unexpected Fantasist (August 26, 2007)
The publisher, Zeferino Coelho, told the Portuguese newspaper Publico that Mr. Saramago’s health had been deteriorating after a recent illness, but gave no other details, according to The Associated Press.
Mr. Saramago, a tall, commandingly austere man with a dry, schoolmasterly manner, gained international acclaim for novels like “Baltasar and Blimunda” and “Blindness.” (A film adaptation of “Blindness” by the Brazilian director Fernando Mireilles was released in 2008.)
Mr. Saramago was the first Portuguese-language writer to win the Nobel Prize, and more than two million copies of his books have been sold, Mr. Coelho said.
Mr. Saramago was known almost as much for his unfaltering Communism as for his fiction. In later years, Mr. Saramago used his status as a Nobel laureate to deliver lectures at international congresses around the world, accompanied by his wife, the Spanish journalist Pilar del Rio. He described globalization as the new totalitarianism and lamented contemporary democracy’s failure to stem the increasing powers of multinational corporations.
To many Americans, Mr. Saramago’s name is associated with a statement he made while touring the West Bank in 2002, when he compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the Holocaust.
As a professional novelist, Mr. Saramago was a late bloomer. (A first novel, published when he was 23, was followed by 30 years of silence.) He became a full-time writer only in his late 50s, after working variously as a garage mechanic, a Welfare Agency bureaucrat, a printing production manager, a proofreader, a translator and a newspaper columnist.
In 1975, a counter-coup overthrew Portugal’s Communist-led revolution of the previous year, and Mr. Saramago was fired as deputy editor of the Lisbon newspaper Diário de Noticias. Overnight, along with other prominent leftists, he became virtually unemployable. “It was the best luck of my life,” he said in a 2007 interview. “It drove me to become a writer.”
His first major success was the rollicking love story “Baltasar and Blimunda.” Set in 18th-century Portugal, the novel portrays the misadventures of a trio of eccentrics threatened by the Inquisition: a heretic priest who constructs a flying machine and the two lovers who help him — a one-handed ex-soldier and a sorceress’s daughter who has X-ray vision.
The novel, published in an English translation in 1987, won Mr. Saramago a passionate international following. The critic Irving Howe, praising its union of “harsh realism” and “lyric fantasy,” described its author as “a voice of European skepticism, a connoisseur of ironies.”
“I think I hear in his prose echoes of Enlightenment sensibility, caustic and shrewd,” Mr. Howe wrote.
Asked in 2008 to assess Mr. Saramago’s achievement, the critic James Wood wrote: “Jose Saramago was both an avant-gardist and a traditionalist. His long blocks of unbroken prose, lacking conventional markers like paragraph breaks and quotation marks, could look forbidding and modernist; but his frequent habit of handing over the narration in his novels to a kind of ‘village chorus’ and what seem like peasant simplicities, allowed Saramago great flexibility.”
On the one hand, Mr. Wood wrote, it allowed the writer to “revel in sheer storytelling,” while on the other, to “undermine, ironically, the very ‘truths’ and simplicities his apparently unsophisticated narrators traded in.”
Paradox was Mr. Saramago’s stock in trade. A militant atheist who maintained that human history would have been a lot more peaceful if it weren’t for religion, his novels are nonetheless preoccupied with the question of God.
His novel “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ,” in which Jesus on the cross apologizes to mankind for God’s sins, was deemed blasphemous by some believers and deeply religious by others. When the Portuguese government, under pressure from the Catholic Church, blocked its entry for a European Literary Prize in 1992, Mr. Saramago chose to go into exile in the Canary Islands, a Spanish possession.

In New York Times

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