: Journey to portugal (9781860468728) : Jose Saramago : Books
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Journey To Portugal

by Jose Saramago
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Product Details

  • Publisher: The Harvill Press
  • Publishing date: 24/01/2002
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9781860468728
  • ISBN: 1860468721


Crossing his native land from northeast to southwest, the great novelist explores the villages and towns of Portugal and discovers what it is that binds him to his country and his people. Climbing into his aged motor, Jose Saramago's trip across Portugal is a voyage of discovery about his own land. His attention to all he sees is meticulous, whether it be a cobweb-ridden chapel or a grand urban mansion, and each unlocks a thousand memories - of kings, warriors, painters, explorers, writers, saints and sinners. What unites his observations is Saramago's distinctive character as a travelling companion: whether genial after a glass of wine and a drive through misty mountains, or tetchy at being greeted in English by an Algarve hotelier, he is invariably delightful and stimulating company.

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  • This book could be more, but it failed.
    From Amazon

    I picked up, Journey to Portugal, excited to find hidden treasures from Jose Saramango's expertise on his native soil, instead it was a flop. My expectations were high because Portugal has such a rich history of intrigue within its borders. Instead Saramango's reference to its Jewish and Moorish past was nonexistent. This is shocking knowing that he has won a Nobel Prize in literature. Yet the past in which Portugal was framed like its other Iberian neighbor was purposefully withheld? A man of letters such as Saramango must realize that this past, as dark as it might be, should be addressed. Instead only a few lines were devoted to its Jewish and Moorish heritage as if to say, "ah, they(the Jews and Moors) did not make a big difference here" Mr. Saramango, this is what makes Portugal what it is, your dark past, surely you of all men should know that. You should know that the Inquisition, persecuted men as yourself, men of letters, who were associated with Judaism! Men who escaped their past by becoming adroit at wielding letters, instead of swords. Where is your honra Senor? In my humble estimation this book is as worthless as rags.

  • NOT Bill Bryson
    From Amazon

    This is Jose Saramago's spiritual journey through (primarily rural) Portugal. It's not a light-reading travel narrative. The feeling of this book is something of a cross between Henry Adams and James Michener. It's a book to read slowly and savor, in order to appreciate Saramago's tremendous metaphorical skill. He paints the picture slowly, with deliberate brush-strokes that reveal the masterpiece when viewed from a distance. Yes, his descriptions of churches, winding roads, rain and his seemingly unconscious cultural insecurity (his came from a poor family and was not a university graduate) can become tedious, but that's only if you don't grasp the larger picture: Portugal is a settled land with hundreds of years of historic layers. Saramago wants to peel those layers back for you to expose the core. Only the reader can decide if he's been successful.

  • A spiritual and spatial journey
    From Amazon

    I eventually struggled through to the end of "Journey to Portugal", more as a duty than a pleasure. After the first third, the sameness of the descriptions of churches, buildings and art works became a bit boring. Sarmago certainly writes with insights that would resonate with readers who are familiar with the history, culture and art works of Portugal. I am not, so many of Saramago's allusions and comments on the churches and buildings he saw were opaque to me. Having read (and reviewed) "Seeing", "Blindness" and "The Cave" by Saramago, I was a little disappointed at first with "Journey to Portugal". However, my disappointment was relieved by beautiful passages sprinkled through the text. Saramago was born in Portugal and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. "Journey to Portugal" is nominally a travel book, but of a special kind: it describes spiritual as well as spatial journeys. The book is written in the third person, with Saramago referring to himself throughout as "the traveller". Reflective travellers will understand when Sarmago says "...when the street descends once more to the old cathedral so does the rain; it overflows the gutters and, as one idea follows another, the traveller remembers how the waters of the Minho ran down the hard shoulders beside the street, how small the world is, all its memories jumbled together in the minimal space inside the traveller's head." He also gives beautiful little word pictures of the lives and people he encountered on his journey. These are the real gems in this book, and why it is worth reading. In one especially memorable story ("The Man Who Could Not Forget") Saramago gets into conversation with the waiter at dinner about his travel plans and learns that the waiter was born in Cidadelhe, one of the small, remote villages Saramago plans to visit. Many years ago, when the waiter was a child, his sick young sister died on the way to get medical help, because none was available in their impoverished village. The waiter has never forgotten this family tragedy. His emotions are still raw as he talks to Saramago, who asks the waiter to come with him to the village and show him where he lived. Saramago concludes thus: "The traveller returns to his room. He spreads out his big map on the bed and looks for Pinhel. There it is, and the road which heads off into the hills. At some point in this space a seven-year-old girl died; then the traveller finds Cidadelhe, on the heights, between the Rivers Coa and Massueime, it really is at the ends of the earth, the end of life. If there is no one to remember." The book resonated with me for another reason. To quote Saramago: "The traveller preferred to admire the late afternoon gazing down towards the River Torto . . . . and then spent a long while leaning back against a wall . . . because from behind it there wafted the most exquisite perfume of flowers . . ." Far too often in our travels we are driven onwards by an inexorable schedule that allows little time to stop and actually enjoy moments such as Saramago describes.

  • A Reflective Journey, Thoughtful and Passionate
    From Amazon

    Understandably, this book will be difficult reading for many American readers. It is not filled with action, sex, violence, or touristic visions. It is neither efficient nor pragmatic. Nevertheless, Jose Saramago is a Nobel Prize Winner for good reason. He writes with a depth of feeling and intense love that cannot be missed. The translation loses, as most translations do, the poetic passions of the author. However, if one can accept a very different style of writing, one that is decidedly not British nor American, this work will indeed be a journey.

  • Journey to Portugal Review
    From Amazon

    I am reading this book and am laboring through it hoping it will get to something interesting or useful because I am planning on traveling through Portugal later this year. So far it has been very boring. I don't get a great insight of Portugal's history or culture. It is mostly a travelogue of his town by town personal encounter with little to relate. So far its been very disappointing and I feel like its a waste of time.

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