: Double, the (9781843430995) : Jose Saramago : Books
  Login | Register En  |  Fr
Antoine Online

Double, The

by Jose Saramago
Our price: LBP 33,600Unavailable
*Contact us to request a special order. Price may vary.
I Add to my wishlist

Product Details

  • Publisher: The Harvill Press
  • Publishing date: 05/08/2004
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9781843430995
  • ISBN: 1843430991


What happens when Tertuliano Maximo Afonso, a 38-year-old professor of history, discovers that there is a man living in the same city who is identical to him ion every physical detail, but not related by blood at all. And what happens when each of these men attempt to investigate each other's lives? How do we know who we are? What do we mean by identity? What defines us as individual, unique people? Could we ever come to terms with the existence of another person with our voice, our features, our everything, down to the smallest distinguishing mark? Could we change places with our double without those closest to us noticing? Dark yet comic, Jose Saramago's new novel can be read as an existential thriller, but it is above all a work of literature that immerses us in the essential questions of life. It is certain to become a 21st-century classic.

In just a few easy steps below, you can become an online reviewer.
You'll be able to make changes before you submit your review.

  • Excellent narratology and identity study.
    From Amazon

    This is the first book of Saramago's that I've read. It's really good and recommendable. It has a great idea and you get a glimpse at the the life of some topics that are on the margin of today's society: acting extras and minor actor and teacher's lives. The narratological aspects of the text are quite applaudable: in a Tristram Shandian-type style, the narrator points out what has been discussed before and mentions what is to come. The narrator tells the reader what things will not happen again and what is important for the reader to note. This isn't just a parlour trick and it's use in the text of this nature, which isn't just a bedstand book, is intriguing. The narrator at times keeps his distance and at other times comes up and sits down right next to the reader. The only complaint I have is the length. The text was a bit hard to get into at first and I imagine this 320 page text could have been reduced by about 40 pages without affecting much aside from the pace. Great book and I look forward to reading more of Saramago's highly interesting prose.

  • A challenging, worthwhile read
    From Amazon

    First appearing in English in 2004, "The Double" is Jose Saramago's take on a theme that has captured the imagination of authors as varied as Dostoevsky and Stevenson, Borges and Stan Lee/Jack Kirby. It is the story of a man - a depressed and apathetic history teacher named Tertuliano Maximo Afonso - who, while spending a listless evening watching a B-Grade film, discovers that one of the film's bit players is his perfect double. This discovery sets Afonso on a journey to find and confront this other man - a confrontation that is by turns unsettling and shot through with black humor, and one that ultimately leads to tragic consequences. Both a detective story and rumination on identity personal and public, shared and private, "The Double" is woven throughout with engaging, diffuse prose. Just a glance into its pages reveals the trademark liberties Mr. Saramago takes with narrative form. His paragraphs generally run many pages at a time, periods are kept to a minimum, commas abound, and quotations are eschewed in favor of a capitalized letter indicating where one speaker ends and another begins. These peculiar formal elements allow the narrator to build into a specific rhythm that would not be possible through more conventional narrative forms, and it imbues the text with an often beautiful, and just as frequently challenging, cadence. It's lovely stuff if you dig this sort of thing. In fact, the narrator's digressive, meandering style is the real star of the story. One gets the sense that none of the characters (with a few exceptions) could live anywhere but between the two covers of this book, whereas most people are likely to know someone (a loquacious grandfather, an aunt without an "off" switch) who, although unlikely to be as droll, biting, or eloquent as the narrator, could match him in quantity if not quality. By comparison the main characters come off as little more than coat racks upon which the narrator can hang his prodigious oratory. This is where the novel stumbles - if only a little. On the one hand, the narrator is a joy. His lengthy asides discourse on semiotics, the origin of the universe and belief in God, identity and lovemaking and monkfish, and more besides. His tone is playful and seldom preachy. On the other hand, a narrative voice alone doesn't make for a good novel and even if the most gifted narrator aims his talents at describing, say, paint drying on a wall, he's still only describing paint drying on a wall. Tertuliano Maximo Afonso is a lot like that recently painted wall. At least for the first half of the novel the guy is an absolute bore, paralyzed by indecision and moral cowardice. As the story picks up steam (not long after the introduction of his double, Antonio Claro) his character receives some depth and nuance but, even then, he is mostly an inert presence. For better or worse, the narrator of "The Double" often has to abandon his characters in order for the story to be truly engaging. The plot - a potboiler at heart - is made of sturdier stuff. Mr. Saramago's fiction - for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1998 - frequently treats with outlandish themes: doppelgangers; a sudden, inexplicable rash of mass blindness; an entire peninsula breaking free of its terrestrial moorings and floating away into the sea. Like his other tales, "The Double" handles its unbelievable premise with the utmost believability and Saramago never wavers, never flinches, at seeing his premise through to its conclusion. As the plot twists and turns and finally culminates in a wonderfully satisfying denouement, one has the feeling of having taken a ride with a master storyteller in firm control of his craft. There is some wish that Mr. Saramago had given more personality to his main protagonist (something Philip Roth was able to do with Swede Levov in "American Pastoral" a character who, for different reasons, suffered from a similar degree of moral lassitude as Afonso), but then we rarely get everything we want. What we have received from Jose Saramago in "The Double" is a novel that, for its flaws in characterization, can still charm, challenge, delight, and disturb us.

    From Amazon

    A shift from Saramago's usual themes, but written in the same classical, vintage J.S style. This, like all Saramago's works I've read to date,except Blindness which was the easiest read so far, has not been an easy read. The double takes us on a psychological journey through identity, physical and spiritual, and provokes a lot of reflection on the meaning of self, alterego,and all other solecisms of identity. Tertuliano Maximo Afonso, Antonio Claro, Helena, Maria de Paz, are the central characters in this tale of identities being confused and the attendant consequences.More than that, it exposes the inherent flaws of the human condition,deceit,larceny,prevarication,fear,raconteur, all the elements that lead to the history teacher and the actor exchanging identities,eventually leading to the denouement of death. Saramago is one of my favourite authors and ,though his works are not the easiest to read, one still finds reward in the exercise of thought, stretching language to its limits ; thus making us more punctilious in our reading.However, one who is not used to his style of writing may be easily put off and I did find some passages a bit tedious attimes. Without giving to much away, suffice it to say, the end is rather amusing.A surprise if I might add.For an author as old as J.S, one cannot but marvel at the limitless boundaries of his imagination

  • More entertaining when read in big gulps (4+ stars)
    From Amazon

    This is a funny and engaging novel, but you might not find it so if you try reading it as a nightcap after a tiring day. I found the unparagraphed style very discouraging to read, and it was hard to make it through more than a few pages a night. Often I didn't feel like opening it at all; the book was on my nighttable for so long I got sick of seeing it there, and almost put it back on the shelf having made little headway. Luckily, I had a long afternoon in which I could read the last 60% or so of the book all in one go, and I very much enjoyed it. So I recommend that you read it in big blocks, rather than chopping it up too much. This was the first book I'd read by Saramago. I thought it had a lot in common with "Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me" by Spanish author Javier Mar?as. Not only the rambling, discursive style and the dark humor, but also a plot that turns on confusions of identity. (The plot similarity is more of a resonance than a copy, since some key elements are very different from one book to the other.) Mar?as published his book seven or eight years before this one, and put together some memorable comic scenes, while what one recalls from this book are more often Saramago's isolated remarks. So, despite some lovely comments about dogs (esp. "[W]hat dogs want most in life is for no one to go away" @234), "The Double" slightly gets the worse of that comparison. But enjoyable to read to the end, so long as you sustain your momentum.

  • Double or Nothing?
    From Amazon

    Unfortunately, the answer seems to be Nothing in this somewhat overblown metaphysical novel. As in the famous Shakespeare quote, it's "full of sound and (oddly hesitant) fury, signifying nothing." Perhaps I'm just expressing my pique at reading carefully, sorting the voices, carrying all the possible interpretations in my short-term memory with readerly conscientiousness, and then finishing the book with the sense that it's just a clever mirror trick or shell game. "The Double" tells of a self-absorbed history teacher who discovers a bit-part actor accidentally in a rented film, who seems to be his physical 'double.' Becoming immediately obsessed with the existential dilemma of being himself merely a 'double' of someone else, he plunges into a bizarre search for his other self. It all leads to absurdity and trouble. Part detective game, part modern romance of futility, the novel is craftily constructed and wittily written. I'm sure I've awarded five-star reviews to books not half as well made, but which didn't leave me feeling cheated. It's a stream-of-consciousness construct, this coy novel, but whose consciousness is streaming? Tertuliano, the history teacher, is the owner of the mind we readers invade, but his thoughts are delivered as "third person." It's the author whose voice we hear in "first person," who plainly tells us that he's making the whole story up as he goes, improvising, apostrophizing, lecturing himself in parentheses. Is the author himself the double of his slightly pedantic and parenthetical character? Is the author Saramago or Saramago's projected double? Honestly, friends, I find this kind of stuff interesting. I don't hold a bit of self-referential, self-conscious modernism against a writer. I've taken great pleasure in reading novels far more complex, chaotic even, than this one. But I don't like to feel flamboozled. In the end, "The Double" is not so much a complex novel as a novel that pretends to be complex.

Working on your request