Journey to Portugal: In Pursuit of Portugal's History and Culture

Jose Saramago, Author, Amanda Hopkinson, Translator, Nick Caistor, Translator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $30 (464p) ISBN 978-0-15-100587-1
In 1979, 19 years before he won the Nobel Prize for literature, Portuguese novelist Saramago (Blindness) journeyed across his homeland, hoping ""to write a book on Portugal that [would be] capable of offering a fresh way of looking, a new way of feeling"" about the country's history and culture. Out of that personal quest comes this monumental work, a literary hybrid that intermingles an intimate portrait of a nation with aspects of a novel, travel log and guide book. From the outset, a deep sense of Portuguese and European history pervades Saramago's descriptions, which evince a longing for the past whose fragments lie in every crevice, niche and portico. For example, upon seeing ""traces of ancient anti-Spanish rancor in the form of obscene graffiti scored into good 15th-century stone"" in Miranda do Douro, he recalls a 17th-century siege that took place in the small town. Later on in his trip, standing in the ruins of a church, he muses, ""[T]he day before yesterday the Romans were here; yesterday it was the turn of the monks of Sao Cucufate; today it's the traveler."" Saramago's absolute attachment to his homeland filters through every paragraph, impelling him to create a new vision of the country: a vision that aims to meld Portugal's past to its present and future. The reader may find the author's use of the third person when speaking of himself rather tedious, and some drawn-out sections waffle in personal, almost mystical, reflections. But it is difficult to resist being enchanted by the witty, at times sarcastic reveries of a man in search of his land, its history and himself. 6 maps, b&w photos. (Mar.) Forecast: Saramago's name will attract some readers to a book that, without it, will appeal to only a limited niche market.
Reviewed on: 03/01/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.