"If proofreaders were given their freedom and did not have their hands and feet tied by a mass of prohibitions more binding than the penal code, they would soon transform the face of the world, establish the kingdom of universal happiness, giving drink to the thirsty, food to the famished, peace to those who live in turmoil, joy to the sorrowful ... for they would be able to do all these things simply by changing the words ..." The power of the word is evident in Portuguese author José Saramago's novel, The History of the Siege of Lisbon
. His protagonist, a proofreader named Raimundo Silva, adds a key word to a history of Portugal and thus rewrites not only the past, but also his own life.
Brilliantly translated from the Portuguese by Giovanni Pontiero, The History of the Siege of Lisbon is a meditation on the differences between historiography, historical fiction, and "stories inserted into history." The novel is really two stories in one: the reimagined history of the 1147 siege of Lisbon that Raimundo feels compelled to write and the story of Raimundo's life, including his unexpected love affair with the editor, Maria Sara. In Saramago's masterful hands, the strands of this complex tale weave together to create a satisfying whole.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Marvellous, seriously witty, erotic and edgily surreal" (Lucy Hughes-Hallett Sunday Times
"Saramago is one of Europe's most original and remarkable writers...his writing is imbued with the spirit of comic enquiry, meditative pessimism and a quietly transforming energy that turns the indefinite into the unforgettable" (Richard Eder Los Angeles Times
"This cryptic, ingenious novel...is never dull or humourless... No candidate for [the Nobel Prize] has a better claim to lasting recognition than this novelist who was born in 1922 but was in his mid-50s before he started to publish the fiction that has won him an international reputation" (Edmund White New York Times
"A book filled with lyrical and intellectual rewards" (Bill Marx Boston Globe
"This hypnotic tale is a great comic romp through history, language and the imagination" (Publishers Weekly