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The Double Hardcover – 5 Aug 2004


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Press (5 Aug 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843430991
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843430995
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.7 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 624,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

José Saramago was born in Portugal in 1922 and has been a full-time writer since 1979. His oeuvre embraces plays, poetry, short stories, non-fiction and novels, which have been translated into more than forty languages and have established him as the most influential Portuguese writer of his generation. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.

Product Description

Review

"A Borgesian fable with a marvellous flavour all its own." (Philip Hensher, The Spectator)

"An ugly, truthful fable with a unique music." (Philip Hensher, Observer)

Book Description

A major new novel by the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
THE MAN WHO HAS JUST COME INTO THE SHOP TO RENT A video bears on his identity card a most unusual name, a name with a classical flavor that time has staled, neither more nor less than Tertuliano Máximo Afonso. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven Buckley on 14 July 2009
Format: Paperback
This was my first entry into the world of Jose Saramago, and had I not had the luxury of being on holiday and time to persevere with the book, I might well have given up. Halfway through, I suddenly got it and have subsequently read Blindness, Death at Intervals, and Seeing. All of them brilliant.

As other reviewers have said, Saramago's style of writing can be hard to get your head around at first. His stream of conciousness style; where there is no punctuation, and where the author switches between his own voice and that of a narrator... well, it can be difficult! But you come to recognise the style and after a while I found it easy to tell which character was talking and when. Moreover, I found myself concentrating on the book far more than I would any other novel.

Some of the reviewers here have pointed out that the basic premise of the book is narrow, it is - after all - a story about one man and his reaction to discovering a real life doppelganger. But Saramago revels in explaining the tiniest of details throughout the narrative and it draws the reader right in. I had no idea how the novel would end and thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns all the way through.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Simon Kwong on 9 Mar 2008
Format: Paperback
More or less a mystery book with smattering's of philosophy. The writing style is an acquired taste, but for me personally, makes it 'flow' a lot better - the dialogs are quick and razor sharp. It includes not only the outer speeches between the main protagonist and other people, but also within himself, or his 'common sense', ensuring moments of pure comic genius. I wouldn't say it was philosophically deep but it is funny, immersing, and an addictive read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Dec 2004
Format: Hardcover
In what may be Jose Saramago's most playful novel, Tertuliano Maximo Afonso, a secondary school history teacher, views a film and is stunned to discover an actor who looks exactly like him in every respect. "One of us is a mistake," he declares, and as he begins (typically) to overanalyze the fact that "never before in the history of humanity have two identical people existed in the same place and time," he finds himself wondering what it would be like to discover and meet this double.
Renting dozens of videos in an effort to identify the look-alike actor he saw in the film, Tertuliano finds his life transformed--"as if he were...in a corridor joining heaven and hell," and he wonders "where he had come from and where he would go to next." Enlisting his girlfriend, Maria da Paz, to help him find the address of actor Daniel Santa Clara, without telling her the whole story about his double, he learns that the actor's real name is Antonio Claro, contacts him by telephone, and arranges to meet him at a remote place, where a series of profound, dramatic ironies unfolds.
Telling Tertuliano's story is a bold and quirky narrator. Self-conscious about his writing, the narrator digresses, acts patronizing toward Tertuliano, and often makes arch comments about him to the reader. He manipulates the reader, jokes with him as he constructs Tertuliano's story, plays with logic and language, creates conversations and debates between Tertuliano and Common Sense, reflects on the origins and destinies of words, and generally shows off, acting as a foil for Tertuliano Maximo Afonso, whose own "emotions have never been strong or enduring.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Ward on 18 Dec 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Recently chosen as our book group's monthly read: and what a great choice -- I was thoroughly hooked (challenged and amused) from beginning to end...!

I loved the characterizations; the forensic level of detail (especially with regards to the hero's should-I-stay-or-should-I-go relationship with Maria da Paz); the way I was dragged in to it all... -- making the illogical seem logical; removing any doubt from the need to do exactly what anyone(?!) would do, finding themselves in the same situation as Tertuliano Máximo....

Just wonderful; and one of the most original books I've read (...and encouragement enough, now, to go and explore his other stuff)!
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Format: Paperback
What would you do if you discovered you had a double: someone born on the same day, whose voice and every physical characteristic so closely resembled your own, that even your lover would be unable to tell you apart? In the case of Tertuliano Maximo Afonso, the answer is a fully-fledged existential crisis, followed by an irresistible, inexplicable urge to meet the doppelganger, to confront his fears, and to establish if the impossible really is possible.

Jose Saramago - whose blatant disregard for punctuation is not as much of a problem as you might imagine - manages to probe some pretty deep waters without ever resorting to explicitly philosophical discourse. Indeed I'm tempted to describe this as a `page turner', but the reader is forced to ask some pretty uncomfortable questions by the time we reach its conclusion: most pointedly, where exactly does one's identity reside?
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Format: Paperback
The Double is, so far, my favorite book. I read this at the age of 16 and did find Jose Saramago's style of writing somewhat difficult to understand and get my head around, to begin with. His stream of consciousness style does prove to be challenging, although it will eventually click! If you do purchase this book, the only advice I would give is don't give up. Jose is a very talented writer and, although the story line and his philosophical additions to the novel can be extremely confusing, you will develop a love and understanding. I've just purchased 'Death at Intervals' and am very exciting to be reading another Saramago book!
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