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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever and funny...
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...
Published on 9 Mar 2008 by Simon Kwong

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Half as much might have been twice as good.
An intriguing short story padded out to over 300 pages. And the author admits it. On several occasions, pointless paragraphs drift by followed by the narrator claiming that something needed to be written to fill in the time in which nothing happened. (There is absolutely no subtlety to this work.) So, obviously the style was intended but the effect can only be described...
Published 20 months ago by Rab


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever and funny..., 9 Mar 2008
By 
This review is from: The Double (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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Am I really a mistake, he wondered.", 9 Dec 2004
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Double (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."
Saramago raises serious questions about identity and destiny, presenting Tertuliano Maximo Afonso and Antonio Claro (Daniel Santa Clara) as they compare their lives, recognize their different approaches to life, and then find their natural curiosity becoming transformed into resentment. "There is one too many of us in the world," Tertuliano declares. The climax is shocking--quite different from what the reader expects--and just when you think the surprises have ended, a final surprise awaits.
Readers new to Saramago should be forewarned that his style can be off-putting--page after page of run-on sentences, few paragraphs indentations, and a lack of quotation marks. The reader must read dialogue carefully, since there is no punctuation to set off which remarks are made by which character. Despite this flouting of convention, however, Saramago achieves a remarkably conversational tone, and this often humorous novel reads quickly. Lively and clever, The Double gives us the game of life, played with a whole new set of rules. Mary Whipple
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered, 14 July 2009
By 
Steven Buckley (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Double (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doubly good!, 18 Dec 2007
By 
S. Ward (Warwickshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Double (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Half as much might have been twice as good., 14 Jan 2013
This review is from: The Double (Paperback)
An intriguing short story padded out to over 300 pages. And the author admits it. On several occasions, pointless paragraphs drift by followed by the narrator claiming that something needed to be written to fill in the time in which nothing happened. (There is absolutely no subtlety to this work.) So, obviously the style was intended but the effect can only be described as boring. Perhaps something was lost in translation? This is a book you can easily give up on but, fortunately, the structure of the narrative, and sentences, is so predictable that the pages can be quickly skimmed without the reader losing any of the plot or (mostly repetitive) ideas. The narrative picks up towards the end; the last 50 pages being entirely readable. Another of Saramago's novels, Cain, is far more succinct and the better for it.

The book was written in 2001 but the technology the protagonist uses to do his 'research' is so dated that the real time of the novel stretches to weeks in what could have been accomplished in days. Is this a deliberate irony considering the novel itself could have been similarly truncated? Is the tediousness of 'The Double' in fact part of its genius?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and thought provoking read, 13 July 2006
By 
Cazza (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Double (Paperback)
This book is a little gem. Saramago asks the question, 'What would happen if you ever met your exact physcial double?' This is not a fast-paced 'hollywood-style' thriller, more a philosophical debate.

I was initially attracted to this novel by the fact that the author had won the Nobel Prize for Literature and I wasn't disappointed.

Saramago has a unique writing style. Although there is a clear plot, his writing is akin to a stream of conciousness. Conversations are not bound by speech marks or conventional sentences. You have to really concentrate on the text to even know who is saying what in some places, but the hard work is well worth it.

If you are looking for something to get your teeth into - this is it! A truly original piece of work with a cracking ending.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best double, 9 Jun 2009
By 
Virge JAMES (Sheffield UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Double (Paperback)
Every book club should put this on their reading list. It is possibly the easiest Saramago book to start with as the story moves quickly and the descriptions of place are atmospheric. Anyone who has been to Lisbon will identify with the details. I have read only a few " Doppelganger" stories and this is the best and scariest.It could be you!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 27 May 2014
By 
This review is from: The Double (Kindle Edition)
What a terrific book! A speculative fable about a listless everyman coming across his doppelganger on a rental video who then has to manoeuvre through a sequence of moral quandaries that unfold on full disclosure, Saramago manages to both deliver the thrills from the pulp-fiction-esque premise and the chills from the wonderful contemplation of the protagonist as his thought-space is exposed to the level of sub-thought.

However, to enjoy The Double, like all Saramago's books, one needs to have an appetite for his prose-style. Except for commas and an occasional full stop, the author trailblazes through conversations, musings and incidents embedded in blocks of text all together. Luckily for me, this worked and I found myself totally in step with the author's biorhythms and experienced that odd sensation where my thoughts willingly stretched into the spaces and non-spaces created by the author. For me, because The Double is essentially a thriller at the core, doing away with the stock punctuation actually added to the mystery (every successive page of impenetrable text-blocks asking to be deciphered line by line!) and quickened the pace of the interminable stream-of-consciousness (the meandering offshoots connected all the way!).

It's not often that you'd find yourself biting your nails over who would be shot while at the same time be amused by the minute-ness of human interactions bisected to magnify a world of sub-gestures and sub-tones. Before he sends it all up in two delicious, attention-grabbing twists in the latter half, Saramago with wisdom and beauty writes a wonderfully quotidian dramedy that establishes our tri-monikered lead and the few people around him with care. Set in an unspecified metropolis, and armed with a disinhibited, intrusive narrator who sits atop the shoulder of the lead called Tertuliano and sometimes hopping to the shoulder of the person Tertuliano is talking to, to observe finely their reactions and give the reader a charming admixture of his and the lead's thoughts that is at once witty, epigrammatic and compassionate, you really find yourself rooting for Tertuliano's little life. It is no wonder that at this level of investment, when the quotidian comes against a sudden wall of perverted unreality, the existential jolt felt is much higher on the Richter scale.

With a penetrating, close-to-lead narrator, we watch Tertuliano make sense of this quandary drip-by-drip, taking decisions, setting in motion the wheel of unavoidable confrontation, quenching his in-equal-parts curiosity and voyeurism, and finally, as the full-on devil of resentment and revenge unleashes in this one-too-many-for-the-world Tertulianos, you are entertained and horrified in equal parts. Despite the fabulist and allegorical overtones, the immediate empathy with this small cast grounds this tale and the movements of the lead character are suffused with uncomfortable credibility. It manages to get to the heart of identity and self: the exclusivity, the originality: it celebrates and rebuffs it at the same time.

An acquired taste sure, but a wholly rewarding read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of the Unexpected meets Magnus Mills and Cormac McCarthy, 17 May 2013
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This review is from: The Double (Paperback)
[The Double by José Saramago.]

There are just a small handful of characters in this book and the most prominent, though the story is not about this character, is that of the capricious narrator - or maybe narrators, because they refer to themselves as "we" maybe meaning the muses, maybe meaning the so-called Victoria "we". Let us. For the sake of ease, assume that the narrator is guilty of nosism - for it is obvious they are not talking about the narrator and the reader when saying "we".

The narrator not only tells the story, but blends in philosophy, sociology, semantics, and a variety of subjects to create a running commentary which occasionally extends beyond that expected of any impartial observer recounting events. Indeed the narrator has a limitless imagination; often wandering off on whim to imagine what might happen if someone said this or took that action.

Tertuliano Máximo Afonso is a history teacher, living a predictable and dull existence, probably suffering from mild depression and the onset of some kind of unspecified anxiety disorder. He watches a video of a film and later realizes that one of the bit-actors looks exactly like him, the double to the title. This triggers an inner turmoil and behavioural shift which causes him to take a course of action with unintended consequences for all.

The tone of the novel seems at first light and airy, but this is a thin façade which is soon penetrated. The characters are complex and like real people difficult to analyse or sometimes understand why they take the actions they do.

There is humour there, but it is black, ironic or sarcastic - never laugh out loud - nevertheless you will find a wry smile often playing on your lips as you read.

Lastly if you have read No Country for Old Men the style of syntax and grammar will be familiar to you. The author, José Saramago, powerfully reminds us with his style of writing and syntax that language has no laws - no one will carry you off to prison, or prosecute you for how you write of interpret the rules of the written word. Language is a nothing more than a tacit agreement and we must concentrate more on content than commas, full stops and other punctuation.

The Double is a game changing book which may well re-define what you will expect of novelists in the future.

José Saramago.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 28 Sep 2012
By 
This review is from: The Double (Paperback)
The Double is another tour de force from the brilliant Nobel Laureate. In it, we meet Turtuliano Maximo Afonso, an ordinary school teacher who one day stumbles across a person who looks and speaks exactly as he does. Naturally this discovery sends Turtuliano into a frenzied state of warring emotions and he accordingly becomes obsessed with his doppelganger, making it his mission to track him down. And so unfolds an adventure of intrigue, suspense and ultimately terror.

As with all of Saramago's work, he makes the impossible seem possible. He plays with language beautifully and skilfully and this is demonstrated further with his abandonment of conventional grammar. There are also moments in the book where he addresses the reader directly; making them aware that it is a story book which they are reading.

In keeping with the surreal, Saramago makes `common sense' appear as a character that interacts with the protagonist. It's a nice little technique which allows the reader to see the debate unfolding in Maximo Afonso's mind.

Overall this is another superlative book from a master craftsman. Highly recommended.
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The Double
The Double by Jose Saramago (Paperback - 6 Oct 2005)
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