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The Cave Hardcover – 1 Nov 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Nov 2002
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt (1 Nov. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0002D6CMU
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In this metaphysical and surrealistic novel, Saramago transforms Plato's Allegory of the Cave into a contemporary novel about Cipriano Algor, a man in his sixties who lives in a small village, where he practices his trade as a potter. Living in tune with nature as he digs clay from the earth, works it with his hands, and fires it in an old, family-owned kiln, Cipriano suddenly finds himself without a livelihood when a mysterious and all-powerful Center rejects his real pottery in favor of longer-lasting plastic. And when Cipriano's real life in his small village is also sacrificed for a totally controlled life in an apartment in the Center, Saramago vividly illustrates how the shadows of artificial things are often mistaken for reality in contemporary society, which does not favor "inquisitive ones," searching for life's essence.
Despite the novel's allegorical structure and didactic message, Saramago creates warm characters who inspire the belief that the good, kind, and sensitive souls of the world can survive, and perhaps triumph on some level. Love and family matter here, despite Cipriano's belief that he is "merely the largest of the bits of clay [in the yard], a small dry clod that will crumble with the slightest pressure." Though he is a molder of clay, he recognizes that there are also forces being exerted on him.
Filled with meditations on literature, reading, the creative process, experimentation, and individuality, the novel is both intellectually exciting and very challenging. Unfortunately, Saramago's style is more daunting than his message. Omitting all quotation marks, question marks, and the conventions of paragraphing and sentence structure, he challenges the reader to distill the reality of his message from the shadows of his style.
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By A. Ross TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 25 Jan. 2005
Format: Paperback
Nobel Prize meets The Matrix in Saramago's parable of modern capitalism, which urges the reader to reject the materialist worldview increasingly embraced around the world and forge their own path. The only other book of his I've read is Blindness (which is an outstanding work), and this novel shares that one's setting of an unnamed country in the near future. Outside an unnamed city, an old man makes pottery, which he brings into town to tell at "The Center"-a kind of megalith mall which is slowly enveloping the city around it. A combination Walmart and Mall of the Americas, The Center sells everything one needs (one of their creepy slogans is "We Have What You Need, But We Prefer You Need What We Have), and houses apartments, amusements, and everything one needs to enjoy life, including simulated snow storms. Almost everyone aspires to live in the Center, so as to be closer to all these attract/distractions.
The framework of the sparse story is that The Center cancels their standing order with the potter, forcing him to confront his dying trade. Without any other market to sell to, he and his daughter try to convince The Center to buy ceramic dolls instead. When they agree and order 1,200 dolls, the duo must race to mass produce this new item in their old-fashioned workshop. An additional tension is added by the daughter's husband, who wants them all to move to The Center, where he works as a security guard. Other subplots include the appearance of a stray dog and a local widow's interest in the potter.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I know Jose Saramago has won the nobel prize and I did finish the first book of his that I read. However, dispite trying several times, I find this one to be too long-drawn out and for me unreadable, with pages of text that take you no further into the novel until I now really have no interest in what comes next. This unnecessary repetition of the main characters' trials and tribulations destroyed any curiosity regarding the outcome of their attempts to produce a new line of pottery, whether the son-in-law became a resident guard, did they move to the centre and so forth. My main interest remains the dog but even for him I could not finish this book.
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Format: Paperback
Ultimately a highly rewarding book, whose beautifully drawn characters amplify the startling simplicity of the underlying premise. The writer's penchant for bending the conventions of grammar make the book more of a challenge than it should be, but the underlying warmth and the wisdom of Saramago's observations overcome any minor complaints.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was recommended by a friend. It is very well written and very different, and deserves the awards it has received. not an easy read, however and fascinating never-the-less.
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