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The Double Hardcover – 5 Aug 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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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 (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 384,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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4.3 out of 5 stars
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By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While watching a rented video, Tertuliano Maximo Afonso is shocked to notice that one of the extras in the film is identical to him in every physical detail. Unable to forget this actor he embarks on a secret quest to find his double which takes both Afonso and his doppelganger down some dark paths, leading each one to question `who is real and who is the copy'.

After reading Blindness I was fully prepared for Saramago's style of writing which is dense, large parts are written as a stream of consciousness and there are few paragraphs breaks and no quotation marks. The result is conversational and witty although I did find that because The Double is not nearly as plot driven as Blindness it did drag in some parts.

The appeal of Saramago for me are his ideas and the concepts he attempts to convey. The double is a great concept and the mystery and the more philosophical aspects of the novel as well as the writing kept me engaged until the end. This may not be the easiest read but there are twists right up to the end and it played on my mind for weeks afterwards.
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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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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
It's a marvellously enthralling work, 'The Double', excellently written and translated. It's conversational and accessible in tone, one might also add, confiding. The narrator, privileged to take a very special perspective between his protagonist and his 'common sense', and, at the same time, existing somewhere eternal and ultimate and all-seeing, journeys along the trajectory of Tertuliano Maximo Afonso's odyssey with a playful, perspicacious camaraderie. This narration, or commentary, despite often dwelling on the seemingly superfluous trivialities of the everyday - the shortcomings and inaccuracies of words, the obscure meaning of our common gestures - by its sheer uncompromising attention to detail, weaves a spellbinding path, littered with glimmering observations, through the mysterious forest, shall we call it, of our manifest modern world experience. It is as well that the narrator is so companionable because the story itself is quite narrow in scope: a man discovers his exact double on a rented video and then seeks him out. There are few others involved. A girlfriend, a mother, a teaching colleague or two. They offer, simply, further opportunities for examination of this Tertuliano fellow - what is he all about? what are his motives? In themselves the others do not touch us. However, this monomania, if you like, this tunnel-vision, is necessary for the purpose of excavating the character of Tertuliano. The myriad tiny things the narrator unearths and sifts to evidence, elucidate and conjecture on, in a more substantial storyline would surely remain entombed by surface value; it is true of life, as often in art, that these numerous clues and treasures, for want of time or inclination to investigate, remain, regrettably, ill-perceived or hidden from us. Saramago here, one might suggest, offers a masterful and compelling manifesto for the investigation.
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