What happens when the facts of history are replaced by the mysteries of love? When Raimundo Silva, a lowly proof-reader for a Lisbon publishing house, inserts a negative into a sentence of a historical text, he alters the whole course of the 1147 Siege of Lisbon. Fearing censure he is met instead with admiration: Dr Maria Sara, his voluptuous new ...
What happens when the facts of history are replaced by the mysteries of love? When Raimundo Silva, a lowly proof-reader for a Lisbon publishing house, inserts a negative into a sentence of a historical text, he alters the whole course of the 1147 Siege of Lisbon. Fearing censure he is met instead with admiration: Dr Maria Sara, his voluptuous new editor, encourages him to pen his own alternative history. As his retelling draws on all his imaginative powers, Silva finds - to his nervous delight - that if the facts of the past can be rewritten as a romance then so can the details of his own dusty bachelor present.
Publishers Weekly, 1997-02-18 Walter Mitty has nothing on Raimundo Silva, the middle-aged bachelor and proofreader in a contemporary Portuguese publishing house who's the protagonist of Saramago's dazzling postmodernist novel. The focal point is the siege of the Moorish city of Lissibona (Lisbon) in 1147 by Portuguese forces under Christian King Alfonso I, its conquest and the expulsion of the Moors-a battle in which as many as 150,000 perished. Raimundo changes a single word in a manuscript, thereby implying, contrary to the historical record, that the Crusaders refused to help the Portuguese besiege and capture the city. At the suggestion of his younger, iconoclastic boss, Maria Sara, with whom he falls in love, Raimundo writes his own alternative history of the siege, weaving a web of chivalrous deeds, love and intrigue around the bare historical record. As his romantic affair with Maria blossoms, the present and the imagined past feed into one another in a challenging narrative that shifts constantly between past and present tenses and shuttles across the centuries from American cowboys to medieval knights, from Freudian symbolism to Machiavelli, from the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor to the Portuguese army's construction of a tower to break Moorish resistance. On one level, Saramago is exploring the thirst for power, religious and political fanaticism, intolerance, hypocrisy and jingoism, as well as the human need for love, companionship, sex. On another level, he is developing his abiding theme that history is a form of fiction, a selective reordering of facts. Although the novel's stream-of-consciousness technique, baroque prose and paragraphs that run on for pages may daunt some readers, this hypnotic tale is a great comic romp through history, language and the imagination. (May)
Alibris, the Alibris logo, and Alibris.com are registered trademarks of Alibris, Inc.
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited, Baker & Taylor, Inc., or by their respective licensors, or by the publishers, or by their respective licensors. For personal use only. All rights reserved. All rights in images of books or other publications are reserved by the original copyright holders.