A Buoyant Love
Jose Saramago is more of a realist than Gabriel Garcia Marquez, his fellow Nobel Prize awardee, but Baltasar and Blimunda is indeed a fabulist tale of an unwed couple--one who is one-handed with a hook, the other can see souls--and their undying love during the Inquisition in 18th century Portugal. The ambitious novel encompasses church repression and doctrinal disputes, monarchical splendor, and a Padre's efforts to construct a flying balloon, perhaps a metaphor for their "buoyant" love. If this reader has any reservation, it's Saramago's habit of excising quotation marks around dialogue and simply jamming it together. Instead, he uses only capitals and commas to indicate a change in speaker. As with Faulkner or Garcia Marquez's pages of unpunctuated prose, at times it can prove a major obstacle , even an annoyance.