A summary of José Saramago's "Baltasar & Blimunda" by chapters by sections describes to the readers the state of Lisbon, Portugal, and the relationship . before God and Baltasar's father tests the young girl to eat salted pork when they sit. Baltasar & Blimunda, by José Saramago. and there is a reference to the bastards born from his relationships with nuns and novices. Gusmão tested an aerostat (balloon) in and experimented with several flying machines, at a time. DOWNLOAD BALTASAR AND BLIMUNDA integration - Pharmaceutics gaud and gupta - Routing tcp ip volume 2 2nd edition - Merchandising test with.
Some of the friars rushed out immediately into the nearby streets, divided up into several patrols, had they apprehended the thief, one cannot imagine what they might have done to him in their mercy, but they found no trace of him or of his accomplices, if there were any, which is not surprising, for it was already after midnight and the moon was waning. The friars puffed and panted as they chased through the neighbourhood at a sluggish pace, before finally returning to the convent empty-handed.
Meantime, other friars, believing that the thief might have concealed himself in the church by some cunning ruse, searched the place thoroughly from choir to sacristy, everyone treading on sandalled feet in this frantic search, tripping over the hems of habits, raising the lids of chests, moving cupboards, and shaking out vestments, an elderly friar known for his virtuous ways and staunch faith noticed that the altar of St Antony had not been violated by thieving hands, despite its array of solid silver, which was prized for its value and craftsmanship.
The holy friar found himself bemused, just as we should have been bemused had we been present, because it was quite obvious that the thief had entered from the skylight overhead and in order to remove the lamps from the high altar, must have passed right by the chapel of St Antony.
Inflamed with holy zeal and indignation, the friar turned on St Antony and rebuked him, as if he were a servant caught neglecting his duties, Some saint you are, to protect only your own silver while watching the rest get stolen, well, in return you'll be left without anything, and with these harsh words, the friar entered the chapel and began to strip it of all its contents, removing not only the silver but the altar cloths and other furnishings as well, and once the chapel was bare, he started stripping the statue of St Antony, who saw his removable halo vanish along with his cross, and would soon have found himself without the Child Jesus in his arms if several friars had not come to the rescue, who feeling the punishment was excessive, persuaded the enraged old man to leave at least the Child Jesus for the consolation of the disgraced saint.
The old friar considered their plea for a moment before replying, Very well, then, let the Child Jesus remain as his guarantor until the lamps are returned. Since it was now almost two o'clock and several hours had elapsed while the search and episode just narrated took place, the friars retired to their cells, some of them seriously worried that St Antony would come to avenge this insult. Next day, about eleven o'clock, someone knocked at the convent door, a student who, it should be explained immediately, had been aspiring to join the order for some considerable time and who visited the friars at every possible opportunity, this information being provided, first, because it is true and the truth is always worthwhile, and, second, to assist those who enjoy deciphering criss-cross patterns of words and events, in short, the student knocked at the convent door and said he wished to speak to the Superior.
Permission granted, the student was shown into his presence, he kissed the prior's ring, or the cord hanging from his habit, or it might have been the hem, for this detail has never been fully clarified, and informed His Reverence that he had overheard in the city that the lamps were to be found in the Monastery of Cotovia, which belonged to the Jesuits and was located some distance away, in the Bairro Alto of St Roch.
At first the prior was inclined to mistrust this information, coming as it did from a student who could have been taken for a scoundrel had he not been an aspirant to holy orders, although one often finds the two roles coincide, and besides, it seemed unlikely that thieves would hand over to Cotovia what they had taken from Xabregas, locations so different and remote from each other, religious orders with so little in common, and almost a league apart as the crow flies. Therefore prudence demanded that the student's information should be investigated and a suitably cautious member of the community was dispatched, accompanied by the aforesaid student, from Xabregas to Cotovia, and they entered the city on foot through the Gate of the Holy Cross, and so that the reader may be apprised of all the facts, it is worth noting the itinerary they followed before finally reaching their destination.
The altar lamps were duly returned to Xabregas, and the reader may believe what he likes. In the end, the student would have been completely exonerated, had he not become involved in yet another dubious episode. Given similar precedents, because the Franciscans are so well endowed with means to change, overturn, or hasten the natural order of things, even the recalcitrant womb of the Queen must respond to the solemn injunction of a miracle.
All the more so since the Franciscan Order has been petitioning for a convent in Mafra since the year sixteen hundred and twenty-four, a time when the King of Portugal was a Felipe imported from Spain, who had little interest in the religious communities of Portugal and persisted in withholding his permission throughout the sixteen years of his reign. The judges of the Court of Appeal reserved the right to determine what those inconveniences dictated by human wisdom might be, but now they will have to hold their tongues and bury their dark thoughts, for Friar Antony of St Joseph has promised that once the friars have their convent there will be an heir to the throne.
A pledge has been made, the Queen will give birth, and the Franciscan Order will gather the palm of victory, just as it has gathered so many palms of martyrdom. A hundred years of waiting is no great sacrifice for those who count on living for all eternity.
We saw how the student was finally exonerated of blame in the episode of the stolen altar lamps. But it would be folly to suggest that because of secrets divulged in the confessional the friars knew of the Queen's pregnancy even before the Queen herself knew and could confide in the King.
Just as it would be wrong to suggest that Dona Maria Ana, because she was such a pious lady, agreed to remain silent until the appearance of God's chosen messenger, the virtuous Friar Antony.
Nor can anyone say the King will be counting the moons from the night the pledge was given until the day the child is born, and find the cycle complete. There is nothing to add to what has already been said. So let not Franciscans be impugned, unless they should become involved in other equally dubious intrigues.
I N THE COURSE OF the year some people die from having overindulged during their lifetime, which explains why apoplectic fits recur one after another, why sometimes only one is needed to dispatch a victim to his grave, and why even when spared death they remain paralysed down one side, their mouths all twisted, sometimes unable to speak, and without hope of an effective cure apart from continuous blood-lettings.
But many more people die from malnutrition, unable to survive on a miserable diet of sardines and rice along with some lettuce, and a little meat when the nation celebrates the King's birthday. May God grant that our river yield an abundance of fish, and let us give praise to the Holy Trinity with this intention in mind.
And may lettuce and other produce arrive from the surrounding countryside, transported in great baskets filled to the brim by the country swains and maidens who do not excel in these labours.
And may there be no intolerable shortage of rice. For this city, more than any other, is a mouth that gorges itself on one side and starves on the other, and there is no happy medium between ruddy and pale complexions, between bulging and bony hips, between great paunches and shrivelled bellies. But Lent, like the rising sun, is for everyone.
The excesses of Shrovetide could be seen throughout the city, those who could afford it stuffed themselves with poultry and mutton, with doughnuts and fritters, outrages were committed on every street corner by those who never miss an opportunity to take liberties, derisive tails were pinned to fugitive backs, water was squirted on faces with syringes meant for other purposes, the unwary were spanked with strings of onions, and wine was imbibed, accompanied by the inevitable belching and vomiting, there was a clanging of pots and pans, bagpipes were played, and if more people did not end up rolling on the ground, in the side streets, squares, and alleyways, it is only because the city is filthy, its roads full of sewage and rubbish, crawling with mangy dogs and stray cats, and mud everywhere even when there is no rain.
Now the time has come to pay for all these excesses, the time to mortify the soul so that the flesh may feign repentance, the depraved, rebellious flesh of this pathetic and obscene pigsty known as Lisbon.
The Lenten procession is about to commence. Let us mortify our flesh with fasting and abstinence, let us punish our bodies with flagellation. By eating frugally, we can purify our thoughts, through suffering we can purge our souls.
The penitents, all of them male, head the procession, and they are followed by the friars who carry the banners bearing images of the Virgin and of Christ crucified. Behind them comes the bishop under an ornate canopy, and then the effigies of saints carried on litters, followed by an endless regiment of priests, confraternities, and guilds, all of whom are intent upon salvation, some convinced they are already damned, others tortured by uncertainty until they are summoned to Judgment, and there may even be some among them who are quietly thinking that the world has been mad since it was conceived.
The procession wends its way through the crowds lining the streets, and as it passes, men and women prostrate themselves on the ground, claw their faces, tear their hair out, and inflict blows on themselves, while the bishop makes fleeting signs of the cross to right and left and the acolyte swings his thurible. Lisbon stinks, but the incense bestows meaning on this putrid stench of decay, a stench that comes from the wickedness of the flesh, for the soul is fragrant.
Women can be seen watching from the windows, as is the custom.
José Saramago. Baltasar and Blimunda
The penitents walk slowly, with balls and chains twisted round their ankles, or with their arms holding massive iron bars across their shoulders as if they were suspended from a cross, or they scourge themselves with leather thongs ending in balls of solid wax spiked with glass splinters, and these flagellants are considered to be the highlight of the spectacle, as real blood flows down their backs and they give out loud cries, of pleasure as much as pain, which we should find a little strange if we did not know that some of the penitents have spotted their mistresses at the windows, and they are in the procession not so much for the salvation of their souls as for inciting carnal pleasures, those already experienced and those still to come.
As the penitent arrives beneath the window of his beloved, she throws him a haughty glance, she is probably chaperoned by her mother, cousin, or governess, or by some indulgent grandmother or sour old aunt, but they are all aware of what is happening, thanks to their own memories, recent or distant, that God has nothing to do with all this fornication, the ecstasies at the windows mirroring the ecstasies on the street below, the flagellant on his knees, whipping himself into a frenzy and calling out in pain, while the woman ogles the vanquished male and parts her lips to drink his blood and the rest.
The procession has paused, allowing the ritual to be concluded, the bishop has bestowed his blessing and consecration, the woman experiences languorous sensations, and the man passes on, relieved that he can now stop scourging himself with quite so much vigour, for now it is the turn of others to satisfy the cravings of their mistresses.
Once they have started to mortify their flesh and observe the rules of fasting, it seems that they will have to tolerate these privations until Easter and they must suppress their natural inclinations until the shadows pass from the countenance of Holy Mother Church, now that the Passion and death of Christ are nigh. The streets of Lisbon are full of women all dressed alike, their heads covered with mantillas and shawls that have only the tiniest opening to allow the ladies to signal with their eyes or lips, a common means of secretly exchanging forbidden sentiments and illicit desires, throughout the streets of this city, where there is a church on every corner and a convent in every quarter, spring is in the air and turning everyone's head, and when no breeze blows, there is always the sighing of those who unburden their souls in the confessionals, or in secluded places conducive to other forms of confession, as adulterous flesh wavers on the brink of pleasure and damnation, for the one is as inviting as the other during this period of abstinence, bare altars, solemn mourning, and omnipresent sin.
By day their ingenuous husbands will be enjoying, or at least pretending to enjoy, their siestas, by night, when streets and squares mysteriously fill with crowds smelling of onion and lavender, and the murmur of prayers can be heard through the open doors of churches, they feel at greater ease as they will not have long to wait now, someone is already knocking at the door, steps can be heard on the stair, mistress and maid arrive, conversing intimately, and the black slave, too, if she has been brought along and through the chinks the light of a candle or oil lamp can be seen, the husband pretends to wake, the wife pretends that she has awakened him, and if he asks any questions, we know what her reply will be, she has come back exhausted, footsore, and with stiff joints, but feeling spiritually consoled, and she utters the magic number, I have visited seven churches, she says, with such vehemence that she has been guilty either of excessive piety or of some monstrous sin.
Queens are denied these opportunities of unburdening their souls, especially if they have been made pregnant and by their legitimate husband, who for nine months will no longer come near them, a rule widely accepted but sometimes broken. Dona Maria Ana has every reason to exercise discretion, given the strict piety with which she had been brought up in Austria and her wholehearted compliance with the friar's strategy, thus showing, or at least giving the impression, that the child being conceived in her womb is as much a daughter for the King of Portugal as for God Himself, in exchange for a convent.
The horse is startled, no doubt because of the clattering of the carriage on the cobblestones, but when the Queen compares these dreams she observes that the Infante comes a little closer each time, What can he want, and what does she want. For some Lent is a dream, for others a vigil. The Easter festivities passed and wives returned to the gloom of their apartments and their cumbersome petticoats, at home there are a few more cuckolds, who can be quite violent when infidelities are practised out of season.
And since we are now on the subject of birds, it is time to listen in church to the canaries singing rapturously of love from their cages decorated with ribbons and flowers, while the friars preaching in the pulpits presume to speak of holier things.
It is Ascension Thursday, and the singing of the birds soars to the vaults of heaven regardless of whether our prayers follow, without their assistance, our prayers have little hope of reaching God, so perhaps we shall all remain silent. He was dismissed from the army where he was of no further use once his left hand was amputated at the wrist after being shattered by gunfire at Jerez de los Caballeros, in the ambitious campaign we fought last October with eleven thousand men, only to end with the loss of two hundred of our soldiers and the rout of the survivors, who were pursued by the Spanish cavalry dispatched from Badajoz.
By great good fortune, or by the special grace of the scapular he was wearing around his neck, his wound did not become gangrenous, nor did they burst his veins with the force of the tourniquet applied to stop the bleeding, and thanks to the surgeon's skill, it was only a matter of disarticulating the man's tendons, without having to cut through the bone with a handsaw. This was how he spent the winter, putting aside half of the money he managed to collect, reserving half of the other half for the journey ahead, and spending the rest on food and wine.
Crafted leather fittings were skilfully attached to the tempered irons, and there were two straps of different lengths to attach the implements to the elbow and shoulder for greater support.
The army was in tatters, barefoot and reduced to rags, the soldiers pilfered from the farmers and refused to go on fighting, a considerable number went over to the enemy, while many others deserted, travelling off the beaten track, looting in order to eat, raping any women they encountered on the way, in short, taking their revenge on innocent people who owed them nothing and shared their despair.
There was no one waiting to greet him in Lisbon, and in Mafra, which he had left many years ago to join His Majesty's Infantry, his father and mother, if they remember him, will think he is alive since no one has reported him dead or believe him to be dead because they have no proof he is still alive. All will be revealed in good time. The sun shines brightly and there has been no rain, the countryside is covered with flowers and the birds are singing.
And when he starts to dream tonight, if he catches a glimpse of himself in his sleep he will see that he has no limbs missing, and will be able to rest his tired head on the palms of both hands.
Baltasar keeps the irons in his knapsack for another good reason. He very quickly discovered that whenever he wears them, especially the spike, people refuse him alms, or give him very little, although they always feel obliged to give him a few coins because of the sword he carries on his hip, despite the fact that everyone carries a sword, even the black slaves, but not with the gallant air of a professional soldier, who might wield it this very moment, if provoked.
And unless the number of travellers outweighs the fear provoked by the presence of this brigand, who stands in the middle of the road, barring their passage and begging alms, alms for a poor soldier who has lost his hand and who but for a miracle might have lost his life, for the solitary traveller does not want this plea to turn to aggression, coins soon fall into the outstretched hand, and Baltasar is grateful that his right hand has been spared. The robber who escaped stalked him for another half-league through the pine groves, but finally gave up the chase, continuing to curse and insult him from a distance but with no real conviction this would have much effect.
He ate some fried sardines and drank a bowl of wine, and with barely enough money left for the next stage of his journey, let alone for lodgings at an inn, he sheltered in a barn, underneath some carts, and there he slept wrapped in his cloak, but with his left arm and the spike exposed.
He spent the night peacefully. When he opened his eyes, the first light of dawn had still not appeared on the eastern horizon, he felt a sharp pain in his left arm, which was not surprising, since the spike was pressing on the stump.
He untied the straps and, using his imagination, all the more vivid at night, and especially in the pitch-black darkness under the carts, Baltasar convinced himself he still had two hands even if he could not see them.
He tucked his knapsack under his left arm, curled up under his cloak, and went back to sleep. At least he had managed to survive the war. He might have a limb missing, but he was still alive. As dawn broke, he got to his feet. The sky was clear and transparent, and even the palest stars could be seen in the distance. It was a fine day on which to be entering Lisbon, and with time to linger before continuing his journey, he postponed any decision.
Burying his hand in the knapsack, he took out his shoddy boots, which he had not worn once during the journey from Alentejo and had he worn them, he would have been obliged to discard them after such a long march, and demanding new skills from his right hand and using his stump, as yet untrained, he managed to get his feet into them, otherwise he would have them covered in blisters and calluses, accustomed as he was to walking in bare feet during his time as a peasant, then as a soldier, when there was never enough money to buy food, let alone to mend one's boots.
For there is no existence more miserable than a soldier's. When he reached the docks, the sun was already high. The tide was in, and the ferryman alerted any remaining passengers embarking for Lisbon that he was about to cast off. If that was not congealed blood on the iron, it looked uncannily like the real thing.
The witty fellow averted his eyes, recommended his soul to St Christopher, who is reputed to protect travellers from evil encounters and other misfortunes, and from that moment until they reached Lisbon he did not utter another word.
Baltasar did not like to eat in the presence of others with that solitary hand of his which made for difficulties, the bread slipping between his fingers and the meat dropping on the floor, but the woman spread his food on a large slice of bread, and by manoeuvring with his fingers and the tip of the penknife he had drawn from his pocket, he managed to eat quite comfortably and with a certain finesse.
The woman and her husband were old enough to be his parents, this was no flirtation over the waters of the Tagus, but friendship and compassion towards a man who had come back from the war, maimed for life.
The ferryman raised a small triangular sail, the wind assisted the tide, and both wind and tide assisted the ship. The oarsmen, restored by alcohol and a good night's rest, rowed steadily at an easy pace.
When they rounded the coastline, the ship was buffeted by a strong current, it was like a journey to paradise, with the sunlight flickering on the surface of the water, and two shoals of porpoises, first one, then the other, were crossing in front of the ship, their skins dark and shiny, their movements arched as if they were striving to reach the sky.
On the other side, towering above the water and in the far distance, Lisbon could be seen stretching beyond the city walls. The castle dominated the panorama, while church towers and spires rose above the rooftops of the houses below, a blurred conglomeration of gables. The ferryman began to tell a story, An amusing thing happened yesterday, if anyone is interested, and everyone was interested, because storytelling is a pleasant way to while away the time, and this was a long journey.
The English fleet, which can be seen over there in front of the coast of Santos, anchored yesterday, and is carrying troops on their way to Catalonia, bringing reinforcements to the army awaiting them, and with the fleet arrived a ship carrying a number of criminals on their way to exile on the island of Barbados, and some fifty prostitutes who were also going there, to form a new colony, for in such places the honest and the dishonest amount to pretty much the same thing, but the ship's captain, old devil that he is, thought they could form a much better colony in Lisbon, so he decided to lighten his cargo and ordered that the women be put ashore, I've seen some of those slender English wenches for myself, and some of them are quite attractive.
José Saramago: An Appreciation
Hitting on one idea, then another, and for some mysterious reason linking the two, he then asked the soldier, How old are you, sir, whereupon Baltasar replied, I am twenty-six years of age.
The ship landed at Ribeira, the boatswain manoeuvred the vessel alongside the quay, the sail having been lowered beforehand, and with one concerted movement the oarsmen on the mooring side raised their oars, while those on the other side of the ship strained to keep the vessel steady, one final turn of the rudder, a rope was thrown over their heads, and it was as if the two banks of the river had suddenly been joined together.
Because of the receding tide, the quay was rather high, and Baltasar assisted the woman with the basket and her husband, while the witty fellow got to his feet smartly and without a word took one leap and landed safely.
There was a confusion of fishing boats and caravels unloading cargo, the foremen hurled insults and bullied the black stevedores, who worked in pairs and were drenched by the water trickling from the baskets and bespattering their faces and arms with fish scales.
It looked as if the entire population of Lisbon had congregated in the market place. He felt his stomach contract in knots, and his eyes searched instinctively for the woman who had offered him food, where could she have gone with that passive husband of hers who was probably staring at the women in the crowd and trying to catch a glimpse of the English whores, for every man is entitled to his dreams.
With little money in his pocket except for a few copper coins that jingled far less than the irons in his knapsack, Baltasar had to decide where to go next, to Mafra, where he would find it difficult to wield a hoe with only one hand, or to the Royal Palace, where he might receive alms because of his disability.
When all else failed, you could turn to the guilds, who dispensed charity, or the convents, where you were always certain of a bowl of soup and a slice of bread. Besides, a man who has lost his left hand does not have much to complain about, if he still has his right hand to extend to passers-by or a sharp spike with which to intimidate them.
The fishwives hollered at potential buyers, vying for their attention with waving arms that jangled with gold bracelets, and screaming oaths, hands on hearts, bosoms heaving with necklaces, crosses, charms, and chains, all made from Brazilian gold, as were the large earrings they wore in every conceivable shape, valued possessions that enhance a woman's beauty.
In the middle of this filthy rabble, the fishwives looked remarkably clean and tidy, as if untainted even by the smell of the fish they handled. Lured by the Church, which used the queen as its marionette - vulnerable, submissive and easily manipulated due to her double condition of gender subalternity inferior status and being a frail foreign woman - the king promises to raise a convent in Mafra, 40 km northwest of Lisbon, if god grants him an heir.
The novel makes it clear that it is an heir and not a son that he seeks. This king used to slip into the convents regularly, and there is a reference to the bastards born from his relationships with nuns and novices. Saramago skilfully describes the queen's role as receiver of the royal semen.
A member of the ruling class, she is nonetheless manipulated and subalternised by the clergy and by her husband, as is the case for the women of her class as a whole. The submission that results from the construction of the feminine gender condition within the ruling class, the social place that makes her a marionette of a negotiated marriage, her manipulation by the Church, and the understanding of her functions as confined to reproduction, all contrast with Blimunda's situation.
In the former, a blindness toward what surrounds her, due to the hold of religion; in the latter, a capacity to see where the eyes of others don't want to or cannot see.
In one, the exclusiveness of the reproductive role and a sacrificial sexuality; in the other, the ecstasy of passion, due to the absence of material interests.
In one, the absence of choices in the construction of her own life, always delineated by a third party, while the other chooses, delineates, creates and rebels - even using forbidden violence when a friar tries to rape her. We are told, then, the story of the construction of the convent, from the intrigues of the court and the cassocks that surround it to the sacrifice and cost in human lives involved in its construction.
The novel shows the dark side of the history of the construction of great edifices, that of the men who build them. This project of unprecedented grandeur was meant to glorify the power of the king and the Church, and was to be inaugurated in But the king fears he may die without inaugurating the basilica, and calls for the work to be speeded up by using the forced labour of people brought from the whole country.
Eventually 30, workers are brought to a place that was once a small village. There is an emblematic episode in which men transport a great marble stone using ox carts along a sinuous and uneven path. Some of them die in this stupendous effort, due to the whim of the person in charge of construction.
Intending to signify the magnificence of the king's power through the greatness of the monument, this person decrees that the convent's balcony will be made of one huge, uncut, man-killing slab. He is based on a real historical figure. For this the Holy Office persecuted him until he fled the country and took refuge in Spain, where he died in This character, who believes that people have both soul and will conjugated within them, is shown to us as entrapped in that contradiction.
If we see him kneeling when he watches the passing of a religious procession for a dying man with the purpose of saving his soul, he also metaphorically shows us the stages that humanity confronts in its journey: Using Blimunda's insight and her ability to capture "wills" - the wishes that people carry inside them and that disappear with their deaths - it becomes possible to defy gravity and cause a ship to rise into the air, in an era where the mere enunciation of such a dream was heresy.
The novel begins with an auto-da-fe, and it also ends with one. The couple have been separated and searching for one another for nine years. When Blimunda finds Baltasar once again, he is among a group of people tortured by the Holy Office and already half burned. Saramago gives the identity of another real historical figure to one of those victims.
The author harshly castigates the Catholic Church by painting a vivid picture of the hierarchy's corruption, hypocrisy and stupidity. The Inquisition, with full powers and thoroughly supported by the secular power, persecuted those it accused of Judaism, heresy, or witchcraft.
From top to bottom, the whole rottenness of the religious institution is exposed, from the inquisitorial bishop - with his power games and his sumptuous meals - to the friar of the low clergy, institutionally forced to deny his sexuality, who tries to rape Blimunda. The convents, where upper class women unable or unwilling to marry took shelter, became recreational palaces for the noblemen. The real convent at Mafra contained royal living quarters. The reproductive form within the ruling class concentrated the inheritance on a unique son, relegating the other sons to an ecclesiastical life so as to prevent them from marrying and producing legal heirs among whom the family property would be dispersed.
The celibacy to which these family members were condemned by purely material considerations is doubly denounced in this novel.Baltafilme
The hypocrisy of the religious hierarchy in this respect is brought out through the friar's attempted rape of Blimunda - she kills him without hesitation - and the recurring comparison of convents to brothels.
But Saramago goes beyond attacking the agents of the Church. His novel also demolishes Catholic religious doctrine by bringing to life its internal contradictions, its different application to different classes, and its contribution to the maintenance of the situation in ideological terms. An ally of the secular power throughout the process of colonisation, the Church contends for the primacy of the soul above all because it has enough surplus to console the body of those who act in its name.
While the only character who escapes alive in Saramago's narrative is the priest Bartolomeu, we are told that he will end up persecuted by his peers, without being exempted in any way from the inherent contradictions of the position he occupies.
The royal family, through whose elements - fragile or perverse - the context of the ruling class is presented, shamelessly squanders the wealth shipped back from the plunder of the colonies. The violent exploitation and dispossession of the inhabitants of the colonial territories and the traffic in slave labour had, in other countries, a significant function in the primitive accumulation of capital.
In the case of Portugal, the Crown's ostentation and exuberant spending simply wasted the plundered goods. This trade and colonialisation brought the people in the colonising countries few advantages, the book tells us. The poor have to buy everything; nothing comes to them from the colonies, which for them are mainly places where they can be deported.
He has remained a non-consensual voice, one that has caused some annoyance to the ruling class of various countries. Saramago was born in to a landless peasant family in a small village in the centre of Portugal. As he explained in a short autobiographical essay he wrote when he won the Nobel Prize, Saramago, his father's nickname, "is a wild herbaceous plant whose leaves served in those times as nourishment for the poor.
Portugal came under a ferocious military regime in Although a good student in secondary school, he was barred, due to his class origins, from entering the university, which was then limited to an elite of ruling class children.
The nearly half century of Portuguese fascism was characterised by a stifling repression and a suffocating atmosphere created by the threat of long years in prison, torture and murder, the prohibition of organisations of the urban working class and rural workers, and a skilful management of the interests of the different capitalist sectors under a paternalistic cover.
For most of his life Saramago was a member of the illegal and thoroughly revisionist Communist Party of Portugal. He worked at many different occupations, including the printing trades. To supplement his family's income and for pleasure, he took up translation at night, bringing into Portuguese the work of rebellious authors such as Mongo Beti and Nazim Hikmet.
Although he published his first novel inhe put out nothing more and had no connection to the literary scene for several decades. In the early s he became a journalist and returned to fiction later in the decade.
He moved to Spain in after the Portuguese government labelled his The Gospel According to Jesus Christ "offensive to Catholics" and took action against him. His literary work has won countless prizes in many places around the globe. Some of his other novels have been adapted for films. Although winning a reputation in Portuguese and Spanish, he was not well known in English until after his Nobel Prize.