José Saramago Foundation


José Saramago Foundation
Casa dos Bicos, Campo das Cebolas, Terreiro do Paço, Lisbon, Portugal


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This name uses Portuguese naming customs. The first or maternal family name is de Sousa and the second or paternal family name is Saramago.
José Saramago

José de Sousa Saramago, GColSE (Portuguese: [ʒuˈzɛ ðɨ ˈsozɐ sɐɾɐˈmaɣu]; 16 November 1922 – 18 June 2010), was a Portuguese writer and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature. His works, some of which can be seen as allegories, commonly present subversive perspectives on historic events, emphasizing the human factor. In 2003 Harold Bloom described Saramago as "the most gifted novelist alive in the world today" and in 2010 said he considers Saramago to be "a permanent part of the Western canon",[3] while James Wood praises "the distinctive tone to his fiction because he narrates his novels as if he were someone both wise and ignorant."

More than two million copies of Saramago’s books have been sold in Portugal alone and his work has been translated into 25 languages. A proponent of libertarian communism, Saramago was criticized by institutions such as the Catholic Church, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, with whom he disagreed on various issues. An atheist, he defended love as an instrument to improve the human condition. In 1992, the Government of Portugal under Prime Minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva ordered the removal of The Gospel According to Jesus Christ from the Aristeion Prize’s shortlist, claiming the work was religiously offensive. Disheartened by this political censorship of his work, Saramago went into exile on the Spanish island of Lanzarote, upon which he resided until his death in 2010.

Saramago was a founding member of the National Front for the Defense of Culture in Lisbon in 1992, and co-founder with Orhan Pamuk, of the European Writers’ Parliament (EWP).


Saramago was born in 1922 into a family of landless peasants in Azinhaga, Portugal, a small village in Ribatejo Province, some one hundred kilometers northeast of Lisbon.[9] His parents were José de Sousa and Maria de Piedade. "Saramago", the Portuguese word for Raphanus raphanistrum (wild radish), was his father’s family’s nickname, and was accidentally incorporated into his name upon registration of his birth.[9]

In 1924, Saramago’s family moved to Lisbon, where his father started working as a policeman. A few months after the family moved to the capital, his brother Francisco, older by two years, died. He spent vacations with his grandparents in Azinhaga. When his grandfather suffered a stroke and was to be taken to Lisbon for treatment, Saramago recalled, "He went into the yard of his house, where there were a few trees, fig trees, olive trees. And he went one by one, embracing the trees and crying, saying good-bye to them because he knew he would not return. To see this, to live this, if that doesn’t mark you for the rest of your life," Saramago said, "you have no feeling." Although Saramago was a good pupil, his parents were unable to afford to keep him in grammar school, and instead moved him to a technical school at age .

After graduating, he worked as a car mechanic for two years. Later he worked as a translator, then as a journalist. He was assistant editor of the newspaper Diário de Notícias, a position he had to leave after the democratic revolution in 1974. After a period of working as a translator he was able to support himself solely as a writer.

Saramago married Ilda Reis in 1944. Their only daughter, Violante, was born in 1947. In 1986 he met Spanish journalist Pilar del Rio. They married in 1988 and remained together until his death in June 2010. Del Río is the official translator of Saramago’s books into Spanish.


Saramago did not achieve widespread recognition and acclaim until he was sixty, with the publication of his fourth novel, Memorial do Convento. A baroque tale set during the Inquisition in 18th-century Lisbon, it tells of the love between a maimed soldier and a young clairvoyant, and of a renegade priest’s heretical dream of flight. The novel’s translation in 1988 as Baltasar and Blimunda (by Giovanni Pontiero) brought Saramago to the attention of an international readership. This novel won the Portuguese PEN Club Award.

Saramago joined the Portuguese Communist Party in 1969 and remained a member until the end of his life. He was a self-confessed pessimist. His views aroused considerable controversy in Portugal, especially after the publication of The Gospel According to Jesus Christ.

Members of the country’s Catholic community were outraged by Saramago’s representation of Jesus and particularly God as fallible, even cruel human beings. Portugal’s conservative government, led by then-prime minister Cavaco Silva, did not allow Saramago’s work to compete for the Aristeion Prize, arguing that it offended the Catholic community. As a result, Saramago and his wife moved to Lanzarote, an island in the Canaries.

The European Writers’ Parliament (EWP) came about as a result of a joint proposal by Saramago and fellow Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk. Saramago was expected to speak as the guest of honour at the EWP, but he died before the opening ceremony in 2010.


"Thank you José Saramago", Lisbon, October 2010
Saramago suffered from leukemia. He died on 18 June 2010, aged 87, having spent the last few years of his life in Lanzarote, Spain. His family said that he had breakfast and chatted with his wife and translator Pilar del Rio on Friday morning, after which he started feeling unwell and died.

The Guardian described him as "the finest Portuguese writer of his generation", while Fernanda Eberstadt of The New York Times said he was "known almost as much for his unfaltering Communism as for his fiction". Saramago’s translator, Margaret Jull Costa, paid tribute to him, describing his "wonderful imagination" and calling him "the greatest contemporary Portuguese writer".

Saramago had continued his writing until his death. His most recent publication, Claraboia, was published in 2011, after his death. Saramago had suffered from pneumonia a year before his death. Having been thought to have made a full recovery, he had been scheduled to attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2010.[18]

Portugal declared two days of mourning. There were tributes from senior international politicians: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Brazil), Bernard Kouchner (France) and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (Spain), while Cuba’s Raúl and Fidel Castro sent flowers.

Saramago’s funeral was held in Lisbon on 20 June 2010, in the presence of more than 20,000 people, many of whom had travelled hundreds of kilometres, but also notably in the absence of right-wing President of Portugal Aníbal Cavaco Silva was holidaying in the Azores as the ceremony took place.Cavaco Silva, the Prime Minister who removed Saramago’s work from the shortlist of the Aristeion Prize, said he did not attend Saramago’s funeral because he "had never had the privilege to know him".

Mourners, who questioned Cavaco Silva’s absence in the presence of reporters, held copies of the red carnation, symbolic of Portugal’s democratic revolution.

Saramago’s cremation took place in Lisbon, and his ashes were buried on the anniversary of his death, 18 June 2011, underneath a hundred year old olive tree on the square in front of the José Saramago Foundation (Casa dos Bicos).[21]


The José Saramago Foundation announced in October 2011 the publication of a so-called "lost novel" published as Skylight (Claraboia in Portuguese). It was written in the 1950s and remained in the archive of a publisher to whom the manuscript had been sent. Saramago remained silent about the work up to his death. The book has been translated into several languages.


Saramago at Teatro Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in Bogotá in 2007
Saramago’s experimental style often features long sentences, at times more than a page long. He used periods sparingly, choosing instead a loose flow of clauses joined by commas.[9] Many of his paragraphs extend for pages without pausing for dialogue, (which Saramago chooses not to delimit by quotation marks); when the speaker changes, Saramago capitalizes the first letter of the new speaker’s clause. His works often refer to his other works.[9] In his novel Blindness, Saramago completely abandons the use of proper nouns, instead referring to characters simply by some unique characteristic, an example of his style reflecting the recurring themes of identity and meaning found throughout his work.

Saramago’s novels often deal with fantastic scenarios. In his 1986 novel The Stone Raft, the Iberian Peninsula breaks off from the rest of Europe and sails around the Atlantic Ocean. In his 1995 novel Blindness, an entire unnamed country is stricken with a mysterious plague of "white blindness". In his 1984 novel The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis (which won the PEN Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Award), Fernando Pessoa’s heteronym survives for a year after the poet himself dies. Additionally, his novel Death with Interruptions (also translated as Death at Intervals) takes place in a country in which, suddenly, nobody dies, and concerns, in part, the spiritual and political implications of the event, although the book ultimately moves from a synoptic to a more personal perspective.

Saramago addresses serious matters with empathy for the human condition and for the isolation of contemporary urban life. His characters struggle with their need to connect with one another, form relations and bond as a community, and also with their need for individuality, and to find meaning and dignity outside of political and economic structures.

When asked to describe his daily writing routine in 2009, Saramago responded, "I write two pages. And then I read and read and read."[23]


Saramago by Portuguese painter Carlos Botelho
Saramago was an atheist. Many people were under the impression that he was entirely antagonistic to religion in his writings. The Catholic Church criticised him on numerous occasions due to the content of some of his novels, mainly The Gospel According to Jesus Christ and Cain, in which he uses satire and biblical quotations to present the figure of God in a comical and distorted way. The Portuguese government lambasted his 1991 novel O Evangelho Segundo Jesus Cristo (The Gospel according to Jesus Christ) and struck the writer’s name from nominees for the European Literature Prize, saying the atheist work offended Portuguese Catholic convictions. The book portrays a Christ who, subject to human desires, lives with Mary Magdalene and tries to back out of the crucifixion.[24] Following the Swedish Academy’s decision to present Saramago with the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Vatican questioned the decision on political grounds, though gave no comment on the aesthetic or literary components of Saramago’s work. Saramago responded: "The Vatican is easily scandalized, especially by people from outside. They should just focus on their prayers and leave people in peace. I respect those who believe, but I have no respect for the institution."[6]

Saramago was a proponent of anarcho-communism,[7] and a member of the Communist Party of Portugal.[10] As such he stood for the 1989 Lisbon local election in the list of the Coalition "For Lisbon" and was elected alderman and presiding officer of the Municipal Assembly of Lisbon.[25] Saramago was also a candidate of the Democratic Unity Coalition in all elections to the European Parliament from 1989 to 2009, though was often in positions thought to have no possibility of being elected.[25] He was a critic of European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies.[9]

Although many of his novels are acknowledged political satire of a subtle kind, it is in The Notebook that Saramago made his political convictions most clear. The book, written from a Marxist perspective, is a collection of his blog articles for the year September 2008 to August 2009. According to The Independent, "Saramago aims to cut through the web of ‘organized lies’ surrounding humanity, and to convince readers by delivering his opinions in a relentless series of unadorned, knock-down prose blows."[26] His political engagement led to comparisons with George Orwell: "Orwell’s hostility to the British Empire runs parallel to Saramago’s latter-day crusade against empire in the shape of globalisation."[27] When speaking to The Observer in 2006 he said "The painter paints, the musician makes music, the novelist writes novels. But I believe that we all have some influence, not because of the fact that one is an artist, but because we are citizens. As citizens, we all have an obligation to intervene and become involved, it’s the citizen who changes things. I can’t imagine myself outside any kind of social or political involvement."[28]

During the Second Intifada, while visiting Ramallah in March 2002, Saramago said: "What is happening in Palestine is a crime we can put on the same plain as what happened at Auschwitz … A sense of impunity characterises the Israeli people and its army. They have turned into rentiers of the Holocaust."[4] Some critics of these words contended that they were antisemitic.[10][29][30] Six months later, Saramago clarified. "To have said that Israel’s action is to be condemned, that war crimes are being perpetrated – really the Israelis are used to that. It doesn’t bother them. But there are certain words they can’t stand. And to say ‘Auschwitz’ there … note well, I didn’t say that Ramallah was the same as Auschwitz, that would be stupid. What I said was that the spirit of Auschwitz was present in Ramallah. We were eight writers. They all made condemning statements, Wole Soyinka, Breyten Breytenbach, Vincenzo Consolo and others. But the Israelis weren’t bothered about those. It was the fact that I put my finger in the Auschwitz wound that made them jump."[4]

During the 2006 Lebanon War, Saramago joined Tariq Ali, John Berger, Noam Chomsky, and others in condemning what they characterized as "a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation".[31]

He was also a supporter of Iberian Federalism. In a 2008 press conference for the filming of Blindness he asked, in reference to the Great Recession, "Where was all that money poured on markets? Very tight and well kept; then suddenly it appears to save what? lives? no, banks." He added, "Marx was never so right as now", and predicted "the worst is still to come."[32]


1995 – Camões Prize
1998 – Nobel Prize in Literature
2004 – America Award
2009 – São Paulo Prize for Literature — Shortlisted in the Best Book of the Year category for A Viagem do Elefante


The Swedish Academy selected Saramago as 1998 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature. The announcement came when he was about to fly to Germany for the Frankfurt Book Fair, and caught both him and his editor by surprise.

The Nobel committee praised his "parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony", and his "modern skepticism" about official truths.


The José Saramago Foundation was founded by José Saramago in June 2007, with the aim to defend and spread the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the promotion of culture in Portugal just like in all the countries, and protection of the environment.[34] The José Saramago Foundation is located in the historic Casa dos Bicos in the city of Lisbon.

By pedrosimoes7 on 2017-06-10 19:22:13

be a strong writer there are three things one must do. One, write every day and
with great avidity. Two, read great writing of all kinds. Three, read great
books about writing. This blog post is about the latter. Here we will review
five of the best writing books on the market. Let them inspire you and bring
forth the creativity you sense is latent within you and seemingly inaccessible…

you want to be a strong writer there are three things one must do.


write every day and do so with great avidity.


read great writing of all kinds.


read great books about writing by expert writers.


article will focus on the latter. Books about how to write are legion, largely
because there are so many people interested in writing and hungry for material
about the craft. But good books about writing are few and far between. I’ve
read a ton of them, but only a few have passed muster. So let’s review a
selection of the writing books I’d recommend for both aspiring and accomplished


I begin, let’s view this information through the proper prism. The purpose of
reading books about writing is to keep oneself inspired and to refine the craft,
to keep making us better at what we do. We are never too experienced to learn
more. With that in mind, here’s my all-star lineup – minus the very good but
interminably mentioned On Writing Well by
William Zinsser and The Elements of Style by
William Strunk and E.B. White.


Bird by Bird by
Anne Lamott
Funny, practical and irreverent, Lamott hammers home a point that all writers
grapple with – your first draft is going to be junk (though she uses a more
descriptive term), so just get over it. In fact, the best writers in the world
write lousy first drafts. That is the writing process. Once we accept that even
Don DeLillo and Toni Morrison write lousy first drafts and we inevitably will
do the same, the game changes quite dramatically. Just sit down and write and
don’t sweat the outcome. Create the raw materials. The editing and
remanufacturing comes later. Lamott is filled with lots of good advice related
to this core message. Check it out and watch your writing improve as you learn
to concentrate on the process rather than the immediate output.


The War of
Art by Steven Pressfield
 (not to be confused with the Art of War, though obviously a play on
that famous title). Pressfield’s book is about all artistic endeavors, though
writing is central to his message, if for no other reason than Pressfield is
himself an accomplished novelist with The
Legend of Bagger Vance
 to his credit, among many other books.
“Resistance” is The War of Art’s villain. Every time we even
think about doing something artistic Resistance rears it debilitating head in
its many manifestations. It might be an unexpected wave of fatigue, or a sudden
realization that we have house work or yard work to do. A telephone call we
simply cannot put off any longer. Anything to avoid facing the
blank page or music sheet. Given that, procrastination is the most common
manifestation of Resistance. The dynamics change once we recognize and
acknowledge Resistance. We have more control over this metaphysical interloper.
Then we can take a different approach. As Pressfield puts it in the War
of Art


of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between
the two stands Resistance. …Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from
doing your work.”


how Pressfield describes his own writing process in The War of Art: “I sit down and plunge in. When I start making
typos, I know I’m getting tired. That’s four hours or so. I’ve hit the point of
diminishing returns. I wrap for the day. …How many pages have I produced? I
don’t care. Are they any good? I don’t even think about it. All that matters is
I’ve put in my time and hit it with all I’ve got. All that counts is that, for
this day, for this session. I have overcome Resistance.”


more point from Pressfield. He rightly points out that the difference between
writers and wannabe writers is that writers understand that overcoming
Resistance and sitting down to write is actually harder than the writing
itself. The battle to begin is the biggest battle of all.


The Artist’s
Way by Julia Cameron
. A prolific writer herself and the author of numerous
books on writing, Cameron teachers a technique called The Morning Pages that
involves sitting down first thing each morning and write without stopping until
you’ve filled three pages with content. Fill those pages with anything that
comes to mind, regardless of how trivial or self-obsessed. As Cameron says, you
cannot do the Morning Pages wrong. Do this every morning and some magical things
start happening. You might discover personal insights. You might have
psychological breakthroughs. From a writing standpoint you will train yourself
to set the internal editor aside and simply write without regard to the quality
of what you’re producing. Then, when you do your writing for publication,
you’re more apt to let it flow without the tyranny of an internal editor
casting aspersions on your ever word choice and sentence construction. Having
opened the gates the subconscious mind – the fountainhead of creativity – can
begin to assert itself.


If You Want to
Write by Brenda Ueland
. As the subtitle says, this is a book about art,
independence and spirit. Ueland encourages us to be reckless when we write. Be
a pirate, she says. Be a lion. We have that luxury because no real harm comes
from writing regardless of how recklessly we produce it. She starts several
chapters by quoting the great poet William Blake, in one case using this
searing Blake quote: “Sooner strangle an infant in its cradle than nurse
unacted desires.” Clearly, Ueland was an adrenal writer, one who treated the
writing process like a moth treats a flame.


If You Want to Write Ueland says: “I
kept a slovenly, headlong, helter-skelter diary for many years. This is what it
has done for me: It has shown me that writing is talking, thinking on paper.
And the more impulsive and immediate the writing the closer it is to the
thinking, which it should be. It has made me like writing. For years it was the
most boring, dreaded, and effortful thing to do—doubt-impeded, ego-inflated.”


the woman a cutlass and steed and everything about her writing changed.
Attitude and perspective are everything when it comes to writing.


How to Write a Damn
Good Novel by James Frey
. Never mind that you have no desire to write
a novel. Never mind that you never pen fiction. This book teaches good writing,
period. Its principles are applicable to many types of writing because it


>> Theme

>> Character development

>> The three rules of dramatic writing

>> The ABC’s of storytelling

>> Point of view

>> The fine art of sensuous and dramatic prose


instruction is lean, straightforward and practical. He accomplishes more in
just 172 pages than most writing books accomplish in three times the space. He
writes with force and economy.


are many more terrific writing booksArticle Submission, many of which I’m sure I’ve never come
across. But these five are exceptional. Let them inspire you and bring forth
the creativity you sense is latent within you and seemingly inaccessible.

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