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A Viagem do Elefante

Free download ¶ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF ¶ José Saramago

Lenge all of our presumed ideas about narrative and its conventions from the very beginning of this story he takes common notions clich s almost such as the assumption that events may be predicted or predictable and uickly turns them and us inside out and upside down The reader is wrong footed from the start here not knowing who the main character will be in this account of the gifting of an elephant by the king of Portugal Dom Jo o the third to his cousin Maximilian the second of Austria in 1552If p ro can be dropped so easily we wonder what fate awaits subhro the clever mahout who tends the elephant and whom the reader begins to see as the main character if of course the wise elephant called Solomon is not himself the main character soon after the dispensable p ro is left behind by the story in Lisbon along with the king an eually dispensable character it seems for there is a welcome democracy in this tale at least at times Riding through Portugal and then across Spain boarding a ship to cross the Mediterranean then onwards through Northern Italy the Alps Austria all while perched on top of an elephant must have seemed like a royal position in those days Our subhro enjoys his status high above the army of accompanying soldiers like a capital on the top of a column But since he is as clever as p ro he doesn t take his temporary preeminent situation for granted fearing every day and every step of the ourney that he will eventually be toppled and end up where he really belongs in the dust or the snow whichever applies One particular slow day on the hazardous ourney a daydream temporarily carries subhro far off into the land of heroic deeds where he imagines himself being lauded by the entire Austrian court but soon reality revealed itself to him exactly as it was himself hunched on the elephant s back almost invisible beneath the snow the desolate image of the defeated conueror demonstrating yet again how close the tarpeian rock is to the capitoline hill on the latter they crown you with laurels and from the former they fling you down all glory vanished all honour lost to the place where you will leave your wretched bones So the uneasy feeling the reader experienced at the beginning of this tale is confirmed by Saramago s own words a fall from grace can come swiftly and no one no matter how impregnable their position can be certain of avoiding such a fall Saramago wrote this book uite late in his life and I wondered if he had doubts or regrets about what he had achieved in his writing career or if he worried about the security of his position as the leading Portuguese writer of the twentieth century I didn t wonder for long as he went on to say The skeptics are uite right when they say that the history of humanity is one long succession of missed opportunities Fortunately thanks to the inexhaustible generosity of the imagination we erase faults fill in lacunae as best we can forge passages through blind alleys that will remain stubbornly blind and invent keys to doors that have never had locks Saramago is very good at inventing keys and with them he opens a succession of doors in the narrative I imagine him blithely doing the same throughout his lifeThe uotes I ve included demonstrate many interesting features of Saramago s style but this one in particular his ability to move seamlessly from he to they to you to we and back again And the we is sometimes the narrator and the reader sometimes the narrator and the characters so that we the readers eventually become absorbed into the narrative and the we comes to be narrator characters and readers all rolled up in one we are transformed in spite of ourselves changed utterly and readers all rolled up in one we are transformed in spite of ourselves changed utterly reading his words because Saramago believes in the transforming power of fiction It must be said that history is always selective and discriminatory too selecting from life only what society deems to be historical and scorning the rest which is precisely where we might find the true explanation of facts of things of wretched reality itself I say to you it is better to be a novelist a fiction writer a liar Perhaps not an outright liar but clever and inventive when it comes to filling in lacunae while describing the beauty of the mountains through which the elephant travels and clearly never the mountains through which the elephant travels and clearly never visited the location as any writer worthy of the name would surely do he implies Saramago wriggles neatly out of any precise description words fail me he says instead with his tongue placed firmly in his cheekSo if he is championing the fictional account of this factual ourney over the historical one he does it with an entire army of nods and winks So far fritz as subhro is called by the Austrians has been a vital character at every turn be it dramatic or comic even at the risk of cutting a ridiculous figure whenever a pinch of the ludicrous was felt to be necessary or merely tactically advisable for the narrative putting up with humiliations without a word of protest or a flicker of emotion careful not to let it be known that without him there would be no one to deliver the goods or in this case to take the elephant to ViennaSaramago delivers the goods to adopt his own clich he plays with clich s when it suits him This book is a feast of verbal treats from the end to the beginning where like Tristram Shandy the narrative opens with a conversation in of verbal treats from the end to the beginning where like Tristram Shandy the narrative opens with a conversation in marital bed a conversation in which a monarch worries that a fall from grace can come very swiftly Others have repeated the story and given the background to Saramago writing this book which is written in long long sentences with little punctuation and no uotation marks which means you have to really concentrate on conversations to f shortly after he began writing the elephant s Nine Ghosts journey in 2007os saramago was stricken with pneumonia and would conclude the year hospitalized in lanzarote from complications a mere day after his discharge the following Las Maravillosas Obras de Dios: Historias B�blicas Para La Familia january he resumed efforts on the novel completing it in august 2008 hence the book s dedication for pilar who wouldn t let me die a tribute to his wife and translator of his works into spanish saramago would go on to finish another novel cain to be published in english in 2011 before he passed away on the cusp of summer earlier this year at the age of 87 the elephant sourney is saramago s fictionalized account relating the true tale of an elephant given to archduke maximilian as a wedding gift from his uncle king o o III of portugal and its triumphant voyage upon foot and ship from lisbon to vienna in 1551 how saramago became inspired to tell this particular story is as serendipitous as any of the fantastic plots he is famous for having created following a guest lecture at the university of salzburg saramago s inuisitive nature evident during a chance dinner at an austrian restaurant called the elephant provided enough fodder for his imagination to begin churning he writes certain unknown fates came together that night in the Os deu obras primas como Memorial do Convento ou O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis José Saramago coloca agora nas mãos dos leitores esta obra excepcional ue é A Viagem do ElefanteNeste livro escrito em condições de saúde muito precárias não sabemos o ue mais admirar o estilo pessoal do autor exercido ao nível das suas melhores obras; uma combinação de personagens reais Ity of mozart in order that this writer would ask what are those carvings over there those carvings illustrated the elephant s remarkable sixteenth century ourney across europe and thus with the aid of some research saramago s fifteenth novel was born based in historical fact though it may be the elephant s The New Song: For the Sunday School, Societies of Christian Endeavor, and Other Religious Exercises (Classic Reprint) journey is uintessential saramago storytelling at its finest the book was aptly rendered from the portuguese by margaretull costa the eighth consecutive novel of his she has translated in addition to her award winning english adaptations of fernando pessoa Riding Hard javier mar as and e a de ueiroz many of the elements that have made his fiction so widely beloved are present and as such both neophyte and devotee will find the book deeply rewarding while the protracted picturesue sentences and lack of traditional punctuation that mark saramago s singular style are of course present notable herein is his decision to forego the capitalization of proper nouns unless they occur at the beginning of a sentence perhaps because he chose to recast historical figures and places beyond the realm of recorded fact solomon the elephant later renamed suleiman is richly conceived as is subhro the elephant s mahout much of the charm of aaramago s characters rests in the lifelike manner in which he portrays them often full of wisdom and hospitality yetust as likely to commit an act of folly or selfishness his narration of their lives often reflects this duality what a strange creature man is so prone to terrible insomnias over mere nothings and yet capable of sleeping like a log on the eve of battle as with every novel saramago often veers briefly from the narrative to muse upon the far reaching ramifications of human nature history culture government and religion strong in his convictions however often mischaracterized by the international press he seldom strays into moralizing but instead offers seemingly simple observations and truisms of everyday life people say a lot of things and not all of them are true but that is what human beings are like they can as easily believe that the hair of an elephant marinated in a little oil can cure baldness as imagine that they carry within them the one solitary light that will lead them along life s paths even through mountain passes one way or another as the wise old hermit of the alps once said we will all have to die the elephant s Arabian Challenge journey finds saramago at his most playful and lighthearted though self described as a pessimist little trace of his contrarian tendencies is to be found the overarching sense of adventure is what dominates the story and however much hardship was endured whether by sailing to italy or crossing the austrian alps the characters remain mostly good natured aware as they are of both the import and novelty of their attempted feat even the occasional aside directed at the reader remains upbeat and spirited it s hard to understandust why the archduke maximilian should have decided to make such a ourney at this time of year but that is how it s set down in history as an incontrovertible documented fact supported by historians and confirmed by the novelist who must be forgiven for taking certain liberties with names not only because it is his right to invent but also because he had to fill in certain gaps so that the sacred coherence of the story was not lost it must be said that history is always selective and discriminatory too selecting from life only what society deems to be historical and scorning the rest which is precisely where we might find the true explanation of facts of things of wretched reality itself in truth i say to you it is better to be a novelist a fiction writer a liar or a mahout despite the hare brained fantasies to which either by birth or profession they seem to be prone after nearly a full calendar year and some 1800 or so miles over land and sea the elephant and his entourage finally arrive in vienna with their destination reached pachyderm procession and reader alike are enjoined in an exultation that from the onset may have seemed somewhat unlikely the elephant s ourney is a fantastic story of determination and like so many of his novels succeeds on many a level saramago of all his many gifts for telling a compelling tale ought to be remembered for his grace his inimitable humor and the resplendent humanity he brought to each of his works the portuguese government declared two days of mourning upon his death in Der Verlorene Koffer: A Graded Reader for Beginning Students june and some 20000 people attended his funeral while a controversial figure Do You Know the Way to Pan Jos I m afraid whatever subtlety and charm this novel supposedly has was lost on meI normally like to read an author s work chronologically Here is a wonderful story especially I think if you have a deep connection to animals It is the story of Solomon the Elephant and his keeper Subhro and theirourney as a gift from King Joao III of Portugal to his cousin Archduke Maximillian Hapsburgs in 1540 or so The voice is third person historical and wonderfully relaxed and unrushed It is a novelist s voice embellishing on historical factIt This is the story *of the book Knowing it will not spoil the enjoyment of it one whit if you do choose * the book Knowing it will not spoil the enjoyment of it one whit if you do choose read itThe story is based on the Portuguese King Joao III s gift of an elephant to the Archduke Maximillian and the delivery of the gift from Lisbon to Vienna The major characters are the elephant Solomon and his mahour Subhro The story is of the King what happens on the ILLERAMMA Kathalu journey to the officers who escort the elephant and at the end of theourney the Archduke Maximillian arrogantly renames the elephant from Solomon to Suleiman and the mahout to an inappropriate FritzThe end is both picaresue and that of a fairy tale It is two years after the elephant has arrived in Vienna and he has died They have cut him up for souvenirs and umbrella stands and the mahout has been apid off generously by the Archduke The last we see of Subhro he has reclaimed his name is riding off on a mule on a ourney he never completes trailing a donkey who bears a wooden box containing all the possessions that mahout possessesA who bears a wooden box containing all the possessions that mahout possessesA while later the letter announcing the death of Solomon reaches King Joao III and his wife The king was very sad but the ueen refusing to be read the contents of the letter locked herself in her room and spent the rest of the day in tearsIt is a beguiling book the language is so beautiful it is witty and humouros but it is not a great book ust a really enjoyable one A fine one to finish a year of reading onNotes on reading the book view spoilerSaramago s The Elephant s Journey is a lot readable than Livius Hannibal coming over the Alps A Latin text I never really got to grips with Not that I ve ever got to grips with Saramago s writing style either it s audio or forget it for meSo far the writing is charmingly amusing sly and pointed and wonderful in it s own right never mind the story which I am also enjoying hide spoiler. Inventadas ue nos faz viver simultaneamente na realidade e na ficção; um olhar sobre a humanidade em ue a ironia e o sarcasmo marcas da lucidez implacável do autor se combinam com a compaixão solidária com ue o autor observa as frauezas humanasEscrita dez anos após a atribuição do Prémio Nobel A Viagem do Elefante mostra nos um Saramago em todo o seu esplendor literário. I had the strangest feeling while reading The Elephant s Journey I felt like a child being told a story by an old and indulgent grandparent I saw him clearly sitting in an old comfortable chair in a dimly lit room talking in a gravelly voice telling the story of Solomon the elephant a wedding gift from a king to an archduke and the long ourney that brought him from Portugal through the Alps and finally to ViennaLike any good grandfather Saramago wanders from point to point while telling his tale musing and meandering In the middle of the story he may take a few sentences to ruminate whimsically about the nature of royalty or the use of specific language or even his own role in the narrative itself For this reason The Elephant s Journey is probably not for everyone Those who like their tales straight and to the point should pass this one by as it will be frustrating than rewarding Even though I enjoyed it overall I did find myself occasionally wishing he would get back to the point again much like a grandson may feel about his overly verbose grandfatherHowever Saramago does have a good story to tell here and he tells it well His use of language is as always beautiful and his sense of observation uniue and intricate In the final analysis The Elephant s Journey feels like a fable a story told and retold so many times that its fanciful notes fit right in with the elements of realism and a moral sensibility that holds true from beginning to endWith the release of this book comes the sad news of Saramago s passing Even though he has at least one book to offer us after this one there was a passage near the end of The Elephant s Journey that seemed particularly fitting to mewe will not see them in this theater again but such is life the actors appear then leave the stage as is only fitting it s what usually and always will happen sooner or later they say their part then disappear through the door at the back the one that opens onto the gardenthe curtain has fallen and will not rise again The Elephant s Journey feels like a story heard late at night as we drift off to sleep told by someone old enough to be comfortable telling such stories to younger ears with a few side trips along the way As the story ends and we are drifting off to sleep grandfather Jose uietly steps out of the room and closes the door behind him It pains me a bit to give a Saramago book such a low rating but of the seven of his that I ve read this was clearly the one I liked the least It s not that I disliked it In fact I was going to go for the third star but when I looked at what rating I had given the other six Saramago books I ve read I had to knock it down to two as I definitely liked The Cave better and that only got three Anyways enough of my personal Saramago rating history The reason this is getting two stars is that frankly it was a bit boring Yes there were still some moments where Saramago wowed in his particular way but mostly it was 200 pages about an elephant traveling from Portugal to Austria in the 16th century It was about as exciting as it sounds Written shortly before he died one is left with the feeling that Saramago s amazing writing talents were starting to fade The Elephant s Journey doesn t make me look any less fondly on Jose Saramago it is simply his book I have liked the least Nothing nothing less I still look forward to working my way through the rest of his bibliography Yes this is a book of historical fiction It is based on a true event in history In 1551 King Jo o III of Portugal gave Archduke Maximilian an unusual wedding present an elephant named Solomon The elephant s ourney from Lisbon to Vienna was witnessed and remarked upon by scholars historians and ordinary people this being a direct uote from the book description And yet this book is primarily a book of humor To be explicit it is a book of ironic satire It is written with modern terminology We are not to analyze the appropriateness of the terminology These are NOT the expressions of the 1500s They are not meant to be Instead we are meant to chuckle at the incongruence of our modern way of thinking and the historical events as they unfolded It is very funny and I praise Saramago for his ability to make me laugh Read this book to laugh not to learn of an historical eventI chose to listen to this book because it does not employ the normal rules of punctuation I do not like such writing Paragraphs and rules of punctuation help a reader understand what is being said Soooooo instead I figured the narrator of this audio book could do the reading for me I can The Battle of Maldon and Other Old English Poems just sit back and enjoy the content If I had had to struggle through the reading myself I am sure I would have given it less stars The narrator was excellent Her intonations were perfect She has earned her money It is worth paying a bit for the audio version than struggling through the written never ending sentences That is what I think Do you want a sophisticated chuckle Listen to this book Saramago was having some snacks at a restaurant when he noticed some engravings of an elephant on the walls He enuired about it and was informed about an elephant back in the sixteenth century who hadourneyed across the continent and through the peninsula and then passed on into legend Saramago felt there was material for a story there and set out to investigate a bit about the historical details of this long ourney The result is this book It was supposed to be a charming little novel This reviewer is sorry to report that while this *IS AN INTERESTING EXAMPLE OF HOW GOOD AUTHORS CAN * an interesting example of how good authors can good stories out of thin air there was nothing here that was of real interest to him in terms nothing here that was of real interest to him in terms engaging characters historical significance or even a good yarn a Fall From Grace Can Come Very Swiftly Or As The from grace can come very swiftly or as the used to say the Tarpeian Rock is close to the Capitol That idea though not that exact expression was in my mind from the beginning of The Elephant s JourneyA very likeable character called p ro de alc ova carneiro features impressively in the early pages of this tale He is secretary of state to the king of Portugal and his thinly veiled ironic responses to the monarch s rather dim uestions cause the reader to worry for his safety we see him being thrown from the nearest high rock if he doesn t soon mend his ways Although p ro is a master of nuance the eual of many a great Shakespearian character he doesn t merit a capital letter in this story characters names are rarely written with capitals in Saramago s books Nevertheless the reader begins to hope in the early pages that p ro will play a capital part in the tale But Saramago uickly dampens any such hopes concerning the very patient and clever p ro whom we may not see again although perhaps we will because life laughs at predictions and introduces words where we imagined silences and sudden returns when we thought we would never see each other again With such convoluted phrases does Saramago chal. Em meados do século XVI o rei D João III oferece a seu primo o aruiduue Maximiliano da Áustria genro do imperador Carlos V um elefante indiano ue há dois anos se encontra em Belém vindo da ÍndiaDo facto histórico ue foi essa oferta não abundam os testemunhos Mas há alguns Com base nesses escassos elementos e sobretudo com uma poderosa imaginação de ficcionista ue á