Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
José Saramago (sah-rah-MAH-goh) is Portugal’s best-known and most celebrated writer. He was born to a family of poor farmworkers in the central Portuguese village of Azinhaga. When Saramago was two years old, his family moved to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. After graduating from technical school in Lisbon, Saramago took a job in an automobile repair shop, where he worked for two years before moving on to a job with the Portuguese Social Welfare Service. He married his first wife, Ilda Reis, in 1944, and their only child was born three years later. During this time, Saramago would regularly spend his after-work hours in the public library, broadening his literary education. He also wrote his first novel, Terra do pecado (land of sin), publishing it in 1947 at the age of twenty-five. Saramago was disappointed with this work and, after finishing an unpublished novel and working on another one, he gave up writing for two decades.
During his silent period, Saramago took a job with a publisher in Lisbon, and this helped him maintain contact with the literary scene. He translated the works of a number of major writers from French to Portuguese. He finally returned to publishing his own writing in 1966 with a book of poetry, Os poemas possíveis (possible poems). He followed this book with his 1970 collection of poems, Provàvelmente alegria (probably joy), and, in 1975, the long poem O ano de 1993 (the year 1993)....
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Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
José Saramago was born into a poor family in the village of Azinhaga, Portugal, about sixty miles outside Lisbon on November 16, 1922. His name would actually have been a traditional Portuguese last name (de Sousa), but he accidentally received his father’s nickname Saramago (Portuguese for “wild radish”). In 1924, the family moved to Lisbon.
Saramago has said that he was a good student. His family could not afford to provide him with a general education that emphasized grammar and writing. At the age of twelve, he was forced to enter a technical school, where he studied for five years to become a mechanic. Nonetheless, he was able to take courses in French. During this period, he borrowed money to buy Portuguese grammar books. After completion of his training, he became a mechanic for two years. At night, he would frequent the public library, where his interest and skill in reading poetry and prose literature inspired him to advance his writing skills without being mentored.
In 1944, Saramago married Lida Reis; in 1947, Violante, their only child, was born. It was also in 1947 that Saramago published his first novel, Terra do Pecado, and his only published work for the next twenty years. Saramago himself said that he did not publish during this period because he had nothing worthwhile to say. In 1951, he started work at a publishing firm (Estúdios Cor), where he would meet Portuguese authors. He then began working as a...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Born in Azinhaga, a small village northeast of Lisbon, Portugal, José Saramago (sah-rah-MAH-goh) was descended from landless farmers called de Sousa; he was mistakenly registered, however, under the family nickname of “saramago,” a wild radish used by peasants to stave off hunger. Saramago was raised in Lisbon after the age of two, but he still spent much time in the country with his maternal grandparents, who helped shape his character and his ideas. His grandfather Jerónimo in particular regaled the young boy with stories both from the past and from his imagination. At the age of twelve, Saramago’s parents enrolled him in a vocational school to train as an auto mechanic; after graduating in 1939, he worked for two years at a car repair shop. He spent his free time, however, at the public library, pursuing an interest in literature he had developed while at school.
By the time Saramago married Ilda Reis in 1944, he was working in the Social Welfare Service as an administrative civil servant. In 1947, Saramago’s only child, Violante, was born, and that same year he published his first novel, Terra do pecado (the land of sin). In 1949, Saramago was forced out of his civil service post for political reasons, but by the end of the 1950’s he found happier employment as a production manager for a publishing company, a position that lasted twelve years and led to friendships with some of the major Portuguese writers of the time. For the...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
All of José Saramago’s novels are a complicated blend of light and dark, including both hope and despair and sustaining an authorial perspective that is unsentimental but nevertheless sensitive to both the sins and the suffering of humanity. Saramago’s later novels build on his earlier deployment of the fantastic and supernatural, but they are more clearly symbolic or allegorical in nature. Saramago’s later writing does not address the past but speaks to the present, but it is a present in which his earlier experiences of the totalitarianism of the Salazar regime have not disappeared but have been inventively reinstated in new and mysterious ways. While his work contains strong elements of pessimism, the various evils that Saramago explores never completely destroy the critical intelligence or sympathetic imagination of individual characters, raising the possibility that the human spirit may triumph over even the most dire adversity.
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Biography (Short Stories for Students)
José Saramago was born on November 16, 1922, in Azinhaga, Ribatejo, Portugal. He is best known as a novelist, and in 1998 he became the first Portuguese writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Born into a family of rural workers, he grew up in the city of Lisbon, often visiting relatives in the countryside, and attended a technical school to learn a trade. Before becoming a full-time professional writer, Saramago worked as a mechanic, a civil servant, a translator, a literary critic, a political commentator, and a journalist. In 1944, he married Ilda Reis, and they had a child named Violante in 1947.
Saramago published his first novel Terra do pecado in 1947. Almost thirty years later in 1976, Saramago published his next novel entitled Manual de pintura e caligrafia (Manual of Painting and Calligraphy). His third novel Levantado do chao (Raised from the Ground) was published in Portuguese in 1980. Following this novel, Saramago published several novels that were translated into English and which established his worldwide reputation as a novelist, including Baltasar and Blimunda, published in Portuguese in 1982 and in English in 1987, and The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis published in Portuguese in 1984 and in English in 1991. In 1994, Saramago published two novels in...
(The entire section is 348 words.)