José Saramago Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to his novels, José Saramago (sah-rah-MAH-goh) has written various other literary works, including several collections of poetry, short stories, plays, and an extensive personal diary. He has translated many European authors’ works, including those of Colette, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Baudelaire, Nicos Poulantzas, Guy de Maupassant, Étienne Balibar, Jean Cassou, Henri Focillon, Jacques Roumain, André Bonnard, and Raymond Bayer. Saramago has also worked as an editor for the newspaper Diário de Noticias and later published several newspaper articles.

José Saramago Achievements

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

José Saramago received the Prémio Cidade de Lisboa in 1980, an award that is critical to achieving recognition in Portugal. International acclaim came to Saramago with the publication of Baltasar and Blimunda in 1982. For this novel, he received Portugal’s most prestigious literary honor, the PEN Club Award (1983 and 1984). This award was followed by the Prémio da Crítica da Associação Portuguesa 1986, an important journalism prize. The Gospel According to Jesus Christ was nominated for the European Literary Prize (1992), awarded by the European Writers’ Congress, but Saramago’s name was removed from the list of nominees by the Portuguese government. Later, he earned the Prémio Vida Literária (1993) and the Prémio Camões (1995). Most significant, his novel The Stone Raft received the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature. Saramago is the only native writer in Portuguese to have received this highly coveted award, which includes one million U.S. dollars. The Stone Raft and his earlier novels were soon translated into many languages.

José Saramago Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Discuss the way in which his many years living under the repressive Salazar regime has shaped José Saramago’s work.

How do the inner lives of Ricardo Reis and Senhor José act as a contrast or alternative to their external circumstances?

Discuss the way in which the Doctor’s Wife, Senhor José , and Ricardo Reis demonstrate admirable qualities despite their dehumanizing circumstances.

Discuss the meaning and value of Saramago’s innovative writing style, including his use of symbol and allegory and his deployment of fantasy and the supernatural.

Compare and contrast the three “crisis worlds” of Blindness, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, and All the Names. What caused these societies to become weakened or ruined?

Discuss the theme of the overlapping worlds of the dead and the living in All the Names and The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis.

Why does Saramago avoid the use of names for his characters in Blindness or All the Names?

José Saramago Bibliography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Langer, Adam. “Prophet of Doom: Pessimism Is Our Only Hope: The Gospel According to Jose Saramago.” Book 64 (November/December, 2002): 64-66. A biographical description of Saramago and his work that includes an interview with him during a visit to New York.

Parks, Tim. “Sightgeist.” The New York Review of Books 46 (February 18, 1999): 22-25. An examination of the satirical themes in Saramago’s novels.

Thomas, Cullen F. “Saramago, José.” Current Biography 63 (June, 2002): 87-91. Provides a brief biography of Saramago, with an overview of his major works.