As part of the celebrations of the birth centenary of Portuguese writer, José Saramago (1922-2010), Camões-Centro de Língua Portuguesa de Goa, in collaboration with Portuguese and Lusophone Studies of Shenoi Goembab School of Languages and Literature, Goa University, honoured him at the exhibition ‘José Saramago: Retracing the steps that were Taken’.
The exhibition was inaugurated by the Counsul-General of Portugal in Goa, HE Isabel de Mendonca Raimundo on December 1, 2022.
Director of Camões-Centro, Delfim Correia de Silva, spoke about the exhibition, while Asst Professor of Goa University, Loraine Alberto, briefed the audience about the author.
During the show, Samargo’s novels, translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Hungarian, Hindi are available for reading. There will be Conversas Saramaguianas – online interactions with some of the winners of the José Saramago Literary Prize, as well as screenings of Saramago´s life and works.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Born in Azinhaga, a small village 100 km north east of Lisbon, his father, a pig farmer, was illiterate. Until the age of seven, he was known as Samargo, (a wild herbaceous plant, whose leaves, in those times, served as nourishment for the poor).
When presenting an identification document at primary school, it was realized that his full name was José de Sousa Saramago.
At the age of 13 years, he was sent to a technical school because his father couldn’t afford regular schooling. The course included French literature as a subject. Later, they moved to Lisbon and his father got a job as a traffic policeman.
At 19, borrowing money from friends, he bought Portuguese text books with ‘anthological’ character, “what opened the doors of literary fruition”.
After finishing the course, he worked for two years as a mechanic at a car repair shop, and frequented a public library in Lisbon. “And it was there, with no help or guidance except curiosity and the will to learn, that my taste for reading developed and was refined,” he says in his biography.
He worked in the Social Welfare Service as an administrative civil servant, and married in 1944. His wife, Ilda Reis, was a typist with the Railway Company, and years later, became one of the most important Portuguese engravers. She died in 1947, the year of the birth of his only child.
He published his first novel, The Widow, which for editorial reasons appeared as The Land of Sin.
In 1950, he began working at a publishing company, Estúdios Cor, as production manager, and 1955-1981, he spent time translating French authors into Portuguese, and had a parallel occupation as a literary critic in1968.
Not many noticed his absence from the Portuguese literary scene till 1966, when Possible Poems, was published.
SHORT STORIES, NOVELS & MORE
In 1978, he published a collection of short stories, Quasi Object; in 1979, the play The Night; later What shall I do with this Book? and The Second Life of Francis of Assis.
Living in a village in Alentejo Province, a period of study and observation in 1980-1989 were dedicated to publishing several novels.
After meeting a Spanish journalist, Pilar Del Río, 30 years his junior, he got married in 1988. In 1995, he published his most successful novel, Blindnes
His characteristic style was blending dialog and narration with sparse punctuation and long sentences, extending several pages. He frequently uses allegory and fanciful elements in his works, which were interspersed with a detailed and critical look at society.
Music for the opera, Blimunda, was composed from his novel Baltazar and Blimunda and was staged in Milan, Italy, in 1990.
The Portuguese government ordered The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (1992) to be removed from the Aristeion Prize, vetoing its presentation for the European Literary Prize under the pretext that the book was offensive to Catholics. This political censorship totally disheartened him, and he went into exile on the Spanish island of Lanzarote.
Cadernos de Lanzarote (Lanzarote Diaries) and his autobiography/biography Les Prix Nobel/ Nobel Lectures/The Nobel Prizes was published in 1995 in several series.
Recipient of the Camões Prize and Nobel Prize for Literature, 1998, for his “parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony”, he continually enables us to apprehend an illusory reality.
The exhibition will be on till December 16, 2022, at Camões-CLP, Casa Basílio Dias, Rua de Ormuz, opp Panjim ferry, Panjim