One of the main reasons I travel is to learn about new people and places, and I therefore try to make sure I read mainly local literature when I’m in a new country. I had read a few Saramagos before, but since arriving in Lisbon four months ago I have been gradually acquiring everything I could find by the Nobel Laureate from local markets, book shops and cafés.
Last month saw me purchase seven Saramagos and read four of them, and so this week seemed like a good time to offer you some of the quotes which I had jotted down whilst reading him last month. His complicated grammatical style often masks a simplicity of language which can be both touching and, for a new learner of the Lusitanian lingo, a blessing when the first book you attempt to read in a new language is a 300-page political treatise on why Portugal probably shouldn’t be in the European Union, (‘A Jangada De Pedra,’ or ‘The Stone Raft’), from which I took no quotes but a feeling of accomplishment at finishing it.
“Cipriano Algor got up from the stone bench, he seemed to find it hard to lift his own body, which is not surprising, for the weight of what a man feels is not always the same as the weight registered on the scales…”
‘The Year Of The Death Of Ricardo Reis‘
“A man must read widely, a little of everything or whatever he can, but given the shortness of life and the verbosity of the world, not too much should be demanded of him. Let him begin with those titles no one should omit, commonly referred to as books for learning, as if not all books were for learning…”
“Words, once uttered, remain open like doors…”
‘O Caderno’ or ‘The Notebook pt.2’
“Fisicamente, habitamos um espaço, mas, sentimentalmente, somos habitados por uma memória. Memória que é a de um espaço e de um tempo, memória no interior da qual vivemos, como uma ilha entre dois mares: um que dizemos passado, outro que dizemos futuro…”
“Physically, we inhabit a space, but, sentimentally, we are inhabited by a memory. Memory of a space and a time, memory inside of which we live, like an island between two seas: one which we call the past, another which we call the future…”
“…a Lisboa de gente pouco ter e de muito sentir…”
“…a Lisbon of people who have little, but feel much…”
“Deus é o silencio do universo e o homem o grito que dá sentido a esse silêncio…”
“God is the silence of the universe and man the scream which gives meaning to that silence…”
“Em todo o caso, como se diz na minha terra, quem não tem cão, caça com gato…”
“Anyway, as we say where I’m from, he who doesn’t have a dog hunts with a cat…”