The Notebook

The Notebook


135 Pages


A thought-provoking daily record of the last year in the life of the Nobel Prize–winning novelist.

Beginning on the eve of the 2008 US presidential election, The Notebook evokes life in Saramago’s beloved Lisbon, revisits conversations with friends, and offers meditations on the author's favorite writers. Precise observations and moments of arresting significance are rendered with pointillist detail, and together demonstrate an acute understanding of our times. Characteristically critical and uncompromising, Saramago dissects the financial crisis, deplores Israel’s punishment of Gaza, and reflects on the rise of Barack Obama. The Notebook is a unique journey into the personal and political world of one of the greatest writers of our time.



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Published 01 May 2011
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EAN13 9781781683729
Language English
Document size 1 MB

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Praise forThe Notebook
The Notebookreveal[s] an often sharp, sometimes mischievous, engagement with the world, whether skewering George W. Bush as a ‘liar emeritus’ or the cruel absurdity of the Gaza blockade … Such shafts of sanity and humour will be missed.” Maya Jaggi,Guardian
“Saramago enjoys picking up a passing thought or an incident and running with it, confident in his political outrage, calm in his appreciation of friends, considered in his aphoristic criticism of culture.” Iain Finlayson,The Timesof London
The Notebookis a cogent, stimulating and timely book.” Thomas Wright,Independent on Sunday
“His range of interests and capacity for indignation [are] remarkable and admirable.” Allan Massie, The Scotsman
“Cogent, deft and brisk … the deeper you delve a broad, humane political philosophy begins to emerge.” Chris Dolan, GlasgowSunday Herald
“The world is poorer without Saramago, but these notes are a testament to his energy; and his homages to the young will now read as a passing on of the torch.” Tom Payne,Daily Telegraph
“Saramago’s enthusiasm is irresistible and his commendations are acute.” Toby Lichtig,Times Literary Supplement
“[T]he writing here reflects the wondrous integrity of his previous books . . . The genuine novelist is still vividly present, as he was throughout his life.”Los Angeles Times
“Provocative miscellany of occasional pieces.” Ángel Gurría-Quintana,Financial Times
“Beautifully crafted and honest, Saramago’s notebook is elegant in tone and style while clearly conveying a legend’s take on our evolving society.”Publishers Weekly
“Given that most blogs that make it to print seem to involve someone sharing too much information about their sex lives, there’s something refreshing about Saramago taking the form to a more elevated plain, crafting aperçus on all manner of subjects.”Metro
“The book presents an intelligent twist on the blogs-turned-books phenomenon, proving that the two mediums are compatible beyond social curios and cultural gimmicks …The Notebook is a unique glimpse into the candid ruminations of one of the most talented living writers.”Flavorwire
The Portuguese Nobel LaureateJosé Saramagoa novelist, playwright and journalist. His was numerous books, including the bestsellingAll the Names, Blindness, andThe Cave, have been translated into more than forty languages and have established him as one of the world’s most influential writers. He died in June 2010.
Translated by Amanda Hopkinson and Daniel Hahn
Funded by the Direcção-Geral do Livro e das Bibliotecas / Portugal.
English-language edition first published by Verso 2010 This updated paperback edition published by Verso 2011 © Verso 2010
First published asOcaderno© José Saramago & Editorial Caminho, SA, Lisbon 2008–2010 by arrangement with Literarishe Agentur Mertin Inh. Nicole Witt e. K., Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Translation © Amanda Hopkinson and Daniel Hahn 2010
Foreword translation © Shaun Whiteside
All rights reserved
The moral rights of the author have been asserted
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Aerso UK: 6 Meard Street, London W1F 0EG US: 20 Jay Street, Suite 1010, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Verso is the imprint of New Left Books
ISBN-13: 978-1-84467-801-3
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress
Typeset by Hewer Text UK Ltd, Edinburgh Printed in Sweden by ScandBook AB, Smedjebacken 2011
This book is dedicated to my collaborators at the José Saramago Foundation, and in particular to Sérgio Letria and Javier Muñoz. They are the ones who wait night after night, in Lisbon and Lanzarote, sometimes till late, for me to send them my short pieces of writing. They are the ones who, one leaf at a time, have collected a volume I never imagined would be this extensive. They are the craftsmen of my blog. There is no need for this book to be dedicated to Pilar, because it has belonged to her ever since the day she said to me, “Here’s a job for you. Write a blog.”
Foreword:Impenitently Irritated, and Tender by Umberto Eco Preface
SEPTEMBER 2008 Words for a City An Apology to Charles Darwin? George W. Bush, or the Age of Lies Berlusconi and Co. The Pulianas Cemetery Aznar, the Oracle Biographies Divorces and Libraries Nothing but Appearances The Whiteness Test Clear as Water Hopes and Utopias
OCTOBER 2008 Where Is the Left? Enemies at Home On Fernando Pessoa The Other Side Getting Back to the Subject God and Ratzinger Eduardo Lourenço Jorge Amado Carlos Fuentes Federico Mayor Zaragoza God as a Problem A (Financial) Crime against Humanity Constitutions and Realities Chico Buarque de Holanda Do Torturers Have Souls? José Luis Sampedro When I Grow Up I Want to Be like Rita Fernando Meirelles & Co. A New Capitalism? The Question
NOVEMBER 2008 Falsehood, Truth The War that Wasn’t Guantánamo 106 Years Words Rosa Parks Recipe for Killing a Man The Old and the Young Dogmas R.C.P. Eighty-Six Years
Alive, Very Much Alive Flooding All the Names In Brazil Cattle Two Pieces of News The Infinite Page of the Internet A Day Well Lived Sex Education The Cultura Bookshop
DECEMBER 2008 Differences Solomon returns to Belém For Anyone Who Might Be Interested Saviano Santa Fe Street Tribute Baltasar Garzón (1) Baltasar Garzón (2) Borges The Final Blow Words Publishers Gaza One Year On Christmas Supper Siblings-in-law Book Israel
JANUARY 2009 Reckoning Up The Irresponsible Sarkozy “No nos abandones” From David’s Stones to Goliath’s Tanks Together with Gaza Let’s Suppose Ángel González Presidents Stonings and Other Horrors The Other Crisis Obama Where? Israel, Again What? Clinton? Rodham Gervasio Sánchez Testimony
FEBRUARY 2009 Bread Davos Bankers Adolf Eichmann
Sampaio Vaticanadas Sigifredo Atheists As We Usually Say Chinese Feathers Domestic Abuse Death at Our Front Door What Is To Be Done About the Italians? Susi Paco Letter to Antonio Machado The Left Forms of Justice Water Dog
MARCH 2009 Gonçalo M. Tavares Elections To Observe and to Restore To Restore and to Observe Once More The Eighth of March Douro-Duero Common Sense Kissing the Names Democracy from a Taxi Madam President Funes and Funes Here Comes the Wolf! Tomorrow Is the Millennium A Question of Color A Sack of Cats Raposa do Sol Fractal Geometry
APRIL 2009 Mahmoud Darwish G20 Santa Maria de Iquique The Fob Watch Further Reading on the Crisis To Read L’Aquila Bo Colombia in Lanzarote Delusions of Grandeur Together with Dario Fo Showing Off Nightshirt (Camisola) On the Impossibility of Such a Portrait Eduardo Galeano Boys in Black Memories Swine Flu (1) Swine Flu (2)
MAY 2009
Javier Ortíz Expulsion Benedetti A House Saint New Man The Fair Tortures Courage Corruption British Style Sofi a Gandarias How Long? Charlie Poets and Poetry A Dream Bribery Grown-ups The Life Cycle of a Flower Weapons Music Clean Hands? Disenchantment
JUNE 2009 A Statue in Azinhaga Marcos Ana Journeys Secularism Carlos Casares The Berlusconi-thing Paradoxical A Good Idea Epitaph for Luís de Camões The Body of God Miguéis Netanyahu The Elephant on His Travels In Castelo Novo Return Sastre Sabato Formation (1) Formation (2) Black Spain Two Years
JULY 2009 Agustina Translating Review The Subject, on Himself Castril A Parting in the Hair Summer Reading Academician Aquilino Siza Vieira The Colors of the Earth