Tag Archives: Jose Saramago

The Double – Review

Dropped off at the airport 2.5 hours before my flight, so I had no excuse to not finish The Double, while waiting for take off.

One thing I need to say, is that I really like reading at airports. I don’t know what it is, but location seems to always make a difference in regards to how much I get into, and appreciate a book. I sat by a sunny window and read for a good 2 hours in pretty much absolute quiet. I like reading on the plane, only because I feel more in-tune with the characters. On ground, I’m just me, with my problems and issues, reading about a stranger. On the plane, everything seems to even out, when you look out the window and realize how small the world is, and literally how insignificant we all are no matter how grandious our problems appear. I feel more attached to the character I’m reading about when I’m in this state of mind, I can better put myself in their shoes and really live out the story in the book.

Too bad I didn’t get this feeling from The Double. Publisher’s Weekly marked this book as an allegory, but an allegory for what I can’t really say. Its a look into the darker side of one’s psyche. Its about cowardice, confusion and the determination to create an identity for oneself. Maybe some questions are better off left un-answered.

The main character sees a double of himself in a B-rated movie. The first 260 pages of this book are filled with him researching and trying to find out who this double is, the characters hot-cold relationship with Maria de Paz (his “girlfriend”, if you can really call it that), and in the last portion of the book, all the action takes place, its very quick and very methodical and very very depressing.

What I like about Saramago is that he writes effortessly the human mental state when common sense and instince kick in, but our naturaly proclivity towards curiosity forces us to abandon all common sense. There are times when I would question what I would do in his shoes. There is always a difference between what a person actually will do, and what they think they will do. These two are more often than not, total opposites.

Find this book at your local library

The Double
By Jose Saramago
ISBN 0-15-603258-9
324 pages

The Double

I feel I’ve read far enough into this book to start making some observations.

First off, the book has a very slow and steady pace. I’m about 100 pages into the book, and don’t know any more about the character than I did on page 1. I know that the main character suffers from depression, and upon seeing his clone in a random movie he rented, he sets out on a quest to find out who this double is, and try to meet him. That seems to be the main gist of the novel. Saramago goes off into many tangents that lead nowhere, and diverts from the plot to speak directly to the reader quite frequently. At first I found this trait amusing, but after a while it takes away from what little plot there is. The characters are somewhat dull at the moment, but I don’t see them improving as the story progresses.

Publisher’s Weekly have a horrid review of the book, and I see myself agreeing with parts of it. But since I liked Blindness so much, I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and finish this book, because the concept is interesting. Questions about identity are something every 20-something suffers through during the post-college years.

Jose Saramago

I first read Blindness a few years ago and I was struck by the fluidity of the prose as well as by the subject matter. In Blindness, the entire population of a city goes blind, a type of blindness where individuals only see white. The story is told by a women who somehow manages to not lose her eyesight throughout the entire ordeal. As the residents go blind, they are slowly quarentined off in an old abandoned hospital and are pretty much left to fend for themselves as the police and other sources of authority disappear. In moments of intense human weakness such as this, the author portrays how easy it is to be manipulative, to hurt innocents and the level of greed necessary to gain power over others. The narrator witnesses everything, but pretends to be blind in order to stay with her husband.

The dialog in this book is complex to keep up with, since the Saramago does not distinguish between characters, nor does he use quotation marks. You can tell who is saying what based on the character persona’s and for the most part its one-liner’s going back and forth. But this is something that needs full concentration when reading.

I’m currently carrying around The Double by Saramago in my bag, and am finding time to read little bits and pieces of it every now and then. I’m not even 20 pages into the book, and already the plot, the characters and the conflict has been arranged. A depressed history teacher with no life watches a movie on the encouragement of a colleage. In this movie, he sees a man that looks exactly like him, and he thinks that this man, is him.

Its an interesting concept, and I’m curious to see how it gets figured out, who this double is, and how the two men relate to each other. His writing style is still the same in terms of dialog, but at least by now I’m able to keep up with the conversation.