Throughout All the Names there is a strange blending of voices, with an occasional humorous authorial comment parenthetically included, a conglomeration of Jose seeming to speak aloud to himself, then responding with his own inner voice but also blending in the voices of people he encounters either at the Central Registry or en route to learningabout the woman he seems compelled to find or at least to document, for the data card he has unwittingly captured states only that she is 36 years old divorced Beyond that, there is virtually no punctuation what occurs is quite non standard, much like overhearing a mix of voices that seem to blend together but which in time takes on a rhythm of its own for the reader The quest for the woman whose name is affixed to the Central Registry card causes Jose to break in to a school she once attended where she later taught, secretly interview a few who knew the woman in the guise of official registry work in time visit the General Cemetery, where the entry building architecture seems to resemble that of the Central Registry, while undertaking so to speak his search for her missing spirit There is even a curious shepherd who informs Jose that there is no real pattern to the layout of the graves or the names on them, something that completely contradicts the inflexible design of the Central Registry The Registrar is a complex figure but one who in my own interpretation of the Saramago novel eventually finds Jose s quixotic quest, which he seems to have known about for some time, one that may have altered his own masterful rigidity It is the Registrar who seems to give an unstated seal of approval to Jose s curious pattern of misbehavior, quite out of keeping with his normal role as a sort of papal guardian of everything deemed sacred at the Central Registry Admittedly, All the Names Saramago s other works as well, may not have a wide appeal but I enjoyed this imaginative novel very much, seeing it as a look at life from a different angle, perhaps one that attempts to separate the living from the living dead in much the same way that the Central Registry does with the living the dead but in a farrigid manner.
Senhor Jos Is A Low Grade Clerk In The City S Central Registry, Where The Living And The Dead Share The Same Shelf Space A Middle Aged Bachelor, He Has No Interest In Anything Beyond The Certificates Of Birth, Marriage, Divorce, And Death, That Are His Daily Routine But One Day, When He Comes Across The Records Of An Anonymous Young Woman, Something Happens To Him Obsessed, Senhor Jos Sets Off To Follow The Thread That May Lead Him To The Woman But As He Gets Closer, He Discovers About Her, And About Himself, Than He Would Ever Have WishedThe Loneliness Of People S Lives, The Effects Of Chance, The Discovery Of Love All Coalesce In This Extraordinary Novel That Displays The Power And Art Of Jos Saramago In Brilliant Form Todos os Nomes All the names, Jos SaramagoAll the Names Portuguese Todos os Nomes is a novel by Portuguese author Jos Saramago It was written in 1997 and translated to English in 1999 by Margaret Jull Costa winning the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize 1999 1378 378 1378 1380 1385 1387 20 1385 374 9644056833 1394 287 9786009484461 What at first appears to be a simple story about a humdrum civil servant s odd fascination with an unknown woman quickly becomes a stunning exploration of loneliness, bureaucratic absurdity, and the purpose of a meaningful life This is the first novel I ve read by Nobel winner Saramago, but it won t be the last Part mystery, part existential cry from the ether, ALL THE NAMES takes on a life of its own as we follow the protagonist, Jos , a lowly clerk in the Central Registry, while he searches for a woman he knows nothingabout than her name and date of birth Throughout the story, we are presented with wonderfully amusing anecdotes of satire concerning the operations of the day to day government Particularly amusing, at least to me, are the scenes taking place in the city s municipal graveyard, describing its evolution over the centuries, as well as its relation to and competition with the Central Registry.
This book was suggested to me by someone who had read my novel, TITLE 13, and mentioned that they both shared a similar outlook, especially in terms of satirizing the lowly position of clerks within a government Of course, Saramago is a master of the form and I wouldn t dare to compare my own work with his, but it was quite a treat to find a similar subject as my own handled with such skill The author s use of long, drawn out sentences and intricately detailed passages truly heightens the level of satire and parody and I am quite curious to know if this is the standard style of Saramago, or if it was just a technique employed for use in this novel Either way, ALL THE NAMES is not a book I will soon forget, and a wonderful introduction into this internationally celebrated writer s work.
I never thought a novel about a lonely and duller than dull file clerk could turn out to be so readable, but that s exactly how I found this, it was difficult to find a reasonable place to stop, of which I simply had to, as it s a bit too long to gulp down in one go, although for those who don t get fidgety cramps, don t have much of an appetite, and with plenty of time on their hands, it may work out beneficial In fact, this is the very book the protagonist of All the Names would likely read in one go, sat up in bed, with a cup of weak coffee, and an unfulfilling sandwich, as he doesn t exactly have a busy schedule away from work, that is, until an unknown woman enters his life, no, he enters hers, only without her knowing it.
With a deceptively simple prose that uses ironic comments that intersperse within the story of an obsessional quest, and with omitted inverted commas, question marks, exclamation marks and the like, Saramago s narrative runs as smooth as silk as we follow the slightly eccentric slightly mad he talks to his ceiling clerk Senhor Jos of the Central Registry who enters into a metaphysical labyrinth of names, names andnames, tons and tons of them He eats, sleeps, and breathes them, day to day But out of hours, he takes on the task to quell boredom most likely of tracking down a random female, from a random card, located within the Central Registry His nocturnal activities within the Central Registry are made that little bit easier seeing as he lives in an adjoining room to the main building Within the first few pages, Saramago establishes a tension that sings and rises, producing engaging revelations that culminates when the final paragraphs twists expectations once again The title simply refers to the miles of archival records among which the protagonist toils at the Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths in an unnamed small city whose inhabitants still live by ancient and tight rules and regulations It s the sort of system that East Germany would have been proud of The registry is quixotically disorganized in places, the further you delve into the abyss, so that the files of those most recently deceased are buried under miles of paper at the furthest remove of the massive building that seems to go on forever Senhor Jos collects clippings about famous people and surreptitiously copies their birth certificates purloining them from the registry at night and returning them stealthily, when suddenly, and it is literally suddenly, he is stricken by a need to learn about an unknown woman s life There s no special reason for this pursuit, which becomes an elaborate and increasingly surreal catalogue of misdeeds and lies, but consumed by an overriding passion to find her, and takingandrisks along the way, he is forced to become practical, clever, and brave, in ways he never thought possible.
Saramago relates the novels events in a finely honed and precise way, pervaded with irony, but also playfully mocking with humour Alternately farcical, macabre, surreal and tragic, but also chilly in a kafkaesque way, his narrative depicts the loneliness of individual lives, and the universal need for human connection, even as it illuminates the fine line between those of the living and those of the dead Starting off slowly, the pacing accelerates eventually, and Jos s clandestine mission turns into an adventure you simply hope in the end pays off, as he is the kind of character that appeals in a humble and hapless, but all so real way, he warms the soul the longer his escapades continue Speaking of soul, Saramago clearly had it in abundance Not entirely positive about it s ending though, so a minor smudge there, but that aside, All the Names was a top notch piece of fiction.
Forward I m sorry Jos You didn t need to give up the will to live just because I didn t like your writing style Lots of people did like you More people liked you than like me Really You shouldn t have cared so much about what I thought Now I feel like an asshole for killing you Fine I guess I can live with that, but it was a real douche bag move, dying the week I write a bad review about you just to add to my excessive guilt complexes You know what, I m sorry that your dead and all, but fuck you, this was a low shot Saramago Jeez ReviewWhen you ve won the Nobel Prize for Literature you are above the criticisms of some schmuck who works for a corporate bookstore and writes reviews for books on the internet You also get a validation of sorts for any and all of your earlier little pretensions that, Do you really think you are the type of person who can call someone else s writing style pretentious, Well yes I do, But how can you, Well one can say that writing dialog in this style is pretty fucking pretentious, One could, but one can also be a philistine, do you not realize that this is decentering the text, making, Yes I get it, it s making me pay attention to the text in a manner that I m not used to doing, thus making me realize that I am reading a book and am in fact engaged in a text, as opposed to getting lost in the text and possibly thinking that the text is a surrogate for reality, I wasn t going to say that, No I m sure you weren t, there are probably a slew of other reasons why one can write this way, but seriously it s so reeking of High Modernism silly gobbledygook that in 1998 it might work as a parody, but there is never the sign that this is supposed to be a parody, instead it just feels forced, contrived, like, Yawn, where is your Nobel Prize for Literature, Good question, since Nobel Prizes are given out for good intentions without action these days I m making it my intention to write the greatest fucking body of work that anyone has ever fucking seen, smelled, or read and it will be so awesome, and appeal to the dumbest dumbass and the most head up their ass snob and everyone in between So now send me my check.
Saramago should be smacked around with the pretentious stick His prose style is so heavy handed and derivative in it s originality that it turned me off of the book after only a handful of pages The book could have been pretty fucking awesome It s Borgesian in it s paradoxical portrait of archives read Library of Babel esque without hexagons and the atmosphere and setting of the novel is Kafkaian as opposed to Kafkaesque, which is a nonsensical and overused phrase that has lost all meaning, just rest assured that Kafkaian is legitimate, in the same manner that Orwell esque is now the only acceptable manner for one to speak of doublespeak type situations, but only in an appropriate manner and may not be used for any kind of paranoid conspiracy Big Brother bullshit, if you want to say something about that the proper phrase is the government is watching me , there is no Big Brother, until such time that a cult of personality figure is in fact watching you, then it will be fine to use the term Orwell esque to talk about the situation you find yourself in One I would think that a book that mixes the two great tastes of Borges and Kafka could do no wrong, but how wrong I one would be Maybe if the writing style hadn t been so heavy handed and Kafka like aka, German in it s dense paragraphs Maybe once one enters into the Borges realm one needs to have a lighter hand on the old pen Maybe this is the kind of story that should have been a story and not a novel and that there are reasons why Borges never wrote a novel Or maybe there is something about the philosophical whimsy of Borges that meshes with the short story parables of Kafka but not with the stifling and asphyxiating world of his novels If you like clunky prose and interesting ideas this book might just tickle you in that special spot If not, then there are probably many finer books to read in the short time we have to spend reading on this mortal coil.