That s unfair and reductive, however Jose Saramago is an atheist, and the book does explore the parts of Jesus life that most people pretend didn t exist early adolescence to just before the time when he knew he had Messianic Son of God Superpowers , while at the same time gently but firmly questioning the nature of God, divinity, religious fervor manifesting itself as the oppression of others, bizarre religious ritual, and religious hypocrisy The familiar Biblical story arc of Mary and Joseph s pilgrimage to Bethlehem for a census begins the story, though Saramago quickly dispenses with any notion that Mary was a virgin she also has, in quick succession, many other children after Jesus birth Both of these points, of course, are regarded as highly sacred controversial in most Church law it is essential that the Mother of God be stripped of her sexuality, and it has long been denied, mostly by the Catholic church, that Mary gave birth to any other children besides Jesus Throughout the novel, Jesus questions himself, his status as the son of God, the idea that he may be the Messiah of the Jewish people, and even God s own divine plan revealed to Jesus as a stunning display of hubris, arrogance, and selfishness but always remains steadfast in his devotion to Mary Magdalene, with whom he lives freely and openly in a sexual relationship outside the bonds of marriage, and whom he treats as equally as any man The book makes clear from page one the wretchedly inferior status of women in ancient Judaic times Saramago points out something that many modern Christians tend to forget, in their re branding of God as a benevolent Father Protector Wish Granter the God of the ancient Jews and the Old Testament was a complete prick If God singled you out for his special attention, that was just as frightening as his anger toward you He pissed in Job s face, played keep away with Moses and the Promised Land, turned Lot s wife into a pillar of salt simply for showing a bit of momentary concern for her neighbors, and totally Punk d Abraham about that whole son sacrificing thing, with all the equal amounts of jealousy and wrath that Old Testament God is famous for.
Of course Satan makes an appearance as a character, but Saramago fashions him as a muchinteresting, multifaceted figure, possessed of depth, humor, and perhaps not as evil as he s often cast He and God are posited to be old friends, not necessarily enemies, and in a co dependent relationship of sorts in an arrangement to preserve the others power A very morally religiously complex and long chapter is devoted to this balance of power, and for me was the climax of the novel while God is telling Jesus of the horrific events that will occur in his name, Saramago devotes four pages of God s dialogue to alphabetically listing the names of martyred saints and the graphically violent ways in which they were killed for their belief The prose is beautiful, but Saramago s authorial imprint and style is his distinct lack of quotation marks in dialogue, and lack of paragraph breaks during dialogue between characters It can be difficult to follow, particularly in situations withthan two characters speaking This is highly recommended for believers and non believers alike.
I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO SLIP SOME BENZEDRINE INTO THIS GUY S COFFEEThis is a very peculiar novel I m not quite sure what the hell it is Some of it reads like deleted scenes from Monty Python s Life of Brian Now be off with you, said God, for I have work to do and can t stay here chatting all dayOrMary Is there any proof that it was the Lord s seed which engendered my first born Angel Well, it s a delicate matter, and what you re demanding is nothing less than a paternity test The rest of it is a whole lot of mumbling, bumbling, fumbling, irritating, rambling, moaning, groaning, huffing and puffing by a narrator who appears to be some ancient old codger who is a shoo in for the world finals of the Most Boring Man in the World contest And the rewrite of the familiar tale of Jesus is so comprehensive that half way through the book Jesus is only 13 and two thirds through he is still only 18 So it s very different AUTHOR VERSUS READER DING DING, ROUND ONEIs there any need for this or are we in the land of pretentious literary wankeryJose Saramago serves us up massive slabs of undifferentiated prose, page after page he ends a paragraph with extreme reluctance, it s like pulling teeth with Jose, it s like asking John Lee Hooker to change chords Every paragraph is one or two pages long As for indicators of dialogue, forget it, pal, you re on your own The dialogue is run into the giant paragraphs as part of the ongoing flow, and the lines of dialogue are not separated by anything helpful like he said or she said, and not even by full stops, only commas, maybe there was a full stop shortage in Portugal in the late 1980s I never heard about that, you might think it would have made the news Crates of full stops are still being held up at Lisbon airport as the dispute enters its 9th week Anyway, these stylistic choices make the reading a whole lotannoying and turgid than it might be AUTHOR VERSUS READER DING DING, ROUND TWOAs well as being an old fart, the narrator is a misogynist Joseph wondered if he should ask Mary if the pains were still there, but in the end said nothing, for we must not forget that this whole process is unclean from the moment of impregnation until the moment of birth, that horrific female organ, vortex and abyss, the seat of all the world s evils, an inner labyrinth, blood, sweat, discharges, gushing waters, revolting afterbirth, dear God, how can you permit Your beloved children to be born from such impurityWORLD S MOST BORING MAN A FEW EXAMPLES In the first place, there are Samaritans and Samaritans, which means that even at that time one swallow was not enough to make a summer, one needed two, that is to say, two swallows rather than summers, provided there is a fertile male and female and they have offspring Suddenly a beggar appeared at the yard gate, a somewhat rare occurrence in this village where people were poor, a fact unlikely to have escaped the begging fraternity which had a nose for places where there were rich pickings for the asking, and this was certainly not the case here As for possessions, the only thing Joseph and Job had in common was the number of sons Job had seven sons and three daughters, while Joseph had seven sons and two daughters, giving the carpenter the advantage of having put one woman less into the world And there s no denying that it is one thing to feed two mouths, then a third, even if only indirectly during the first year, and quite another to find oneself saddled with a houseful of children who demandandfood once they start growing This narrator even knows perfectly well how dull he is Four years hence, Jesus will meet God This unexpected revelation, which is probably premature according to the rules of effective narration mentioned earlier, is simply intended to prepare the reader for some everyday scenes from pastoral life which will add little of substance to the main thread of our story, thus excusing any reader who might be tempted to jump ahead WAIT COULD IT BE THAT THIS NARRATOR IS SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE A VILLAGE ELDER FROM THE PERIOD THAT WOULD EXPLAIN ALL THE BORING RAMBLINGBut no, this logical explanation is wrecked by comments like the following It may seem wholly inappropriate to put the complex theories of modern thinkers into the head of a Palestinian who lived so many years before Freud, Jung, Groddeck and Lacan appeared on the scene the only reason why that same Goliath did not become a basketball player is because he was born before his timeMaybe this narrator is deliberately unstable, unpindownable That would be a nice copout for Jose Yes, it doesn t make too much sense, but that s all calculated Why Er, I dunno THIS NOVEL MIGHT BE A TONGUE IN CHEEK ATHEIST SATIRE ON RELIGIONBecause the concept of God as dished out by the old fart narrator is ridiculously primitive It appears that in this world God has to negotiate his turf with other gods, and also, in this world, if you are ill it is because you have sinned Both these ideas can be found in the Bible of course, but at least by the time of Jesus Jewish thought had evolved to the point where they believed that there were no other Gods except the one God Here s a few things the narrator says about God For in truth, there are things God himself does not understand, even though he created them.
As God warned Eve after she sinned, I will greatly multiply your suffering and your conception, in sorrow you will bring forth children, and after centuries of sorrow and suffering, God is not yet appeased and the agony goes on.
At that time life was hard for the poor and God could not be expected to provide for everyone Jesus interrogates Him at one point Being God, You must know everything.
Up to a certain point, only up to a certain point.
What point is that The point where it starts to become interesting to pretend that I know nothing So sometimes it s like this is all clearly a cheeky satire on religion, and sometimes the intractable concepts of God, salvation, sin and so on are presented as hard painful fact THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOSE SARAMAGO Note sort of spoilers follow The version of the story of Jesus we get here is a whole different thing from the actual gospels The single event which dominates the first half of the book is something which is mentioned in only one Gospel Matthew and dismissed in three verses, the Massacre of the Innocents When Herod realised that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old or under Joseph discovers Herod s intention, rescues Mary and his own infant son Jesus, and after they make it back to Nazareth he is consumed by terrible remorse why did he not warn the families of Bethlehem when he could Why did he selfishly only rescue his own child When Jesus learns about this he believes he takes on his father s guilt, and he becomes obsessed He leaves his family aged 13 and joins up with a shepherd, then later with some fishermen where he discovers he has magical powers over fish yes I am not making this up, Saramago is, basing it on one of the gospel miracles But in this book, Jesus makes his living for four years by controlling the fish in the Sea of Galilee Then Jesus meets Mary Magdalene, a prostitute, and they fall in love and start travelling round together as man and wife He encounters God a couple of times and finally gets God to tell him that he is God s one and only Son, and that God has a task for him, which is to die a martyr s death so that his followers can spread the word And what is the point of it all To help me become God ofpeople says God I thought Blindness was a stone 5 star classic, in which the difficult narration perfectly mirrored the desperate difficult plight of the characters, but this Gospel just struck me as very loopy and probably not worth the amount of concentration required to plough through all the unrelenting density.
,, ,, , , , , , ,, ,, , ,, , ,, , ,, , , ,,, , ,,, , , , , , , , , , 10 10 10 10Readathon 2017 23 80 This is a bold fearless work and definitely not for the faint hearted readers I am not surprised that when this was originally published in 1991, it created lots of controversies with the Catholic Church condemning Jose Saramago for harboring anti religious vision and his own Portuguese government asking the European Literary Prize to remove this from its shortlist because of the book s offensive content to religion Despite this book s existence, Saramago won the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature.
This is my third Saramago Blindness, Double were my others and my fourth book in what seems to be an unnamed genre re telling of the life of Jesus Christ Last year I read The Last Temptation of Christ 1960 by Nikos Kazantzakis and Christ the Lord Out of Egypt 2005 and Christ the Lord The Road to Cana 2008 by Anne Rice In my book, Temptation came first and I am glad I read it first so the idea of twisting the canons by a mere mortal who lived in our generation is not new translation not shocking For me, Anne Rice s books now seem to be just afterthoughts of these two works.
But why re tell the life of Jesus Christ Because of the mysterious gap in his younger years Because of the weakening fate of the believers Becauseandpeople are now turning into atheism or other religions This depends on what we believe or what each of us was taught to believe when we were younger However, since this book is about the life of Jesus Christ who s being venerated bythan half of the people in the world, then I don t want to dwell on religion I am leaving this kind of discussion on faith to some other forums like my review on my long staying currently read book The Holy Bible Revised Standard Edition that I started reading in September last year and currently in The Book of Ezekiel and hope to finish all books before the end of this year.
I picked this book because I loved the two works of Saramago Also, it is Lenten Season and I thought that a Nobel laureate like him would not blaspheme, paint false pictures or mock Jesus Christ Yes, he did those in this book I almost wanted to say that this should rather be called The Gospel According to Jose Saramago but for me, it is disrespectful to a great mind like him After all, he is already dead, was an atheist and a writer so it is not nice for a mere literary enthusiast like me to criticize a dead person who can no longer defend himself , argue with his beliefs as he did not believe on any god and said to be a pessimist and he can invoke poetic devise twisting facts for the sake of telling a grappling story In other words, he had or has all the right to come up with a work like this and his cries for oppression due to censorship when the Portuguese government or the Catholic Church called for banning of this are, in my opinion, all uncalled for Jesus having sex with Mary Magdalene in the whorehouse without the blessing of marriage The demon asking Jesus to use a sheep for sexual release An angel posing as a beggar during the Annunciation scene The same beggar angel walking with Mary to Bethlehem provoking jealousy to the doubting Joseph Three shepherds instead of 3 kings visiting the family in the Bethlehem Joseph crucified and dying on the cross mistaken as a zealot Jesus seeing God in the desert Jesus riding on the boat with the God and the Devil These are some of the shocking deviations from the story that Saramago imagined and incorporated to come up with an irreverent, profound, skeptical, funny, heretical, deeply philosophical, provocative and compelling work Source Harold Robbin who says that this is his favorite work of Saramago So far, I agree.
So, how do you rate a book with a disgusting content yet beautifully written Think J G Ballard s Crash, Marquis de Sade s 120 Days of Sodom or Bret Easton Ellis American Psycho or even Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov The first time I read them, I was totally disgusted and hated them to the max Now I realized I missed the whole point They are really written to shock so their authors can bring the message to the table.
So, what message does The Gospel According to Jesus Christ want us to realize For me, it is beyond further humanizing Jesus Christ It iswhat choices, regardless whether he is man, god or a their combination, he had before he said yes to his Father for being the sacrificial lamb to propagate Christianity in the world Butthan the message, one thing that I enjoyed reading this book is its storytelling style Many parts are totally hilarious and that style when Saramago directly addressing the reader and he opens your thought by throwing contemporary works and philosophy is just awesome I have never seen this in any of the works of novelists whose books I so far sampled I am rating this with a 4 I really liked it but will probably not recommend this to anyone I d rather that they decide for themselves If they are as open minded as my friend and reading buddy Angus, then I would say go If not, then check how strong is your faith as Saramago can sway you to question your long held beliefs It s like having an clever, sweet talker and well read atheist in your Bible reading group come one Sunday and he starts questioning what is written in the gospel but he is not obnoxious because he knows what he is talking about If you are still in Cathecism 101, don t ever dare open this book.
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, ,, ,, , 389 429, ,,, , thought, when all is said and done, as others and we ourselves have observed before, is like a great ball of thread coiled around itself, loose in places, taut in others, inside our head It is impossible to know its full extent, one would have to unwind and then measure it, but however hard one tries or pretends to try, this cannot be done without assistance One day, someone will come and tell us where to cut the cord that ties man to his navel and thought to its origin.
Jos Saramago is exactly that someone He came to retell us the greatest story of all times and to put our thoughts straight or at least to make them less wry human words are like shadows, and shadows cannot explain light, and between shadow and light stands the opaque body from which words are born.
Who is Jesus Is he god or man Or did he get stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea For God he is just a cat s paw and for Devil he is just a decoy He tries to set rules but he is just a toy played in a higher heavenly games forgetting is all too easy, that is life.
In the end any actual human life becomes forgotten and sinks into oblivion And only myths and legends are eternal.
The devil is given the name of Pastor This has caused some confusion for English readers When I was reading the book with some Jesuits this person contacted them just to let them know as a good Christian I assume how blasphemous was to name the devil pastor It took me 30 minutes to explain that person that Pastor does not means priest, but rather it comes from the Latin word pastor meaning shepherd Now did he use the word shepherd on purpose Yes, what is the devil but a shepherd of men leading them to hell, just as Jesus is a fisherman of men In the book Pastor is the most humanitarian, therepented, so repented that when asked to be forgiven a clear distinction between right and wrong has to be made so God decides not to forgive him because what is a good God without evil Saramago decides there cannot be one without the other.
The characters in the book are fascinating my Jesuits friends and I laughed and enjoy this book There were no doubts in our head by the end of the book We did not feel like it shook our religion or affected the way we perceived God This book was after all under fiction so everyone that is easily offended stay away from this book and stop complaining about blasphemy and crying around like little kids Saramago is a Nobel price winner and foremost a grown man that is entitled to his own opinions This one of his finest, if not the best, of his book in my opinion, a must read.
This Is A Skeptic S Journey Into The Meaning Of God And Of Human Existence At Once An Ironic Rendering Of The Life Of Christ And A Beautiful Novel, Saramago S Tale Has Sparked Intense Discussion About The Meaning Of Christianity And The Church As An Institution Translated By Giovanni Pontiero