(((EPUB))) ↵ Raised from the Ground ☔ PDF eBook or Kindle ePUB free

Some lives are erasedcompletely than others, but that s only because we have so many things to think about, we end up not noticing those lives until there comes a day when we regret our neglect, I was wrong, we say, I should have paidattention, exactly, if only we d had those feelings earlier, but these are merely twinges of remorse that arise and, fortunately, are almost immediately forgotten In this singular and visceral literary style of unending thought streams and interchangea Some lives are erasedcompletely than others, but that s only because we have so many things to think about, we end up not noticing those lives until there comes a day when we regret our neglect, I was wrong, we say, I should have paidattention, exactly, if only we d had those feelings earlier, but these are merely twinges of remorse that arise and, fortunately, are almost immediately forgotten In this singular and visceral literary style of unending thought streams and interchangeable perspectives, where proper nouns are sometimes abandoned and thoughts cascade into a cacophony of dialogue without quotations only capital letters to signal speaker change , where uninterrupted sentences flow into paragraphs of non linear thought, and characters are introduced at the intersection of commas, Saramago introduced me to the chaos that was Portugal, during Salazar s reign during the late 1960s, and at the onset of the Portuguese revolution I sat in the Lisbon he described, walked the Rua Augusta the Mau Tempos walk when they first embark upon the city, and I envisioned their trepidationso many people, so much traffic, and we re not used to walking on pavements, we keep slipping and sliding in our fear of the trams, and you two fall over, which makes Lisbonites laugh, What bumpkins, they cryWe end up not noticing those lives, so Saramago writes about them Each chapter is ingrained with the tribulation of the worker, during World War I and II, each section an encapsulation of beauty interspersed with pain so much so that it forces you to listen closely to the beat of each line, enjoying the humor that also follows as you trail the Mau Tempo family for several generations Amid shapeliness of prose and some abstract renderings of theory, a story exudes, where workers are jailed for asking for eight hour workdays instead of the dawn to dusk they re required to work , they re jailed for striking against hostile work environments, tortured for simply being handed communist pamphlets by street pushers although they can t read and don t even understand the words It was interesting to learn that this is considered one of Saramago s most autobiographical and deeply personal novelthere is no poetry in this, we d like to see someone make a sonnet out of one man losing his grip on his axe and watching it skitter down the branch, catching the bark as it falls, and impaling itself in a bare foot, coarse and grubby, but so fragile, because when it comes to skin and the blade of an axe, there is little difference between the delicate, rosy foot of some cultivated maiden and the calloused hoof of a cork cutter, it takes the same time for the blood to spurt out With quite a few options of Saramago s books to read, I chose this one after I d visited an eminent literary locale in Portugal and asked about books on the Salazar dictatorship, only to later wonder at the bemused expressions of a few people who worked there One suggested I search the internet another surprise because hello, we were surrounded by books, research, and culture Curious, especially since this same location had been receptive to my group prior, I went to the internet and this New York Times article helped placed things into perspective I don t necessarily recommend that this be the first Saramago novel one reads, but it should definitely be a Saramago novel one reads for its emotional truths and historical renderings of perspectives rarely highlighted (((EPUB))) ⇫ Raised from the Ground ↜ First published in , Saramago s prizewinning novel Raised from the Ground follows the changing fortunes of the Mau Tempo family poor, landless peasants not unlike the author s own grandparents Set in Alentejo, a southern province of Portugal known for its vast agricultural estates, Saramago charts the lives of the Mau Tempos as national and international events rumble on in the background the coming of the republic in Portugal, the First and Second World Wars, and an attempt on the dictator Salazar s life Yet, nothing really impinges on the grim reality of the farm labourers lives until the first communist stirringsFinally published for the first time in English, Raised from the Ground is highly political yet full of Saramago s characteristic humour and humanity, and his most autobiographical and deeply personal novel As full of love as it is of pain, it is a vivid, moving tribute to the men and women among whom Saramago lived as a child, and a fascinating insight into the early work of this literary giant Raised from the Ground, by Nobel Prize winning author Jos Saramago is a mid career novel 1980 that has only just been translated into English It s a beautiful, life affirming book that gives voice to a segment of society that very rarely is heard.The novel is said to be the most autobiographical of Saramago s fiction, because it s an affectionate but at times brutally realistic recreation of the lives of his grandparents who were landless peasants in rural Portugal Like the other books I ha Raised from the Ground, by Nobel Prize winning author Jos Saramago is a mid career novel 1980 that has only just been translated into English It s a beautiful, life affirming book that gives voice to a segment of society that very rarely is heard.The novel is said to be the most autobiographical of Saramago s fiction, because it s an affectionate but at times brutally realistic recreation of the lives of his grandparents who were landless peasants in rural Portugal Like the other books I have read by this author Blindness, see my review and The Double see my review it has a political agenda, but those novels are subversive allegories, while this one is a chronological narrative of the Mau Tempo Badweather family in Alentejo, an agricultural province of Portugal It traces the family s fortunes from the formation of the Portuguese Republic in the early 20th century to the demise of the dictator Salazar in the mid 1970s.As Ursula Le Guin says in her review for The Guardian, it is rare for the poor and oppressed to write their own story, most obviously because they tend to be poorly educated I have just recently acquired a copy of Life Under Russian Serfdom The Memoirs of Savva Dmitrievich Purlevskii, 1800 68, and in his introduction the translator and editor Boris B Gorshkov mentions that it wasn t possible to retain the memoir in its original form because the author s writing skills reflected his limited education The achievement of Raised from the Ground is that Saramago s intimate knowledge of the peasant life his grandparents led, brings it alive His unique style very long sentences which segue from one speaker to another gives the impression of family and village conversations murmuring their way through tumultuous events in Portugal.Surrendering to enter the world of these characters is an unforgettable experience Raised from the Ground is sublime.To read the rest of my review please visit Raised from the Ground is a special gift, and I acknowledge it thankfully, from my co worker Niki based in Athens While we have met recently in Zagreb, she said this is a small token from a book lover to a book lover She knew from beforehand my present reading taste I tried to find her choice too but she kept total silence, so I failed to offset her gift with a similar one By consequence, this sounds like I have a spiritual debt to fulfill.As much personal this work seems to be to Saramago Raised from the Ground is a special gift, and I acknowledge it thankfully, from my co worker Niki based in Athens While we have met recently in Zagreb, she said this is a small token from a book lover to a book lover She knew from beforehand my present reading taste I tried to find her choice too but she kept total silence, so I failed to offset her gift with a similar one By consequence, this sounds like I have a spiritual debt to fulfill.As much personal this work seems to be to Saramago, I could daringly say the same for my case It s not that, as per the novel s theme, which concerns the life events in a family of very poor agricultural workers over the span of four generations, I have been a similar actor, but that I have plenty of stories shared by my grandparents, who, at least half of them, were actually in a very approximative situation landless peasants struggling to survive in a difficult social and economic environment.This beautifully enriched novel, in the usual style of Saramago, mix of sarcasm, humour, wit, harsh reality, is a story about the Portuguese and not only latifundio , some big agricultural estates, so not about the city It is about the man living on the latifundio, strong and quick on his feet, who had to slow down to accommodate to painful pain of having being raised from the dead, because each day is a struggle with illness, starvation, even death, and to cheer himself up regardless of weather, regime, people, work, etc It s about the living ghosts labourers who, when the night falls, trudge themselves up to the places where they have their lodgings in most cases far away from their actual homes Or, in the best way described precisely by the narrator, it s about the man being nothing but a latifundio rabbit, cutting cork, scything, pruning, hoeing, weeding and why do they not weary of such monotony, every day the same as the last, at least as regards the scant food and the desire to earn a little money for tomorrow, which hangs over these places like a threat, tomorrow, tomorrow is just another day, like yesterday, rather than being the hope for something new, if that s what life is In one way or another, one would need a lot of imagination to invent any extraordinary incidents or events in the life of these landless peasants, as this way of life is made up of repeated words and repeated gestures, day in, day out, because mainly the talk is about work and the working day These people work, work, work, all day and all night, and when there is no work, they demand it to all who can give them work to do, and continue with it as there is nothing else to life but work, because in the end this is the only means to gain some money It s also about the misfortunes suffered by the peasants because of the local and national guards, during times of arrests and imprisonments All in all, seemingly we must all have experienced such things and others, because life, despite being short, has room for these and many , but there are some who lived but briefly and their whole life was consumed in this one task onlyThe main hero Joao Mau Tempo is not so sure in his heart of hearts that, as per others opinion, he did set a good example in life to this own family and or others His reasons are so well justified he has spent his whole life simply earning his daily bread, and some days he doesn t even manage that, and this thought immediately forms a kind of knot inside his head, that a man should come into a world he never asked to be born into, only to experience athan normal degree of cold and hunger as a child, if there is such a thing as normal, and grow up to find that same hunger redoubled as a punishment for having a body capable of withstanding such hardship, to be mistreated by bosses and overseers, by guards both local and national, to reach the age of forty and finally speak your mind, only to be herded like cattle to the market or the slaughterhouse, to be further humiliated in prison, and to find that even freedom is a slap in the face, a crust of bread flung down on the ground to see if you ll pick it up That s what we do when a piece of bread falls onto the ground, we pick it up, blow on it as if to restore its spirit, then kiss it, but we won t eat it there and then, no, I ll divide it into four, two large pieces and two small, here you are Amelia, here you are Gracinda, this is for you and this is for me, and if anyone asks who the two larger pieces are for, he is lower than animals, because I m sure even an animal would know the parents cannot do everything They bring their children into the world, do for them the little they know how to do, and hope for the best, believing that if they re very careful, or even when they re not, for fathers often deceive themselves and think they have been attentive when they haven t, no son of theirs will become a vagabond, no daughter of theirs will be dishonoured, no drop of their blood poisoned These life stories are importantbecause they are picturesque facts that contribute to the history of the rural life and atmosphere However, the truth is rather different When a new baby is born, the gift that these people bring to is actually no gift to speak of, unless it s the ark of suffering that they carry in their heart can be considered a gift, lots and lots of years of suffering It seems rather mean and in somewhat bad taste to give such a gift to a newborn, but these men from the latifundio can only choose from what they, in turn, were given, as much sweat as one could want, enough joy to fill a toothless smile, and a plot of land large enough to devour their bones, because the rest of the land is needed for other crops.The men of the latifundio have long been accustomed to the perversities of nature and to their own mistakes They cry out the same cry every year, at every season, about every job Instead of worrying about the salvation of their immortal soul, if they have, they care only about bodily comforts, they have learned nothing from the ascetics, no, all they think about is MONEY, as per the village priest lecturing Everything is DEFECTIVE, overall.Out of my extensive reads so far on his works, it seems Saramago was a keen supporter of the communist party In his way of thinking the communists the red kite flying high in the story might have been able to provide a better solution to the lives of people living on the latifundio In my real life, the communist regime was the harshest I have experienced Fortunately, I was young enough not to be irrevocably stigmatized by it But yes, there is needed a better solution For everything that life is about Hunc et incomptis Curium capillisutilem bello tulit et Camillumsaeva paupertas et avitus apto cum lare fundus 1.12 As I read Saramago s beautiful but lamentable book, I remembered Horace s Odes In particular his imagery of the latifundia or the large estates owned by the ancestral landowners that used the slaves to get the most of the land back in the Roman era Fast forward 1900 years to Portugal The plight is still the same The landless farmer peasant is raised generation after generation Hunc et incomptis Curium capillisutilem bello tulit et Camillumsaeva paupertas et avitus apto cum lare fundus 1.12 As I read Saramago s beautiful but lamentable book, I remembered Horace s Odes In particular his imagery of the latifundia or the large estates owned by the ancestral landowners that used the slaves to get the most of the land back in the Roman era Fast forward 1900 years to Portugal The plight is still the same The landless farmer peasant is raised generation after generation to work the land of these large estates Life is cruel, hard and a complete struggle and yet the latifundio is everything People meet, fall in love, get married, have children and complete the cycle all over Saramago calls it an all encompassing life that nourishes and a a sea that continues to roll on A world within itself There are joys but many hardships The people know of little else They take each day as it comes.Saramago s language is poetic in tone and yet easily distracted The narator tells the story of the Mau Tempo family who lived through the early 20th century As the name implies Bad Time , they live through the challenges of the Salazar dictatorship into the 1960s This is a world of polarization the wealthy land owners who think little of the workers on their fields and the growing influence of worker s rights that wanted changes for the worker This is the tension between communism and fascism that pervaded the 20th century And personal as well, since Saramago s own grandparents lived this existence.Although politics runs behind the scenes, Saramago s empathy for the poor worker is never didactic nor heavy handed Instead, it s fluid, taking on a rambling, almost folksy narative The characters are real, yet are puppets in this big scheme of the latifundio It is easy to care for them and even though one feels like things will end badly for them, you have faith that Saramago will steer them in a better direction Gloomy and depressing At times Startling and revealing Oh, most definitely One reads this book and thinks, hey that wasn t that long ago in Portugal How did they come so far Stamina And a lot of faith.I found it mesmerizing and powerful This book was first published in 1980 but only translated in English in 2012 It shows what a master writer Saramago was one of the late nobel laureate s earlier novels, raised from the ground levantado do ch owas originally published in saramago s native portuguese in 1980 but has only now been posthumously translated into english set in the alentejo region of portugal, the novel follows three generations of the mau tempo family on the latifundio a large, mostly agrarian estate as they toiled away in the wheatfields despite enduring rural poverty, financial insecurity, class divisions, punishing labor, and one of the late nobel laureate s earlier novels, raised from the ground levantado do ch owas originally published in saramago s native portuguese in 1980 but has only now been posthumously translated into english set in the alentejo region of portugal, the novel follows three generations of the mau tempo family on the latifundio a large, mostly agrarian estate as they toiled away in the wheatfields despite enduring rural poverty, financial insecurity, class divisions, punishing labor, and the punitive caprices of overseer, church, and state, the mau tempos sought to lead fulfilling lives only to be thwarted often by any number of seemingly ceaseless hardships saramago s own grandparents jer nimo josefa were illiterate and landless peasants and served obviously as inspiration for both raised from the ground s plot and its lively characters in his nobel prize lecture, saramago described his grandfather as the wisest man i ever knew during the same speech, in talking about this very novel, he continued, and it was with such men and women risen from the ground, real people first, figures of fiction later, that I learned how to be patient, to trust and to confide in time, that same time that simultaneously builds and destroys us in order to build and onceto destroy us raised from the ground is one of saramago s most plaintive and personal tales, with strong characters as much at the whim of external forces as any in his other novels beginning around the late 1800s and spanning the better part of a century through the coup that deposed salazar, the story follows the family s generations as each strives to overcome the past and seek for themselves a life easier than the ones their forebears knew forever facing the misfortunes and daily humiliations that marked their years including the ongoing threat of violence and imprisonment , the mau tempos endeavored, and, quite literally, labored for their lives.of all of his novels, it is within raised from the ground that saramago most thinly veils his opinions about politics as individuals including one of the mau tempos attempt to organize on behalf of latifundio workers throughout the region, they are met with immediate repression and draconian reprisals when the tenets of communism begin to gain in popularity, both the state and church implement tactics of fear and oppression to stifle the growing opposition saramago shades his novel with allusions to actual historical events including, most notably, the carnation revolution that ushered in an entirely new era of portuguese cultural and political life.throughout raised from the ground, saramago explores many of the themes that would so singularly characterize and bring great acclaim to his later works his unique grammatical and prose stylings are present, but are somewhat less masterfully asserted as they would come to be in subsequent novels inways than one, raised from the ground bears similarity to the writings of john steinbeck, a fellow author for whom the politics of labor were not so easily divorced from everyday life raised from the ground is a beautiful, however sorrowful, novel the likes of which saramago was so adept at creating from his humble beginnings to the pinnacle of literary accomplishment, saramago appeared to approach his life with dignity, compassion, and a yearning for justice three qualities to be found in abundance within this timeless tale of the human condition.although most of his books have been available in english for some time, there still remains a fair amount of as yet unrendered works well deserving of translation including poetry, diaries, short stories, a children s book, and at least two novels earlier this year, claraboia, a lost saramago novel written nearly 60 years ago, was published for the first time in both portuguese and spanish and is likely slated for an english translation fans of his remarkable career that have not yet done so are strongly encouraged to seek out miguel gon alves mendes s 2010 documentary jos y pilar, a gorgeous, touching film about saramago and his wife, pilar del rio every day has its story, a single minute would take years to describe, as would the smallest gesture, the careful peeling away of each word, each syllable, each sound, not to mention thoughts, which are things of great substance, thinking about what you think or thought or are thinking, and about what kind of thought it is exactly that thinks about another thought, it s never ending beautifully rendered into english by saramago s long time translator, margaret jull costa Full disclosure I love almost everything Saramago writes Lines like Lord in heaven, why can you not see these things, these men and women who, having invented a god, forgot to give him eyes, or perhaps did so on purpose, because no god is worthy of his creator, and should not, therefore, see him are musical and profound Saramago s ability to be both a crafter of beautiful sentences and a revealer of deep truths makes him a unique writer This book has a fewparagraphs and periods than Full disclosure I love almost everything Saramago writes Lines like Lord in heaven, why can you not see these things, these men and women who, having invented a god, forgot to give him eyes, or perhaps did so on purpose, because no god is worthy of his creator, and should not, therefore, see him are musical and profound Saramago s ability to be both a crafter of beautiful sentences and a revealer of deep truths makes him a unique writer This book has a fewparagraphs and periods than many of his others, which I enjoyed Bonus I learned something about the history of Portugal It is such a royal feast to read something by Saramago His stories are not unique by subject they are unique by approach There is no plot, nor action it is just history or life facts retold with his unmistakable style and words Whether is apocryphal or real doesn t matter what matters is that they are so full of life, always spiced with fine humor and irony And this book here makes no exception structured as a bildungsroman, it tells the story of Mau Tempo family, during the harsh years It is such a royal feast to read something by Saramago His stories are not unique by subject they are unique by approach There is no plot, nor action it is just history or life facts retold with his unmistakable style and words Whether is apocryphal or real doesn t matter what matters is that they are so full of life, always spiced with fine humor and irony And this book here makes no exception structured as a bildungsroman, it tells the story of Mau Tempo family, during the harsh years of early mid 1900s till the Portuguese revolution from April 1974 sad, somber, yet so lively and spirited One of Saramago s finest works Jose Saramago was an iconoclast s iconoclast, earning his acerbic view of society, government and mankind as the child of landless Portuguese agricultural workers during the Salazar dictatorship Raised from the Ground is an impressionistic account of a family in an agricultural community in a way it is the inverse of all the novels about upper class families losing their economic and social grip that are a persistent theme across the world Buddenbrooks , The Leopard , even China s The Jose Saramago was an iconoclast s iconoclast, earning his acerbic view of society, government and mankind as the child of landless Portuguese agricultural workers during the Salazar dictatorship Raised from the Ground is an impressionistic account of a family in an agricultural community in a way it is the inverse of all the novels about upper class families losing their economic and social grip that are a persistent theme across the world Buddenbrooks , The Leopard , even China s The Dream of Red Chambers But among Saramago s case, it is less a matter of scions failing to live up to the family grandeur than of poor men trying to claw their way out of the family poverty The land and the struggle to make something of it struggle in the sense of class war, since Saramago was a communist, although, in accordance with his nature, an iconoclastic one are what matters here Not that there aren t vivid characters here, from the doomed drunk who stands at the head of the family to his children and their wives The landowning oppressors are deliberately confounded, all of their names almost interchangeable, ending in berto Lamberto, Norberto, and the like And the police and soldiers who do their brutal bidding are somewhatindividual, since Saramago is so passionate about those who have nothing, even if they become enforcers for the regime Saramago s energy in creating this world is boundless and breathless, stretching back in time to the original conquest and rape literally of the peasants, and all around this small world He has little use for the conventions of fiction in any realm, not just paragraphing and punctuation, which makes reading him feel a little like shooting the rapids One of the most riveting sections is a beating of a character who does not otherwise figure in the novel In an age when we can see depictions of extreme violence on television, Saramago finds a way to give a scene of a beating a power far beyond that of any horror film it is narrated from the perspective of an ant that sees the impact of the bodies without understanding, and for a moment, even for a moment by water that happens to be on the scene Saramago, whether inserting a brief trope about the past or detouring for a moment into the life of an ancillary character, is all about immediacy, about making these peasants, their hunger, their desires, their primitive efforts to organize, and the punishment meted out to them, intensely vivid, to the point that the novel seems less to end than to cease inspiring him to continue Look, I like fiction that teaches me about history and deals with social issues, and I don t mind a bit of stylistic experimentation But I have my limits This so called novel is about 30% story, 10% flights of fancy and 60% unsourced treatise on labor relations in 20th century Portugal Several generations of a peasant family are dirt poor, doing backbreaking labor from sunrise to sunset for rich landowners who may or may not pay enough to keep their families from starvation As the decades go Look, I like fiction that teaches me about history and deals with social issues, and I don t mind a bit of stylistic experimentation But I have my limits This so called novel is about 30% story, 10% flights of fancy and 60% unsourced treatise on labor relations in 20th century Portugal Several generations of a peasant family are dirt poor, doing backbreaking labor from sunrise to sunset for rich landowners who may or may not pay enough to keep their families from starvation As the decades go on the workers become increasingly engaged in a struggle for better wages and hours The landowners, government and Catholic Church unite to keep the workers down, the landowners refusing to raise wages and calling in the police at any sign of labor unrest the government particularly under the Salazar dictatorship responding violently to strikes and arresting and torturing suspected organizers and the local priests preaching acceptance of their lot to the peasants and getting cozy with the landowners.Which is a fine backdrop for a story, but here the history is at the forefront the book isn t about its characters but rather the overall state of workers rights and oppression at the time Whole chapters don t include anyone we ve even met, but describe the torture and death of an unknown laborer much of it from the anthropomorphized perspective of the ants in the room , or elaborate on an extended metaphor comparing the latifundio to an ocean Meanwhile the appearances of the protagonists from the Mau Tempo family are about putting a face on the workers poverty, subjugation and slow empowerment, rather than any excitement in their personal lives The plot of the book is the story of the rural Portuguese peasantry in general and not anything going on with these individuals I couldn t help wondering, since Saramago was clearly muchinterested in the history than the fiction, if he chose to write an impressionistic fictional story rather than the seeminglynatural nonfiction account in part because it allowed him to avoid the work of marshaling all the required facts and figures Or maybe I m being unfair and he was simply using his soapbox as a famous author to hold forth on the issues that mattered to him, and fictional conventions be damned.Meanwhile, the writing style is experimental, full of run on sentences and paragraphs that incorporate dialogue without quotation marks Here are samples so you can see for yourselfLong live the republic So how much is the new daily rate, boss, Let s see, I pay whatever the others pay, talk to the overseer, So, overseer, how much is the daily rate, You ll earn an extra vint m, That s not enough to live on, Well, if you don t want the job, there are plentywho do, Dear God, a man could die of hunger along with his children, what can I give my children to eat, Put them to work, And if there is no work, Then don t have so many children, Wife, send the boys off to collect firewood and the girls for straw, and come to bed, Do with me as you wish, I am my master s slave, and there, it s done, I m pregnant, with child, in the family way, I m going to have a baby, you re going to be a father, I ve missed a period, That s all right, eight can starve as easily as seven Tomorrow, said Dona Clem ncia to her children, and her nieces and nephews, is New Year s Day, or so she had gleaned from the calendar, placing her hopes in the brand new year and sending her best wishes to all the Portuguese people, well, that isn t quite what she said, Dona Clem ncia has always spoken rather differently, but she s learning, we all choose our own teachers, and while these words are still hanging in the air, news comes that there has been an attack on the barracks of the third infantry regiment in Beja, now Beja is not in India or Angola or Guinea Bissau, it s right next door, it s on the latifundio, and the dogs are outside barking, though the coup was put down, they will speak of little else over the next weeks and months, so how was it possible for a barracks to be attacked, all it took was a little luck, that s all it ever takes, perhaps that s what was lacking the first time around, and no one noticed, that s our fate, if the horse carrying the messenger bearing orders to commence battle loses a shoe, the whole course of history is turned upside down in favor of our enemies, who will triumph, what bad luck And in saying this we are not being disrespectful to those who left the peace and safety of their homes and set off to try and pull down the pillars of the latifundio, though Samson and everyone else might die in the attempt, and when the dust had settled and we went and looked, we found that it was Samson who had died and not the pillars, perhaps we should have sat down under this holm oak and taken turns telling each other the thoughts we had in our head and heart, because there is nothing worse than distrust, it was good that they hijacked the Santa Maria, and the attack in Beja was good too, but no one came to ask us latifundio dogs and ants if either the ship or the attack had anything to do with us, We really value what you re doing, though we don t know who you are, but since we are just dogs and ants, what will we say tomorrow when we all bark together and you pay as little heed to us as did the owners of this latifundio you want to surround, sink and destroy It s time we all barked together and bit deep, captain general, and meanwhile check to see that your horse doesn t have a shoe missing or that you only have three bullets when you should have four Certainly Saramago is a talented writer with a strong voice, and for all the unusual choices here he brings the setting vividly to life The translation is very good, and the publishers deserve credit for a professional job, including a few brief footnotes explaining historical and cultural references that may not be self evident to a non Portuguese reader This book is not without merit, and had I come into it looking for a history of labor relations rather than a novel, perhaps I wouldn t have been so disappointed But for all Saramago s talent, for me it was a drag to read