Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Jose Saramago

José Saramago, whom I remember with great affection, will be a permanent part of the Western canon. He was the first Portuguese-language writer to win the Nobel Prize and is probably best known now for Blindness — an interesting antitotalitarian allegory. His many novels have astonishing variety and sensitivity and a versatile range that embraces tragicomedy and something close to old-fashioned quest romance. My own favorites among his books include the darkly comic The Gospel According to Jesus Christ and the frightening Blindness. But I have more pleasure in returning to his deeply comic works, such as The Stone Raft, The History of the Siege of Lisbon and, most of all, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis. In all of his wonderful meditations upon the ruefulness of our lives, there is always the spirit of laughter beckoning us in the art of somehow going on. His achievement is one of the enlargements of life.

Harold Bloom

Bloom is the Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. His current book is Till I End My Song: A Gathering of Last Poems