José Saramago – new book: quadrilingual 2nd launch in Lisbon, 11 November 2005

Jose Saramago’s new novel, ‘As Intermitências da Morte’, was launched in Portugal on 11 November 2005, at the Teatro São Carlos in Lisbon. There is a preview (in Portuguese) at: ** The book had already had its world premiere in Brazil, on 27 October (see entry in this blog for 6 November). However, this launch was something special too, as it marked the simultaneous presentation of the Nobel laureate’s novel not only on his home ground of Portugal but also the Spanish-, Catalan-, and Italian-speaking worlds. The Portuguese, peninsular Spanish, Catalan, Mexican, Argentinian, Colombian and Italian editions of the book were all presented simultaneously to join the Brazilian edition.** Extracts from the novel were read out in Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan and Italian – the last three by the respective translators, Pilar del Río (who is Saramago’s wife and lives with him on Lanzarote in the Canaries), Xavier Pàmies and Rita Desti. The passages in Portuguese were read by Bárbara Guimarães, a Portuguese presenter, and the Brazilian actress Cristiane Torloni. ** Three points may be made. First, this was a remarkable feast of pan-Latinity, with four Romance-speaking communities present and only the French- and Romanian-speaking communities absent. Second, Saramago and his publishers should be congratulated on getting no less than three translations out so fast. Third, the active presence of the translators at this launch is an exemplary case of what Translation Studies knows as the visibility of the translator – a concept much bandied about but still more often heard than seen. ** Congratulations to José Saramago and to all concerned, and now for the readers’ and critics’ responses to what will most certainly prove a challenging and disturbing book for our times!** For interviews with Saramago on the new book, see (in Spanish): EL PAÍS (Madrid), 12 November 2005,, and EL COMERCIO (Lima), 13 November 2005,** PHOTOS: I add, for the occasion, some images of Saramago’s Lisbon – historical-picturesque à la ‘Memorial do Convento’, or sad and impersonal in tune with the mood of ‘Todos os Nomes’ or ‘A Caverna’** You can see: the arcades at Praça da Figueira; a pawnshop (casa de Penhores) near Avenida da Liberdade; an edge-of-town cityscape with modern apartment blocks; and the interior of the Museum of the Azulejo (dedicated to Portuguese tiles) at the Madredeus church.


NOTE added 28 Jan 09: the English title  of the novel (tr. Margaret Jull Costa, 2008) is DEATH AT INTERVALS.

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