Archive for November, 2007
On 17 November 2007 the Portuguese daily PÚBLICO carried a set of three linked articles (pp. 14-15) by Mariana Pinheiro on the 25th anniversary of José Saramago’s ‘Memorial do Convento’, the historical novel based on the building of the Convent of Mafra in the eighteenth century which has, extraordinarily, sold one million copies in Portugal alone (a 25th anniversary commemorative edition has just come out).
In the article ‘Vinte e cinco anos e um milhão de livros da memorável história de um convento’ (’25 years and one million books of the memorable history of a convent’ – p. 14), Mariana Pinheiro reminds readers that Saramago’s novel is now in its 43rd domestic edition and has been translated into 40 languages. She quotes the director of the Convent of Mafra national monument as saying that Saramago’s book has greatly increased the number of visitors to the convent, which multiplied by 63% between 1981 and 2006. The piece entitled ‘A escola e o restaurante que se inspiraram em Saramago’ (‘School and restaurant inspired by Saramago’ – p. 14) explains how the local secondary school has been renamed the José Saramago school (with Memorial do Convento now required reading on the syllabus), and how a restaurant has been founded in Mafra under the name ‘Sete-Sóis’ (‘Seven Suns’), the nickname of the character Baltasar in the book.
Finally, in ‘Um marco de incontestável importancia na literatura portuguesa’ (‘A vital reference point for Portuguese literature’ – p. 15), PÚBLICO reports on a colloquium held that same day in Mafra, and talks to the speaker Ana Paula Arnaut, of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Coimbra (author of the paper given there, ‘Memorial do Convento: a história reinventada’ – ‘Memorial do Convento: history reinvented’). She stresses the active role of the reader in Saramago’s novel, his use of language to ‘recriar os mundos’ (‘re-create worlds’), his sympathy with the exploited and the subaltern, and the novelist’s key place, as established already during his lifetime, in the history of Portuguese literature.
Ana Paula Arnaut’s important role in the study and dissemination of José Saramago’s work has earlier been mentioned elsewhere on this blog (entries for 30 May 2006 and 7 January 2007).
Now out on the Spanish market is the brand-new translation of Vikram Chandra’s epic novel of the Bombay underworld, SACRED GAMES (Barcelona: Random House-Mondadori, 2007). It appears as JUEGOS SAGRADOS, and is translated (with translator’s note and glossary) by Dora Sales Salvador, who has also co-translated Chandra’s volume of stories LOVE AND LONGING IN BOMBAY. This means that all of Chandra’s fiction, including his first novel RED EARTH AND POURING RAIN, are now available in Spanish. This translation joins the Dutch, Italian and (in two volumes) German versions of the book on the European market. Including translation projects under way, it is expected that SACRED GAMES will be available before too long in at least fourteen languages.
Acaba de salir en el mercado del Estado español la nueva traducción de SACRED GAMES (JUEGOS SAGRADOS), la novela épica del submundo de Bombay que firma Vikram Chandra (Barcelona: Random House-Mondadori, 2007). Ha sido traducida (con nota de la traductora y glosario) por Dora Sales Salvador, tambíén co-traductora del volumen de relatos de Chandra, LOVE AND LONGING IN BOMBAY (AMOR Y AÑORANZA EN BOMBAY). Esto significa que toda la obra literaria de Chandra (incluyendo su primera novela RED EARTH AND POURING RAIN – TIERRA ROJA Y LLUVIA TORRENCIAL), se halla ahora disponible en lengua castellana. Esta traducción se suma en el mercado europeo a las ya existentes versiones neerlandesa, italiana y alemana (esta última en 2 volúmenes). Con más proyectos de traducción en marcha, se espera que SACRED GAMES estará finalmente traducido en al menos catorce lenguas.
José Saramago interviewed, 28-X-07: new novel, exhibition in Lanzarote, foundation and Saramago chaiir in Granada!
The Portuguese daily DIÁRIO DE NOTÍCIAS, in its edition dated 28 October 2007, carried a lengthy interview with Portugal’s leading cultural figure, the Nobel-winning novelist José Saramago ("Entrevista – José Saramago", with José Marcelino and José Fragoso, pp. 1-5; online – in part only – at: http://www.dn.sapo.pt/2007/10/28/artes/mesmo_me_decepcoes_o_comunismo_e_con.html). The information that follows comes from p. 5 of the interview and is not not in the selection included online.
Saramago referred to his forthcoming novel, "A Viagem do Elefante" ("The Elephant’s Travels"), which he is now writing and which the 84-year-old writer says could prove to be his last book. It will, he explains, be some kind of answer to the question: "O que é que andamos aqui a fazer?" ("What are we doing here?").
He also spoke of the José Saramago Foundation, now in process of creation. Its chair will be his wife, Pilar del Río; its purpose will be to carry on his work, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as its ruling text, in both literary and other fields. He added that a José Saramago chair has been set up in Spain, at the University of Granada – not a literary chair but one in environmental sciences, which will pay special attention to the global warming issue.
The author further stated that a major exhibition on his life and work will soon be held in Lanzarote (Canary Islands), where he and Pilar live. It will be inaugurated on 23 November 2007.
It is clear that José Saramago’s legacy will indeed live on after he has left us!
‘ ‘THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK: Over a Century of the Greatest Books ..’: with contributions by my late father and myself
Just published is what one might call a ‘new concept’ literary encyclopaedia, ‘THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK: Over a Century of the Greatest Books, Writers, Characters, Passages and Events That Rocked the Literary World’, capably edited by Lucy Daniel and published in London by Cassell (2007). This is an 800-page work of reference consisting of 1000 articles by multiple hands, covering literature from more than 60 countries from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The articles focus variously on key books, writers, passages, characters and events. As well as mainstream literature, more popular genres and children’s writing are also covered.
There are two entries by my late father, Robert Rollason, and three by myself. My father’s are on two iconic modern English writers, John Betjeman (p. 442) and Anthony Powell (p. 553). My own, taking in Portugal, Italy and Australia, are: ‘Key Character: Ricardo Reis’ [Fernando Pessoa / José Saramago / Antonio Tabucchi]’, ‘Key Characters: Oscar and Lucinda [Peter Carey]’, ‘Key Book: José Saramago – Blindness’ (pp. 628, 659, 723 respectively). There are also contributions by a number of friends of mine – Letizia Alterno, Cathy Benson, Rajeshwar Mittapalli and Dora Sales Salvador.
This is an attractively produced and illustrated volume with a very high standard of contributions: the entries, though brief, are lively and informative. Everything is there, from Peter Rabbit to ‘The Waste Land’, and I particularly applaud the full coverage of such less ‘obvious’ areas as Hindi-language or Mexican writing: this ‘book of books’, though published in insular Britain, reaches out to the world and forges durable connections between apparently disparate literatures and cultures.
For more, see: