Sunday, 16 November 2014

José Saramago: the bibliography

José Saramago celebrates his 92nd anniversary today. I’ve been so busy this year I haven’t had the time to whip up my review of The Cave yet, so just to mark the occasion here’s a selected list of Saramago bibliography you can’t get your hands on. Red means the books I own and/or read:

Lugares de ficção em José Saramago (Maria Alzira Seixo, 1999)

This is the birth of José Saramago Studies. Maria Alzira Seixo, already known for her contributions to António Lobo Antunes, can be said to have invented them when in 1987 she published a booklet on the Nobel Prize recipient called O Essencial sobre José Saramago. In 1999 she republished it with added essays and a new title. It’s a good introduction that covers the essential themes of his work.

Maravilhoso, Trágico e Sagrado em "Memorial do Convento" de José Saramago (Miguel Real, 1995)

Miguel Real (b.1953) is a novelist and literary critic with a long oeuvre on philosophy and history. This book is a small essay-book on the novel that made Saramago famous, Baltasar and Blimunda.

José Saramago: Aproximação a um Retrato (Armando Baptista-Bastos, 1996)

Baptista-Bastos (b. 1934) is a famous Portuguese journalist, known for his anti-dictatorship positions, and regular contributor to newspapers. This book, which I’m dying to acquire, is a long interview Saramago gave him.

José Saramago - O Período Formativo (Horácio Costa, 1997)

The author is a Brazilian literary critic and this book is a study of Saramago’s “maturation period;” I’m not sure what that means, but I suppose it must cover the stuff he wrote before he turned into a great novelist, that is, everything pre-Raised from the Ground.

Ler Saramago: O Romance (Beatriz Berrini, 1998)

The author is a renowned literary critic from Brazil and an expert on Eça de Queiroz. This book on Saramago contains several essays, an interview and some photos I posted before. Interesting essays include one about Fernando Pessoa and Saramago’s obsession wit him, the role of women in his work; and the interview where he describes his work as “supernatural real,” in order to escape from the magical realist tag.

Diálogos com José Saramago (Carlos Reis, 1998)

These interviews, or conversations, are some of the last he had before receiving the Nobel Prize. So they’re useful to know the man right before the great upheaval in his life.

Discursos de Estocolmo (José Saramago, 1999)

His former Publisher, Caminho, did not stoop to publishing his Nobel Prize cerimony speeches for money. I never bothered to buy them when I could, because it seemed ridiculous, and now they’re out of print.

Post-Modernismo no Romance Português Contemporâneo (Ana Paula Arnaut, 2002)

Not a book on Saramago, but he’s in it since he’s considered one of the introducers of post-modernism in the Portuguese novel. Alzira Seixo had already noticed the techniques he used that could associate him with po-mo.

José Saramago e o Alentejo (Maria Graciete Besse, 2007)

A book about the way the Alentejo region is depicted in his work. Since Raised from the Ground is my favourite Saramago novel, I need to own this.

José Saramago (Ana Paula Arnaut, 2008)

Ana Paula Arnaut (b. 1964) has come up with a short but useful introduction and guide to his work. She’s also written one on Lobo Antunes. These two rival novelists tend to attract the same scholars.

Uma Longa Viagem com José Saramago (João Céu e Silva, 2009)

This is a 400-page-long book.interview with Saramago. Since it was conducted about a year before his death, one can see it as pretty much his last statement on everything.

Conversas com José Saramago (José Carlos de Vasconcelos, 2010)

José Carlos de Vasconcelos (b. 1940) is a journalist and editor of the art and literatura newspaper Jornal de Letras, which conducted several interviews with Saramago. This booklet collects six interviews ranging from the 1980s to the early 2000s and covers novels such as The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, Seeing and Death with Interruptions.

Biografia José Saramago (João Marques Lopes, 2010)

This is a short biography on Saramago and indispensable to aficionados. It was a great help back in 2012 when I wrote a mini-biography.

Correspondência 1959-1971 (José Rodrigues Miguéis /José Saramago, 2010)

José Rodrigues Miguéis (1901-1980) was a Portuguese novelist who exiled himself in the US, where he lived for decades. Saramago met him while he was the editor at the Estúdios Cor publisher, which published Rodrigues Miguéis’ novels. It’s not an exciting correspondence, it’s very matter of fact and business related. Rodrigues Miguéis seemed to live obsessed with receiving his well-earned royalties and Saramago was constantly assuaging him because of delays. From time to time there’s insight about their lives, especially Saramago’s relationship with the intelligentsia of the time, which he did not care for very much. But one always expects letters between two men of arts to be more interesting.

Palavras para José Saramago (2011)

This posthumous anthology collects texts written about Saramago on his death. It has contributions from all over the world: Juan Gelman, former Brazilian president Lula da Silva, Moacyr Sclair, Luis Sepúlveda, controversial Spanish district attorney Baltasar Garzón, Harold Bloom, David Leavitt, Dario Fo, Umberto Eco, Roberto Saviano, Carlos Fuentes, Gael García Bernal and Mia Couto. It’s a great overview of what the world thought of him.

A Última Entrevista de José Saramago (José Rodrigues dos Santos, 2011)

Ah, good old José Rodrigues dos Santos (b. 1964): a popular journalist, anchorman, and Portugal’s Dan Brown. No, really! Our Dan, since he entertains literary ambitions and has the keys to the television car, once hosted a TV show where he discussed literature with great writers. From that resulted an interview with Saramago. The title spectacularly tells us that it’s the “last interview” he gave; I don’t know if it was.

A Estátua e a Pedra (José Saramago, 2013)

I’ve written about this book before. It’s a speech Saramago gave on his novels in the ‘90s and an excellent resource to understand his poetics of the novel.

Os Escritores (Também) têm Coisas a Dizer (Carlos Vaz Marques, 2013)

This anthology of writers’ interviews is great because it has one interview with Lobo Antunes where he accuses Saramago of being mean to him; and then has one with Saramago where he denies being mean to Lobo Antunes. It’s hilarious if you love beloved novelists at their most petulant and childish. I do, so I treasure this book, I treasure it.


  1. I'd like to learn enough Portuguese to read it in someday, and this list gives me yet another nonfiction reason to do so--esp. your description of the Saramago vs. Lobo Antunes grudge match in that last book! Nice bibliographical work, Miguel.

    1. If you can read Spanish, Portuguese shouldn't be too difficult. It's just a question of learning more vocabulary :)

  2. The only English counterpart I can think of is José Saramago (Bloom's Modern Critical Views by Harold Bloom.

    1. You should see the number of books the Spanish have written on Saramago; they're crazy over him!

  3. Thanks for this Miguel. I have been really impressed by the José Saramago books that I have read so far.

    I tend to really like these books about authors and the way that they think as well as they that they produce their art. Of course I am always torn whether to devote time towards reading the analysis and background as opposed to the original works themselves.

    1. My principle is to mix both types of reads; it's great to flesh out a writer's background. But then I've read everything by Saramago, so I just have the critical bibliography left.