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Author Topic: Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago  (Read 6637 times)
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« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2009, 08:01:44 PM »

I'm pleased to see it's flowing along quite smoothly.

I'm finding this too. It's incredibly strange that a piece of prose, which seems to stick two fingers up at standards for story structure and how it should be represented on a page, is delivering a decent and smooth read. In my mind there is no sense why this should be so, but it is. And so far it works for me.

I am now confused, but that has nothing to do with the story, just why such an alien (to me) format is working so well. Hey ho.

However, there is a downside to this format, that I'm finding, and that is when book marking a page, finding where one left off takes slightly longer than usual.

But, comparatively, I had the same problem with Peter Straub's Ghost story which is structured exactly as one would expect.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2009, 08:15:51 PM by Woody » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: October 10, 2009, 09:54:29 AM »

I'm on page 45 and have to say that I'm surprised that the narrator (both of them it seems, translator and author) have decided to pop in to the story and say sorry for not making something about the characters, in earlier passages, clear! Not an omni-present narrator but a present narrator - very different indeed.
I must say I'm not to keen on this as the explanation that "poor folk" can't really afford a mule and cart and that the "poor folk" aren't in fact that poor - and this is why they have a mule and cart, is not really necessary. I didn't pick up on this and to pop into the story like that (author intrusion) doesn’t add anything for me.

I don't think you can bring the translator into this at all. It's not like she can change the author's words and explain something he didn't! Her job was to take the Portuguese and turn it into English, trying to retain as much as possible of the original "flavor" despite differences in idioms and slang between the languages. I'm not that familiar with Portuguese, but given the level of vocabulary used (matutinal, anyone?), and the lack of awkwardness of the sentence structure, I'd say she did a terrific job.

No, this problem is all on the author. It's big-time author intrusion, and more of the arrogance Ed was talking about, in my opinion. Saramago happily writes along, fails to supply some details that would help the reader to understand the economic situation his characters are in, then says, "Oh, by the way, I forgot to point this out earlier, but..." when all he had to do was revise his manuscript if he *really* wanted us to understand their situation earlier. This unnamed fictitious country is based loosely on Portugal, I believe (although it is landlocked, where Portugal is not), and if I'm not mistaken, truly poor people in Portugal would NOT have a mule and a cart. (Truly poor people probably wouldn't have a house of their own, either.) So he's telling us about this family and then it's almost as if he's afraid someone will call him out about whether "poor" people have mules and carts or not so he spends time clarifying. Bizarre.

The example you point out is not the last one, either. There are other authorial intrusions coming up where he does similar things. (I got to page 170 the first weekend, read another 25 pages the next weekend, and have not picked it up since.) It's irritating and unnecessary, and neither you nor I could get away with it. Apparently once you win the Nobel Prize in literature you can do whatever the hell you want.
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« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2009, 05:44:37 PM »

I don't think you can bring the translator into this at all.

The only reason I posited this thought was because, when this circumstance happens, the narrator intrusion, whoever the writing can be attribute to, talks of "we". But this is a minor point - I can't claim to know the writer's mind and it's just my understanding of what the conjunctive meant. It could something else entirely.

Apart from that I think all your points are apt, barring the observation that the author has been arrogant. I don't know the guy, I can't possibly know his psychology and to make a judgement of a writer's self view, based on a piece of fiction is flawed. Possibly he is arrogant. For me, I would hold off making that judgement until I'd read a transcript of any interviews he made have had.

This begs the question; can you judge the psyche of a writer solely based on their writings?

If the understanding of my psyche was based on a subset of my written work then the view could easily be formed that I’m some kind of suicidal nutter – which I’m not; I truly enjoy life. And part of that enjoyment is writing bleak and dark stuff, it makes me laugh.

So, can we really say this author is arrogant because of this particular style of writing in this particular story? I think not. IMHO.
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« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2009, 06:44:32 PM »

Okay. It's beaten me - so much author intrusion I am now no longer bothered to discover the outcome. I will pick it up again and battle on through, but when the term "spirit" was initially used to mean "an attitude" and after a page the context of its meaning turned towards an "incorporeal being" that was related to water somehow, and as far as I could tell had nothing to do with the story's premise, I quickly picked up my Dean Koontz interrupted and uninterrupted it.

That aside, the style was intriguing and an eye opener. I think this book could be slotted into the literary fiction camp quite easily. (see: http://www.cafedoom.com/forum/index.php?topic=2938.msg30839#msg30839)
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« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2009, 08:24:42 PM »

Must admit I'm struggling with it, and haven't picked it up for a while. Just haven't been in the right frame of mind for it lately. undecided
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« Reply #20 on: November 11, 2009, 03:13:52 PM »

mustn't have my stuff here, ed keeps it.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 07:35:14 PM by Woody » Logged

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