José Saramago returns to school on the centenary of his birth

This content was published on 12 November 2022 – 11:01

Lisbon, Nov 12 (EFE).- José Saramago returns to school on his centenary. On the 16th, thousands of children will read excerpts from his works in schools in Portugal and Spain to commemorate the centenary of the birth of the Portuguese Nobel Prize winner.

Readings, film cycles, opera, opening of libraries, planting of olive trees are just some of the activities on the intense agenda organized to pay tribute to the most famous contemporary Portuguese writer.

The celebrations for the centenary of the author of “Essay on blindness” began a year ago, will culminate next week and have spread to Spain and other countries that marked the writer.

Born on November 16, 1922 in Azinhaga de Ribatejo -in the heart of Portugal- into a peasant family, Saramago’s was a tireless struggle against obstacles to fulfill his dream of writing.

José was Saramago by accident, because the official who registered his birth was drunk and had to write Sousa, according to “The 7 lives of José de Saramago” a recent biography that reveals some unpublished details of his life.

In his youth, he had to borrow money to buy books and kept them in the kitchen because there were no shelves or bookcases in his house.

An intellectual with firm convictions, a tireless critic, a communist and a pessimist, Saramago summed up his creative process: “I’m just someone who, when writing, limits himself to picking up a stone and looking at what’s underneath. It’s not my fault if from time to time I get monsters”, he said already consecrated when receiving one of his numerous “honoris causa”.

With “Memorial del convento” (1982), a denunciation of the exploitation of the poor, he received international recognition and an unstoppable career until “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ” (1991), censored in Portugal.

The rejection in his country took him to the Spanish island of Lanzarote, his second home.

In his legacy, titles such as “Essay on blindness”, “All names”, “Essay on lucidity”, “The cave”, “The duplicate man” or “The year of the death of Ricardo Reis”, examples of the vision of a man who approached writing “like a craftsman”, in the words of his widow, the Spanish journalist Pilar del Río.

In 1998 the Nobel Prize for Literature recognized “his ability to make an elusive reality understandable, with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony.”

An award that reconciled Portugal with the writer and that made his compatriots grow “three centimeters” of pride, said Saramago himself.

He died in Lanzarote at the age of 87 due to leukemia, leaving “Alabradas” unfinished, a story about the ethics of responsibility published after his death.

His ashes are deposited under an olive tree from Azinhaga do Ribatejo planted in front of the headquarters of the Saramago Foundation in Lisbon, a few meters from the Tagus River. EFE

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José Saramago returns to school on the centenary of his birth