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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A sea filled by your life's 'rivers'


“I think the novel is not so much a literary genre, but a literary space, like a sea that is filled by many rivers. The novel receives streams of science, philosophy, poetry and contains all of these; it's not simply telling a story.” – Jose Saramago
 
Portuguese novelist and Nobel Prize Winner Saramago was born on this date in 1922 to a family of landless peasants in a small rural village.  “I had no books at home,” Saramago said, “So, I started to frequent a public library in Lisbon. It was there, with no help except curiosity and the will to learn, that my taste for reading developed and was refined.”


Many writers will tell you that the love of reading was the first spark in their own creative world, and that is definitely the case for Saramago, who was taken away from his grammar school education at age 12 because his family was so poor they could not afford to keep him in school.  Sent to train to become a mechanic, he continued to read everything he could get his hands on, ultimately teaching himself to write both journalistically and creatively as well.

After working as a car mechanic for two years, he convinced the local newspaper, Diário de Notícias, to give him a chance and eventually he worked his way up to assistant editor.  His first books came out when he was in his late 30s and 40s, but his first best seller didn’t come until at age 60 with the publication of Memorial do Convento. A baroque tale set during the Inquisition in 18th-century Lisbon.  It tells of the love between a maimed soldier and a young clairvoyant, and of a renegade priest's heretical dream of flight.  The book not only established him as one of Portugal’s leading writers but also put him onto the world writing scene.   
He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998.
In offering his formula to others seeking to follow in his footsteps,         
 he said simply, “I do not just write, I write what I am.   If there is a secret, perhaps that is it.”


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