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Thursday, November 16, 2023

'It's a sea full of ideas'


“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 there.   
Trained as a mechanic, he continued to read everything he could get his hands on, ultimately teaching himself to write and convincing the local newspaper to give him a chance.   His first books came out when he was in his late 30s and 40s, but his first best seller, Memorial do Convento wasn't published  until he was 60.   That book put him onto the world writing scene and led to the Nobel Prize in Literature at age 75. 
“I do not just write, I write what I am.   If there is a secret to success perhaps that is it.”

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