Cover image for Baltasar and Blimunda
Baltasar and Blimunda
Saramago, José.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Memorial do convento. English
First Harvest edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt Brace & Co., 1998.
Physical Description:
343 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


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From the recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature, a "brilliant...enchanting novel" (New York Times Book Review) of romance, deceit, religion, and magic set in eighteenth-century Portugal at the height of the Inquisition. National bestseller. Translated by Giovanni Pontiero.

Author Notes

José Saramago was born on November 16, 1922. He spent most of his childhood on his parent's farm, except while attending school in Lisbon. Before devoting himself exclusively to writing novels in 1976, he worked as a draftsman, a publisher's reader, an editor, translator, and political commentator for Diario de Lisboa.

He is indisputably Portugal's best-known literary figure and his books have been translated into more than 25 languages. Although he wrote his first novel in 1947, he waited some 35 years before winning critical acclaim for work such as the Memorial do Convento. His works include The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, The Stone Raft, Baltasar and Blimunda, The History of the Siege of Lisbon, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, and Blindness.

At age 75, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998 for his work in which "parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony, continually enables us to apprehend an elusory reality." He died from a prolonged illness that caused multiple organ failure on June 18, 2010 at the age of 87.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Saramago has blended fact and fiction in much the same way as Marquez and others use magical realism, to create an elegantly written, surrealistic reflection on life in 18th century Portugal. It is a time of astonishing excessautos-da-fe, the Inquisition, an outbreak of the plague, colonialismand the two central characters, Baltasar, a soldier just home from the wars, and Blimunda, a clairvoyant who can actually see inside people, are enlisted by the renegade priest, Bartolomeu Lourenco de Gusmao, to help him construct a flying machine. (A mad genius, Bartolomeu actually existed and is now considered a pioneer of aviation.) The machine does fly, but with disastrous consequences for all involved. This is a dark, philosophical tale that shows off the talents of Portugal's premier contemporary writer. (October) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Saramago's epic novel is set in 18th-century Portugal, a kingdom bloated with plundered wealth and top-heavy with churches and priests. Real events (the erection of an enormous convent in the tiny village of Mafra) and real personages (an heretical priest bent on building a flying machine) figure prominently. But the maimed soldier and his visionary lover named in the title are bit players, for the real protagonist here is Portugal itself in travail. Distanced and ironic, Saramago's novel might well have been written to illustrate Walpole's dictum that ``the world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.'' Recommended for collections emphasizing modern continental fiction. Grove Koger, Boise P.L., Id. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.