Cover image for The cave
Title:
The cave
Author:
Saramago, José.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Caverna. English
Edition:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harcourt, Inc., [2002]

©2002
Physical Description:
307 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Added Author:
Electronic Access:
Publisher description http://www.loc.gov/catdir/description/har021/2002002355.html
ISBN:
9780151004140
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Cipriano Algor, an elderly potter, lives with his daughter Marta and her husband Marçal in a small village on the outskirts of The Center, an imposing complex of shops, apartment blocks, offices, and sensation zones. Marçal works there as a security guard, and Cipriano drives him to work each day before delivering his own humble pots and jugs. On one such visit, he is told not to make any more deliveries until further notice. People prefer plastic, he is told; it lasts longer and doesn't break.
Unwilling to give up his craft, Cipriano tries his hand at making ceramic dolls. Astonishingly, The Center places an order for hundreds of figurines, and Cipriano and Marta set to work. In the meantime, Cipriano meets a young widow at the graves of their recently departed spouses, and a hesitant romance begins.
When Marta learns that she is pregnant and Marçal receives a promotion, they all move into an apartment in The Center. Soon they hear a mysterious sound of digging, and one night Marçal and Cipriano investigate. Horrified by the discovery, the family, which now includes the widow and a dog, sets off in a truck, heading for the great unknown.
Suffused with the depth, humor, and above all the extraordinary sense of humanity that marks each of his novels, The Cave is sure to become an essential book of our time.


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

The struggle of the individual against bureaucracy and anonymity is one of the great subjects of modern literature, and Saramago is often matched with Kafka as one of its premier exponents. Apt as the comparison is, it doesn't convey the warmth and rueful human dimension of novels like Blindness and All the Names. Those qualities are particularly evident in his latest brilliant, dark allegory, which links the encroaching sterility of modern life to the parable of Plato's cave. Widowed Cipriano Algor is a 64-year-old Portuguese potter who finds his business collapsing when the demand dries up for his elegant, handcrafted wares. His potential fate seems worse than poverty-to move with his daughter, Marta, and his son-in-law, Maral Gacho, into a huge, arid complex known as "The Center," where Gacho works as a security guard. But Algor gets an order from the Center for hundreds of small ceramic figurines, a task that has Marta and Algor hustling to meet the delivery date. Saramago's flowing, luminous prose (beautifully translated by Costa) serves him well in the early going as he portrays the intricacies of Algor's artistic life and the beginning of his friendship with a widow he meets at the cemetery. The middle chapters bog down as the author lingers over the process of creating the dolls and the family's ongoing debate over Algor's future. But Saramago makes up for the brief slow stretch with a stunning ending after the doll project crashes, when Algor becomes a resident of the Center and finds a shocking surprise in a cave unearthed beneath it. The characters are as finely crafted as Algor's pottery, and Saramago deserves special kudos for his one-dog canine chorus, a stray mutt named Found that Algor adopts as his emotional sounding board. Saramago has an extraordinary ability to make a complex narrative read like a simple parable. This remarkably generous and eloquent novel is another landmark work from an 80-year-old literary giant who remains at the height of his powers. (Nov.) Forecast: Saramago goes from strength to strength, and his readership continues to grow in the U.S. This novel should sell well initially and will be a staple backlist title. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

In another of Saramago's haunting fables, an elderly potter has turned to making dolls for sale at the Center, a huge complex of shops near his village. But a chance discovery at the Center sends him and his family fleeing in terror. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

The man driving the truck is called Cipriano Algor, he is a potter by profession and is sixty-four years old, although he certainly does not look his age. The man sitting beside him is his son-in-law, Maral Gacho, and he is not yet thirty. Nevertheless, from his face too, you would think him much younger. As you will have noticed, attached to their first names both these men have unusual family names, whose origin, meaning, and reason they do not know. They would probably be most put out to learn that "algor" means the intense cold one feels in one's body before a fever sets in, and that "gacho" is neither more nor less than the part of an ox's neck on which the yoke rests. The younger man is wearing a uniform, but is unarmed. The older man has on an ordinary jacket and a pair of more or less matching trousers, and his shirt is soberly buttoned up to the neck, with no tie. The hands grasping the wheel are large and strong, peasant's hands, and yet, perhaps because of the daily contact with soft clay inevitable in his profession, they also suggest sensitivity. There is nothing unusual about Maral Gacho's right hand, but there is a scar on the back of his left hand that looks like the mark left by a burn, a diagonal line that goes from the base of his thumb to the base of his little finger. The truck does not really deserve the name of truck, since it is really only a medium-sized van, of a kind now out of date, and it is laden with crockery. When the two men left home, twenty kilometers back, the day had barely begun to dawn, but now the morning has filled the world with sufficient light for one to notice Maral Gacho's scar and to speculate about the sensitivity of Cipriano Algor's hands. The two men are traveling slowly because of the fragile nature of the load and also because of the uneven road surface. The delivery of merchandise not considered to be of primary or even secondary importance, as is the case with plain ordinary crockery, is carried out, in accordance with the official timetables, at mid-morning, and the only reason these two men got up so early is that Maral Gacho has to clock in at least half an hour before the doors of the Center open to the public. On the days when he does not have to give his son-in-law a lift but still has crockery to deliver, Cipriano Algor does not have to get up quite so early. However, every ten days, he is the one who goes to fetch Maral Gacho from work so that the latter can spend the forty hours with his family to which he is entitled, and, afterward, Cipriano Algor is also the one who, with or without crockery in the back of the van, punctually returns him to his responsibilities and duties as a security guard. Cipriano Algor's daughter, who is called Marta and bears the family names of Isasca, from her late mother, and Algor, from her father, only enjoys the presence of her husband at home and in bed for six nights and three days every month. On the previous night, she became pregnant, although she Excerpted from The Cave by José Saramago All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.