José Saramago (16 November 1922 – 18 June 2010), was a Portuguese writer and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature.
His novels include:
- The Stone Raft (A Jangada de Pedra, 1986)
- The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (O Evangelho Segundo Jesus Cristo, 1991)
- Blindness (Ensaio sobre a Cegueira, 1995)
- All the Names (Todos os Nomes, 1997)
- The Double (O Homem Duplicado, 2002)
- Seeing (Ensaio sobre a Lucidez, 2004) (sequel to Blindness)
- Death with Interruptions/Death at Intervals (As Intermitências da Morte, 2005)
- Cain (2009)
Films based on his novels include:
José Saramago's works contain examples of:
- Cain: Played with in Cain. Since God has ordered that Cain cannot be harmed by any living being — including Himself — Cain gets to live through all of the Old Testament, bitter at being turned into the first murderer because he, unlike his brother, didn't want to spill blood to appease God, and horrified by the events of the OT becomes convinced that God Is Evil. He spends a lot of time calling the old man out, before eventually hitching a ride on Noah's ark. When all of humanity but God's chosen survivors have drowned, Cain takes out Noah and his family Slasher Movie style, leaving God alone with an empty world.
- Death Takes a Holiday: Death with Interruptions, which explores all the political, social and economical consequences of people not dying in a certain country — a sense of pride, crime syndicates threatening people with fates worse than death, and the trafficking of ill people to the border so they can die, with all the international chaos that follows.
- Demythification: The Gospel According to Jesus Christ seems to start in this direction, by having Jesus being born from plain intercourse by Joseph and Mary, presenting the Angel that heralds his birth in an ambiguous manner (for example, he shows up later as one of three shepherds who adore him), having the Massacre of the Innocents limited to the village Jesus is staying in, attributing his ability to produce fish simply to good fishing skills, having him in love with Mary Magdalene, and having John the Baptist (who is unrelated to Jesus, but inspires him) be executed for criticizing Herod's marriage and not for claiming the coming of the Messiah. However, Herod learns of Jesus's birth from a dead prophet appearing to him in a dream, Jesus as a teenager works for both the Angel (who seems to be really an Angel) and another shepherd who is clearly the Devil, and as an adult, Jesus meets God.
- God Is Flawed: Both The Gospel According to Jesus Christ and Cain depict God as selfish and cruel.
- Grand Inquisitor Scene: In The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, there's a Grand Inquisitor Scene between God, Jesus, and Satan. Jesus just wants to be normal, Satan offers to quit and leave the world without evil in exchange for God's forgiveness, and God shuts them both down since he needs an evil counterpart and a martyr to take over the world.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Jesus in The Gospel According to Jesus Christ.
- Nameless Narrative:
- The characters in Blindness are referred to by their roles or (ironically, given the fact all of them are stricken by blindness) physical descriptions.
- Saramago also does this in Seeing, Death with Interruptions, and (ironically) All the Names.
- No Punctuation Period: Saramago's prose features only periods and commas, and nothing more. Furthermore, there's no indication of dialogue or who's saying what, except that each piece of dialogue starts with capital letters, just as if it was written normally. Finally, his paragraphs extend over pages. The thing is, he pulls it off. After the first few pages, it stops being difficult to follow, and he uses it effectively to set his tone.
- Stealth Sequel: Seeing is this to Blindness
- Traveling Landmass: the premise of The Stone Raft, in which the Iberian Peninsula breaks off at the Pyrenees one day and goes floating around the Atlantic.
- Wall of Text: Paragraphs that extend over a page or more without a break are one of the characteristics of Saramago's prose style.
- Wandering Jew: In Cain, God orders that Cain cannot be harmed by any living being, leaving him to wander the earth and witness subsequent history.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Blindness, Seeing, Death with Interruptions and All the Names are all set in undefined cities and even countries. Often there is some detail that prevents the obvious assumption that they're set in Saramago's native Portugal: Death with Interruptions, for instance, is set in a country with a monarchy (Portugal got rid of its monarch in 1910).
- This is pushed to the extreme in Seeing, which is obviously set in a mid-sized unitary country with a mixed president-ministers government very similar to Portugal and most other European countries. At one point the omniscient Narrator even points out how the President could (and should) have started his public adress by shouting "Women and Men of Portugal" or the like, but then the narrator apologizes for mentioning Portugal and states how this is just a pointless analogy and that the unnamed country in which the story takes place is in no way like Portugal.
- Your Days Are Numbered: In the latter part of Death with Interruptions, people who are about to die start receiving letters from death notifying them of when it will happen.