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one poor researcher became lost in the labyrinthine catacombs of the archive of the dead, having come to the Central Registry in order to carry out some genealogical research he had been commissioned to undertake. He was discovered, almost miraculously, after a week, starving, thirsty, exhausted, delirious, having survived thanks to the desperate measure of ingesting enormous quantities of old documents that neither lingered in the stomach nor nourished, since they melted in the mouth without requiring any chewing.The nondescript Senhor José labors long and thanklessly among the archives; his is a tepid, lonely life with only one small hobby to leaven his leisure hours: he collects "news items about those people in his country who, for good reasons and bad, had become famous." One night, it occurs to him that "something fundamental was missing from his collection, that is, the origin, the root, the source, in other words, the actual birth certificate of these famous people"--and that the information is within easy reach on the other side of a connecting door that separates his meager lodgings from the Registry itself. And so begins Senhor José's midnight raids on the stacks as he shuttles between the Registry and his own room bearing precious records that he carefully copies before returning them to their rightful places. Still, this minor aberration might have remained the clerk's only transgression if not for a simple act of fate: one night, along with his celebrity records, he accidentally picks up a birth certificate belonging to an ordinary, unknown woman--a woman who becomes suddenly more important than all the others precisely because she is unknown. Celebrity is cast aside as Senhor José begins a search for this mysterious quarry--a quest that will lead him into conflict with his superior, the Registrar, and ensnare him in the kind of messy personal histories and tangled relationships he has thus far avoided in his own life.
A recurring theme in many of Saramago's novels is the very human struggle between withdrawal and connection. Whether it is the Iberian peninsula literally breaking off from the rest of Europe in The Stone Raft or an entire country afflicted by a devastating malady in Blindness, he is fascinated by the effects of isolation on the human soul and, correspondingly, the redemptive power of compassion. All the Names continues to mine this rich vein as the repressed clerk follows his unknown Ariadne's thread out of the labyrinth of his own strangled psyche and into life. Readers will find here Saramago's trademark love of the absurd, his brilliant imagery and idiosyncratic punctuation, as well as the unflinching yet tender honesty with which he chronicles the human condition. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I have read all of his novels and am captivated by his elegant and beautiful writing.
I found the plot rather unconvincing, the obsession of the main character rather artificial and improbable and the motivation of a crucial suicide rather weak.
These impediments to reading a novel often tend to make the reader begin to simply scan the way through the book, hoping to find the end to this strange means.
Just don't bother unless you have a sick need to see into the mind of an insanely mundane and worthless individual. Eegads...the mind numbing internal conversations. Pointless. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Wood Elf
His best work - touching, imaginative, brave. Characters that are so hauntingly real, great insight into human nature, and departures from reality that add to the story, not... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Miss A.
Wow! Loved the storytelling and writing. He has Murakami-type elements which were delicious. I look forward to reading more of Saramago's work.Published 7 months ago by Patty Jenkins
I don't give out five stars easily, but this book came close. I had read "Blindness" by this author, another book I highly recommend. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Paul Roche
Fascinating stream of consciousness style working with borders beteen the living and the dead, assimilating infinite data in finite systems and other dilemmas.Published 9 months ago by Robert T. Anderson
There aren't words. And this is a rare case for which that's both a positive and a negative. In time, I will forget all about the many annoying literary devices (the excessive... Read morePublished 9 months ago by SirenSongWoman
It always left you wondering what is gonna happen next. You really feel like your on the outside of senior Jose life watching him as he trys to figure out what he is searching for... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Tia Rantula
I am a fan of Saramago and only wish I could read him in his native language. I am not finished with this yet. His writing commands