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Pereira Declares: A Testimony Paperback – June 17, 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Antonio Tabucchi has accomplished a rare feat: a socio-political novel with a decided left-wing slant that succeeds as a thriller. It is told through the voice of an aging editor at a Portuguese newspaper in 1938 during fascist rule. A murder inspires the editor out of acquiescence, and an underground movement ensues. The book rose to immediate success in Italy in 1994, a time when Italian fascism resurfaced, and Tabucchi's timely antidote to that movement was no doubt a factor in the novel's popularity. But widespread appeal of the book had as much to do with the page-turning nature of the work as its politics--a testament to Tabucchi's ability on both fronts. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Set in the sweltering summer of 1938 in Portugal, a country under the Fascist shadow of its neighbor, Spain, Italian author Tabucchi's movingly restrained novel tells a tale of quiet, reluctant heroism. Dr. Peirera, the overweight, middle-aged editor of the cultural page of a second-rate Lisbon newspaper, wants nothing to do with European politics. He's happy to translate 19th-century French stories and write droll pieces commemorating famous authors and, in general, is content to believe "that literature was the most important thing in the world." His closest confidante is a photograph of his late wife. All this changes, however, when he meets Francesco Monteiro Rossi, a brash and oddly charismatic young subversive. As Pereira tells his wife's photo, Rossi is "about the age of our son if we'd had a son." Pereira gives Rossi work preparing obituaries for still-living writers; but Rossi focuses on the wrong writers or lingers on the political implications of their lives. "Completely unpublishable," is Pereira's usual response. And yet, he continues to pay Rossi, even after discovering that the young man is using the money to recruit for the anti-Franco International Brigade. The narrative gathers its strange power-a sense of administrative, banality-of-evil dread-from a simple device: it's told by an unnamed interlocutor and appears to be the report of a government official to a superior. Tabucchi (Little Misunderstanding of No Importance) expertly chronicles Pereira's ascent to consciousness, which culminates in a quiet and reckless act of rebellion.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; Reprint ed. edition (June 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811213587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811213585
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read this book convinced it was a true story. This is because the book edition I bought read, in addition to the title "Pereira Declares", also the sub-title "A testimony". Hence I thought it was a life testimony, a true account. In fact, that's why I bought it and read it, as I read mostly non-fiction. Nothing in the story gave it away as fiction - which I would later discover that it was.
I grew up in Lisbon and recognized many places mentioned in the book. But what made the book read true to me was the characters. How believable each character is to me. Each of these people was someone I could have met in Lisbon. I am still astonished that they are fictional characters. Because their mental processes, their lives, their reactions, everything about them is completely familiar, completely Portuguese. Antonio Tabucci, an Italian living in Portugal for many years, has empathically understood the soul of many in Portugal. When I later came to realize that the story was fictional, it was Tabucci's complete understanding of the Portuguese soul that amazed me the most.
And so, the story was made up. It didn't actually happen. Well, actually it did. It happened many many times. That is, many true stories that happened under the Salazar regime were variants of this story.
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Format: Hardcover
Afirma Pereira is a wonderful short tale about one man's abrupt inclusion into the world of political opposition within a society that had sullenly accepted the gradual emergence of a paternalist authoritarian State.
Pereira, the main character, is an ageing intellectual who has never fully recovered from the premature death of his wife. He believes that he is a Catholic, although his mind is full of doubts that his religious faith cannot resolve. He edits the cultural section of a small newspaper that 'tends towards Catholicism', and which believes in the ressurection of the soul. He is preoccupied with death and reincarnation - a concern that brings him into contact with the cause of his own reincarnation in the form of the young half-Italian, Monteiro Rossi.
Set in Lisbon at the height of the Spanish Civil War, Tubucchi uses his undoubted lyrical skills to paint a picture of a Lisbon that is, at first sight, at peace with itself. Under the surface, however, it is clear that all is not right - and this is what Tabucchi brings out so clearly.
Pereira's curiosity in Rossi - the son he never had, and the youth he never lived - gets the better of him, and he gets drawn in to the younger man's life. Pereira had always been aware that the political regime in Portugal was intolerant of opposition, but, like the majority of Portuguese, he preferred not to think about it - a walking example of Portuguese 'fado'. His gradual awakening becomes apparent as the news arrives that some workers had been killed by the police in the Alentejan town of Evora. Normally Pereira would have allowed this to simply wash over him - now it becomes a cause for concern. Suddenly he is more aware - he notices the graffiti on the Jewish butcher's shop, and realises that it offends him.
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Format: Paperback
Pereira Declares is set in Lisbon as Portugal is sliding into an oppressive state. Pereira is the editor of a cultural page where his work reflects not what he would wish to write but rather what is acceptable to write. He life revolves around his dead wife, food and his dream of writing a book. After seeing a piece by Monteiro Rossi, a recent university graduate in philsophy, he hires Rossi to write a column for the cultural page. Rossi is as politically aware and active as Pereira is blinded and inactive. The story is of the growing relationship between the two men and the choices Pereira is forced to make as he starts participating in life.
While the plot is predictable in the sense that people are predictable, the writing and wit of the novel not only is entertaining but also forces the reader to consider their own stance regarding death, religion and politics.
This novel is well worth your time.
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By A Customer on April 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The inevitable descent of the prematurely old journalist from the ethereal heights of romantic literature to the brutality of the late 30's fascism and a political statement.
However, I believe Tabucchi's greatest achievements are the beautiful structure of the novel, the interweaved use of humor and tragedy, and the portrait of a beautiful and stagnant Lisbon. My urge after reading the last sentence was to read Pereira's declaration again and again. Delightful masterpiece. A must.
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Format: Paperback
Tabucchi is a high-minded writer - here he deals with the onslaught of Fascism and an ordinary citizen's gradual involvement on the side of moral right. The author's delicate simple prose exudes a charm that personifies his main character, a character with a naivete which may be covering the deep sadness of widowhood.
But there is also a predictability about the progress of this novel. I, and I think most readers, foresee Pereira's journey towards a moral stance. That is sometimes a part of a book's pleasure, its sense of inevitability. Here, I think, it is for most people a comfortable affirmation. One sees an average guy come to understand the evil of Fascism and then involve himself against it. In fact, very few in Europe did that, however much they wish to think otherwise. The norm was inaction. Pereira is given an extraordinary degree of naivete, an innocence about what is going on around him, even though he is an older man, even though he has had a past career as a crime reporter. But that naivete, too, is comfortable, because it says to the reader such insulation at such times is understandable - it's nice to think so.
So that, however fine a stylist and however righteous his theme, this book seems to me a comforting apologia, a half truth.
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