- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; First edition (October 3, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0156032589
- ISBN-13: 978-0156032582
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 71 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #649,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Double First Edition
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"In varying proportions [Saramago] is melancholy, funny, scary and socially enraged. Such elements have rarely worked better together than in The Double. It's tempting to think of it as his masterpiece."--The New York Times
"Saramago has the gift of gab. Our impression is of a writer, like Faulkner, so confident of his resources and ultimate destination that he can bring any impossibility to life by hurling words at it."--John Updike, The New Yorker
From the Back Cover
"It's tempting to think of [The Double] as his masterpiece." -- The New York Times
Tertuliano Máximo Afonso is a divorced, depressed history teacher. To lift his spirits, a colleague suggests he rent a certain video. Tertuliano watches the film, unimpressed. But during the night, when he is awakened by noise, he goes into the living room to find the VCR replaying the video. He watches in astonishment as a man who looks exactly like him-- or, more specifically, exactly like he did five years before, mustachioed and fuller in the face-- appears on the screen. He sleeps badly.
Against his better judgment, Tertuliano decides to pursue his double. As he roots out the man's identity, what begins as a whimsical story becomes a "wonderfully twisted meditation on identity and individuality" (The Boston Globe). Saramago displays his remarkable talent in this haunting tale of appearance versus reality.
"Our impression is of a writer, like Faulkner, so confident of his resources and ultimate destination that he can bring any impossibility to life by hurling words at it." -- John Updike, The New Yorker
JOSÉ SARAMAGO is one of the most acclaimed writers in the world today. The author of numerous novels, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.
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Jose Saramago (1922-2010), a Portuguese writer, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. In 2008, the noted critic Harold Bloom called him “the greatest novelist alive in the world today.” He wrote his first novel in 1947 “The Land of Sin” when he was 25. He was not noticed as a brilliant writer until he was 60. Some readers see some of his novels as allegories, others see some of them as satires. The Noble Prize Committee described his books as “modern skepticism about official truths.” He was an atheist and communist. He mocked religion in such books as his 1991 “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ,” which I enjoyed, although the Catholic Church understandably scorned and ridiculed the book.
He has a unique writing style. His sentences are unusually long, frequently a page long. He often mixes the novel’s characters’ thoughts with those of the book’s narrator, but clearly differentiating the two. He does not use quotation marks. He places conversations between people in a single sentence and distinguishes each person’s remarks by ending it with a comma and beginning the next person’s statement with a capital letter. One should not think that this style makes the book hard to read, this is not so, it adds to the velocity of the conversation and our understanding that this is a single chat.
“The Double” was published in 2002. The San Francisco Chronicle called it the best book of 2004, the year it was translated into English. The New York Times wrote: “It’s tempting to think of [The Double] as his masterpiece.” The novel is great not because of the events in the tale, but because of the way the story is told.
It is about a college history teacher who is bored with life, with the repetitions of his same lectures to different classes year after year, with marking papers, with same sex with a girlfriend, and more. He broods often. He happens to see a movie video in which there is a bit player who looks exactly like him. He becomes obsessed thinking about the actor and visits him. He discovers that his double is identical to him in every way: in looks, voice, fingerprints, moles, even scars. Their lives, however, are different. He is a history teacher in a small secondary school, while his double is a bit player in movies. He is unmarried, divorced, has a lovely girlfriend; the double is married. Near the end of the novel, the two decide to switch roles for a night. Each joining the other’s woman for sex, for the women cannot tell the men apart, with a bad result.
Of course, it is impossible for two people to be so alike. However, the impossibility prompts us to not only enjoy the story but also seek its interpretation. The Boston Globe stated the tale is a “wonderfully twisted meditation on identity and individuality.” I read the tale as depicting a psychological the failure that most people have, of being dissatisfied with themselves, wanting to be someone else, and have other experiences.
A film based on this novel was made, “Enemy,” and I reviewed it. It is totally unlike the novel, but it is still very good.
That is all I will write about this amazing book. I will leave the rest to anyone that takes my advice and decides to enjoy reading what I consider to be a masterpiece of fiction.
My primary complaint involves the actual storyline which frustrated me excessively toward the end. Yes, you could see parts of it coming, but neither of the primary characters was particularly appealing and at one point I moreorless stopped caring.
That being said, Jose Saramago is an absolutely fascinating and immensely creative writer whose use of language remains an unerring beacon to readers who enjoy seeing how words can be formed into unusually stylistic prose.
This is a book with many long sentences :)
The main character is depressed, morose and a bit obsessed. The book takes you into his way of thinking... you experience what it is like to be these things... so be prepared
The characters name, Tertuliano Maximo Afonso, sets an unusual vibe at the very beginning
It seems that Tertuliano Maximo Afonso, is depressed so a teacher friend suggests that he watch a funny movie. The movie is okay, makes him chuckle a couple of times, but he is still depressed. Then in the middle of the night he wakes up - and watches the movie again... he remembers something about the movie that has him "concerned". He finds what it is... a double
And that is where the obsession takes over