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The history of the siege of Lisbon
Jose Saramago
Adult Fiction SARAMAG

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Walter Mitty has nothing on Raimundo Silva, the middle-aged bachelor and proofreader in a contemporary Portuguese publishing house who's the protagonist of Saramago's dazzling postmodernist novel. The focal point is the siege of the Moorish city of Lissibona (Lisbon) in 1147 by Portuguese forces under Christian King Alfonso I, its conquest and the expulsion of the Moors-a battle in which as many as 150,000 perished. Raimundo changes a single word in a manuscript, thereby implying, contrary to the historical record, that the Crusaders refused to help the Portuguese besiege and capture the city. At the suggestion of his younger, iconoclastic boss, Maria Sara, with whom he falls in love, Raimundo writes his own alternative history of the siege, weaving a web of chivalrous deeds, love and intrigue around the bare historical record. As his romantic affair with Maria blossoms, the present and the imagined past feed into one another in a challenging narrative that shifts constantly between past and present tenses and shuttles across the centuries from American cowboys to medieval knights, from Freudian symbolism to Machiavelli, from the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor to the Portuguese army's construction of a tower to break Moorish resistance. On one level, Saramago is exploring the thirst for power, religious and political fanaticism, intolerance, hypocrisy and jingoism, as well as the human need for love, companionship, sex. On another level, he is developing his abiding theme that history is a form of fiction, a selective reordering of facts. Although the novel's stream-of-consciousness technique, baroque prose and paragraphs that run on for pages may daunt some readers, this hypnotic tale is a great comic romp through history, language and the imagination. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Portuguese novelist Saramago (The Stone Raft, LJ 2/15/95) is fascinated by how history, often constructed from the slightest shreds, fails to acknowledge the reality of unavailable evidence. When proofreader Raimundo Silva dares to falsify a statement in a history text‘namely, that Galician warriors conquered Lisbon from the Moors in 1147 without the help of returning Crusaders‘instead of losing his job, he gains the respect of his supervisor and begins an affair with her. She encourages him to recast the event as a novel. Soon he is rooting for a Moor over the Archbishop of Braga and suspecting that there is more Moorish than Aryan Christian blood in the modern Portuguese nation. With its paragraph-long sentences and page-long paragraphs, this panoramic tale of daring and timidity challenges readers to consider the sprawling no man's land where fiction and history merge.‘Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Raimundo Silva
Male
Age: 50s
Single
Editing a book of the history of Portugal.
Proofreader



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