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The Double: (Enemy)
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Wherein lies our identity? An existential thriller and work of literature that takes on the essential questions of life

About the Author

Born in Portugal in 1922, Jose Saramago was one of the most important writers of his generation. He was in his fifties when he came to prominence as a novelist with the publication of Baltasar & Blimunda. A huge body of work followed, which included plays, poetry, short stories, non-fiction and over a dozen novels, including Blindness which was made into an acclaimed film. He has been translated into more than forty languages, and in 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died on 18 June 2010, shortly after the Portuguese publication of Cain.

Reviews

The Nobel prize winner turns in a novel about a droopy high school teacher who gets caught up in questions of identity when he spots a video featuring a vision of himself five years younger. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"Quite unlike anything else" * London Review of Books *
"A Borgesian fable with a marvellous flavour all its own" -- Phillip Hensher, Books of the Year * Spectator *
"A comic and profound exploration of the self... A uniquely seductive writer" * Daily Telegraph *
"The Double is Saramago at his most practised and polished. It is philosophy and thriller rolled into one" * Independent *
"Indebted to Borges and with a nod to Auster, he manages to surpass both with the audacity and sheer erudition of his prose" -- Catherine Taylor * The Guardian *

The double motif, which has fascinated authors as diverse as Poe, Dostoyevski and Nabokov, is revived in this surprisingly listless novel by Portuguese master Saramago. Tertuliano Maximo Afonso is a history teacher in an unnamed metropolis (presumably Lisbon). Middle-aged, divorced and in a relationship with a woman, Maria da Paz, he is bored with life. On the suggestion of a colleague, one night Maximo watches a video that changes everything. The video itself is a forgettable comedy, but the actor who plays the minor role of hotel clerk (so minor he isn't listed in the credits) is Afonso's physical double. Soon Afonso is feverishly renting videos, trying to find the actor's name, while hiding his project from his suspicious colleague, his lover and his mother. Finally tracking the man down, he suggests a meeting. The actor, a rather sleazy fellow, resents Afonso's presence, as if his identical appearance were a sort of ontological theft. Soon the two are in a competition that involves sex and power. Narrating in his usual long, rambling sentences, Saramago suspends his characters and their actions in fussy authorial asides. Afonso has several hokey "dialogues" with "common sense"; his situation, which might be the germ for an excellent short story, is stretched out far beyond the length it deserves. This semi-allegory is certainly not one of Saramago's more noteworthy offerings. Agent, Ray-Gede Mertin. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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