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José de Sousa Saramago
José de Sousa Saramago

José de Sousa Saramago

Portugal | Nobel Prizes
Nobel Prize for Literature
Portuguese writer, one of the world’s most highly regarded contemporary novelists. As a journalist and Portuguese Communist Party member he was censored and persecuted during the years of the Salazar dictatorship. In 1974 he joined the “Revolution of the Lilies” that brought democracy to Portugal. A skeptic and intellectual, he has always maintained a posture that holds ethics and aesthetics above political partisanship, with a commitment to humankind. Currently, acclaimed as a universal writer, he divides his living between Lisbon and the Spanish island of Lanzarote (Canaries). Levantado do Chao (1980) was the novel that established him as the great mature and innovative Portuguese novelist. An historic novel taking place in the Alentejo between 1910 and 1979, written in the language of the countryside, its solid documented structure and humorous and sarcastic style aroused considerable attention in its day. Other works of great interest followed, including Baltasar and Blimunda (Memorial do Convento, 1982), The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis (O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis, 1984), The Stone Raft (A Jangada de Pedra, 1986), The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (O Evangelho Segundo Jesus Cristo, 1991), and Blindness (Ensaio sobre a Cegueira, 1995), a work in which the author warns from an ethical viewpoint about “the responsibility of having eyes when others lose theirs.” Saramago, skeptical but solidarian, reflects on whether hope will have a place in the face of this new millennium that humanity is living. In 1998 Saramago became the first Portuguese author to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
“It is certain that a terrible inequality exists between the material forces that declare the necessity of war and the moral forces that defend the right to peace, but it is also certain that down through History, only human will has made it possible to defeat the will of others. We don’t have to face transcendental forces, but only other men, only other men. Therefore it is a matter of making the will to peace stronger than the will to war. It’s a matter of participating in the general mobilization of the struggle for peace: it is the life of Humanity that we are defending, this life of today and the life of tomorrow, which may be lost if we do not defend it right now. Humanity is not a rhetorical abstraction, it is suffering flesh and a yearning spirit, and it is also inexhaustible hope. Peace is possible if we mobilize ourselves to attain it. In people’s awareness and in the streets.”


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