Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Elephant's Journey

by Jose Saramago

When I saw this book about a year ago I considered reading it, but being familiar with Saramago's writing style, I knew I'd need to be in the right frame of mind to tackle the complete disregard of punctuation and capitalization he employs. He turns what should be a quick and fun read into a mental exercise that can be worth the effort in the end..... but you must be prepared!

The Elephant's Journey is very loosely based on an event in 1551 when the king of Portugal gifts an Indian elephant to his cousin the archduke of Austria. The story follows the elephant, Solomon and his mahout (keeper) from their departure in Lisbon across Spain, on a sea voyage to Italy, through the treacherous Alps to his arrival in Vienna. It is told from the point of view of a distant narrator, in a very story-telling fashion, including much chasing of rabbits! Intermixed with the travelogue are Saramago's observations on society, religion, status and relationships, at times quite humorous.

I'm sure that Saramago's failure to use periods and quotes and other such marks used in elementary writing is intentional, but I think it is a disservice to his point. Or maybe that is his point! I'm iffy on the recommendation.

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