Philip Womack admires another fable from Nobel Laureate José Saramago. Buy Death at Intervals by José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa from Amazon’s Fiction Books Store. Everyday low prices on a huge range of new releases and. In José Saramago’s latest novel, death falls in love and takes a holiday.

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The first line is, as first lines go, a corker: As with Kafka’s Metamorphosis, the series of events is perfectly believable once the initial impossibility has occurred: Having concluded that simply snatching mortals away without warning is not only cruel but also leaves a lot of loose ends, she begins to send little violet warning letters.

This is done in a distinctive, multi-voiced intervzls, skilfully maintained in Costa’s translation. If it does, which country can prosecute?

Saramago’s playful novel about death – Telegraph

Although originally intending merely to analyze this man and discover why he is unique, death eventually becomes infatuated with him, enough so that she takes on human form to meet him. Being female, she is capricious, bossy and susceptible to flattery. He works as though cradling a thing of magic. The dwath is sometimes only a whisker away from modern reality. We might think, then, of Death at Intervals as a companion volume to All the Names, or in a way its photographic negative.

Described thus, the technique might sound messy. He avoids the capitalization of proper names of people or places, and especially of his protagonist “death” who emphatically insists that her name be written lowercase. Slayer of religion For critic James Wood the novel offers an antidote to unforgiving certainties, sacred and profane.

Granted, it’s an implausible scenario, intsrvals we are saraago to take nothing seriously, except for the author himself.

From here, the story largely moves on to focus on death’s relationship with an otherwise unremarkable cellist who, amazingly, will not die. The industry develops so quickly that the government itself becomes beholden to af maphioso, even bringing it to the brink of war with its neighbors. The novel becomes an extraordinary romance, joking and yet deadly serious in its mythic elan.


The common citizens, however, generally enjoy their newfound immortality. By not privileging the narrator’s voice he enacts a kind of democracy.

Death at Intervals manages to touch on a series of critical contemporary debates: Saramago admits, and indeed revels in, the many absurdities that this raises: With the shift from skeleton to human being comes the most saaramago turn in the novel, for with the flesh that allows her to pass unnoticed among us mortals come other characteristics as well: This joy is short-lived – it soon becomes apparent that the end of death presents unique demographic jjose financial challenges.

Death at Intervals is published by Harvill Secker. Matthew Adams meets him Read more. A film that laughs at suicide bombers but doesn’t offend anyone? Should the government condone this, when it is well known that the maphia is helping to cart the nearly-dead across?

The population’s reaction is predictably hysterical and the handwriting analyst contracted to examine the letters concludes, brilliantly, that death has the handwriting of a serial killer. The book is an extended riff, a joyous, burbling, warm satire on human frailty, intrvals through with veins of dark humour, and despite the fact that the latter half fails to convince as interfals as the riotous first half, is a thing of wonder and beauty, delighting in the instability of language and human and inhuman nature.

Death with Interruptions – Wikipedia

Why are there exactly “forty volumes of universal history”? I suspect it will appeal to those who are already admirers of the Portuguese Nobel Prizewinner’s work.

This is mildly entertaining but it might have been more interesting to consider properly how life without death would subvert our most deeply held beliefs. Saramago here plays an unexpected and very funny joke. The narrator of the new book refers implicitly to that novel’s hero, “a certain registrar who decided to bring together in one archive the names and documents belonging to the living and the dead under his protection, yes, every single one, alleging that only when they were brought together could they represent humanity as it should be understood, an absolute whole, independent of time and place, and that keeping them separate until then had been an attack upon the spirit”.


He describes a government hounded by industry lobbies: Upon visiting him, she plans to personally give him the letter; instead, she falls in saraamago with him, and, by doing so, she becomes even more human-like.

A decentring feature of this long-established style is that when people speak in sentences themselves containing commas, you are not at first quite sure when the speech has ended and the narrator’s voice has resumed, Is it here, you think, No, it’s later on, it must be here, I reckon, you see how tricky this can be. Tuesday 01 January By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Interals Policy.

Death is seduced by him and stays, leaving business in the hands of her capable scythe. A complete edition of John James Audubon’s world famous The Birds of America, bound in linen and beautifully presented in earamago special slipcase. Pages to import images to Wikidata Articles containing Portuguese-language text.

Dialogue, too, is conducted in this way, again separated only by commas, with no he-said she-said, the conversation flowing through long, rolling lines. Many of his sentences are written in a style almost akin to stream of consciousness. And where did she keep her change before she got said handbag? The action moves from high-level politics to the struggles of families whose terminally ill relatives have been petrified in agony by death’s downing of tools.

Meanwhile, everyone else can hope to live for ever.

Saramago’s playful novel about death

For critic James Wood the novel offers an antidote to unforgiving certainties, sacred and profane. All this is narrated in Saramago’s customary exquisite deadpan, with his surfeit of happy invention and comically precise offhand detail.

Initially, the people of this country celebrate their apparent victory over mankind’s longtime foe.