August 17, 2010

Review: The Gospel According to Jesus Christ - José Saramago

Hello readers! The task I have in hands is not easy, after all, it's not everyday I'm here reviewing a book whose author won a Literature Nobel Prize. 
The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by José Saramago, is not for people who prefer an easy and light reading. Not that those people can't read it, but they will hardly be able to finish it. Me? It took me longer to read this one than Lord of the Rings - which is already considered a very "heavy" and complicated book.
Oh yes, a warning. I do NOT want to discuss anyone's beliefs. I'm introducing you to the book, considering the author's beliefs (who, by the way, was an atheist and comunist), not mine and not yours.
Saramago has a unique writing style, with very few "final dots", severl commas and absolutely NO  quotation marks. Lots of dialogues. But, hold on, how can there be dialogues with no quotation marks? I'll explain - all dialogues are "between commas". That alone makes reading very complicated and makes it take longer - until you understand who said what to whom and if it was a question or not (no question marks either). If that wasn't enough, since I read in portuguese, we need to read in Portugal's portuguese, which is a quite different portuguese, not as similar as British English and American English. Not only it's a different language, but his vocabulary was very large and the way he built his sentences was weird, so I had to re-read several times to make sure I got it. 
It's a wonderful book. I'm not discussing that, would never say it isn't, but I thought it was part of my duty here to explain how complicated it is.
Now, a little more about the story, right? Well, we all heard that story since we were little - or most of us anyways. The Gospel, the story of Jesus Christ. But, here, much more about the man than about The Son of God. Actually, it starts with the fact that he was born a son of Mary and Joseph - "made" and born the usual way! 
Preprare yourself for a human Jesus, smarter than others and more sensitive than all, but still human, living among men. Get ready for quick dialogues, full of third and fourth intentions, hundreds of meanings. 
The conversation between Jesus, God and the Devil about God's will and the future is probably one of the most philosofical writings I've ever read, makes you think and, at the same time, says everything, clearly.
I recommend you to read. Really! Calm down, with time, no hurry, no "huge TBR pile waiting got to read fast", because we all know how the story ends - what matters here is the path.
Read it with an open mind, ready to accept that Saramago's beliefs are different than yours, that not everything means literally what it says and that many things are there exactly to shock you, so that people wake up from the numbness where they fall, after centuries agreeing and accepting what others say it's right and true.
    I limited myself to take to me what God didn't want, (...) but's not true that fear is one of my weapons, I don't remember inventing sin and it's punishment, and the fear that always comes with them.
    (the Devil talking to Jesus)
(free translation, by me)

 Originally published on Sobre Livros