The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis
, May 1, 1998
- 358 pages
It is 1936, Salazar is in power in Portugal and Ricardo Reis is back in Lisbon again after 16 years as a doctor in Brazil. He checks into a waterfront hotel and begins to renew his acquaintance with the city, occasionally thinking vaguely of practising medicine again but more often amusing himself with poetic and philosophical musings. Ricardo Reis spends his time in the company of the poet Fernando Pessoa -awho still wears the suit in which he was buried a few weeks earlier. Reis' other companions are Marcenda, the girl with the paralysed hand, and his hotel chambermaid, who shares his bed. In Ricardo Reis, Saramago has created one of the most enigmatic characters in modern fiction, a man in touch with every facet of life at a moment in history when every certainty in civilised society is about to be scattered to the wind.