The History of the Siege of Lisbon
, 1998 - Fiction
- 314 pages
Raimundo Silva, a proofreader at a Portuguese publishing house, takes it upon himself to alter a key word in a text to make it read that in 1147 the king of Portugal reconquered Lisbon from the Saracens without any assistance from the Crusaders. His revision of a signal episode in Portuguese history unexpectedly and inexplicably wins the heart of his supervisor, Maria Sara, a woman of unwavering conviction. Rather than fire him as she ought to, Maria encourages Raimundo to rewrite the history of the siege of Lisbon in the grand style of a historical romance. Around this seemingly minor episode Jose Saramago constructs a broad, multifaceted tableau involving meditations on historiography and the uses and abuses of language, a parable of life under authoritarian rule, and a bittersweet romance.