The History of the Siege of Lisbon

Front Cover
Harcourt Brace, 1998 - Fiction - 314 pages
21 Reviews
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.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DinadansFriend - LibraryThing

I enjoy this novel, written in a dictatorship, and discussing what effect an attempt to rewrite the past by literally changing just a word in a text, can have. All dictatorships rewrite their pasts ... Read full review

Review: The History of the Siege of Lisbon

User Review  - Jake Cooper - Goodreads

Gorgeous writing, delightfully ambiguous. The siege of Lisbon is Raimundo wooing his boss; Raimundo is Saramago writing The History of the Siege; history is fiction; war is going to work every day. Read full review

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About the author (1998)

Josť Saramago was born on November 16, 1922. He spent most of his childhood on his parent's farm, except while attending school in Lisbon. Before devoting himself exclusively to writing novels in 1976, he worked as a draftsman, a publisher's reader, an editor, translator, and political commentator for Diario de Lisboa. He is indisputably Portugal's best-known literary figure and his books have been translated into more than 25 languages. Although he wrote his first novel in 1947, he waited some 35 years before winning critical acclaim for work such as the Memorial do Convento. His works include The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, The Stone Raft, Baltasar and Blimunda, The History of the Siege of Lisbon, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, and Blindness. At age 75, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998 for his work in which "parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony, continually enables us to apprehend an elusory reality." He died from a prolonged illness that caused multiple organ failure on June 18, 2010 at the age of 87.

Giovanni Pontiero (1932-1996) was the ablest translator of twentieth century literature in Portuguese and one of its most ardent advocates. He was the principal translator into English of the works of Jose Saramago and was awarded the Teixeira-Gomes Prize for his translation of The Gospel According to Jesus Christ.

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