The Lives of Things
by José Saramago
translation by Giovanni Pontiero
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José Saramago's work is often thought of as allegorical or subversively political. The Portuguese novelist, playwright, and poet had an instinct for stories that belittled political sentimentality, framing the grandiosity of dreams within the vulnerability of the dreamer. From Baltasar and Blimunda's tragic lovers drowning in a swamp of political corruption to absurd militarization in response to a mysterious epidemic in Blindness, Saramago's work reveals the parallel fragility of authority and idealism. The Lives of Things is a collection of six early short stories from the Nobel Prize winner, a poetic encapsulation of Saramago's extraordinary talent as a skeptical inquirer who always seemed aware, even as a young man, that behind one pierced veil there was always another.
The centerpiece of the collection is "
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