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The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (1991)

by José Saramago

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,426504,257 (4.13)86
A wry, fictional account of the life of Christ by Nobel laureate José Saramago A brilliant skeptic, José Saramago envisions the life of Jesus Christ and the story of his Passion as things of this earth: A child crying, the caress of a woman half asleep, the bleat of a goat, a prayer uttered in the grayish morning light. His idea of the Holy Family reflects the real complexities of any family, and--as only Saramago can--he imagines them with tinges of vision, dream, and omen. The result is a deft psychological portrait that moves between poetry and irony, spirituality and irreverence of a savior who is at once the Son of God and a young man. In this provocative, tender novel, the subject of wide critical discussion and wonder, Saramago questions the meaning of God, the foundations of the Church, and human existence itself.… (more)
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» See also 86 mentions

English (28)  Spanish (7)  Italian (6)  Dutch (3)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  Portuguese (1)  Slovenian (1)  French (1)  All languages (49)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Until now, my favorite Saramago has been his 1982 novel, Baltasar and Blimunda. But that’s changed with The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (1991).

Saramago’s insight into the human nature and psychology is as humane, his wit as biting yet at the same time as nuanced, and therefore his humor as cunning, delicious and hilarious as ever. His atheism lends a satirical perspective to the happenings, but here he’s far subtler than he ever was in Cain (2009), whose primary objective was to be a full-on parody, a kind of Gospel on steroids.[1] It might be that people of a certain persuasion won’t be able to see the forest for the trees, but I find Saramago’s warmth and compassion for his characters the stuff of marvelous literary merit and entertainment.

Saramago’s keen eye for irony and the absurd colors the proceedings, and with lucid determinacy he shifts from the farcical to elegiac, from earthly to poetic, never losing us into the mechanics of the story or the theoretical narrative framework behind it all. It’s a beautifully told tale full of heartbreak, insecurity and not being able to know oneself, in other words, the hallmarks of what makes us human.

As for the character of Jesus, it’s too easy to put him on a pedestal, quoting Scripture with a stern face and picturesque hand-waving, because he has to tick all the doctrinal boxes of any given denomination. Saramago, however, manages to create a true personality, and it is Jesus’s torment that brings him alive. There’s nothing believable in an automaton who approaches life as if reading from a script. Saramago’s Jesus has a distinct voice, and it’s easy to feel the rough fabric of his tunic and to smell the sweat and the desert in his hair. This is a gospel worth rereading.

Endnotes:

[1] He takes on God full on, though: ”It is true that God compensated Job by repaying him twice as much as He had taken, but what about all those other men in whose name no book has ever been written, men who have been deprived of everything and been given nothing in return, to whom everything was promised but never fulfilled”, ”When, oh Lord, will You come before mankind to acknowledge Your own mistakes”, ”blessed be Your holy name, since it is forbidden to curse You”.

27 November,
2017 ( )
  Thay1234 | May 27, 2020 |
As believable as the four canonical gospels and, really, is just what you'd expect given its title. A sane-ish story of an annointed.

Some great parts, like that Jesus was just chosen by chance, and it could have been anyone and the three-way argument between God, Jesus, and the Devil, with their weird surprise at Allah dropping by

Definitely worth the time, and I'm not even christian. ( )
  GirlMeetsTractor | Mar 22, 2020 |
With The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, Jose Saramago has once again shown that he is a master wordsmith. Although I can sing his praises all I want in terms of this book, the fact remains that he originally wrote it in Portuguese and I can’t read that language. So a great deal of credit must also go to the translator of this book, Giovanni Pontiero.

The book is a retelling of the life of Jesus Christ mainly focusing on the time before his ministry. Now I must admit, I don't particularly like the Bible, but this book was quite good. There isn't really much to say about it. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
Éste es mi primer libro de José Saramago, y me dejó impactado de principio a fin. El estilo de su prosa es ágil y poético, te hace ver cada una de las cosas descritas por primera vez.

Es difícil acostumbrarse al principio a la forma en la que están escritos los diálogos, pero ya que se uno se aclimata hace que la lectura sea trepidante. Además, la historia no deja de ser novedosa, al llenar con imaginación desbordante los huecos dejados por los evangelios antiguos. Los personajes son todos complejos y fascinantes, las descripciones son geniales y el entramado de la novela es satisfactorio.

Ahora que lo termino me siento emocionado por el prospecto de leer más libros de Saramago. ( )
  LeoOrozco | Feb 26, 2019 |
Saramago continua ad essere Saramago, il romanzo non snatura il suo stile. Ma per essere una rivisitazione (e critica) del Vangelo, il fatto che piu' della meta' del testo sia inventato di sana pianta e non faccia riferimento alle vicende raccontate nel testo sacro delude un po' le aspettative. Inoltre si dilunga sull'infanzia e sugli eventi precedenti la vita pubblica, mentre relega quest'ultima parte, e soprattutto la Passione (che nel Vangelo canonico racchiude quasi tutto il significato della vita di Cristo) a poche pagine a volte un po' trascurate rispetto al resto del romanzo.
Una lettura interessante, ma per gli amanti di Saramago e/o del suo stile, per conoscere la sua visione sulla figura di Gesu' Cristo; meno per chi cerca qualcosa strettamente collegato alle sacre scritture. ( )
  Mlvtrglvn | Jan 5, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Saramago, Joséprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Desti, RitaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lemmens, HarrieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Quod scripsi, scripsi. - Pilatus
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For Pilar
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The sun appears in one of the upper corners of the rectangle, on the left of anyone looking at the picture.
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Come tutti i figli degli uomini, il figlio di Giuseppe e Maria nacque sporco del sangue di sua madre, vischioso delle sue mucosità e soffrendo in silenzio. Pianse perché lo fecero piangere, e avrebbe pianto per quest'unico e solo motivo.
Una nuvola, alta come due uomini, simile a una colonna di fumo lentamente vorticante su se stessa, era lì davanti a lui, e la voce proveniva da essa. Chi mi parla, domandò Gesù, rabbrividendo, ma immaginando già la risposta. La voce disse, Io sono il Signore, e Gesù seppe perché aveva dovuto spogliarsi al limite del deserto. Mi hai fatto venire qui, che cosa vuoi da me, domandò. Per ora niente, ma un giorno da te vorrò tutto.
Gesù muore, muore, e quando la vita comincia ad abbandonarlo, all'improvviso, il cielo sopra il suo capo si spalanca e appare Dio, vestito come sulla barca, e la sua voce risuona per tutta la terra, Tu sei il mio diletto figlio, in te ho riposto la mia gratificazione. Allora Gesù capì di essere stato portato all'inganno come si conduce l'agnello al sacrificio, che la sua vita era destinata a questa morte, fin dal principio e, ripensando al fiume di sangue e di sofferenza che sarebbe nato spargendosi per tutta la terra, esclamò rivolto al cielo, dove Dio sorrideva, Uomini, perdonatelo, perché non sa quello che ha fatto.
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