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The Double by Jose Saramago

The Double (original 2002; edition 2004)

by Jose Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa (Translator)

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1,619404,478 (3.79)1 / 96
Title:The Double
Authors:Jose Saramago
Other authors:Margaret Jull Costa (Translator)
Info:Harcourt (2004), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:academic fiction, fiction, mysteries

Work details

The Double by José Saramago (2002)


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English (33)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (40)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
The Double, by José Saramago, is very entertaining reading. It’s the story of a most ordinary man, a teacher of history, who one night, watching a video, sees himself as he was five years ago on the screen. He becomes consumed by anxiety about this double, and his quest to deal with the problem of who owns his identity is, in the hands of this master storyteller, a remarkable story.

Saramago (1922-2010) was a Portuguese author: he wrote novels, plays and journalism and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. Wikipedia tells me that he came to the attention of Portuguese censors late in his life, and moved to Spain to avoid interference on religious grounds. (Apparently he died at Las Palmas, which I visited as a small child en route to Africa. I have vivid memories of the contrast between its warmth, colour and vivacity and the drabness of postwar London.) In Portugal all seemed to be forgiven when Saramago won the Nobel, though the conservative PM who’d supported the religious censorship prudently avoided the mourning when Saramago died.

Bizarrely, Saramago became a communist in 1969 and remained a member of the party until his death. There are plenty of intellectuals and writers who were attracted to communism in the 1920s and 30s, but most of them recanted in embarrassment when the excesses of Stalinism became known. One day when I have time I’m going to explore what it was that made this discredited political and economic philosophy attractive to Saramago. He was also an atheist and a pessimist, and this aspect of his personality certainly shows through in The Double, though the effect is comic.

To read the rest of my reviews please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2010/09/13/the-double-by-jose-saramago-translated-by-margaret-jull-costa/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Oct 19, 2016 |
COULD NOT complete because of Tertuliano's rambling thoughts. I wanted to read this book because I read another book by Saramago which was excellent. But I couldn't follow along and though I wanted to continue I felt I would go nuts doing so. So because I did not read whole book, no rating.
  Bookish59 | Aug 6, 2016 |
A what-if, school-exercise - which the narrator self-reference in the novel itself - detective thriller, the novel is as if The Parent Trap were a sort of spy thriller indie film about identity crises, y'know, if Lindsay Lohan I creepily stalked Lindsay Lohan II for no apparent reason - instead of being amazed and overjoyed by the amazingness of meeting someone who looks just like you - and suffers feelings of potential inferiority because the other one was technically the original zygote. It raises somewhat profound questions about identity - what makes people individuals, whether personalities and inward characters are enough to distinguish you, and on a broader scale, how individuals fit into society. It's unfortunate that the protagonist is such an unlikeable character who feels himself superior to others, thinking he alone has seen through the futility of life and had his ego crushed by the appearance of a doppelganger. I quite enjoyed the ending, the protagonist's methodical research and the inexplicable nature of The Double.

Recommended only after you have experienced and liked Saramago's other works, and enjoy a sprinkling of magic realism. ( )
  kitzyl | Apr 30, 2016 |
A history teacher watches a video in which a bit player bears a striking resemblance to himself. He's obsessed with finding his double and upsets the order of the universe when he does. Who are we, really?

NOTE: Saramago is not a easy read. A sentence can take half a page. A paragraph more than a page. I find it's best to just surrender to his stream-of-consciousness style and keep reading. His works are thought-provoking.

UPDATE 2013 - the book was adapted to film with the title Enemy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 19, 2016 |
as you read this review remember that i will tell you how to feel about it and remind you along the way just what you are supposed to be thinking, which means that you don’t need to think at all, in fact, and so the book also treats its readers in this way, repeating the main character’s name over and over and over each and every time he talks about him, pronouns, it seems, like usual punctuation and paragraph breaks, do not have any place in this book, and, it turns out, neither did i, since i stopped reading it just before the midpoint, it’s too bad, too, because the premise of this book is intriguing (the only reason i did not give 1 star) but the execution was pedantic and patronizing - of course, maybe i just can’t register the genius that is this book. ( )
  keebrook | Mar 10, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
José Saramagoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gareis, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kort, Maartje deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rio, Pilar DelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered
The Book of Contraries.
I believe in my conscience I intercept many a thought which heaven intended for another man.
Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy.
For Pilar, until the last moment

For Ray-Güde Mertin

For Pepa Sánchez-Manjavacas
First words
The man who has just come into the shop to rent a video bears on his identity card a most unusual name, a name with a classical flavor that time has staled, neither more nor less than Tertuliano Máximo Afonso.
He lives alone and gets bored.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156032589, Paperback)

Tertuliano Máximo Afonso is a divorced, depressed history teacher. To lift his spirits, a colleague suggests he rent a certain video. Tertuliano watches the film, unimpressed. But during the night, when he is awakened by noises in his apartment, he goes into the living room to find that the VCR is replaying the video. He watches in astonishment as a man who looks exactly like him-or, more specifically, exactly like he did five years before, mustachioed and fuller in the face-appears on the screen. He sleeps badly.

Against his better judgment, Tertuliano decides to pursue his double. As he roots out the man's identity, what begins as a whimsical story becomes a "wonderfully twisted meditation on identity and individuality" (The Boston Globe). Saramago displays his remarkable talent in this haunting tale of appearance versus reality.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:14 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"A history teacher rents a video on the recommendation of a friend. Not a great fan of cinema, he watches the film unmoved, but wakes later that night unaccountably troubled by something he has subconsciously viewed. He gets up to watch the film again and discovers, to his horror, an actor who could be his twin, identical in every way except for the moustache he himself has not worn for five years." "Telling no-one of his discovery and wrought with anxiety, Tertuliano Maximo Afonso embarks on a quest to find the actor. By a process of elimination, and watching countless films, he manages to identify the "double" and secretly plots to make contact. But how will the struggling actor feel when confronted out of the blue by a man claiming to be identical to him in every way? A man proclaiming himself to be the original and the actor a duplicate?" "Saramago's new novel explores the nature of individuality and examines the fear and insecurity that arise when our singularity comes under threat, when even a wife cannot tell the original from the impostor."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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