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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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1,599384,544 (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 (31)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
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 |
Stunning and hilarious. In competition with Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicle for the best book I've read this year. ( )
  chyde | Feb 5, 2014 |
Ever since reading Haruki Murakami's 'The Wind-up-Bird Chronicle' I've discovered a love for magical realism as a genre. Books that take place in our world, where small things are just a bit off. Not enough to call it straight up fantasy, but not normal either... Because of this another writer that was recommended to me was José Saramago, a Portuguese writer, probably best known for his novel Blindness.
In this book the main character is Tertuliano, a divorced high school history teacher who is a bit of a loner. One day he gets a tip from a fellow teacher to watch a certain movie. He is shocked when he sees that one of the extras looks almost exactly like him. When he looks up a photo of how he looked when the movie was shot, he finds out that they are identical, down to their facial hair. He gets obsessed with this double, and starts a mission to find out who he is. Eventually he discovers his double, the actor.
It took some getting used to the writing style in this book (It is my first by Saramago, so I have no idea if this is a typical example) but I loved it. The narrator is as much part of the magic of this book as Tertuliano and his double. I love how the narrator keeps commenting both on what is happening in the story and his (the narrator's) telling of it. The story itself is pretty simple, but the writing style and exploration of the theme of having an exact double make it very good. Four out of five stars, and a good recommendation for someone who loves Murakami. ( )
  divinenanny | Nov 8, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (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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Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
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Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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.
Last words
(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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