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The Elephant's Journey by José…

The Elephant's Journey (2008)

by José Saramago

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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955599,086 (3.67)143
  1. 40
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel (joririchardson)
    joririchardson: Both books involve an exotic animal (a tiger and an elephant) and a young man who journeys with them. Both have a spiritual undertone.
  2. 00
    The Passion by Jeanette Winterson (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Fictional characters interwoven with real historical figures and events ranging across the European continent.
  3. 00
    Tusk and Stone by Malcolm Bosse (joririchardson)
    joririchardson: This book provides a vivid picture into the life of a mahout, men who rode elephants in historical India.
  4. 00
    The Pope's Rhinoceros by Lawrence Norfolk (joririchardson)
    joririchardson: Both books are historically set and are about transporting large African animals across the world.

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» See also 143 mentions

English (39)  Spanish (11)  Italian (4)  All (2)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  All (1)  All (59)
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
King Joao III of Portugal feared that he hadn't given an impressive enough wedding present to his cousin, Archduke Maximilian of Austria. He determined to regift him with an elephant, Solomon, that had been given to King Joao several years earlier (and done nothing but eat ever since).

Based on a true story that occurred in 1551, this is an imagining of the elephant's journey by land and water, along with his mahout Sudhro, a military escort, an assortment of drivers needed to carry the elephant's food and water and eventually Archduke Maximilian and his wife.

Sudhro, is a deceptively simple man; however he organizes the expedition, cares for the elephant and entertains us hugely with his sly philosophy about both large and small people and events; he even arranges a few small miracles for the Holy Catholic Church.

Saramego's style takes some getting used to. Only the first letter of each sentence is capitalized; paragraphs go on for pages with little punctuation. At first I thought this might be conscious imitation of to 16th century manuscript style; but since then, I also read that Saramago is known for his lack of adherence to stylistic rules.

For me it was well worth the journey. I'll be reading more by this Portuguese author ( )
  streamsong | Oct 12, 2017 |
Based on an amazingly true story of an elephant's journey from Lisbon to Vienna in 1551, the novella reflects on the symbolism of the elephant, the journey itself and the politics of being human. Saramago's signature long-winded, almost punctuationless run-on sentences lend themselves effectively to this end but not to recounting the facts and logistics of such a journey which is the main drawcard of such a plot. This is more for fans of Saramago's other writings rather than first-timers trying to get into his writing. ( )
  kitzyl | Sep 29, 2016 |
A fictional telling of the elephant Solomon's journey from the court of King João III of Portugal to Archduke Maximilian and his imperial city of Vienna in 1551. You'd expect a historically influenced story to have majestic opening, an impressive arc, and a finale to remember, but Saramago does not do the expected. His story is one that deals with little people (animal carers, soldiers, farmers) and the physical practicalities of transporting a huge animal across Southern Europe (food, water, and shelter). A big story becomes a small story then, but a small story that stays with you for a long time. Subhro, Solomon's mahout, is a simple man, but his thoughts about religion, power, class, and life in general are only simplistic on the surface and Saramago gives him a humble voice that has plenty of sharp things to say. It's a meandering story and the ending is almost abrupt, but Saramago's style is such that he will let the reader out on a loose line for a while and will then reliably reel him or her in to make a subtle and ironic point. Saramago is one of my favorite storytellers because, even when I feel completely lost, I know that in the end I can always rely on his skill to bring me home safe. ( )
1 vote -Eva- | Jul 28, 2016 |
Kıta Avrupası'nın en batısından, Lizbon'dan Viyana'ya doğru yola çıkan bir fil ile bakıcısı yoksul Subhro'nun ve bu tuhaf yolculuğun hikâyesidir Filin Yolculuğu. 16. yüzyılda, Portekiz kralı III. João, kuzeni Kutsal Roma-Germen İmparatoru II. Maximilian'a hediye olarak gönderir fil Süleyman'ı. Süleyman ile Subhro, yanlarında kendilerine eşlik eden Portekiz kralının korumaları ve yardımcı ırgatlarla zorlu yolculuklarına başlarlar. Portekiz'i, İtalya'yı, Alpler'i geçerken hayatlarında ilk kez bir Hintliyle karşılaşan, ilk kez bir fil gören köylüleri ve kasabalıları şaşırtır ve etkilerler. Yolculuğun ikinci bölümünde bizzat İmparator Maximilian ve karısı Maria tarafından karşılanır ve Viyana'ya onlarla birlikte giderler. José Saramago'nun bu en eğlenceli romanında, fil terbiyecisi Subhro'nun erdemi, pasifist felsefesi ve yaşama bakışındaki doğallık ve Süleyman'ın emir kabul etmeyen doğası, yolculuğun ritmini belirlerken, insanların ruhlarında değişimlere yol açar. Hinduizm, mistisizm ve Hıristiyanlık hikâyeleriyle, mucizelerle renklenen romanda Süleyman ve Subhro'nun dokunduğu insanlar, kilisenin söz verdiği türden bir mucizeyle karşılaşmazlar ama bu yabancılar onların ruhlarında derin izler bırakır. Saramago her zamanki ince mizahıyla, muhteşem metaforlarıyla ve insana dair gözlemleriyle olağanüstü bir yolculuğu anlatıyor.
  Cagatay | Jun 10, 2016 |
People use the words delightful, fanciful, and engaging when reviewing this book; I couldn't agree more. One reviewer wrote of the book's "sly charm"; I think that description is precise. The book is clever, funny, and fun to read: it's got the feeling of magical realism, but there's no magic in it.

I think that's how Saramago captures how very odd it must have been to see the future Holy Roman Emperor travel from Valladolid to Vienna via Trent, in 1551, with an elephant.

I picked the book up because of a review by Julie Schumacher, here.. ( )
  pdever | Mar 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
The Elephant’s Journey is a work of great and sly charm, taking its time to weave the nets in which its readers will find themselves delightfully enmeshed.
The real genius, however, is to tell the tale ahistorically. The narrator zooms in and out, forward and back, so we get a good look at Suleiman plodding up ancient mountains overlooking a deep blue sea, as if from a helicopter
"The Elephant's Journey" is a tale rich in irony and empathy, regularly interrupted by witty reflections on human nature and arch commentary on the powerful who insult human dignity.
In The Elephant's Journey his reminder of the importance of the nonhuman is on a far larger scale. So it isn't surprising that I rank it very high in his work, and that it immediately, with no effort at all, joined the more forbidding novels that I have come to love best – The Stone Raft, Blindness, The Cave.

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
José Saramagoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Costa, Margaret JullTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rio, Pilar delPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the end, we always arrive at the place where we are expected.

Book of Itineraries
For Pilar, who wouldn't let me die
First words
Strange though it may seem to anyone unaware of the importance of the marital bed in the efficient workings of public administration, regardless of whether that bed has been blessed by church or state or no one at all, the first step of an elephant's extraordinary journey to austria, which we propose to describe hereafter, took place in the royal apartments of the portuguese court, more or less at bedtime.
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Lässt man der Zeit nur Zeit, werden alle Dinge des Universums sich ineinanderfügen.
Eine weinende Königin ist ein Schauspiel, bei dem es der Anstand gebietet, den Blick abzuwenden.
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Book description
In 1551, King Joao of Portugal makes a startling diplomatic move by giving Archduke Maximilian of Austria the elephant housed on Portuguese royal grounds. The problem is that the elephant needs to be transported from Lisbon to Vienna. Because the era is pre–jumbo jet and Vienna is not a seaport, Solomon the elephant must walk! Solomon’s trek across Europe, across mountains and rivers, accompanied by his Hindu keeper and a host of other retainers and attendants, is followed in this extremely amusing, historically resonant, fablelike, and technically challenging narrative. The astonishment that Solomon arouses en route is summed up in one person’s reaction: “Well, it isn’t every day that an elephant appears in our lives.” Solomon shows quiet heroism yet is never anthropomorphized: “Despite his poor sight, he shot them a stern glance, making it clear that he was not some fairground animal, but an honest worker who had been deprived of his job by unfortunate circumstances too complicated to go into, and had, so to speak, been forced to accept public charity.”
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"The enchanting tale of an elephant, his keeper, and their journey through sixteenth-century Europe, based on a true story." (from the back cover).

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