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Caino by Jose Saramago
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Caino (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Jose Saramago, Rita Desti

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6493714,860 (3.69)74
Member:IoAnnalisa
Title:Caino
Authors:Jose Saramago
Other authors:Rita Desti
Info:Milano, Mondolibri, stampa 2010
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:narrativa portoghese, cristianesimo

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Cain by José Saramago (2009)

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» See also 74 mentions

English (23)  Spanish (4)  French (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
at first it was hard to take because it seemed so sacrilegious. But by the end I thought it was pretty descriptive of man. We are always arguing with God and seeing ourselves as more righteous and more God than God. This book may actually provoke some to read the Bible and yes, I think it is pretty hard for us to understand the God of the Old Testament. I think I agree with Aga, this may not be his best book and I wonder if it was a bad place to start with Saramago. One thing that I really liked was Saramago mentions that Adam almost lived to the time of Noah. I had only recently come to realize that when I was reading Genesis at the first of this year. Saramago knows his Bible as he would need to do to write this satire. ( )
  Kristelh | Jun 18, 2014 |
A retelling of sorts of the Old Testament through Cain as he walks through the biblical Middle East as well as through time. He points out some of the fallacies in the Bible. This book is one of the reasons that Jose Saramago is one of my favorite authors. ( )
  bibliophile_pgh | May 25, 2014 |
This was Jose Saramago's last book and he obviously decided to make a serious attack on Christianity and the god of the Old Testament in a big way. He does this in his usual humorous and clever way and as a Happy Heathen myself it makes me wonder why there are not more writers doing this.
The story follows Cain as he leaves his home after murdering his brother and travelling around the Middle East coming upon the key events I remember from Sunday School bible readings. He finds himself with Isaac, Job, in Sodom, Jerico and waiting for Moses to come down from Mount Sinai. He sees the work of a jealous and destructive god who flounces in and out in his best clothes and Cain is not happy with the actions of a god that is happy to kill innocent people and young children as well as those who have done 'wrong' just because he was too lazy and impatient to get those people out to safety first. The idea of the jealous god is taken to extremes when he gets friendly with a couple of angels while helping Noah build his arc; the angels admit that it is much more fun living on earth than heaven (it is just celestial throngs and singing in heaven) but they couldn't tell god because he would be jealous and cross. We end up with a vision of a god that doesn't really like what he has created and almost wishes he hadn't bothered. This is a fantastic and well thought through idea that Saramago takes to the limit and as John Updike so brilliantly put it, 'He can bring any improbability to life'.
Among the encounters with bible stories Saramago includes a fantasy section where Cain meets a 'volumptuous' woman who lives in a palace and who keeps him for her bed-mate for a few years. He shows Cain as an insatiable and brilliant lover. It is more difficult here to understanding what he is making fun of; the idea of a male slave kept as a lover for a woman; the fantasy of a beautiful woman wanting to spend every day having sex with you and you being that perfect lover or a sort of 'in your dreams' statement. It is not clear who is the oppressed in this relationship; Cain gets away and is missed but he is the one who has no other lover, she continues to use men to fulfil her desires after Cain has gone. Saramago shows Cain as a man that is unable to form any strong relationship bond with anyone and this is perhaps important for his final acts.
An excellent novel that is an easy read and made me laugh out loud despite Saramago style which is reminiscent of the bible, without the numbers. ( )
  Tifi | Apr 5, 2014 |
Entretenido, quizás su mayor virtud. Fuera de eso, narra un raro recorrido de Caín por el antiguo testamento (raro que deje de lado la vida de Caín que narra el propio Génesis tras el asuntito de Abel). Trasuda el popular antisemitismo de Saramago con afirmaciones lapidarias. Los argumentos son bastante poco originales, tratar a dios de psicópata (lo hace con más gracia, para mí, Frederic Brown) o de cruel a secas (mil otras referencias), notar las inconsistencias bíblicas del antiguo testamento desde lo más sintomático y cosas así. También me hizo acordar mucho a El viaje de los siete demonios, de Manuel Mujica Láinez, ese viaje en el espacio y en el tiempo hacia acontecimientos histórica o literariamente relevantes, cada tanto dios hace un aparte y dice algo secreto que contradice lo bíblico para luego agregar que no lo cuente a nadie (ese es un comodín que usa Saramago bastante chanta). Tiene su arbitrario uso de las mayúsculas y los bloques de párrafo, pero en definitiva es divertido el viaje y está muy bien escrito como novela de aventuras. El final, una discusión eterna entre Caín y dios, no podría ser más judaico. ( )
  gabrielgraves | Jan 13, 2014 |
Saramago came from a poor peasant family in Portugal and didn't gain significant recognition for his writing until he was 60 years old. He received the Nobel Prize in 1998 and [Cain], his last novel was published in 2009, the year before his death. The book tells the story of what happens to Cain after he is forced to roam the earth as punishment for killing his brother. He wanders through time as well as space, attending many of the major events of the Old Testament.
He didn't have to travel very far to leave behind him the sad present of the land of uz and find himself, instead, surrounded by green mountains and lush valleys flowing with streams of such pure, crystalline water as eye had never seen nor mouth tasted. It could have been the garden of eden of now fond memory, for the passing years had taken with them many a painful recollection. And yet, there was something false and artificial about that dazzling landscape, as if it were a backdrop specially prepared for some purpose quite indecipherable to someone riding a very ordinary donkey and without a Michelin guide to land.

An atheist and communist, Saramago was often at odds with the establishment. In ]The Gospel According to Jesus Christ] and [Cain] he depicts God as fallible and cruel. Nevertheless, his writing style is light and even rather humorous and it can take a bit of getting used to. For example, he doesn't use quotes or phrases like "he said" to indicate when speakers in a dialog change, rather he simply capitalizes the first letter of a new speakers contribution. In sum though the book is a quick, pleasant read with an interesting slant. **** ( )
  RebaRelishesReading | Sep 10, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
José Saramagoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Costa, Margaret JullTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
C'est par la foi qu'Abel offrit à Dieu un sacrifice plus excellent  que celui de Caïn ; c'est par elle qu'il fut déclaré juste, Dieu approuvant ses offrandes ; et c'est par elle qu'il parle encore, quoique mort.
Hébreux, 11,4.
Livre des absurdités
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À Pilar, et c'est comme dire eau.
A Pilar, como se dissesse água
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Quand le seigneur, connu aussi sous le nom de dieu, s'aperçut qu'adam et ève, parfaits en tout ce qui se présentait à la vue, ne pouvaient faire sortir un seul mot de leur bouche ni émettre ne fût-ce qu'un simple son primitif, il dut sûrement s'irriter contre lui-même puisqu'il n'y avait personne d'autre dans le jardin d'éden qu'il pût rendre responsable de cette gravissime erreur, alors que tous les autres animaux, produits, comme les deux humaine, du que cela soit divin, bénéficiaient déjà d'une voix qui leur était propre , les uns au moyen de mugissements et de rugissements, les autres de grognements, et de gazouillements, de sifflements et de gloussements.
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The history of mankind is the history of our misunderstandings with god, for he doesn't understand us, and we don't understand him.
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"In this, his last novel, Saramago daringly reimagines the characters and narratives of the Bible through the story of Cain. Condemned to wander forever after he kills Abel, he is whisked around in time and space. He experiences the almost-sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, the Tower of Babel, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Joshua at the battle of Jericho, Job's ordeal, and finally Noah's ark and the Flood. And over and over again Cain encounters an unjust, even cruel God. A startling, beautifully written, and powerful book, in all ways a fitting end to Saramago's extraordinary career"--… (more)

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