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Cain by Jose Saramago
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Cain (original 2009; edition 2011)

by Jose Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa (Translator)

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6794014,070 (3.7)76
Member:ellengryphon
Title:Cain
Authors:Jose Saramago
Other authors:Margaret Jull Costa (Translator)
Info:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2011), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 176 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Bible, grudges, Cain, ethics, religion

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Cain by José Saramago (2009)

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» See also 76 mentions

English (25)  Spanish (4)  French (3)  Italian (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (40)
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Dire che Saramago è una gioia per il lettore è come dire che l’acqua è bagnata. A questo standard si aggiunge un umorismo spettacolare e la divulgazione, senza mezzi termini, della moralità del dio dei cristiani. L’invenzione narrativa si sposa con la saggezza e l'acume di un "grande vecchio" e il risultato è un piccolo, immortale testo. ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
Absolutely fascinating and very, very controversial - especially would be for fundamentalist Christians and, maybe, moderate Christians. Offers some very biting critique of a literalistic reading of some Old Testament stories. Didn't like the writing style, which was essentially grammar and punctuation free. I assume this was because it reflects the nature of Hebrew text. Got used to it after awhile. Very thought-provoking and, sometimes, confronting. Highly recommend for anyone with an open mind. ( )
  spbooks | Nov 14, 2014 |
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 |
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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 your language.
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 your language.
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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