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Alle namen roman by José Saramago

Alle namen roman (original 1997; edition 2007)

by José Saramago

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2,647624,257 (3.94)70
Senhor José is determined to find out more about a woman he only knows from the birth certificate he discovered at his job as a clerk in the Central Registry.
Title:Alle namen roman
Authors:José Saramago
Info:Amsterdam Meulenhoff 2007
Collections:Your library

Work Information

All the Names by José Saramago (1997)


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English (47)  Spanish (7)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  German (1)  All languages (61)
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
We've all encountered Senhor José, some of us may even know him; a man so inconsequential he has no family name. Names are his life though, for Senhor José toils five and a half days a week at the Central Registry for Births, Marriages, and Deaths, the place where all life's milestones have been recorded painstakingly on file cards by hand since time immemorial. Divorces are recorded now too in this secular age, but the institutional name remains.

Senhor José's leisure time is spent augmenting the histories of those he feels may become famous. To do this, he surreptitiously brings home records from the Central Registry and copies them onto purloined official forms, then augments these files with newspaper and magazine clippings; a harmless enough activity, but not sanctioned.

His home is little more than a stable attached to the great building. This means he can secretly enter and exit at night through a forgotten connecting door. Each morning, however, he must line up on the front steps with all the other workers, who enter by seniority with the Registrar last of all.

One day Senhor José found an ordinary woman's file card accidentally picked up with those of his chosen subjects. He made the daring decision to find out all he could about her. Once launched on this quest, José became more and more daring. He asked for a half hour off one day, his first such request in twenty-five years of working at the Registry. He created a masterful forgery, a letter identifying him and requiring all he questioned to aid him. He stumbled along, always terrified of getting caught, yet going deeper and deeper down his rabbit hole. As he went, this friendless man learned to speak with others, to realize there were areas of chaos in the world. Each night, after writing his findings in a journal, he discussed them with the ceiling above his bed, and pondered the replies.

Anyone who's ever worked in a bureaucracy will recognize the sheer silliness of so much in Senhor José's work world. Every couple of years, The Registry buillt out a new rear wall to accommodate the ever increasing number of file cards for the deceased. Should these be arranged with the most recent dead in front, as these are the cards most likely to be needed; or should they be arranged with the earlier dead in front so that the files don't all need to be moved back with each extension?

Saramago writes with a real fondness for Senhor José, an Everyman of the office. Who else could create such a delightful book around such a character, and successfully liberate him?
1 vote SassyLassy | Aug 17, 2021 |
I've been lingering over this book because it's one of the last of Saramago's that I haven't yet read. I bought it before he died, and now there won't be anymore. This made the book, and the ending, all the more poignant.

I love an ending that makes me want to start the book all over again because I know it will only deepen with rereading, and this was one of those books. ( )
  Charon07 | Jul 16, 2021 |
shades of Kafka. not a light book. pages of one sentence. just read other reviews. now know I did get it. language was beautiful, but story line too spare for me. ( )
  SusanWallace | Jul 10, 2021 |
I find José Saramago to be one of the greatest writers I’ve come across. His writing style complements his sense of humour and humanity, and the way he weaves his stories out of the sometimes comical, sometimes absurd, often both, and of the everyday comings and goings of people, results in his hands in strong prose, acute sense of humanity and overall entertaining literature.

That said, All the Names (1997) was, for some reason, a bit of a letdown. I did appreciate the play with catalogues, identity and search of self, and I think the parts of the book that had our narrator play detective against the regulations straight out of Gilliam’s Brazil (1985) were fantastic literature. But something I couldn’t connect with, and found myself losing the way at some point, and couldn’t find back.

The overall feeling that remains after perhaps four months is that it could have been shorter, which is strange since I've never felt Saramago to meander or beat around the bush. It won’t be until sometime when I’ll give it another try, but maybe I simply read it at the wrong time.

6 October,
2014 ( )
  Thay1234 | May 27, 2020 |
An intriguing story with a weird ending that I may need a few days to process. Nevertheless, I love Mr. Saramago's works and look forward to the next one. ( )
1 vote RoxieT | Nov 9, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Saramago, Joséprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Costa, Margaret JullTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kort, Maartje deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mertin, Ray-GüdeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rio, Pilar delTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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You know the name you were given,
you do not know the name that you have.

'The book of certainties.'
For Pilar
First words
Encima del marco de la puerta hay una chapa metálica y estrecha.....
Above the door frame is a long, narrow plaque of enamelled metal.
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Meneer Joses besluit kwam twee dagen later bij hem op. Over het algemeen zeggen we van een besluit niet dat het opkomt, mensen maken zich zo druk om hun identiteit, hoe vaag die ook mag zijn, en hun autoriteit, hoe weinig ze daar ook van mogen hebben, dat ze liever doen alsof ze hebben nagedacht alvorens de stap te zetten, alsof ze de voors en tegens hebben afgewogen, alsof ze alle mogelijkheden en alternatieven in hun overweging hebben meegenomen en na zware mentale arbeid ten slotte hun besluit hebben genomen.
Welbeschouwd nemen wij geen beslissingen, maar nemen beslissingen ons. Het bewijs hiervoor is dat ons hele leven een aaneenschakeling is van de meest uiteenlopende handelingen, die we verrichten zonder ze stuk voor stuk te laten voorafgaan door een periode van denken, peinzen, rekenen, met aan het einde daarvan, en geen moment eerder, de conclusie dat de tijd rijp is voor het besluit om te gaan lunchen, een krant te kopen, op zoek te gaan naar een onbekende vrouw.
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Senhor José is determined to find out more about a woman he only knows from the birth certificate he discovered at his job as a clerk in the Central Registry.

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