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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.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0476411,995 (3.7)147
  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 147 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Beautifully written. Creative. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Dec 21, 2018 |
Realmente me gusto, es el primero que leo de Saramago, me gusto mucho su narrativa y elegancia en sus letras que se conserva aun traducido. ( )
  AlexGarza | Oct 4, 2018 |
The elephant's journey was Saramago's penultimate novel - it's a superficially light and straightforward story, based on a real incident, the gift of an elephant from King João III of Portugal to Archduke Maximilian of Austria in 1551. The elephant Solomon (renamed Suleiman by the Archduke) has to travel on foot from Lisbon to Valladolid and then on to Vienna, accompanied by his mahout and a suitable military escort (Portuguese on the first stage; Maximilian's Austrian retinue thereafter).

Saramago treats this simple journey narrative with his usual irony and stubborn refusal to take the past on its own terms - there are plenty of witty swipes at royalty, clergy, the military, civil servants and the foibles of 16th century humanity in general, contrasted with the patient tolerance of the elephant, who remains determinedly just an elephant, whatever symbolic roles the people around it are trying to impose. And the mahout, an Indian a long way from home, whose straightforward relationship with the elephant is contrasted with his complex human worries about what is going to happen to them. Wonderful! ( )
1 vote thorold | May 7, 2018 |
What an odd book! At first I took the style to be a problem of translation, but apparently it was all intended by the author. Particularly the conversations took a good bit of attention at first, with their very peculiar punctuation, or lack thereof, but there was something in it all that kept me reading. The story itself was interesting, but was close to being secondary to the writing style with its omniscient narrator commenting on everything under the sun. Definitely different! ( )
  Siubhan | Feb 28, 2018 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (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 (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
José Saramagoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Costa, Margaret JullTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Desti, RitaTranslatorsecondary 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
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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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