Lanzarote, the island that transformed Saramago’s writing

Arrecife de Lanzarote, Jul 29 (EFE) .- The landscape and way of life in his “refuge” in Lanzarote contributed to universalize the work of the Nobel Prize in Literature José Saramago, who, after his residence in the Canary Islands, abandoned interest in historical issues and became a more direct writer.

This consideration is made in an interview with EFE by the member of the Royal Spanish Academy for Portugal and professor at the University of Coimbra, Carlos Reis, curator of the commemorative acts of the centenary of the Portuguese writer’s birth that will take place throughout the next year globally.

For Reis, one of the main scholars of Saramago’s work, the fact that the Nobel Prize for Literature decided to establish his permanent residence on the island clearly influenced the writer’s work “and we can consider this on two levels.”

“One is evident since in Lanzarote, Saramago found his refuge, his home, after he experienced a regrettable episode in Portugal with the publication of one of his works. And then, at another level that has not yet been sufficiently studied, and I don’t know to what extent Saramago’s writing itself was influenced by the island’s setting, “says the expert.

Reis indicates that it should be taken into account that Saramago wrote an important part of his literary production in Lanzarote, especially that (from “Essay on blindness”) in which the way of writing changed.


He assures that this change is reflected in the fact that, in Lanzarote, Saramago “becomes a more direct writer, a writer who elaborates less, as an act of literary baroque, language” and who deals, above all, with universal themes allegorical.

“The change of the Saramago interested in history, in the Portuguese social life, of the peasants, of the workers, of historical figures such as Don Juan Quinto, or Ricardo Reis, that time is a time before Lanzarote”, the academic sentenced. In this sense, Carlos Reis recalls that during his residency on the island, Saramago wrote works such as “La Caverna”, “The essay on lucidity” or “Journey of the elephant”, which highlight this difference. In his opinion, it would be convenient to study in depth this apparent influence of the landscape in the work.

One of the colloquia programmed in Portugal on the occasion of the celebration of the centenary of the birth of the Nobel Prize in Literature will revolve precisely around the “Aesthetics and ethics of the novel in Saramago” who, according to Reis, especially from ” Essay on blindness “is a novelist who not only deals with human subjects, but above all those that have an ethical dimension.

“In principle and usually from a very critical point of view: human cruelty, injustice between men, personal identity, the double personality that we can have and I speak of some themes of his works of what he himself called the time of the stone, “he adds.

Reis indicates that, although in this new period the writer “goes directly to these issues of an ethical dimension”, he does not forget an ideological dimension in his production, although it was more evident “in the Saramago of the statues, following again the classification that he he did himself.

In this sense, Carlos Reis recalls that “any writer, by giving importance to the ethical dimension of his work, speaks not only for today’s readers but also for readers a hundred years from now” and this is, he adds, precisely “one of the aspects that most guarantee you that Saramago is a writer of now and of the future “.


Carlos Reis has visited Lanzarote to work on the planning of the events that will take place to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the Portuguese writer, whose coordination he is responsible for worldwide.

The study of his biography, the reading of his works, new publications in different formats of his works and academic meetings on his figure around the world will be the central axes of the commemorative acts of the centenary of the birth of the Nobel Prize in literature.

Reis points out that the “fundamental” axis of the centenary will be reading, “but in a very broad aspect, that is, the reading of Saramago in schools, in universities, but also the reading of Saramago in exhibitions, in artistic representations, in adaptations. theatrical. All that understood as reading or rereading of Saramago “.

For Carlos Reis, the work of the Portuguese Nobel Prize continues to be in the foreground as evidenced by the fact that with the pandemic, one of his work “Essay on Blindness” has gained exceptional importance because Saramago “knew how to foresee the future and anticipate tragedies” .

Salvador Hernandez


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