July 30, 2021

Spain and Portugal unite to claim Saramago | Culture

Spain and Portugal unite to claim Saramago | Culture

Two days after the 20th anniversary of the greatest literary recognition that José Saramago had, the Nobel Prize for Literature, the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has honored this Saturday in Lanzarote, together with the Prime Minister of Portugal, the socialist António Costa, to the author of works as Convent Memorial (1982) or The year of the death of Ricardo Reis (1984), two titles that gave him the push for international fame. Sanchez, after the act, held in the writer's House Museum in the town of Tías, where he lived from 1993 until his death in 2010, has declared to EL PAÍS that his favorite novelist titles are: "All the names, The stone raft -The Iberian fable that tells how the Peninsula breaks away from Europe- and Essay on blindness. They are my favorite because of their commitment. "The president added to this newspaper that Pilar del Río, the novelist's widow, had told her during the visit that" Saramago wrote only two pages a day and it shows. He needed to let the words rest. "

For more than an hour, Sanchez and Costa, accompanied by other authorities of the Canarian President, Fernando Clavijo, toured with Del Rio the house where she lived with Saramago, stopping in the garden in which, under the shadow of a large ficus benjamín, remains the black chair "in which José sat," she explained, observed by her cat, Frido. From there, there is a paradisiacal vision of the valley that flows into the Lanzarote sea. The tour continued in A Casa, the writer's museum with, among other rooms, a library of 15,000 volumes, arranged by country, except for a corner that Del Río wanted to reserve for authors.

Among those books, Sánchez said Saramago helped "the Spaniards to get to know Portugal better and ourselves." After remembering that both neighboring countries lived "a long time on their backs," he underlined "Saramago's immense affection for Spain" and how "he found peace and inspiration in Lanzarote". Not in vain, in the Canary Island wrote successes like Essay on blindness or All the names, as Del Rio recalled. Sánchez emphasized his "moral values" and added that "he was an honest human being who did not shut himself up in ivory towers, from which the meaning of the reality of things is so often lost". The president, in an intervention in which there could be no questions, said that the Portuguese creator "would ask us today for commitment to social justice or the environment, a humanism in the face of hate speech and exclusion." Sanchez added that, following the example of the author, "we must seek equality and human dignity." He found incompatible the beauty of the world with such misery.

Unpublished notes

Sanchez, who at the exit signed the petition for citizenship so that next to the Museum House there is a signage that allows to find it without problems, he remembered the speech of acceptance of the Nobel of Saramago, "in which he spoke of his grandfather, pastor and storyteller " Precisely, the impressions and reflections of Saramago of that festive 1998 are contained in the book that will be launched next week, The notebook of the year of the Nobel (Alfaguara), in an international congress that will be held in Coimbra (Portugal) from 8 to 10. Those unpublished personal notes were found by Del Río, by chance, in a folder of a Saramago computer last July. It is the sixth of those who called Notebooks of Lanzarote. There are his criticisms of the IMF, the United States or the then Portuguese Prime Minister, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, and, of course, the crazy days of the award of the Swedish Academy.

Saramago helped the Spanish to know better Portugal and ourselves

Pedro Sánchez

In this line, the Portuguese Prime Minister said that Lanzarote is "a metaphor of how the human will can change a volcanic scenario in a wonderful place" and that "the figure of Saramago represents today a line of union between Spain and Portugal." He recalled that it was the first Nobel Prize in Portuguese and that "he was a writer with several voices and nationalities, the first of them, the Portuguese." The Portuguese head of government concluded by emphasizing that in the author's work "there is a humanism to the limit that denies any complacency."

Del Río, who began his speech by addressing Sánchez: "You bring regeneration projects that many of us applaud"; He especially appreciated the presence of Costa, "the first person to whom it was reported that José had died and who organized the farewell of the writer at the City Council of Lisbon, which he then presided over". The translator was the one who had convinced Saramago to settle in Lanzarote when in Portugal, in 1992, he was disowned for publishing EThe Gospel according to Jesus Christ, to the point that an undersecretary of Culture of the Government of Cavaco Silva decided that this title could not be submitted to the European Literary Prize for its offenses to Catholics.

As if taking the voice of her husband, Del Rio took the opportunity to attack "against the economic disorder without limits" and stressed the defense of nature on the island that inhabits. A message linked to the previous visit of Sánchez and Costa in the César Manrique Foundation, that of the artist who "thanks to his spirit saved Lanzarote".

The Nobel, kidnapped

In an act that Pilar del Río described as "unofficial, simple and emotional," the widow of Saramago recalled with humor the frenzy of the days of the Nobel Prize for Literature. She was in Lanzarote and José Saramago had heard the news at the Book Fair in Frankfurt. "Many people were very happy, like Juan Cruz [entonces director de la Oficina del Autor del grupo PRISA] who kidnapped José to the point that Jesús de Polanco, the president of PRISA, said in some acts, joking: 'Nobel Prize, Juan Cruz, José Saramago picks up.


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