Cain

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Cain

by José Saramago
Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | October 9, 2012 | Trade Paperback

Cain is rated 4.2 out of 5 by 5.
"Saramago juxtaposes an eminently readable narrative of work and poverty, class and desire, knowledge and timelessness-one in which God, too, as he faces Cain in the wake of Noah''s Ark, emerges as far more human than expected." -San Francisco Chronicle

In this, his last novel, José Saramago daringly reimagines the characters and narratives of the Old Testament, recalling his provocative The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. His tale runs from the Garden of Eden, when God realizes he has forgotten to give Adam and Eve the gift of speech, to the moment when Noah''s Ark lands on the dry peak of Ararat. Cain, the despised, the murderer, is Saramago''s protagonist.

Condemned to wander forever after he kills his brother Abel, Cain makes his way through the world in the company of a personable donkey. He is a witness to and participant in the stories of Isaac and Abraham, the destruction of the Tower of Babel, Moses and the golden calf, the trials of Job. The rapacious Queen Lilith takes him as her lover. An old man with two sheep on a rope crosses his path. And again and again, Cain encounters a God whose actions seem callous, cruel, and unjust. He confronts Him, he argues with Him. "And one thing we know for certain," Saramago writes, "is that they continued to argue and are arguing still."

A startling book-sensual, funny-and in all ways a fitting end to Saramago''s extraordinary career.

"A winkingly blasphemous retelling of the Old Testament . . . Saramago, playfully stretching his chatty late style, pokes holes in the stated logic of the Biblical God throughout the novel." -The New Yorker

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 176 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.5 in

Published: October 9, 2012

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0547840179

ISBN - 13: 9780547840178

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from A True Master Saramago proves once again why he is the Master. This particular offering revolves around a man named Tertuliano Maximo Aphonso and his discovery of another man who is his double and his search to meet this man. The story is told in true Saramago style, with character's dialogue separated only by commas, for example. It is easy to get attached to the main character and the people in his life, including Common Sense. The story does include an interesting twist at the end. The Double is a great read, one ofmy favorites from this fantastic author.
Date published: 2009-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The same great Saramago One more masterpiece from Saramago; once you discover his style, you just fall in love with it and find simple phrasing a bit boring. The subject in "The Double" is not new in world's literature but Saramago just knows to make it original in his own way.
Date published: 2008-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!! Don't be discouraged by first 50 pages! Since I read Blindness by Jose Saramago, I have been on the lookout for more of his works. Blindness is one of my favourite books and one that I think everyone should read at some point in their life. These works are translated from Portuguese and Saramago has a Nobel prize for his literary works. Tertuliano Maximo Afonso is a history teacher with depression. In hopes of making him feel better, his colleague recommends a comedic movie. Afonso rents this movie, doesn't think too highly of it, and goes to sleep. In the middle of the night, he wakes up with an odd feeling. The movie is playing on his tv and someone that looks exactly like him is acting as the hotel receptionist in the movie. These two don't just look like each other - they are identical. Even their voice is exactly the same. Afonso sets to find out who this man is. When he finally tracks him down, the two engage in a tale of bitterness, revenge, happiness, and finding out who they really are. True to Saramago style, the novel is written with very few paragraphs and periods. All conversations are separated only by a comma. It takes a while to get into this and is difficult to read at first, but don't let this stop you from finishing any of Saramago's works! While I felt that part of the books had been dragged out a bit - for example, there were too many conversations with "common sense" - all that was completely forgiven by the incredible ending! One doesn't really expect twists except in mystery novels, so I was completely shocked by this one! Wow! One of the best-ended books I've ever read!
Date published: 2008-04-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Awful.... highly disappointing Disappointing to say the least. I read (ie. suffered) through over 100 pages of this book and finally could take no more. I was extremely disappointed because I love Jose Saramago's work and have read 4 of his previous novels. I was expecting another great novel. The premise is very interesting in that the main character is watching a video and see's an actor who looks, speaks and acts like him. However the book is filled with the author talking to the reader about points which do nothing but drag on the story, which after 100 pages could have been summed up in about 10-15 pages. HIGHLY disappointing! Read Blindness instead.
Date published: 2005-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant The Stone Raft is good enough to restore ones faith in the power of literature. Jose Saramago seems to have remembered that the basis of any great novel is the story. And this is a great story. One day, the Iberian Peninsula shears off from the European continent and begins to drift across the Atlantic Ocean. A diverse group of Portugese and Spaniards wander across the "island" searching for answers as to why this has occured. What they find are the answers to many important and difficult questions. Fortunately, the "point" of the story never gets in the way of what is a great adventure. Touching, gripping, eye opening and hugely entertaining, this is one of the best novels I have read in years.
Date published: 2000-07-20

– More About This Product –

Cain

by José Saramago
Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 176 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.5 in

Published: October 9, 2012

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0547840179

ISBN - 13: 9780547840178

Read from the Book

1 When the lord, also known as god, realized that adam and eve, although perfect in every outward aspect, could not utter a word or make even the most primitive of sounds, he must have felt annoyed with himself, for there was no one else in the garden of eden whom he could blame for this grave oversight, after all, the other animals, who were, like the two humans, the product of his divine command, already had a voice of their own, be it a bellow, a roar, a croak, a chirp, a whistle or a cackle. In an excess of rage, surprising in someone who could have solved any problem simply by issuing another quick fiat, he rushed over to adam and eve and unceremoniously, no half-measures, stuck his tongue down the throats of first one and then the other. From the texts which, over the centuries, have provided a somewhat random record of those remote times, be it of events that might, at some future date, be awarded canonical status and others deemed to be the fruit of apocryphal and irredeemably heretical imaginations, it is not at all clear what kind of tongue was being referred to here, whether the moist, flexible muscle that moves around in the buccal cavity and occasionally outside it too, or the gift of speech, also known as language, that the lord had so regrettably forgotten to give them and about which we know nothing, since not a trace of it remains, not even a heart engraved on the bark of a tree, accompanied by some sentimental message, something along the lines of I love eve
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From the Publisher

"Saramago juxtaposes an eminently readable narrative of work and poverty, class and desire, knowledge and timelessness-one in which God, too, as he faces Cain in the wake of Noah''s Ark, emerges as far more human than expected." -San Francisco Chronicle

In this, his last novel, José Saramago daringly reimagines the characters and narratives of the Old Testament, recalling his provocative The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. His tale runs from the Garden of Eden, when God realizes he has forgotten to give Adam and Eve the gift of speech, to the moment when Noah''s Ark lands on the dry peak of Ararat. Cain, the despised, the murderer, is Saramago''s protagonist.

Condemned to wander forever after he kills his brother Abel, Cain makes his way through the world in the company of a personable donkey. He is a witness to and participant in the stories of Isaac and Abraham, the destruction of the Tower of Babel, Moses and the golden calf, the trials of Job. The rapacious Queen Lilith takes him as her lover. An old man with two sheep on a rope crosses his path. And again and again, Cain encounters a God whose actions seem callous, cruel, and unjust. He confronts Him, he argues with Him. "And one thing we know for certain," Saramago writes, "is that they continued to argue and are arguing still."

A startling book-sensual, funny-and in all ways a fitting end to Saramago''s extraordinary career.

"A winkingly blasphemous retelling of the Old Testament . . . Saramago, playfully stretching his chatty late style, pokes holes in the stated logic of the Biblical God throughout the novel." -The New Yorker

About the Author

JOSÉ SARAMAGO (1922-2010) was the author of many novels, among them Blindness, All the Names, Baltasar and Blimunda, and The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis. In 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

MARGARET JULL COSTA has established herself as the premier translator of Portuguese literature into English today.

Editorial Reviews

"Cain''s vagabond journey builds to a stunning climax that, like the book itself, is a fitting capstone to a remarkable career."
-Publishers Weekly, starred

  "Saramago transforms familiar stories boldly, but with an intricate respect for their power and for the mysterious power of storytelling itself. Far from merely inverting the biblical tales or turning them inside out, he folds and refolds them in a prismatic, shadowly light."-Robert Pinsky, New York Times Book Review

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