Manual of Painting and Calligraphy was Jose Saramago's first novel. Written eight years before the critically acclaimed Baltasar and Blimunda , it is a story of self-discovery set against the background of the last years of Salazar's dictatorship. A struggling young artist, commissioned to paint a portrait of an influential industrialist, learns in the process about himself and the world around him. The brilliant juxtaposition of a passionate love story and the crisis of a nation foreshadows all of Saramago's major works. A must-have for any devotee of the great Portuguese Nobel laureate, Manual of Painting and Calligraphy is available in the United States for the first time.