Philip Womack admires another fable from Nobel Laureate José Saramago. Buy Death at Intervals by José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa from Amazon’s Fiction Books Store. Everyday low prices on a huge range of new releases and. In José Saramago’s latest novel, death falls in love and takes a holiday.

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In the novel, death takes exception and threatens to kill the sub-editor; one wonders if Saramago is fulfilling some long-hidden fantasy.

In Death at Intervals Saramago explores, among other things, the ramifications for this process of a minute orthographic decision. Like many of the Portuguese Nobel laureate’s novels, this has a fable-like quality, seen in the simplicity of the central trope and the action’s setting – a small country with a terminally ill Queen Mother, pragmatic Prime Minister, and one state-run TV channel.

This page was last edited on 21 Novemberat Perhaps his greatest novel, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, takes a simple twist – Jesus was the son of Joseph, not God – to explore matters of belief, duty and sin.

The long shadow of thanatos has been withdrawn, and the church gets upset: Accessibility links Skip to article Skip to navigation. Death at Intervals begins with a striking conceit: Saramago admits, and indeed revels in, the many absurdities that this raises: Four Lions A film that laughs at suicide bombers but doesn’t offend anyone?

As with Kafka’s Metamorphosis, the series of events is perfectly believable once the initial impossibility has occurred: Love stories ask intervaks it is that brings lovers together and, by extension, what it is that makes us human.

For millennia, Death’s done things the same way but is obviously in the mood for change; hence her eight-month holiday.


No one writes quite like Saramago, so solicitous and yet so magnificently free. The perkily omniscient narrator, too, is wondering where this narrative is taking us, because he soon deviates from the plot into ironic asides, philosophical digressions and erudite jokes, all of which spill on to the page unrestrained by punctuation. Being female, she is capricious, bossy and susceptible to flattery.

Death at Intervals by José Saramago | New Humanist

A means of finally killing people, and relieving families of the burden of their catatonic kin, is devised and implemented by an underground group known only as the maphia the ‘ph’ is chosen to avoid any confusion with the more sinister Mafia.

Meanwhile, the families of some people in arrested death smuggle them over the border to get rid of them, because death has only ceased within the imaginary outline of this one nation. His prose is a voice that envelops all voices: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The living, by contrast, are all named descriptively: The complete cessation of dying leads to a growing fear among healthcare workers that the system will collapse earamago its own weight: Now we’ve got the point, the author intervenes halfway through to reverse the plot and bring death back.

Death with Interruptions – Wikipedia

The absence of death only causes bureaucratic chaos. If we cannot envisage even death, let alone what comes after death, what point is there in religion? Death discovers that, without reason, this man has mistakenly not been killed.

The small initial letter is also important: In fact, it causes bureaucratic chaos and societal breakdown. Death, the novel’s theme, becomes its protagonist, in the form of a skeleton wrapped in a sheet. This primes us for an allusion to a character in Saramago’s earlier novel, the Sarzmago love story All the Names.


Those who are about to die, who should die, instead exist in a permanent half-life, causing untold problems to the citizenship.

Saramago avoids using quotations to signify speech, instead relying on inline text, and the usage of capitalization to signify the start of a new speaker’s words.

By not sarxmago the narrator’s voice he enacts a kind of democracy. Death at Intervals manages to touch on a series of critical contemporary debates: The Catholic Church feels threatened by this new turn of events, as the end of death would call into question one of the fundamental foundations of their dogma: Described thus, the technique might sound messy.

The Church and the undertaking business, which have a vested interest in death, want to bring it back, and the ‘maphia’ is soon trafficking in euthanasia, by transporting the ‘suspended’ dying over the border, because it’s death as usual in other countries.

Saramago’s playful novel about death

We are supported by our members. While love may be part of death’s transformation, she discovers something else to be the mortal’s secret. Want some offline reading? Funeral workers, on the other wt, fear the opposite problem: The violet-envelope-encased letters create a frenzy in the country, as people are not just returned to dying, but also must face the specter of receiving one of these letters and having their fate sealed with it.

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