Mark Picketts's Reviews > The Gospel According to Jesus Christ

The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by José Saramago
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Mar 05, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: bookclub
Read in March, 2012

Saramago. If you have discussed literature with me over the past five years chances are i started blabbing on about him, and the respect I have for him. After a long time away it was great to get back to reading him and his incredibly unique and wonderfully readable style. I loved this quote from the introduction of the collected novels of Jose Saramago ebook:
"his use of what teachers call "comma fault" or "run-on sentences" makes me read too fast, breathlessly, losing the shape of the sentence and the speech-and-pause rhythm of conversation."
This trait is a big part of how reading Saramago is so enjoyable for me, this and his ... asides ... when he starts talking to/questioning himself in the text - if you don't know what i'm talking about, you should read Saramago cause I can't explain it. (i.e. location 13831* - when he talks of the rules of "effective narration")

So the Gospel According to Jesus Christ. Here he tackles the story that everybody (or a lot of people) knows. Yet he manages to humanize the characters and their stories. He breathes an understandable life into names I have heard forever, and somehow perhaps makes them more understandable. What did Jesus think about giving up his life? How did he feel about girls? Did he always get along with his dad? His disciples? Indeed he humanizes God, as we see God get frustrated with his son, his yearning for more power, or when we wonders if "his problem, is that no one shares his name." He questions religion (past and present), and its effect on human history, the role of women therein, and although I understand why some could be upset by this story I was raised to ask these kinds of questions and look forward to discussing them further.

Some quotes from the master*:
(probably too many but i cut out a lot....)
"for thought, when all is said and done, as others and we ourselves have observed before, is like a great ball of thread coiled around itself, loose in places, taut in others, inside our head." 11743

"Herod will be forgiven sooner than your husband, for it is easier to forgive a villain than a deserter." 12621
- think current school bullying (or inclusive community) push

"we must never forget that fate is a casket like no other, open and closed at the same time." 12892

"People don't choose their dreams, dreams choose people" 12918

"time is not a rope one can measure from knot to knot, time is a pitched and undulating surface which only memory can make accessible." 13199

"In other words, your God is the only warden of a prison where the only prisoner is your God." 14026

"God has forbidden anyone to copulate with you, so fear not, but as for shearing you, neglecting you, slaughtering you, and eating you, all these things are permitted, because for this you were created by God's law and are sustained by His providence." 14037

"thoughts are but passing shadows, neither good nor bad in themselves, actions alone count." 14240

"for as we know, words that come from the heart are never spoken, they get caught in the throat and can only be read in one's eyes." 15101

"Now I see why the devil is here, if Your authority extends to more people in more places, his power also spreads, for his territory will be the same as Yours." 15550

"for sin is as inseparable from man as man from sin, man is like a coin, turn it over and what you see is sin." 15606

"although as everyone knows, we mortals do not always see things in the same way, and this has undoubtedly helped preserve the relative sanity of the species." 15638

"human words are like shadows, and shadows cannot explain light, and between shadow and light stands the opaque body from which words are born." 15643

"sometimes with only the sky for a roof, God's enormous eye, black but speckled with lights, lingering reflections of eyes raised to heaven by generation after generation, interrogating the silence and listening to the only answer silence ever gives." 15978
- amazing.

"How did this happen, how did this happen, words that never fail to spring to our lips when we are confronted by something irremediable. We ask how it happened, a desperate, futile attempt to postpone the awful moment when we must accept the truth, we ask how it happened, as if we could replace death with life, exchange what is with what should be." 16219

"duties similar yet opposed, like a face and a mirror." 16242

"I'll look at your shadow if you don't wish me to look at you, she told him, and he replied, I wish to be wherever my shadow is if that is where your eyes are. Loving each other, they exchanged these amorous phrases not only because they were beautiful and true, but because shadows were closing in, and it was time for the two to prepare themselves for the darkness of final absence." 16257

"that his life had been planned for death from the very beginning. Remembering the river of blood and suffering that would flow from his side and flood the globe, he called out to the open sky, where God could be seen smiling, Men, forgive Him, for He knows not what He has done." 16419

So how do I rank it. I am not sure, i really loved the boldness of the writing and the ambition of taking this on, I have to admit there were sections that I spaced out a little, but i think that had more to do with me then with the writing. Do we judge the best harder, because we expect more from them? I know i do, but I am constantly thinking of this book and while re-writing some of these quotes (my favorites) I have to tip up.


*i read this fromt he "collected works of Jose Saramago, thus the Kindle locations shared are from that
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