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Baltasar and Blimunda

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  15,880 ratings  ·  781 reviews
From the recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature, a “brilliant...enchanting novel” (New York Times Book Review) of romance, deceit, religion, and magic set in eighteenth-century Portugal at the height of the Inquisition. National bestseller. Translated by Giovanni Pontiero.

When King and Church exercise absolute power what happens to the dreams of ordinary people? I
Paperback, 346 pages
Published October 16th 1998 by Mariner Books (first published 1982)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Memorial do Convento = Baltasar and Blimunda, José Saramago

Baltasar and Blimunda (1982) is a novel by the Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese author José Saramago. It is an 18th-century love story intertwined with the construction of the Convent of Mafra, now one of Portugal's chief tourist attractions, as a background. Two young lovers interact naturally with historical characters including the composer and harpsichordist Domenico Scarlatti and the priest Bartolomeu de Gusmão, recognized today as an
Henry Avila
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
King John V ( the Magnanimous ) of Portugal is a frustrated man, to continue the royal dynasty children are obviously needed, ( set back in the year of our Lord, 1711) married two years to the devout Austrian Princess Maria Ana, and yet no babies. At twenty -one, the good-looking monarch feels a little insulted, because of his failures, but the House of Braganza will eventually rule for almost 300 years, this small still wealthy land then, and besides other women have proven it's not his fault. ...more
Manuel Antão
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, favorites
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Et ego in illo: “Baltasar and Blimunda” by José Saramago, Giovanni Pontiero (Translator)

“If Adam was punished for wishing to resemble God, how do men come to have God inside them without being punished, and even when they do not wish to receive Him they go unpunished, for to have and not to wish to have God inside oneself amounts to the same absurdity, and the same impossible situation, yet the words Et ego in illo imply that God is in
Vit Babenco
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The tale is mesmerizing and it casted its spells on me straight away…
The ear has to be educated if one wishes to appreciate musical sounds, just as the eyes must learn to distinguish the value of words.

Baltasar and Blimunda, written in the genre of magical realism combined with an acute social drama, is like the magic music and it is full of miraculous mysticism of words and deeds.
Today’s bread does not eliminate yesterday’s hunger, much less that of tomorrow.

Baltasar and Blimunda is about the i
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Baltasar and Blimunda revolves around the construction of the monumental monastery in Mafra, an effect of slyness of the Franciscans and vanity of the king of Portugal, Joao V. Thousands labouring workers to satisfy the morbid ambitions of monks and pamper bloated ego of the king remind us of builders pyramids in antiquity. Is it the ancient Egypt or the Catholic Portugal pride of kings and hypocrisy of clergy seems to be unchanged for centuries. Marriage of the altar and the throne always loo
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, high-five
(5.0+) Before I explain my feelings about Saramago's Baltasar and Blimunda, let me share a couple visuals from the late 17th & 18th Century that are highlighted within the text:

The passarola of Father Bartholomeu de Gusmao

An auto de fe of the Portugeuse Inquisition

Saramago's masterpiece.
343 pages.

Perhaps, the longest 343 pages I've ever tried to read, but very fulfilling in the end; a 5 star like no other that I've rated, 'Baltasar and Blimunda' is historical fiction at its base, but a satirica
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always thought that one must be full of a creative madness to write the way it is composed this novel. It is a sheer original, brilliant and spellbound novel.
I was tightly and irrevocably encapsulated by the read from page one. And for sure it didn’t have anything to do with the full moon phenomenon which was happening just this very last weekend…by the time I actually finished it.

What a better start of the novel than by writing of this early 18th century Lisbon royal atmosphere:
≪ Dom Jo
This fiction work based on a real fact: the reign of John V King of Portugal in 1681 which decided on the construction of the Convent of Mafra; this convent was to have a structure similar to that of the Escorial (located on the outskirts of Madrid) built by order of Philip II King of Spain.
Father Bartolomeu Lourenço inspired by a Brazilian priest who pioneered aeronautics.
So, historical data source. Saramago traces the wars, epidemics, religious festivals of the past. It shows the church collab
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: yes
I picked up this book while traveling through Portugal this fall. Last summer, I read my first Saramango book, Blindness, and loved it. Walking along the riverfront in Lisbon, I ran into the José Saramango Foundation where there was an exhibit on his work and that of the famous Brazilian author Jorge Amado. It was as though I were a kid in a candy store! There were thousands of Saramango books in the library, and the bookshop carried many of his major works; unfortunately, it only had one in en ...more
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Memorial del convento

I often thought that books can inspire you to travel. But these last two books by Saramago, "El año de la muerte de Ricardo Reis" and "Memorial del convento" have given me a different feeling. After traveling to Portugal last year, both books have become even more real after seeing many of the places visited. Both books have painted different periods of history in Portugal, the early twentieth century in Ricardo Reis; the early eighteenth century in Memorial. Both are amazin
Miriam Cihodariu
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: portugal
I love almost everything related to the European Middle Ages and this novel was one of the best I've ever encountered on the topic. It helped me explore more about Portuguese culture, as well, and intrigued to go even deeper into it.

I loved the story of Father Lourenço Bartolomeu, the real historical figure who invented a flying machine in the early 1700s, and the way it blends into the lives of the other main characters. I loved the mysticism blended with the vulgar and the realism of Portugue
Oct 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
HEADLINE: Being John Malkovich . . . . Excuse me. . . .I mean, Being José Saramago.

As I mentioned once before, I have given up that tedious worry as to whether the book in translation that I am reading is a faithful translation of the original or not. The book in front of me in English is either a dandy or it is not. I no longer care whether it bears any resemblance to the original. I will let others tease that out.

Baltasar and Blimunda in English is one of those dandies. It is perfectly consist
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008-2012)
My 5th Saramago book and I have always been bewildered as ever. Every book by him seems to be a totally different idea. He seems to have never rewritten himself. I first started with his Blindness (3 stars) about people going blind and the world turning post-apocalyptic and this was followed by his 1001 book, The Double (4 stars) that reminded me of an instance when I myself saw a man one morning who looked like exactly like me. Then the following year, 2011, I read his The Gospel According to J ...more
Mar 25, 2007 rated it liked it
An 'intellectual hodgepodge' is the best term I could come across to describe the book. However, as I put this, I should also abnegate further connotations, which could be possibly evoked by the suggested tag, no matter what that supposed connotations would be: positive or negative.

This is a book embracing magical realism and socialist realism at once, even though there is a romantic thread running all across the text and one might even say that this is a simple love story. Anyway, I certainly r
Sonia Gomes
Dec 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Saramago afficionados!
Recommended to Sonia by: Central Library at Trivandrum, Kerala
King João V desperate to beget a child, a prince, makes a vow to the Capuchin friars at Mafra that should his wife Queen Mariana get a child he would built a Convent for the Friars. He does get a Child and the Convent of Mafra was his way of repaying the vow.
If ever I visit Mafra in Portugal, I will know and see the hardship that went into building the Convent. Transporting huge blocks of marble from the quarry to the site of the convent is for want of a better word, back breaking.
Whenever I lo
Inderjit Sanghera
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
‘Baltasar and Blimunda’ is the story of the crippled Baltasar and the effervescent Blimunda, who is able to see into the souls of men and their relationship with the priest and pioneer of aviation, Bartolomeu Lourenco. The novel recalls somewhat the magical realist novels of Marquez-the same magical atmosphere, the world imbued with the incandescence of life, with the bewitchment of existence, as the opalescence of Portuguese moonlight permeates the inner lives of the character as the struggle b ...more
Leonor R. Fernandes
Like many other people, I thought I would absolutely loathe this book. Everything about it seemed dull to me: the story, the characters, the writing itself. And, after all, I had never been a big fan of Saramago myself. But this book soon became one of the best works I've ever read in my entire life. It wasn't dull - it was magical. I can't think of any part of this book that bored me. It is full of passion, humour, criticism, creativity. The characters are simply perfect. The story is beyond pe ...more
 Δx Δp ≥ ½ ħ
Oh. That. Ending. I cried like a little baby.

The most beautiful thing about Saramago's work is it captures all human (and humanity) emotions. The brilliant humour will make you get a pure joy and big laugh, the tragedy will give you the saddest moment of your life. And also, the end of the book will provoke you to tears and destroy you to the pieces.
Sep 10, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i don't know what happened, but this is one of the few books i've not been able to finish. although i revere saramago, i was not at all drawn in to this book. with a heavy heart, i put it down. i hope that i can read it someday and see what i missed the first time.
(المراجعة باللغة العربية إلى أسفل)
Each novel by Jose Saramago is a masterpiece, including this historical tale from 18th century Portugal, with tells of two actual building projects: the story of the building of Mafra palace and convent(hence the original title: Memorial do Convento); the king's vanity and absolute power; the hundreds of men and women involved in this huge - and useless - project; the lives lost; the persons maimed; the families disrupted; all for a promise made by a king to the
Nov 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: translation, fiction
Widely considered to be one of the most accomplished works from Portugal's only Nobel laureate, Baltasar and Blimunda is a heart-wrenching epic of prodigious scope. Set in the early years of the eighteenth century, the story seamlessly intertwines elements of historical fact, romantic love, richly-imagined fantasy, and poignant wisdom. Satirical and mesmerizing, this tale is a towering achievement of considerable breadth — it explores the consequences of unmitigated power, the lofty and timeles ...more
Feb 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Set in the backdrop of Lisbon during the 18th century Portuguese inquisition is a love story between two peasants: Baltasar, a war veteran with a hook for a hand and Blimunda, with her ability to literally see inside of people. Throw in a Brazilian priest (based on the historical figure of Bartolomeu de Gusmão) with a flying machine and you have some of the most delicious magical realism out there that's tempered with historical splashes that ground this book. These include bed bug infestations, ...more
Mar 26, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
With some books the chemistry just doesn't work and this is one of them. From page 1 the exuberant, baroque, antiquated language is flowing out of the book: impossible long sentences, with lots of appositions and neverending descriptions; it's all too artificial for me.

The setting, Portugal in the beginning of the 18th century, and the love story that is at the center of this book, are quite interesting. But nevertheless, it just isn't convincing to me. Saramago, in this book, takes on a lot of
Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Sarramago's writing, which foregoes the normal stylistic emphasis on the change from one character's voice to another (quotes and new paragraphs), allows us to view them all collectively rather than having the 'camera' zoom in on each speaker in turn. This communal effect brings the reader into immediate and intimate contact with the characters. This story, in particular, tells of such a compelling love that the magical realism of the characters appears to be the only way to do it justice. As al ...more
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Saramago has good books but also strangely written books. This is one of them.
Boring, it didn't stimulate me to read further. The atmosphere of the era is well depicted but it is not enough to keep the reader interested. One still waits for something to happen, but everything that happens is in such a way presented, that one loses interest in being interested.
He could have rewarded the reader, after such a struggle, with some cool ending.
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
This was one of the most tantalizing books I've ever read. I bought this one at the book fair last month, as I had heard many people praise Saramango's works. Meanwhile, I knew nothing about his style of writing, nor had I read any of his books.

So I started reading 'Baltasar and Blimunda', unaware of what I was going through. Long sentences, weird dialogue; sometimes I couldn't get who said what. There were times I had to read over the same page twice! After I read the first thirty pages, I knew
Aug 31, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those of you who are fond of the classics and don't mind a strange form of writing
3 stars

I confess my expectations weren't very high for this book. People always ranted about how boring it would be, and I believed them.

I actually enjoyed the "Memorial". Yes, it is a historical romance situated in the eighteenth century's prejudiced and excessively religious Portugal, but it is also the portrayal of a love of cosmical proportions, the world's first flying machine, the extenuating construction of the Convent of Mafra, the barbarities committed by the world-famous Inquisition, t
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I loved the first half of the book immensely, the story of Baltasar, Blimunda, their love and struggles, her mysterious gift/curse, and their dealings with the curious Padré and the harpsichord player. However, it took me a long time to get through the second half of this book which focused on the construction of the Palace at Mafra, and I had a hard time deciding whether to give it a three or a four. Perhaps a 3.5 would be best, though the ending may have bumped it up to a four. I imagine if I ...more
020219 from ???: there is often a description of an artistic project, even if it is not quite ‘art’, in Saramago’s work: in this case it is the cathedral, not as work of architecture but as social creation. a general reminder to tourists who walk about exclaiming how beautiful: there are lives there, lives we might otherwise not remark, and there is sorrow as well as joy in every person’s life as there is love and loss and suffering. this is the first saramago i had read (trade ppbk) from before ...more
I read Blindness as a starry-eyed 18 year old youth, and loved it loved it loved it. As spare as Blindness was, Baltasar and Blimunda is rich and dense.

There's some beautiful imagery here. The problem is that the Baroque-styled writing-- while amusing at first-- eventually starts to grate a bit. But the story itself is so lovely that I was willing to bare through it. It was something of an uphill struggle at points, but it's a story about flying machines and one-handed soldiers and religious vis
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José Saramago is one of the most important international writers of the last hundred years. Born in Portugal in 1922, he was in his sixties when he came to prominence as a writer with the publication of Baltasar and Blimunda. A huge body of work followed, translated into more than forty languages, and in 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Saramago died in June 2010.

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