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The Cave

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  11,480 ratings  ·  978 reviews
José Saramago is a master at pacing. Readers unfamiliar with the work of this Portuguese Nobel Prize winner would do well to begin with The Cave, a novel of ideas, shaded with suspense. Spare and pensive, The Cave follows the fortunes of an aging potter, Cipriano Algor, beginning with his weekly delivery of plates to the Center, a high-walled, windowless shopping complex, ...more
Paperback, 307 pages
Published October 15th 2003 by Mariner Books (first published 2000)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  11,480 ratings  ·  978 reviews

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Jim Fonseca
Saramago sets this story in a dystopia but it is not far off in the future – we almost live in it now!

The Center is where the well-off live. It’s a massive single 50-story building with apartments, galleria malls, museums and Disneyland areas. Every kind of experience imaginable is offered including all sports, such as skiing, and “environmental rooms” where you can experience sunny beaches, rain and blizzards. Around the Center are rings of slums, industrial factories and factory farms in gree
Making Words Visible

A love story for the elderly? A Lovecraftian fantasy? A documentary about craft pottery-making? A family saga of Portuguese modernity? Well actually The Cave is all of these and more as Saramago crosses genre boundaries with his usual and unique style to create a remarkably readable philosophical novel. What binds the book together is Saramago's lifelong concern about words. The Cave is an exploration of how much we can trust words. His answer is: Just about as far as we can
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Saramago enthusiasts
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Hend
It is not only great works of art that are born out of suffering and doubt.

Do we allow ourselves to be tricked into substituting simple pleasures and convenience for authentic reality? Do we willingly allow ourselves to be submissive pawns in a game of corporate and political control? Nobel Laureate José Saramago’s The Cave is an enlightening examination of Plato’s allegory of the cave as he depicts a natural world shrinking away as the cheap, plastic reign of a compartmentalized authoritative
Ahmad Sharabiani
A Caverna = The Cave, José Saramago
The Cave is a novel, by Portuguese author José Saramago. It was published in Portuguese in 2000 and in English in 2002. The story concerns an elderly potter named Cipriano Algor, his daughter Marta, and his son-in-law Marçal. One day, the Center, literally the center of commerce in the story, cancels its order for Cipriano's pottery, leaving the elderly potter's future in doubt. He and Marta decide to try their hand at making clay figurines and astonishingly th

The reading of some novels feels like streaming down a fast river, with the story pushing your slim canoe along the waters. The unfolding of the plot as it presents and avoids the obstacles provides the seductive excitement. Driven by curiosity, reading the river engulfs you with its roll. This is not so with Saramago’s The Cave. Instead this novel offers a slow glide along the peaceful waters of a lake of nostalgia and wonder.

For with its simple story and during the measured drift in a simple b
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenna by: Lisa
"This is the dangerous thing about appearances, when they deceive us, it’s always for the worse."

The Cave is a strangely mesmerizing book. I have no idea why I liked it as much as I did. It was not enjoyable to read.... and yet I had to finish it. 

It's pretty much a running stream of consciousness of the characters, mainly the elderly potter whose product is no longer wanted. People now prefer plastic, not his higher quality, but perishable, dishes.

The reason it was not enjoyable to read is beca
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary
So far one of my favorite Saramago's books with maybe just a notch bellow Cain.
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Weinz by: Bernie
Shelves: favorites
Beware: Brilliance abounds between the pages of this book.

The way Saramago paints his characters leads you in two directions. You are able to identify with their desires, fears and insecurities while at the same time able to look down as the all wise deity feeling as if you are willfully guiding them along the right path. His style pulls you in and doesn’t let go. The relationships are beautifully complex down to the simple one of a man and his dog, Found.

No one can walk away from this book wit
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-tbr-shelf
The Cave is a tender novel about the love between a father, his daughter, son-in-law and dog whose simple way of life is threatened by "The Center." It is also a scathing indictment of consumer culture. Like the prisoners in Plato's cave, the residents of the nearby Center experience only the flat outlines of real life.

Saramago writes with few paragraph breaks and no quotation marks. Although I found the blocks of text difficult at first, soon, I was pulled into this lovely, scary novel. I fini
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Joy D
“Cipriano Algor put the spade down and plunged his two hands into the ashes. He touched the thin and unmistakable roughness of the fired clay. Then, as if he were helping at a birth, he grasped between thumb, forefinger, and middle finger the still buried head of a figurine and pulled it out. It happened to be the nurse. He brushed the ashes from her body and blew on her face, as if he were endowing her with some kind of life, giving to her the breath of his own lungs, the beating of his own hea ...more
Mar 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is an amazing book. However...

Why, why, why must people give away important plot points? The Cave's story, of a potter and his small family, is a simple one. So why did Harcourt, Inc. feel the need to describe the entire story on the back of the book? There are literally things mentioned on the back jacket which do not happen until around page 250 of the book. (And the book only hase 300 pages.)

I know that Jose Saramago was not trying to write a mystery. But a little suspense is nice.

Mark André
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: saramago, novels-iii
Stunning! Five Stars! For all audiences!
If your not reading Saramago yet ...
This guy’s got game!
Again a beautiful text from Saramago. I have rediscovered this particular style, the author describing his characters and situations as seen from above. Bringing with the humour of second-degree commentary, suggesting that the characters lead their existence while specifying that it controls at the very end, they become like an all-powerful god.

In this novel, "The Cave," Saramago describes our world as an extension of Plato's cave. We are chained to the bottom of the cave, fascinated by the shad
Saramago’s novels have always been and will be food for my soul; and this one is no exception. In his unique way, love, family, myth, tradition, philosophy, are intertwined in an, apparently, simple dystopian setup, only it is anything but. It’s a complex allegory, in which identity and freedom (of thoughts, of oneself, of choice), the most precious treasures one can have, are the main characters.

It’s one of those books you have to relish, to absorb every nuance. It was a delight and I don’t thi
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Wall


I don’t know why the end of José Saramago’s novel reminded me of that old joke in which a child asks his father why the writers have got street names. In fact I know why – the apparently innocent question hints to the way of reasoning of an entire society whose values have no common point whatsoever with the culture anymore, a pragmatic society that sees the eternal ideas as
Jan 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned, fiction
So, I have a complaint. It's not Saramago-specific, but he is the latest in a long line of authors that I've noticed using this trick/device/method. More and more I find authors using long lists as a way of describing something, as if an extensive vocabulary can hide someone's lack of a point. This niggling little issue has been eating at me recently because I've taken to reading books aloud and find myself running short of breath halfway through these interminable lists. It finally wiggled its ...more
Jul 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-fiction
I read "Blindness" by Saramago and really liked it, but "The Cave" didn't really do anything for me. Apparently, a lot of people consider this to be a brilliant and illuminating novel, and though I can see why they might say that, it was lost on me.

This book basically rambles on for 300 pages about an old potter and his struggle to find meaning in his life. Basically he makes pottery for a large residential/commercial complex and lives with his daughter and son in law. The complex tells him they
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Ok, This is Saramago. How could I NOT give it 5 stars? I love this author. This is the 5th novel I have read of his, and I was really quite impressed with it.

Here we meet Cipriano Algor, a humble potter supplying the Center with his plates and mugs and water jugs. Poor in material things, but certainly not in spirit. I wanted so badly to be able to meet Cipriano, to sit beside him and listen to him talk while I ruffeled his dog Founds' ears. I wanted to ride beside him in the van as he delivere
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

What a good start to my reading year.

I found the long paragraphs, and the conversations with no quotation marks made the book a bit hard to follow.

However, I enjoyed the story, both the story and the underlying issues that it raised. It's the third book by Saramago that I have read. Now my library has several of them as ebooks, so I'll definitely be reading more of them.

And now to the dog! I'm not a person who's particularly fond of dogs, and for much of my life I was scared of them. I
Ron Charles
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
José Saramago wouldn't shop at Kmart even if Martha Stewart offered to decoupage his Nobel Prize. The unrepentant communist from Portugal has just released "The Cave" in English. It's the most deeply affecting critique of consumer culture since "Brave New World."

Saramago sketches a near future in which the efficiencies of capitalism have conspired to produce The Center. It's the ultimate corporation - as though the good people at Monsanto had finally managed to crossbreed the Pentagon and Disney
The Cave is my first experience of Saramago, and I suspect it doesn't represent the qualities that won him the Nobel prize, though it may well deal with representative themes. One of the blurbs mentions that Saramago described himself as an essayist who turned to novel-writing, and this work could easily be described as an essay on the dangers of urbanization and centralization, the inevitable but sad decline of the individual artisan, and the complicated but ultimately overwhelmingly valuable n ...more
May 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There is something beautiful here that is certainly not lost in translation. The story itself seems so simple that it cannot possibly be interesting, but the writing transcends the story and pulls you in. I could not stop thinking about this book and if I'm honest with myself, I think there are lessons in these pages that will stick with me for some time to come. I was slightly worried by where the story was heading near the end, but Saramago pulled the story into an allegory I was not prepared ...more
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm honestly dumbstruck; it would be better to write an essay rather than a review of this book. It is utterly marvelous, and I think that Sehnor José is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Never since reading Red Sorghum's descriptions of dogs in comparison to men have I become so enamored by the character of the dog "Found." I feel like I came to know the protagonist and his family, become deeply entrenched and invested in their lives, grieved at the slow erosion of their way of life ...more
Aug 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Saramago Completionists
Shelves: 2020

They say each person is an island, but it's not true, each person is a silence, yes, that's it, a silence, each of us with our own silence, each of us with the silence that is us.

Cipriano, the main protagonist in The Cave, is a potter by occupation. Just like with other things, some products eventually get overtaken by technology and become obsolete. His wife has recently died and now his livelihood is being taken away; life was good and time seemed to pass slowly, but now it seems to pass
I am a big Saramago fan, with "Death with Interruptions" being one of my favourite books. I love his fluid writing style, where a "paragraph" is more like a stream of conscience (and 20 pages later) but with a real sense of purpose. The action gets you to the point. The thoughts are clear and he gives you something to "chew on" while the story unravels. This book was an odd one. 

The story is simple. Cipriano Algor is seventy-four year potter who comes to "City" to deliver his latest works for pu
Oct 22, 2007 rated it did not like it
Think Plato. Allegory of the cave.

Ok, so we spend our lives staring at the flickering wall of a cave. So, is Saramago imitating that wall with this book? Does he ramble on about the mundane details to illuminate us, to teach us a lesson, to nudge us into turning around; or is he just adding to the flicker? I want to think he's trying to teach us something, but the lesson was lost on me. I thought it was a bit dull, and the naration, focusing heavily on an old potter, seemed to reflect the rambl
Noor Sabah
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful , best of the besties!
Saramago : you are a philosopher, just like your rival Kundera .!
Many thanks ...
May 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With a dash of a dystopian reality, Saramago takes us to an unnamed city where the Centre, a huge, megalomaniac commercial/residential complex is taking over. Cipriano Algor is an elderly potter who lives in the outskirts of the city with his daughter Marta and her husband Marçal Gacho, who works as a guard in the Centre. Cipriano is a regular provider of his pottery to the Centre, until the it is decided they no longer need Cipriano's services. With his future in danger, he and his daughter Mar ...more
Kim Marshall
Oct 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy clasic literature
Recommended to Kim by: josema vilchez nima
Shelves: fiction, favorites
This is a book that I must read again. But be forewarned, Saramago's writing style is a bit difficult to get use to. Essentially, he writes in one continuous stream with few paragraph breaks. The dialog is not parsed by speaker and is essentially never quoted or broken up. Different parts of the same sentences are even sometimes uttered by different individuals. One must determine who is talking entirely from the context of the text.

Thought I found this difficult at first, I eventually became us
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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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