Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Double” as Want to Read:
The Double
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Double

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  15,966 ratings  ·  1,308 reviews
Tertuliano Maximo Afonso is a history teacher in a secondary school. He is divorced, involved in a rather one-sided relationship with a bank clerk, and he is depressed. To lift his depression, a colleague suggests he rent a certain video. Tertuliano watches the film and is unimpressed. During the night, noises in his apartment wake him. He goes into the living room to find ...more
Hardcover, 324 pages
Published October 4th 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2002)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Double, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Eduardo A. Saramago has explained this earlier:

«As you know, when we speak, we don't use punctuation. We pause [to breath] and even, as I say in my books, the o…more
Saramago has explained this earlier:

«As you know, when we speak, we don't use punctuation. We pause [to breath] and even, as I say in my books, the only two punctuation marks are the full stop (or period, in American English) and the comma, are not punctuation marks, they are a pause, a brief pause and a long pause. In the end, as I often say, to speak is to compose music» - in Expresso, 2004.

«(..) I see myself as an oral narrator when I write and that the words by me written ought to be read as well as to be heard. Now, the oral narrator doesn't need punctuation, speaks as he was composing music and uses the same elements as a musician: sounds and pauses, highs and lows, some, brief or long, others.» - in Cadernos de Lanzarote – Diário II (1994)

I translated it as best as I could from the following link:
Justin It depends on your tastes. The book is very different from the movie, so there's no reason you need to limit yourself to one or the other.…moreIt depends on your tastes. The book is very different from the movie, so there's no reason you need to limit yourself to one or the other.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  15,966 ratings  ·  1,308 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Double
Jim Fonseca
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Tertuliano Máximo Afonso watches a video recommended by a friend and discovers he has a double – a man who could be his identical twin, who looked and sounded exactly like Maximo did five years ago when the film was made. Like a private investigator, he sets out to find who the man is and meet with him. It’s a harder task than it seems because the man had only a walk-on role and is simply one name among a long list of extras in the film.


Finding his double shocks him so much that he doesn’t tell
Steven Godin
The thought of having a doppelgänger freaks me out, if I had one, I would rather not know. Even somebody bearing a strong resemblance to one's self is weird enough, but an actual replica? with the same moles, the same scars, and the same voice. No thanks. I am me, and I want to keep it that way. If only History professor Tertuliano Máximo Afonso returned the video tape to the shop and forgot all about what he witnessed on screen. But he couldn't, a curiosity built up inside him. Just who is that ...more
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Quantum Physics of Identity

"Only a common sense with the imagination of a poet could have invented the wheel." Not a bad self-referential summary of Saramago's The Double.

This book is common sense and imagination applied to human identity and the result is a literary wheel turning round and round in the minds of two apparently identical individuals. Is one merely a copy of the other? Are their fates entangled like quantum particles? Do they become parts of the other simply by knowing of the oth
May 28, 2009 rated it it was ok

Incredibly hard to read! This was a self-inflicted punishment by an insipid reader trying to introduce himself to a compulsively revolting writer!

Saramago, who is, like his name suggests, a "mago", or wizard, pretty much singlehandly diminishes the joy that reading brings, making it all one self-assured, self-serving CHORE.

Man, I hated this book. The story could be a novella, would be an amazing and silly and cool one at that, but in novel form, well... all Saramago does is throw
Saramago was a unique literary magician, and this is one of his most hauntingly memorable books. This one is a real slow burner, which demands great patience of its reader, but like so many of Saramago's books it is full of dry humour.

The first part of the book might even be described as dull, as the long and apparently rambling sentences, conversations without quotes, and occasional asides from his omniscient narrator set up a picture of an unsympathetic and drab antihero, a depressed history
Jul 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Saramago fans
I should preface this review with a disclaimer that I both love Jose Saramago and magical realism. Adore both, actually. Do not judge my nerdiness. I will loudly and proudly shout to the line behind me at the book store that I cannot wait to read about a magical mountain range. And when the manager has to come over and escort me to the door with my purchases, I'll shout even louder about how much I admire the tale of an old village woman who lived to be 250. And when the manager tells me I canno ...more
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-deserved-it
If you’re one of those readers who give low ratings to books only because you didn’t like the characters’ personality traits and/or behaviour then don’t even get close to this one.

If your favourite books can be found on sale at the supermarket around the corner be warned, this one is definitely not for you.

If turning the pages quickly is more important to you than to let yourself be carried away by good writing and philosophical thought provoking ideas to a satisfying ending, I definitely woul
Ahmad Sharabiani
O Homem Duplicado = The Double, José Saramago
The Double (Portuguese: O Homem Duplicado) is a 2002 novel by Portuguese author José Saramago, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature. In Portuguese, the title is literally "The Duplicated Man." It was translated into English and published as The Double in 2004. Tertuliano Máximo Afonso is a divorced high school history teacher who spends his nights reading about Mesopotamian civilizations. One day Tertuliano rents a movie recommended by a colleague an
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Well, I had planned on starting this review with some choice zingers about Saramago shameless burgling the plot of any or every Murakami novel, wherein some workaday shlub, with a boring job and a boring life and crushingly alone in the world, has a chance-or-not-chance run-in with some inexplicable unnatural or supernatural phenomenon which comes to consume him, only with the Portuguese author applying his trademark run-on sentences and incredibly lengthy paragraphs and narratological excursion ...more
MJ Nicholls
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A methodical schoolteach spots similar in a straight-to-video video, then plunges into a mental conundrum throbbier than most mental conundra. As others noted, the Dostoevskii parallels are obvious, though Saramago’s rambling self-aware sentences and Shandyean epigraph speaks of a comic mischief that keeps the novel in the romping, care-free, septuagenarian riff mode. Inessential funtime.
Mark André
Aug 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saramago
“Our impression is of a writer, like Faulkner, so confident of his resources and ultimate destination that he can bring any impossibility to life by hurling words at it.” —John Updike, The New Yorker (from the back cover of a Harvest/Harourt 2005 English translation)
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
I did not really enjoy Saramago's The Double. To begin with, it's a sloppy handling of a theme which has been done over-and-over, and better done at that: Dickin's The Tale of Two Cities, Poe's "William Wilson," Nabokov's Despair and Dostoyevsky's The Double were all better handlings of the doppelgänger theme than this, I felt. This felt kind of like a more sinister "The Parent Trap" or dropped episode of The Twilight Zone (dropped for being too long maybe). It wasn't bad, I won't say that. Ever ...more
Sep 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who're fond of magical realism
I figured out the inevitable ending of this book about halfway through it, but getting to the end was certainly not tedious . The language (lyrically translated by Margaret Costa) is full of unusual but vivid imagery ("...she had noticed a kind of embarassed catch in his voice, a disharmony that occasionally distorted his delivery, like the characteristic vibrato produced by a cracked water jar when struck with the knuckles"), and the novel is filled with sophisticated phrases that fit oddly wel ...more
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
¡Damn! I love open endings. I've only read one more Saramago's and I can say he can achieve both the long and deep thoughts as much as the unbridled suspense. The way he destroys the peaceful normality of our two main characters is almost wicked. And still, who wouldn't lose the mind when knowing we are not unique, that our existence might be a mistake? The absence of punctuation marks can be bothering at first but once you get into the story, that fades away and you'd be left alone with a premi ...more
Cat (cat-thecatlady)
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I haven't picked a Saramago book in such a long time because I was afraid of not liking it but honestly, I should have known that Saramago never disappoints me.

no one does slow and tension like him. his books aren't for everyone and this title isn't an exception. still, this story was amazing and the slow build up totally made up for one of the most amazing endings ever. those last two pages fucked me up!! I need a moment

full review soon
Jan 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-list
"The man who has just come into the shop to rent a video bears on his identity card a most unusual name, a name with a classical flavor that time has staled, neither more nor less than Tertuliano Maximo Afonso. The Maximo and the Afonso, which are in more common usage, he can just about tolerate, depending, of course, on the mood he's in, but the Tertuliano weighs on him like a gravestone and has done, ever since he first realized that the wretched name lent itself to being spoken in an ironic, ...more
Beatrice Santos
I'm awful at doing reviews and I feel like I never say anything anyone hasn't already said in their reviews but I'm doing this one because I need to put my astonishment in words once I have no other way of dealing with it.

First of all, this is Saramago's first book that really got my attention plot-wise. I had also liked "All the Names" but this one is by far my favorite of everything I've read from the author. The plot is genius and the end leaves you literally screaming for more.
This is one of
Dec 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tej by: Jasmeet
A story of a school history teacher, whose archaic name, Tertuliano Máximo Afonso, is a constant prick and an incessant irritant to him, only dealt with timid avoidance and shameful efforts at courage. This passage paints him well ;

"Tertuliano Máximo Afonso does not belong to that extraordinary group of people who can smile even when alone, his nature inclines him more to melancholy, to reverie, to an exaggerated awareness of the transience of life, to an incurable perplexity when faced by the g
Jigar Brahmbhatt
I want to start by saying that I wanted to enjoy this novel, I really did. Look at the cover design! How can one not be thrilled by a premise like this? An ordinary guy (a history professor in our case) goes about his mundane life day in day out without so much as a single moment of excitement... and bam! He sees his double in a movie.

But here is what is off-putting. This is my first Saramago novel, and I may be blinded by my quirky tastes in judging the Nobel laureate. But there is a way of sh
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tata J
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Must Read Books Before You Die
Shelves: 1001-non-core
My 2nd book by the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature awardee, Jose de Sousa Saramago. I am still impressed.

With Blindness as the first, I can now say that Mr. Saramago has a distinctive writing style: he uses long sentences, at times more than a page long. He also uses periods sparingly, choosing instead a loose flow of clauses joined by commas. Many of his paragraphs extend for pages without pausing for dialog, which Mr. Saramago chooses not to delimit by quotation marks; when the speaker changes
Oct 30, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I quite like Jose Saramago's ideas and story lines, but I find some of his novels very difficult to get through. This being one of them. The first 150-200 pages were hard work, the author tends to overcontemplate, side track his thoughts and expand on the simpliest of things. The last 100 pages or so were the payoff... the story was weaved together much tighter, more focused, and flowed a bit quicker. (hense the 3 stars)

For anyone new to Saramago, I would recommend breaking him into chewable chu
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What would you do if you found out that you have an identical duplicate living in the same city? Tertuliano Maximo Afonso cannot help himself... he becomes obsessed with finding this other person and meeting him. Was it a good idea? Well, the common sense (that has conversations with Maximo throughout the book) has substantiated doubts...It's just that humans are not always prone to listening to common sense.

I have to admit that I didn't connect with the book straight away. It took me a while t
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It will take me some time to digest this book. I have just closed it. I missed Saramagos writing style, which is not everybody's thing (just read the 1-2 star reviews). His style sucks you in, it is hard to stop reading.
This story belongs to those "dystopy" stories Saramago used to write, those "What if..."s. We are not offered a logical scientific explanation why there are two persons 100% alike, but this wasn't the scope of the story. I think it was all about how do you deal with this type of
Deepthi Terenz
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, must-read
Saramago tells the story of the History professor Tertuliano Máximo Afonso who one day, while viewing a banal video a colleague has recommended, discovers that one of the minor actors in it is his identical. Tertuliano becomes obsessed with the idea of meeting the person he takes to be his double and, after viewing dozens of other films, manages to discover the actor's name, Antonio Claro, and track him down. This book was a little difficult to read as Saramago proved himself to be the master of ...more
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wisdom lurks in this novel. In fact Common Sense is actually a minor character (a bit huffy too about his small role) saying things like,

“What will be, will be, Oh i know that’s philosophy, it’s what people call predestination, fatalism, fate, but what it really means is that, as usual, you’ll do whatever you choose to do”

So, yes Common Sense and our protagonist, (saddled with the name Tertuliano)are often at odds, which endears him to us. Samarago, as beautifully translated by Margaret Jill Cos
Mar 20, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: portugese
It's very good. It should be. He stole the plot, the characters and the title from Dostoevsky. ...more
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Simply brilliant! Even better the second time around.
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"...tell her the whole story from the beginning, about this extraordinary singular, astonishing, and never-before-seen case of the duplicate man, the unimaginable become reality, the absurd reconciled with the reason, the final proof that for God nothing is impossible, and that the science of this century is, as someone said, a fool."

This is, a tale of double existence, a meditation on words, on numbers, on identity, on the self and existence of being.
And a damn great thriller.
The tale, be
Colin McKay Miller
Jul 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
José Saramago’s The Double is a good short story. Problem is, it’s encased in a meandering novel.

The novel focuses on Tertuliano Maximo Afonso, a depressed school teacher who rents a movie and discovers that one of the minor actors looks exactly like him from five years ago—a double—except with a mustache. While most people would go, “Neat, that looks like me with a mustache,” Afonso becomes greatly disturbed. Though the narrator—a voice that has a lot of character itself—defends his actions by
Jun 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book is great: Saramago takes an incredibly simple and very well established literary theme and works it out at the level of narrative in a nearly mathematical way. The story is really a painstaking exhaustion of each possible movement and action. And Saramago theorizes it really well as he goes along too, alternately comparing the "moves" of the narrative to the "moves" of a chess game, or to literally physical movements: car crashes and bodily destruction. "The Double" is really really sm ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Club de Lectura: Expectativas 5 6 Jan 11, 2021 11:32AM  
Goodreads Italia: GdL Narrativa Maggio 2020 - L'uomo duplicato di José Saramago - commenti e discussione 22 133 Jun 11, 2020 03:32AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please add cover to this book 4 15 Jul 22, 2018 01:33PM  
The Movie - Ebemy 3 61 Dec 19, 2014 07:41AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Os Maias
  • A Máquina de Fazer Espanhóis
  • O Remorso de Baltazar Serapião
  • Suíte Tóquio
  • O Filho de Mil Homens
  • O Ano Sabático
  • Memorial do Convento (José Saramago): Analise da Obra
  • Ikigai - Die japanische Lebenskunst
  • A Perfect Peace
  • Chronicle of a Death Foretold
  • No Passado e No Futuro Estamos Todos Mortos
  • O Livro dos Homens sem Luz
  • FUCK SMALLTALK - Mache BigTalk: Wie du schnell und einfach Gespräche führst, die unter die Haut gehen
  • Eine windige Affäre
  • Pedro Páramo
  • Krankheit als Symbol: Handbuch der Psychosomatik
  • Knowledge of Hell
See similar books…
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.

Related Articles

Susan Orlean, the author of The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession and staff writer for The New Yorker, is back on bookshelves...
75 likes · 14 comments
“Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered.” 407 likes
“Reading is probably another way of being in a place.” 296 likes
More quotes…