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The Double

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  13,611 ratings  ·  1,085 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)
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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…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.

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  13,611 ratings  ·  1,085 reviews

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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
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
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 ...more
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
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
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 ...more
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nobel-winners
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. ...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 ...more
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
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
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
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
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
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
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's possible something got lost in translation, but this book struck me as one of those texts that critics go ga-ga over because it's a slightly humorous diatribe that reassures their ideals (Words define the way we think about, you know, everything! Characters in stories aren't actually real; they're just characters in a narrative, like us!).
What could have been a solid 200-some page story about a depressed history teacher's obsession with his anonymous double, found playing a bit part in a
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Simply brilliant! Even better the second time around.
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
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
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,
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 ...more
Jan 19, 2013 rated it liked it
I have an odd relationship with Saramago - I first met him when I read Blindness, which blew my mind, and so from here on in whenever I see a book of his I think, well this will be brilliant, and then I read it, and I find that yes, parts of it are, but a lot of it is annoying, and I still feel like I can't give him fewer than three stars because, I mean, he wrote Blindness!
Anyway. The Double is like that - parts of it are really cool and bigger parts, I think, are not. It's about a depressed
Steve mitchell
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saramago is saramagood

good book. psychological thriller meets doppelganger and the switcheroo.
some questions should go unanswered and vengeance plus cowardice so
etc.especially pays.
Slim Khezri
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating, fascinating story, that I read it twice. It's one of those plots where you don't see the end coming. That's the kind I like. A secondary school history teacher rents a video out of boredom and discovers among the bit actors his double. Like waves spreading on the surface of a pond, the effects of this startling discovery spread far beyond the initial shock and surprise. The book is well written, with a unique narrative style in which the omniscient narrator repeatedly comments on ...more
Jun 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
I picked this up in Peru while on holidays. Something to read while I lazed on a secluded beach in the north. Really the perfect environment to read... but this book was a real struggle.

The first two thirds of the book was just so slow and unmemorable, I kept having to read passages over and over again and i'm still not sure whether it's his writing style or it was because I was so bored that it wouldn't sink in. It really didn't get good until the final third when the pace picked up.

The ideas
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: around-the-world
This was my first Saramago novel and I found it quite enjoyable. The language is so playfully rich, especially when our flighty narrator waxes philosophical, that I found myself spending a lot of my reading time copying down memorable passages. The story itself centers around a weird conceit involving two people who prove to be inexplicably identical, one of whom we come to know closely: a chronically depressed teacher of history named Tertuliano who discovers his doppelganger among the bit cast ...more
Chris Dietzel
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Saramago's books are very hit or miss for me. I loved Blindness but disliked its sequel, Seeing. I thought All the Names was great but struggled with Death with Interruptions. For me, The Double is one of his misses. This is definitely a rare example of the movie ("Enemy", starring Jake Gyllenhaal) being better than the book it's based on. I highly recommend "Enemy" to anyone who loves dark movies and is okay with surrealist imagery, but wouldn't recommend the book to anyone other than hardcore ...more
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José de Sousa Saramago (pronounced [ʒuˈzɛ sɐɾɐˈmagu]) was a Nobel-laureate Portuguese novelist, playwright, and journalist. He was a member of the Portuguese Communist Party.

His works, some of which can be seen as allegories, commonly present subversive perspectives on historic events, emphasizing the human factor rather than the officially sanctioned story. Saramago was awarded the Nobel Prize
“Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered.” 375 likes
“Reading is probably another way of being in a place.” 286 likes
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