Cave, The

by Jose Saramago


This is the 5th Saramago book I’ve read (the others being The Gospel According to Jesus ChristThe Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, Blindness and Seeing), and the prose is by far the most meandering, frequently intolerably meandering, with his never-ending sentences, his usual asides and flourishes taken to even further extremes than usual, or perhaps I’m just misremembering the others, or reading this new one in a different frame of mind, less patient, more apt to find fault, really who can tell?  But there is something quite strange about a book whose pages make no mention of its title until one third of the way through, as if it was somehow sheepish about the prospects of being able to adequately explain itself, and whose rear jacket tells the entire plot of the book while giving you the impression it is merely the opening premise, and whose titular cave remains nonexistent until well nigh the very end, only thirty pages remaining in the last halting but somewhat more glorious breaths it has to offer, those unassuming and unexpected final pages raising it grudgingly from two to three stars when all is said and done, like a downed fighter raising himself from the ground one last time before the inevitable knockout, a cave by which, by the way, reviewers would do better for the uninitiated if they ceased mentioning its cultural, historical and philosophical significance, or at least included a spoiler warning, I’m sure you’ll agree.  If you like this review there’s a good chance you’ll like the novel, but if you find the writing either tedious, pretentious or perhaps self-indulgent with an unpleasant side effect of distraction, I would avoid it if I were you, however still desiring to read some of Saramago’s prose you might try his more famous Blindness and the even better Seeing.

Original Review


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