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Saramago, Jose (Translated by Giovanni Pontiero). THE YEAR OF THE DEATH OF RICARDO REIS. New York City, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 360 pages. Fine/Fine.

The author's second novel to be translated into English. One of the greatest novels of the 20th century. The first appearance of the title in English and in the United States. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions. Published in a very small and limited first print run as a hardcover original only. The First Edition is now rare. Presents Jose Saramago's "Ano da morte de Ricardo Reis" in a felicitous English translation. The title is ironic as the novel re-incarnates Fernando Pessoa; the death referred to is of Portugal herself. "Ricardo Reis" was one of the incarnations of Fernando Pessoa, possibly the greatest Portuguese poet of all time, and according to Harold Bloom, Europe's greatest modern poet bar none. Pessoa lived the fact that personality is extremely fluid, made up of not one normal self but many fully-formed selves, an immanence that the "human being" (a European/humanist idea) willfully suppresses to the point of extinction, in response to external social pressures that result in unbearable internal conflict. By liberating his own selves through poetry, assuming heteronyms instead of just pseudonyms (he assumed about 81 heteronyms, three of them being the most significant), and keeping them alive and productive simultaneously, Pessoa risked not just fragmentation but total disintegration in the conventional psychological sense. Instead, his work transcends psychology, and is an authentic poetic universe that is unique in all of literature (and Pop notions like "avatar"). We encounter Alberto Caeiro, a poet in the Pastoral tradition as well as Alvaro de Campos, a radical Modernist. Ricardo Reis, a serenely meditative Classicist, is the poet Saramago loves and identifies with the most. The novelist sees Ricardo Reis as the last living human connection to Portugal's past, dreamy yet alert amid his country's decline and decay. This early novel is closely linked with all of Saramago's oeuvre, acutely so with his late, post-Nobel Prize work. His oeuvre re-visits and re-examines "the human condition", that otherwise exhausted inheritance from the idea and the reality called Europe and The Enlightenment, and sees it with fresh eyes through the prism of Apocalypse/"The End". He revitalizes and enlarges the novel through allegory. Often described as a satirist, Saramago's work goes much deeper, and he is perhaps the greatest modern literary ironist since Franz Kafka. "Arguably the greatest writer of our time. He throws a dazzling flash of lightning on his subjects" (The Chicago Tribune). Saramago was an anomaly who came out of nowhere, seemingly born a genius. Every single page of every single book he has ever written makes the reader feel that he or she is in the hands of an unsurpassable Master. An absolute "must-have" title for Jose Saramago collectors. This title is now highly collectible. This is one of few copies of the First American Edition/First Printing still available online and despite its imperfection (slight rubbing on back of DJ) is still in especially fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a beauty. Beware: Most copies available online have major flaws or are remainder-marked. A rare copy thus. Regarded by Harold Bloom as one of the two greatest novelists of our time (the other being Philip Roth), Jose Saramago will be read as probably the greatest European novelist of the last fifty years. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. A fine collectible copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER JOSE SARAMAGO TITLES IN OUR CATALOG). ISBN 0151997357. $200.00

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