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Saramago, Jose (Translated by Giovanni Pontiero). THE STONE RAFT. New York City, NY: Harcourt Brace, 1995. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 292 pages. Fine/Fine.

The author's fourth 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 tiny first print run as a hardcover original only that was made possible by a grant from the National Library of Portugal. The First Edition is now very scarce. Presents Jose Saramago's "A Jangada de Pedra" in a felicitous English translation. What if Portugal and Spain, once omnipotent world powers now reduced to second-class status in The Great Continent, were to break away altogether from Europe and become adrift like a raft on the Atlantic? Saramago's profound and beautiful novel imagines just such a break-up (which results from a massive crack in the Pyrenees) in one of his greatest creations. "The silent dogs of Cerbere begin to bark, a sign that the universe is coming to an end. People start to wander about aimlessly. The Portuguese Government resigns as it becomes clear that the new island is going to collide with the Azores. With death and destruction seemingly imminent, a group of strangers ends up together, and their lives are transformed" (Publisher's blurb). Among other delicious catastrophes, the possibility that the island/raft will hit the United States, slamming into and pushing New York City inland, is the most brilliant. As in all of his oeuvre, acutely so in his late, post-Nobel Prize work, Saramago 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. An important distinction: A satirist mocks, makes fun of, and laughs at others; an ironist mocks, makes fun of, and laughs at himself, that is, makes us laugh at his pain. "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 collectible. This is one of few copies of the First American Edition/First Printing still available online and is in especially fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a pristine beauty. Beware: Many copies available online are remainder-marked or have major flaws. A very scarce 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 0151851980. $150.00

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