The Elephants Journey

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Saramago's reminder to us that we aren't the be-all and end-all of creation is, usually, a dog. I developed a simple ranking system for his fiction: In The Elephant's Journey his reminder of the importance of the nonhuman is on a far larger scale. So it isn't surprising that I rank it very high in his work, and that it immediately, with no effort at all, joined the more forbidding novels that I have come to love best — The Stone Raft , Blindness , The Cave. Solomon the elephant and his mahout had already made a long sea voyage from Goa and spent a couple of years standing about in a pen in Lisbon, before setting off for Valladolid as a present from the king to the archduke, who travelled with him to Italy by ship and across the Alps to Vienna.

In the novel, Solomon and his mahout Subhro whom the archduke renames, with true Habsburg infelicity, Fritz proceed through various landscapes at an unhurried pace, attended by various functionaries and military men, and meeting along the way with villagers and townsfolk who variously interpret the sudden enigma of an elephant entering their lives. And that's the story. It is extremely funny. Old Saramago writes with a masterfully light hand, and the humour is tender, a mockery so tempered by patience and pity that the sting is gone though the wit remains vital. The episode that begins with the mahout discussing religion with the Portuguese captain is particularly endearing.

Having explained that he is a Christian, more or less, Subhro undertakes to tell the soldiers about Ganesh.

The Elephant's Journey: José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa: Books

You obviously know a good deal about Hinduism, says the captain. More or less, sir, more or less, says the mahout, and goes on to explain how Shiva cut off his son Ganesh's head and replaced it with an elephant's head. The priest sagely replies: The peasants argue till the priest settles it by promising to go and exorcise the elephant: The whole episode is a series of contained miracles of absurdity, quiet laughter rising out of a profound, resigned, affectionate wisdom.

In his understanding of people Saramago brings us something very rare — a disillusion that allows affection and admiration, a clear-sighted forgiveness. He doesn't expect too much of us. He is perhaps closer in spirit and in humour to our first great novelist, Cervantes, than any novelist since. At last they make their grand entry into the imperial city.

The Elephant's Journey is a tale of friendship and adventure.

The Globe and Mail

The novel was translated into English by Margaret Jull Costa and published in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay that states a Wikipedia editor's personal feelings about a topic. Please help improve it by rewriting it in an encyclopedic style. March Learn how and when to remove this template message. Retrieved 6 April If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?

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    The Elephant's Journey

    When the Sky Falls. When the Orson Welles scare swept America the world laughed Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features: Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Read reviews that mention saramago portugal archduke solomon king tale vienna austria mahout punctuation jose human century subhro nobel portuguese indian maximilian alps wedding.

    There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. How often do you read about a journey from Lisbon to Vienna in ? This is one of the reasons that Jose Saramago is so revered. He opens worlds, both interior and exterior, that you may never have dreamed. While at the University of Salzburg delivering lectures, Salamago dined at a restaurant called the Elephant. There he noticed some carvings, a series of small wooden sculptures that traced an elephant trek from Lisbon's Torre de Belem, destination Vienna.

    Saramago was fascinated, researched the historical facts, and created this tribute to courage and folly. Worrying that their previous wedding gift to the new King of Spain their new neighbor was inadequate, the King and Queen of Portugal decide to regift a present from India, the elephant Solomon. After all, they rationalize, he and his keeper Subhro had been vegetating for two years since arriving in Portugal. As the King of Spain is traveling to Vienna, they selfishly devise a plan to send Soloman to intercept the King on his journey to Vienna.