POLYGLOT BOOK REVIEW Jose Saramago, Elephant’s Journey

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Hello everyone and welcome to my new video review! Welcome to my new video about this book. The title is The Elephant’s Journey and was written by Jose Saramago, Nobel Prize (for literature). In Saramago’s well-known writing style, wich has made him famous, the reader is taken into the isolated, rustic, rural world of the Europe of the 16th century. The reader travels with an indian Elephant and its keeper from the capital of Portugal to Wien. The elephant is the eccentric wedding gift of the Portugal’s King, Joao to his cousin Maximilian, Austrian archduke. So the elephant will be transported, actually it will go on its own feet from one side of the Europe to the other. Of course nothing would be simpler if we *didn’t* take into consideration the fact that we are speaking about a 16th century infrastructure the roads of Europe are neither the safest nor the easiest to cross. Then an elephant is of course an animal with an impressive waist. It cannot be hidden, it can’t jump from one place to another like, let’s say, a wild goat. In addition it needs supplies, a large amount of supplies, wich of course are not so easy to carry around The problem is analyzed in the minutest detail at the King’s court. A commander of the Portuguese army will be given the task to transport the elephant within the territory of Portugal. From Valladolid (*Vajadolid*), wich is a Spanish city, the elephant will join the Austrian duke’s procession wich will escort it to Wien. The cortege will pass through Italian cities such as Genoa, Verona, Padua… …but the important thing to mention is that the so cold ADVENTURES of the elephant are not so spectacular as the term might suggest. More interesting instead seem to be the adventures of the soldiers and companions and of the elephant’s keeper, Subhro, interpreter and expert in the animal’s behaviour subtle connoisseur of his needs and desires. Everywhere the caravan is received with amazement and curiosity. Obviously, no one had ever seen an elephant until then in the rural Europe of the 16th century. The fear is also common among those who see the world from the Christian perspective of that time, wich is strengthened by the violent activity of the Inquisition, the elephant and its keeper must be sanctified, christianized, exorcized. However because everything happens in the name of the King is like a protective shield against the hostility and it makes everything easier for the Portuguese commander. Now this commander is an open-minded, curious man, placed between his own free spirit and the authoritarian formality of the institution he serves. Beautiful are those pages in wich the author describes the soldiers and the (indian) keeper sitting around the fire and talking about religion. In the ideological conflict between Ganesha, the Hindu elephant-headed god of widsom and our Christian god – here, in this conflict, we can better recognize the subtle, intelligent and unmistakable irony of Jose Saramago. Therefore a very important novel among the others writtten by Saramago. It is the last he wrote while he was well on in years but of course very skilled. So a historical novel but different from everything I’ve read before: far from the pedantry of Sienkiewicz in his novel Quo Vadis, far from the meticulosity of Ernest Hemingway. This one instead is a simple (but not SIMPLISTIC) novel, wich I recommend to all those who want to discover this great Portuguese writer. That’s all for today, I hope you enjoyed my review, see you next time with more other books to read.

 

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