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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • September 19, 2006


    [58] The Double - Jose Saramago

    The Double tells the tale of a man whose nature inclines him more to melancholy, to a dreamy consciousness, to reverie, and to an exaggerated awareness of the transience of life, as he finds himself caught in the labyrinth of human relationships. Tertuliano Maximo Afonso is a secondary school teacher who feels called upon to teach the most serious subject--history. He might be burnt out from teaching, from the way it was taught in a perfunctory manner that it was not appreciated. The 39 years old has reasons to be depressed: after his unusually peaceful divorce he lives alone, in a penumbra of nostalgic temperament. A colleague suggests a comedy video that might detract him from the ennui--Maximo Afonso instead watches in utter astonishment an actor in the movie who looks exactly like him. Even though he is under no obligation to go look for the person who is a copy of him (or of whom he is a copy), and they won't be savvy of each other's existence, let alone crossing each other's path, he decides to pursue the name (and more) out of sheer curiosity.

    It is not until Maximo Afonso is hip deep in his search do I realize how deftly Jose Saramago uses idea of a double to bring to the nub of matter. Afonso is more than in depression: he has no clue of what might have caused him to plunge into depression. Sadly, he is an emotional drifter. Not only is he incorrigibly out of touch with his emotions and feelings, which is undeniable from his unusual equanimity toward his divorce, sans the usual finger-pointing and melodramas, he is also at a loss with words and with language. Despite his being overwhelmed by the existence of a double, who dismisses the resemblance as a banal coincidence, Maximo Afonso occupies himself in strenuous effort of thoughts, in circuitous hypotheses and in the numerous possible outcomes of confronting the double. His apathy toward his girlfriend, whom he makes an accomplice in actions of which origins and causes she knows nothing, constitutes a human flaw--one of moral cowardice that renders him silent and indifferent to people around him. He is slowly given away to a long process of continuous decadence that has afflicted his own loving feelings and replenished his heart with only distraction and indifference. The interlocution between Maximo Afonso and his Common Sense demonstrates his reluctance to be indiscreet about the investigation and his inability to nail his thoughts and feelings in words. However he struggles, he always finds himself outside the feelings he so ingenuously hopes to describe. The Double offers a glimpse of the impacting consequence of a moral weakness--out of fear and cowardice truth is thwarted to be revealed.


    Blogger matty said...

    I'm about to start reading THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY...

    Have you read it?

    Did you like it?

    How is your mouth?

    Where are my Sandy and Faye CD's?!?!?

    9/19/2006 9:29 PM  

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