- Gebundene Ausgabe: 64 Seiten
- Verlag: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Auflage: First Edition First Printing (8. November 1999)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0151005958
- ISBN-13: 978-0151005956
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 17,3 x 13,4 x 1,3 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 7 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 1.567.843 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Tale of the Unknown Island (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 8. November 1999
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"A man went to knock at the king's door and said, Give me a boat."
Even without the "Once upon a time," it's clear from the opening sentence of José Saramago's mischievous and wise The Tale of the Unknown Island that we have entered a somewhat fractured fairy tale. Of course, it could be argued that all of his works are, in some form or another, fairy tales, from the whimsical, revisionist History of the Siege of Lisbon to the darker dystopia of Blindness. Originally published as a short story in Portugal, Unknown Island contains all of the elements Saramago is famous for--dry wit, a seemingly simple plot that works on many levels, and an idiosyncratic use of punctuation, among other things. It begins as a satire concerned with the absurdity of bureaucracy as supplicants arrive at the king's door for petitions while the king himself waits by the door for favors:
Since the king spent all his time sitting at the door for favors (favors being offered to the king, you understand), whenever he heard someone knocking at the door for petitions, he would pretend not to hear, and only when the continuous pounding of the bronze doorknocker became not just deafening, but positively scandalous, disturbing the peace of the neighborhood (people would start muttering, What kind of king is he if he won't even answer the door), only then would he order the first secretary to go and find out what the supplicant wanted, since there seemed no way of silencing him.On this particular occasion, the man at the door asks for a boat so that he can search for an unknown island. When the king assures him that all the islands have already been discovered, he refuses to believe it, explaining that one must exist "simply because there can't possibly not be an unknown island." A palace cleaning woman overhears the conversation, and when the king finally grants his supplicant a boat, she leaves the royal residence via the door of decisions and follows the would-be explorer. Saramago then moves from satire to allegory as his two dreamers prepare for their voyage of discovery--and nearly miss the forest for the trees. The Tale of the Unknown Island packs more charm and meaning into 50 tiny pages than most novels accomplish at five times the length. Readers already familiar with the Nobel Prize-winning Saramago will find everything they love about his longer works economically sized; for those who have not yet experienced the pleasures of his remarkable imagination, Unknown Island provides a charming introduction. --Alix Wilber
"Saramago writes possibly the most beautiful but certainly the most precise and differentiated Portuguese prose of our time" (Walter Haubrich Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
"Saramago is a writer, like Faulkner, so confident of his resources and ultimate destination that he can bring any improbability to life" (John Updike)
"No candidate for a Nobel Prize has a better claim to lasting recognition than this novelist" (Edmund White)
"He was the equal of Philip Roth, Günter Grass, Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo. His genius was remarkably versatile - he was at once a great comic and a writer of shocking earnestness and grim poignancy" (Harold Bloom)
"Saramago is a writer of formidable talent and extraordinary imagination" (La Repubblica) -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch.
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The book begins beguilingly enough, when a man with a quest knocks at the door of a king and begs for a boat to make an expedition to an unknown island. The king is not immediately agreeable but our hero finds an unlikely ally in the king's cleaning woman and, after receiving the ship he has asked for, he and the woman join forces.
There is one problem. There are no unknown islands. All that exist have already been mapped and claimed by the king. When the harbormaster attempts to dissuade the man from his dream, and no one signs on board as crew members, the hero of this little tale finds that only the cleaning woman will help him pursue his seemingly impossible dream.
The island is discovered, but unfortunately, the journey taken is literally one of which the stuff of dreams are made. REM sleep and narcoleptic love play a big part in this story. It is here, in the land of dreams, where the story really falls apart and our suspension of disbelief grows harder and harder to suspend.
Nobel Prize winner, Jose Saramago, is the author of breathtakingly beautiful books such as Baltasar and Blimunda and The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, and works of stunning originality like Blindness, so I expected far more from The Tale of the Unknown Island. Perhaps these high expectations were a part of the problem.
The book is written in Saramago's signature style: a breathless, barely punctuated, almost stream-of-consciousness manner that is, as always, flawless, and that captures the innocence and high spirits of the protagonist perfectly. The metaphors created, however, are highly overstated and, at times, highly irritating.
Thematically, The Tale of the Unknown Island should have worked so beautifully. There is a lazy and wicked antagonist in the guise of the king, there is the pure and innocent hero, there is the classic quest necessary for the hero to prove himself and become whole and there is the requisite healing power of true love. The key to the ending is faith and the key to that faith is love.
With all of the required elements of fairy tales and fables, why, then did this book fail to hit the mark?
Fairy tales and fables are, by their very nature, simple little tales. The Tale of the Unknown Island is quite complex but told in a simplified manner. And, as we all know, "simplified" does not quite equal the beauty inherent in "simple." Saramago's abrupt switch from satire to allegory was jarring, to say the least, and definitely detracted from the book's could-have-been charms.
The gemlike playfulness and grace embodied in a tale such as The Princess Bride or The Last Unicorn is sorely lacking in The Tale of the Unknown Island.
The illustrated edition, however, is still well worth the time and money. Peter Sis' drawings, composed of clean lines and classical beauty have a fey air of antiquity about them and achieve all that the story set out to do but did not.
Saramago is a world class writer. That cannot be denied. The fact that The Tale of the Unknown Island failed to make the grade is a flaw as tiny and insignificant as is the book itself.
Would someone please tell me the significance of the barnyard animals, the sailors, and the "known island" in the dream? There must be some profound symbolism there, but it's either too brilliant to be understood or just empty, drivellish writing--the stuff fourth-graders stick in the middle of their short story writing assignments in an attempt to make it interesting.
Help me understand. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There's something appealing in this story, which attracted me (don't know what it is!)... But I was disappointed to the way the writer ended his book.
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