Diario JAÉN has lived firsthand the events of November 16, the centenary of the birth of Saramago in Lisbon, a city that has turned to its Nobel Prize for Literature, an author who, twelve years after his death “is more alive and It is being read more than ever. The events that have had the support of all the Portuguese institutions, headed by the Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, have been organized by the José Saramago Foundation, which oversees the author’s work, the defense and dissemination of Human Rights, the promotion of literatures and environmental conservation.
Word and music, the passions of the Nobel Prize, book readings, concerts and opera, have been the focus of the acts to commemorate the centenary of the birth of José Saramago in Lisbon (Portugal), which have also been celebrated with simplicity and depth, two characteristics of a a man who captured the heartbeat of the Portuguese soul like no one else and, by extension, of today’s society anywhere in the world.
“We always arrive at the place where we are expected” and in his centenary Saramago has reached the depths of the hearts of Lisbon and Portuguese people who have turned to the closing ceremonies of the Centenary of their most universal and only Nobel poet in language Portuguese, which he received in 1998.
The day began with a light drizzle and a persistent cloud that came to put a point of melancholy and pessimism in the environment, or better as his companion says, “realism”, typical of the Nobel. But, soon the day was filled with a joyful bustle in the square in front of the Casa dos Bicos, headquarters of the Saramago Foundation, located in the heart of Lisbon, with the color of a simple floral offering of red and white carnations at the foot of the olive tree where the ashes of the Nobel Prize rest and with the warmth of the people of Lisbon who came excited throughout the day to participate in the celebrations. The president of the Chamber of Lisbon, the mayor Carlos Moedas together with the president of the Saramago Foundation Pilar del Río began the floral offering, followed by a broad representation of the Island Council of Lanzarote headed by the president Dolores Corujo and the biographer of Saramago and President of the César Manrique Foundation, Fernando Gómez Aguilera.
Portugal reads Saramago. “They call the village Azinhaga, it has been in that place, so to speak, since the dawn of nationality…” read the veteran actress, María do Céu Guerra, with her modulated voice, who opened the reading of the book “The Little Memories” de Saramago, under the watchful eye of the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa. The socialist president highlighted the value of Saramago as a reference, “an extraordinary man who learned to read while working and discovered books in public libraries.” He praised the humanity and contemporaneity of the Nobel and opted “for the peace that is possible with dialogue, as Saramago always defended.” At the same time, all the institutes in Portugal and in several Ibero-American countries read Nobel books. The Portuguese President, Rebelo de Sousa, was with the students of the “José Saramago” school in Mafra.
For her part, the companion of the Nobel Prize winner who disappeared on June 18, 2010, the Andalusian translator and journalist, Pilar del Río, stressed that “we are witnessing the centenary of a good man who spanned his century, who helps us think and who we must keep in memory “because without memory we would not exist and if we make it disappear we should not exist.”
The reading of “The Little Memories” by the author of “Essay on Blindness” continued throughout the day in the Foundation’s Library where dozens of people, who queued up to sign up, took turns uninterruptedly and flooded the Foundation with Saramago’s words with different sounds, accents and emotions, like a country raised from the ground in honor of its Nobel Prize in Literature. At the same time, a succession of musicians performed classical pieces on the cello or violin. Attentive to reading, they gathered from the veteran and great Brazilian author Nélida Piñón, to the latest “José Saramago Literary Award”, the young Brazilian author Rafael Gallo.
Pilar del Río, together with the director of the Foundation, Sergio Machado Letria and his meager team, displayed a frenetic activity to attend to so many delegations, individuals and the media who wanted to record their appreciation of the Nobel Prize. These days have also been held in Lisbon, a film series inspired by the books of Saramago, the author considered “voice of civic conscience and democracy.” Before finishing the reading, students from a Lisbon school sang an exciting happy birthday for the Nobel Prize winner by the olive tree. There was also a toast with Porto for Saramago at the end of the reading of “The Little Memories”.
Blimunda, omnipresent symbol. The Saramaguian women, those symbol women, the heroines of the Nobel narrative universe, have been claimed as examples of Saramago’s practicing feminism and six of these women, including María de Magdala, Lidia Blimunda Sietelunas, are part of the temporary exhibition that is exhibited these days at the Foundation. Saramago’s biographer, Fernando Gómez Aguilera, has highlighted the courage, bravery and strength of these women and that, like one more of them, the writer’s grandmother Josefa, inspired his book “The consistency of dreams”, and the exhibition of the same title with which Saramago “reconciled” with Lisbon after that episode of censorship of his book “The gospel according to Jesus Christ”. This attack on freedom of expression led the writer to leave Lisbon and settle in Lanzarote in 1992. And there, in A Casa de Lanzarote, the writer who wrote to unsettle became a literary and moral benchmark of his century and a Nobel Prize winner. of Literature in 1998.
This very special day of the Centenary of Saramago, passionate about music, closed precisely with the last performance at the San Carlos National Theater in Lisbon of the opera Blimunda, whose libretto is inspired by texts from “Memorial del convento”, one of the most charismatic Nobel novels. The opera Blimunda, that woman who had the ability to see inside people, has been the musical event of the season in Lisbon.
The Saramaguian night closed with an intimate celebration in Chiado, in the Farta Brutos restaurant, the favorite of Saramago and Pilar del Río, a simple gastronomic temple where the Nobel Prize has been reserved since 1980. There their closest friends toasted and sang “Arcadi” by Fernando Lopes and the fado based on a Nobel Prize poem “Aprendamos o rito” by Carlos Do Carmo in honor of the long-awaited “friend” José Saramago, who surely, with his stoic attitude, we imagine would smile slightly pleased, wherever it is, as in the photo that presides over that table. In memory of his defense and his commitment to Iberism, he was heard to say: Obrigado, Saramago, thank you, Saramago.
“The Centenary of José Saramago has exceeded all expectations and surpassed even the most optimistic forecasts we had at the Foundation,” Pilar del Río, a Nobel Prize winner’s companion for more than two decades, indicated in an exclusive statement to Diario JAÉN. Activities that have been held all over the world, that have not yet concluded and that will continue throughout the following years.
“Of the beautiful things that have happened, the Andalusian journalist stands out (the object of the most beautiful book dedications by Saramago), the readings at the same time in the institutes of Portugal, the Canary Islands, Brazil, Mexico or Argentina, the drawings of Saramago that children from many parts of the world have made or the “happy birthday” that the “meninos” of a Lisbon school sang to him at the gates of the Foundation for the “menino Saramago”, who was celebrating his hundredth birthday”.
Why is Saramago so moving? And Pilar del Río firmly answers that “because of his contemporaneity, because he is a voice of our time, who interprets us, tells us and helps us think. They say —he continues— that Saramago is a pessimistic writer but, unfortunately, he is more realistic than pessimistic, and also there is always a fund of hope from him in his books because he had great confidence in human beings. Saramago said, coinciding with the Iraq war, that there are two powers, one is the United States, the other is you. That is noticed by readers who feel respected by the writer who exuded imagination, compassion and irony and, for this reason, this centenary has been celebrated in such an intense, exciting and beautiful way”. The writer is not here, but we will always have his books.
Andalusian books for the Nobel Prize
Three Andalusian authors, the wife of Saramago Pilar del Río, the Sevillian journalist Mercedes de Pablos, an expert in the Nobel Prize, and the singer and writer from Granada Juan Pinilla, have written books that broaden the knowledge of the incomprehensible Portuguese writer, also considered a Nobel Prize winner. of Peace for his defense of the underprivileged and of just causes wherever they were threatened. “The intuition of the island”. The days of José Saramago in Lanzarote, authored by Pilar del Río from Editorial Itineraria; Jose Saramago. At the height of man” by Mercedes de Pablos, from the Andalusian Center for Letters. Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports. Junta de Andalucía and “Saramago. The Nobel Prize for the Impossible” by the writer Juan Pinilla, published by Atrapasueños.
The seed and the fruits
This is the title of the permanent exhibition of the José Saramago Foundation, which is characterized by the fact that it offers notable prominence to books, all of the author’s, but also those written by researchers and scholars of his work from around the world. It incorporates audiovisual resources that open the doors to the dense and rich Saramaguian world. It was created in June 2007.
It is located in the Casa dos Bicos located in the river estuary, where the Tagus meets the sea, in the heart of Lisbon, a manor house, extraordinarily restored and that integrates archaeological remains that show the architectural evolution of the property. It has a branch in Azinhaga, the birthplace of the Nobel Prize winner. Also with A casa, the Nobel family home on the island of Lanzarote.
It is a private cultural institution declared of public utility that, in addition to the permanent exhibition, has an auditorium library where theatrical performances, exhibitions, colloquiums and book presentations are held. In front of his Casa dos Bicos façade, in a square open to the sea, there is an olive tree brought from Azinhaga that protects the writer’s ashes. The last symbol of the city of Lisbon.
A visit and a street in Jaén
The Portuguese writer who considered himself Andalusian as he said in his appointment speech as Andalusia’s favorite son in 2007, “Andalusia is not my land, but it is my land”, visited the city of Jaén on October 10, 2005 to participate in a conference on the recovery of democratic memory that was held in the old Provincial Prison. The day coincided with the demolition of this prison, a symbol of the suffering of hundreds of those retaliated against by the Franco regime. Saramago, always attentive to defending just causes, and following in the wake of memorialist associations such as the one named after his novel “Todos los nombres”, came to Jaén where a Nobel had never been before and dazzled with a conference entitled “From the shadow to the light”. On this day, issues such as the Civil War in the Huelva prison, selective violence or the terror of Queipo de Llano were addressed, and the role of Franco regime prisoners, their children and the lost children of the dictatorship was rescued from oblivion.
Saramago has a street in our capital in the Peñamefecit neighborhood. The parable told by José Saramago will be true, that “we always arrive at the place where we are expected”.
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Saramago: One day, one hundred years