Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Cave

I finally finished "The Cave" by Jose Saramago (307 pages), a novel I've been reading off and on for the last couple of months. From the cover:

"Cipriano Algor, an elderly potter, lives with his daughter Marta and her husband Marcal in a small village on the outskirts of The Center, an imposing complex of shops and apartments to which Cipriano delivers his wares. One day, he is told not to make any more deliveries. Unwilling to give up his craft, Cipriano tries his hand at making ceramic dolls. Astonishingly, The Center places an order for hundreds. But just as suddenly, the order is cancelled and the penniless three have to move from the village into The Center. When mysterious sounds of digging emerge from beneath their new apartment, Cipriano and Marcal investigate; what they find transforms the family's life. Filled with the depth, humor, and extraordinary philosophical richness that marks each of Saramago's novels, The Cave is one of the essential books of our time."

"The Cave" borrows from Plato's "Allegory of the Cave," which presents a story where reality is but a shadow of our own experiences. Indeed the last couple chapters of the novel hits the reader over the head with this work, yet it is still done masterfully in only the way Saramago can do it.

The description from the book's jacket above probably gives away too much of the story of "The Cave," nonetheless it is a wonderful book with a very powerful conclusion. Though Saramago's style can take a little to get used to with paragraphs that can carry on for several pages and the lack of breaks or punctuation during dialogue, I would still highly recommend this novel or any of his other works. The depth of detail, the examination of truth and illusion, and quite possibly the greatest canine character, Found, ever put to print is well worth this difficult but engaging read.

I wish that Jose Saramago was still with us to continue to create superb works of fiction that also encourages the reader to think a little bit.

What would most people be compelled to do today? Watch the reflections from a fire on a wall or head off into the great unknown?

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