- 8,49 €
For two years Solomon the elephant has lived in Lisbon. Now King Dom João III wishes to make him a wedding gift for a Hapsburg archduke in Vienna. The only way for Solomon to get to his new home is to walk. So begins a journey that will take the stalwart elephant across the dusty plains of Castile, over the sea to Genoa and up to northern Italy where, like Hannibal's elephants before him, he must cross the snowy Alps. Based on a true story, Saramago’s tale is an enchanting mix of fact, fable and fantasy.
This charming tale of an elephant given by the 16th-century Portuguese king Jo o III to the Archduke of Austria has much to recommend it, despite its being a minor work from the late Nobel laureate. Setting off with the elephant from Lisbon, the elephant's Indian keeper becomes unlikely friends with an army commander on the sun-scorched road to Valladolid, where the archduke awaits. The group encounters an Iberian peninsula in the intermediate stages of state formation and in the clutches of the Inquisition, as well as villages full of people delighted and frightened by the legendary beast. Saramago skillfully evokes the era with period detail and the clashing cultures of the Iberians and the Ottomans, yet his attempts to imbue this pleasant yarn with heft fall short. In particular, his deliberate use of anachronisms and his frequent lapses into a coy, first-person-plural feel out of place, while his forays into the Hindu religion and folktales read largely ornamental. By Saramago (Blindness) standards, this is a fun if unlikely jaunt.