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Beschreibung des Verlags

When exploring the rhetorical power of Jose Saramago's novels, it is important to recognize that his art of allusion and citation is based on a far more complex understanding of literary and cultural tradition and text than many studies make explicit: as Adriana Alves de Paula Martins recognizes, citing Umberto Eco, real independence of thought in the postmodern age can no longer equate to originality, consisting instead merely in acknowledging the inevitable act of quotation (68). Or, as Saramago himself has indicated in response to a question regarding possible influence over his own work from James Joyce, the reading of any text leaves the reader a different person at the end of it from who he or she was at its beginning (comments made by Jose Saramago at University College Dublin, 15 June 2006). To this end, scholars and critics such as Teresa Cristina Cerdeira da Silva have recognized the importance of this aspect of the novelist's work as far back as his first successful novel Levantado do Chao (1980) (Risen from the Ground; as of yet not translated to English). Silva's suggestion of Saramago's reference to Luis de Camoes and neo-realist Alves Redol in the framing of an epic for the age of the ordinary person recognizes that the extraordinary new qualities Saramago brought to the Portuguese literary scene lay at least in part in his ability to build on the work of his predecessors (see "Saramago e Redol"; "No Paraiso da memoria"). And in this sense, Maria Lucia Lepecki is correct to declare that "In its composition, in its use of language, in its imaginary power, Levantado do Chao is profoundly innovative and even revolutionary, within the context of contemporary Portuguese fiction." (unless indicated otherwise, all translations from the Portuguese are mine) ("Na escrita, na linguagem, no modo do imaginario, Levantado do Chao e profundamente inovador, revolucionario mesmo, no quadro da narrativa portuguesa dos nossos dias" [84]). These remarks are prompted not only by the powerful discourse used against the abuse of political and economic power throughout Saramago's text, but also by the inventiveness with which the value-hierarchies of Portuguese cultural tradition are overturned by it and employed against the very classes which have exercized hegemony in the past. Indeed, Lepecki goes out of her way to stress that the power of this novel lies essentially in its mastery of stimulating an overall effect through the relations created amongst its constituent elements, so that this work may be seen as revolutionary in politics and revolutionary in aesthetic terms too. In the present article I examine how an effective and well thought-out strategy based on the exploitation of Bakhtinian heteroglossia--a polyphony of voices and echoes of a variety of cultural cliches--renders what could easily have been merely another depiction of rural squalor and oppression into a genuinely revolutionary work and that aims to coerce the reader (whatever his/her political sympathies outside the context of reading may be) into a sympathetic response to the class struggle depicted. To do this, I engage in a close reading of three key passages within the novel, all marked by an inventive sense of strategy and anticipation of reader-response: the brutal suppression of a workers' strike by the police, who are effectively demonstrated to be the militia of the privileged landowners; the framing of the chapter which depicts the torture and death of Germano Santos Vidigal in police custody; and the requirement of the state that the workers be prepared to sacrifice their very lives for it at the outbreak of World War I.

Gewerbe und Technik
1. September
Purdue University Press

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