Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Morning With Saramago

This morning I went down to the river. Because it's morning, and it's a river. I saw this:
And behind me:

Exiting stage right from the panorama above, I planned to follow the footsteps of Raimundo Silva, a proofreader in Jose Saramago's The History of the Siege of Lisbon. In the novel, Raimundo, in serious violation of proofreader ethics, inserts a "not" into the historical account he is editing. Now, the crusaders on their way to the Holy Land did not assist the Portuguese in laying siege to the castle (where the treetops are in the photo) in order to drive out the Moors. Feeling both guilty and bold, he walks the Alfama district below the castle.
As today turned out, just before entering Alfama on Raimundo's route, I stopped at the Jose Saramago Foundation headquarters, where a woman named Rita told me about her more than 30 years of work with Saramago as his--I'm pausing here and brandishing an exclamation point--his proofreader!
I spent several hours in the company of Rita and Saramago and his papers and books and forgot about Raimundo and the cruise ship, which I hope has buggered off by now. 
Here is Saramago from "Words for a City": What we know of places is how we coincide with them over a certain period of time in the spaces they occupy. The place was there, the person appeared, then the person left, the place continued, the place having made the person, the person having transformed the place."
Saramago's ashes are buried under the olive tree out front.

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