I like this questioning of cause versus effect in the writing – and reading – of novels. Does writing and reading them compel us to remember, or is it our inability to forget which compels us to read and write them?
Some novels allow us to forget everything around us for a while, in some cases providing a momentary reprieve from our reality by immersing us in another.
Either way, they allow us to remember that other people live other lives with other priorities and concerns.
‘Except that it still has not been established whether it is the novel that prevents man from forgetting himself or the impossibility of forgetfulness that makes him write novels.’
By the way, Saramago’s novels are splendid; I have been enriched by this one, together with The Cave, Baltasar and Blimunda, and The Stone Raft. All deserving a review – I’ll add them to the list.
Source: Jose Saramago, The History of the Siege of Lisbon, trans. Giovanni Pontiero, London: The Harvill Press, 2000 (1989), p.47
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