Let me translate

José Saramago has now completed his work on earth (1922-2010). Fundacao Jose Saramago gives details of the funeral arrangements (in Portuguese) on its website.  I do wonder who wrote this piece in his blog dated today and that cites his words from an interview in 2008.

Outros Cadernos de Saramago: “Acho que na sociedade actual nos falta filosofia. Filosofia como espaço, lugar, método de refexão, que pode não ter um objectivo determinado, como a ciência, que avança para satisfazer objectivos. Falta-nos reflexão, pensar, precisamos do trabalho de pensar, e parece-me que, sem ideias, nao vamos a parte nenhuma.”

“I think that contemporary society lacks philosophy. Philosophy as space, place, method for reflection which may not have a predetermined objective such as science, but that advances in order to satisfy objectives. We need reflection, thought, we need thought’s work. In my view, without ideas, we will not go anywhere.” (1)

I have never been a fan of Saramago the man, but his work, that is on a different page. In my view, one can separate the man from the work. The man is that mortal part that eventually disappears, and the work is what remains. He was an annoying man, arrogant and with political ideas that I do not share, but he could think and he could write. A word of caution here is that I have seen some very bad translations of his work, but if you can, do read him in his original Portuguese, or find a good translation. German readers may find a few hints here.

It turns out that most thought occurs while writing, and some occurs in conversation. Inspiring ideas occur in sleep, under the shower or while playing. Thought is a solitary pursuit. I was exposed to Portuguese literature early in life and while the language is to me as difficult as any other language, it has a particular vernacular beauty that is all its own, and that for the life of me, I find very difficult to translate.

Saramago is right in my view in affirming that without ideas, we will not go anywhere. It is a good starting point. May Saramago rest in peace now that his work is complete.

(1) Translated by the author of this post.

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1 thought on “Let me translate”

  1. I was wondering too, who was posting this reflexion of today in Saramago’s Caderno. Given this I started wondering about authenticity of the Saramago’s caderno.
    But as you write, it is not so much question of authenticity or the person of Saramago that is stressed in all the obituaries we can read now, but the question of thoughts. Thank you for your enlightening post!

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