Art, History, Politics and the Beginning of Modernity in the Hispanic World

Posted on October 31, 2009 by


By Tim Flaherty


Jose Saramago

In the final lecture of this recent series on campus, Melanie Murphy, Associate Professor of History at Emmanuel, analyzed the life and works of Portuguese writer and Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago.

Saramago, a former blue collar worker with no formal education since dropping out at age fourteen, became a writer successful at illustrating the human factor and vision of humanity separate from nature.

“Saramago was a populist, progressive and revitalizing writer,” says Murphy.

The importance of Portugal to Europe is argued in his novel The Stone Raft (1986), which explores the idea of the Iberian Peninsula breaking away from Europe and floating into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Stone Raft reflects the importance of the common man, particularly in Spain and Portugal, as five characters from Spain and Portugal come together in their journeys over the drifting Iberian Peninsula while European bureaucrats struggle to react to the situation.

Saramago is a registered communist; however he rejects communist leaders and dictators. He is sensitive to feelings of alienation and common effort felt by the working class and believes common workers should be respected.

Murphy quotes Saramago’s speech from a Newark, Portugal award ceremony, when he urged, “Promote the country you are.”

Posted in: Campus News