José Saramago, Nobel Laureate, Has Died

[Photograph of José Saramago. Photocredit: Wikimedia Commons]
José Saramago, Nobel Laureate 1998
November 16, 1922 – June 18, 2010
The world of letters has lost another light.

José Saramago died today according to his publisher. He was 87 years old.

I am mostly ignorant of Mr. Saramago’s work. I began reading The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis and found the story wonderful and strange. It tells the story of Ricardo Reis, a “heteronym” used by Fernando Pessoa, who continues to live on after Fernando Pessoa has died. A heteronym is different from a pseudonym in that each heteronym possesses a separate history, temperament, philosophy, and writing style, whereas as a pseudonym refers to the author.

The writing career of Mr. Saramago flourished later in life. He did not become a full time novelist in his late fifties, “after working variously as a garage mechanic, a Welfare Agency bureaucrat, a printing production manager, a proofreader, a translator and a newspaper columnist” (from the New York Times obituary).

His work serves as a reminder that not all great artists are great while they are young, a foil to our obsession with youth.

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