The Cave

Written by: José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa

The Cave Book Cover
José Saramago is a master at pacing. Readers unfamiliar with the work of this Portuguese Nobel Prize winner would do well to begin with The Cave, a novel of ideas, shaded with suspense. Spare and pensive, The Cave follows the fortunes of an aging potter, Cipriano Algor, beginning with his weekly delivery of plates to the Center, a high-walled, windowless shopping complex, residential community, and nerve center that dominates the region. What sells at the Center will sell everywhere else, and what the Center rejects can barely be given away in the surrounding towns and villages. The news for Cipriano that morning isn't good. Half of his regular pottery shipment is rejected, and he is told that the consumers now prefer plastic tableware. Over the next week, he and his grown daughter Marta grieve for their lost craft, but they gradually open their eyes to the strange bounty of their new condition: a stray dog adopts them, and a lovely widow enters Cipriano's life. When they are invited to live at the Center, it seems ungracious to refuse, but there are some strange developments under the complex and a troubling increase in security, and Cipriano changes all their fates by deciding to investigate. In Saramago's able hands, what might have become a dry social allegory is a delicately elaborated story of individualism and unexpected love. --Regina Marler
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The Cave Reviews

David
I am a big Saramago fan, with "Death with Interruptions" being one of my favourite books. I love his fluid writing style, where a "paragraph" is more like a stream of conscience (and 20 pages later) but with a real sense of purpose. The action gets you to the point. The thoughts are clear and he gives you something to "chew on" while the story unravels. This book was an odd one. 

The story is simple. Cipriano Algor is seventy-four year potter who comes to "City" to deliver his latest works for pu I am a big Saramago fan, with "Death with Interruptions" being one of my favourite books. I love his fluid writing style, where a "paragraph" is more like a stream of conscience (and 20 pages later) but with a real sense of purpose. The action gets you to the point. The thoughts are clear and he gives you something to "chew on" while the story unravels. This book was an odd one. 

The story is simple. Cipriano Algor is seventy-four year potter who comes to "City" to deliver his latest works for purchase. To his surprize, the mass produced factory-made pottery is more in vogue and he is now "out of fashion." His daughter, Marta who is married and pregnant, convinces him to try a different angle in the ceramics business by fashioning clay figurines. He manages to sell this idea to the Manager of Purchases, except he demands 1200 figures. Add to the mix, the daughter's husband , Marcial Gacho wants to move both wife and father to the city where he works as a guard. He claims the city offers a better life than their country existence. Poor Cipriano is a candle burning at both ends.

Things to think about: traditional versus new; life in the country versus the city; youth versus old. There was even a potential love story between Cipriano and local widow. Plus he finds a stray dog for companionship (the dog's new name is "encontrado" or "found"). Lots of good premises but to be honest, I found the details and the slow speed just made me wanting a bigger revelation of sorts. Maybe Saramago decided to try something different? Things in the story kept going from bad to worst.

Eventually the family moves to the city. From the 34th floor they see an excavation right beside their building. And this is where Saramago is back in the driver's seat and I am hanging on for the ride. No spoiler alert here but let's just say his simple "rustic" novel becomes a distopian vision playing off a philosophy of "Plato's Cave". Are things really greener in that other pasture?

So I went from enjoyment to frustration to surprize in 400 pages.  The last line is a perfect reflection of our consumer society. Still an odd one with a clear message. I would rate it a 3.5.

Read in Spanish.
Cat
With a dash of a dystopian reality, Saramago takes us to an unnamed city where the Centre, a huge, megalomaniac commercial/residential complex is taking over. Cipriano Algor is an elderly potter who lives in the outskirts of the city with his daughter Marta and her husband Marçal Gacho, who works as a guard in the Centre. Cipriano is a regular provider of his pottery to the Centre, until the it is decided they no longer need Cipriano's services. With his future in danger, he and his daughter Mar With a dash of a dystopian reality, Saramago takes us to an unnamed city where the Centre, a huge, megalomaniac commercial/residential complex is taking over. Cipriano Algor is an elderly potter who lives in the outskirts of the city with his daughter Marta and her husband Marçal Gacho, who works as a guard in the Centre. Cipriano is a regular provider of his pottery to the Centre, until the it is decided they no longer need Cipriano's services. With his future in danger, he and his daughter Marta devise a plan to make clay statuettes and try to interest the Centre to sell them -- like that, the potter could go back to business. Their plan is successful and the Centre is interested, but after placing an order for the first hundred of statuettes, the order is cancelled. As this was not enough, Marçal is promoted in his job, which means the family must move to the Centre, where Cipriano won't be able to work on his pottery. While living in the Centre and without much else to do, Cipriano dedicates himself to exploring the premises. A mysterious sound of digging has started be be heard around the Centre, and Cipriano will make a discovery that will affect the family's life.

I really don't know what to say about this book. Well, I can start by saying that it's really good and I really liked it. I confess I had to go and check Plato's Allegory of the Cave, just in case, because it has been some years now since my Philosophy classes, and I couldn't remember what it was about. Fortunately, it is easy to understand.

In Saramago's allegory, his cave is a place where you can find anything you wish, where you are promised a pleasant and, most of the times idle, life. But mostly an artificial life, a life of shadows. And what happens to people who seat for a long time staring at shadows?

If you don't know the answer to this question yet, read this book. Because, once more, with a very simple premise, Saramago was able to create a wonderful story. That's why he is one of my favourite Portuguese writers.

This one brought tears to my eyes. Thank you one more time, Saramago.
Kim Marshall
This is a book that I must read again. But be forewarned, Saramago's writing style is a bit difficult to get use to. Essentially, he writes in one continuous stream with few paragraph breaks. The dialog is not parsed by speaker and is essentially never quoted or broken up. Different parts of the same sentences are even sometimes uttered by different individuals. One must determine who is talking entirely from the context of the text.

Thought I found this difficult at first, I eventually became us This is a book that I must read again. But be forewarned, Saramago's writing style is a bit difficult to get use to. Essentially, he writes in one continuous stream with few paragraph breaks. The dialog is not parsed by speaker and is essentially never quoted or broken up. Different parts of the same sentences are even sometimes uttered by different individuals. One must determine who is talking entirely from the context of the text.

Thought I found this difficult at first, I eventually became used to it and noticed it almost not at all by the latter part of the book. This odd style aside, Saramago takes the mundane life of a potter, his family, and his dog and enriches it almost beyond belief. He takes you into the heads and hearts of the characters in a way that only the most talented of classic writers are capable of doing. He conveys emotions seemingly beyond words with his composition.

For me at lest, the ending was a bit unexpected. I won't ruin it by telling it here, but the journey is even more enjoyable and enlightening. Saramago is clearly very talented and just as clearly quite critical of the impact of the "modern world" on our being.

Enjoy ...
Baltasar and Blimunda :: Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque :: Pay the Piper :: Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie & Folklore in the Literature of Childhood :: Where Did the Time Go?: The Working Woman's Guide to Creative Time Management
Gertrude & Victoria
The Cave was the first Saramago story I read and it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I thought it was one of his best novels, if not the best. Saramago's depiction of an elderly man, his family, and the changing times, during which they lived is beautifully brought to life.

It is a remarkable tale of a man who struggles to keep up with an ever changing world, one that has outpaced his traditions as a potter, an occupation that had been handed down from previous generations of craftsmen in his fa The Cave was the first Saramago story I read and it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I thought it was one of his best novels, if not the best. Saramago's depiction of an elderly man, his family, and the changing times, during which they lived is beautifully brought to life.

It is a remarkable tale of a man who struggles to keep up with an ever changing world, one that has outpaced his traditions as a potter, an occupation that had been handed down from previous generations of craftsmen in his family. His ways are no longer valued in a society that cares little for his craft.

Cipriano Algor, the protagonist, eventually and reluctantly accepts that the old way of doing things is not possible and resorts to other ways of making a living, without completely discarding his skills as an artisan. Desperate to carry on his trade, he settles on becoming a ceramic doll maker. The Cave is a metaphor for 'The Center,' a gigantic shopping and residential complex, which becomes Cipriano and his family's home, as well as, his potential buyer.

Saramago's compassionate voice and deep understanding of human relations adds beauty and depth to this work. If you want to sample in this Nobel laureate's oeuvre, The Cave is a good place to start.
Allen B. Lloyd
Jose Saramago's The Cave, which takes its title from Plato's allegory concerning the nature of truth and illusion, follows the struggles of an aging potter, Cipriano Algor, and his attempt to maintain his artisanal and familial traditions against the looming shadow of The Center, a homogenized edifice of senseless capitalism and spurious culture. When informed that his ceramic wares are being superseded by plastic facsimiles, Algor tries to survive by creating clay dolls, which, ironically, are Jose Saramago's The Cave, which takes its title from Plato's allegory concerning the nature of truth and illusion, follows the struggles of an aging potter, Cipriano Algor, and his attempt to maintain his artisanal and familial traditions against the looming shadow of The Center, a homogenized edifice of senseless capitalism and spurious culture. When informed that his ceramic wares are being superseded by plastic facsimiles, Algor tries to survive by creating clay dolls, which, ironically, are representative of cultures and occupations destroyed or subsumed by The Center's totalitarian appetite. What follows is an insightful commentary on the nature of love, friendship, tradition, and loyalty faced with social forces that dismisses them because they have no market value. "Any road you take leads to The Center," we are told, but it is a place with no substance or meaning; it has no heart, it is a thing of shadows. This is a wonderful book, and it lingers in my mind because, as with all of Saramago's novels, the complexity of its themes requires scrutiny well beyond the turning of the last page.
Kate Savage
Saramago writes in allegory, and I'm usually a little allergic to allegory (and not too fond of his book Blindness). But this novel is so rich and beautiful I didn't mind. I stop short from recommending it to everyone, because the cadence is slow and the form is winding and long-winded. It's a book that takes patience and pacing. But that just feels like part of what it's trying to say: about the speed of a human on the earth, which is so much slower than the speed with which we race out our day Saramago writes in allegory, and I'm usually a little allergic to allegory (and not too fond of his book Blindness). But this novel is so rich and beautiful I didn't mind. I stop short from recommending it to everyone, because the cadence is slow and the form is winding and long-winded. It's a book that takes patience and pacing. But that just feels like part of what it's trying to say: about the speed of a human on the earth, which is so much slower than the speed with which we race out our days.

That's what this is: a book asking what it means to be a human on the earth. I fell in love with it.

A note on mud: "we can cudgel our brains for as long as we like to come up with a name that is less vulgar, less prosaic, less common, but always, sooner or later, we come back to that word, the word that says all there is to say, mud. Many of the best-known gods chose mud as the material for their creations, but it is hard to know now if that preference represents a point in mud’s favor or a point against."
kyle
So simple and so profound. A summary makes it seem overly allegorical. The totalitarian Center as antagonist, the simple potter and his family and their dying way of life as protagonists. The clay dolls which symbolically have life breathed into them. Clever. But Saramago infuses this simple tale with so much humanity that I don't think I will forget any of the major characters anytime soon. Surprisingly the most memorable, and my favorite part of the book, is the dog Found. I can't think of ano So simple and so profound. A summary makes it seem overly allegorical. The totalitarian Center as antagonist, the simple potter and his family and their dying way of life as protagonists. The clay dolls which symbolically have life breathed into them. Clever. But Saramago infuses this simple tale with so much humanity that I don't think I will forget any of the major characters anytime soon. Surprisingly the most memorable, and my favorite part of the book, is the dog Found. I can't think of another literary animal with this complex a personality. (One little quibble - the romance between the potter and his new love is a little sketchy at times. But maybe that's just because I wanted to know more and Saramago wanted to leave more to my imagination.) A book I plan to return to.
Frank
JS again performs his verbal necromancy. In The Cave, what is important is neither that which is said, nor that which is left unsaid, but, instead, the spaces between the silences.

Part of the recipe is the slow and even pace, which JS maintain with a surgeon's precision. The reader's mind becomes sensitized, anticipating registry of fine distinctions. If the author can carry this through long enough without losing the reader's interest, the reader's mind will impute the story an implicit realit JS again performs his verbal necromancy. In The Cave, what is important is neither that which is said, nor that which is left unsaid, but, instead, the spaces between the silences.

Part of the recipe is the slow and even pace, which JS maintain with a surgeon's precision. The reader's mind becomes sensitized, anticipating registry of fine distinctions. If the author can carry this through long enough without losing the reader's interest, the reader's mind will impute the story an implicit reality.
Georgiann Hennelly
Cipriano Algor , is an elderly potter he lives with his daughter Marta and her husband Marcel in a small village on the outskirts of The Center, an imposing complex of shops, apartment blocks, offices , and sensation zones.Marcel works as a security guard at the center. Cipriano drives him to work each day. Before delivering his pots. Than one day he is told not to make any more pots. People prefer plastic. So he tries his hand at making ceramic dolls. Astonishingly The center places an order fo Cipriano Algor , is an elderly potter he lives with his daughter Marta and her husband Marcel in a small village on the outskirts of The Center, an imposing complex of shops, apartment blocks, offices , and sensation zones.Marcel works as a security guard at the center. Cipriano drives him to work each day. Before delivering his pots. Than one day he is told not to make any more pots. People prefer plastic. So he tries his hand at making ceramic dolls. Astonishingly The center places an order for hundreds of figurines, In the meantime Cipriano meets a young widow, Marta learns she is pregnant and Marcal gets a promotion, they move into an apartment in The Center. Soon they a mysterious sound of digging and one night Marcal and Cipriano investigate. Horrified by what they discover, the family sets off in a truck heading for the great unknown. Filled with humor, and above all an extraordinary sense of humanity.
Pablo Palet Araneda
Heredé de mi madre una tendencia a "tragarme" los libros; es decir, leerlos sin parar ni a pensarlos. Ella, claro, los lee una segunda vez con calma, lujo que yo no puedo darme. Eso es un problema porque perdí la oportunidad de copiar muchas citas brillantes de Saramago. Sobre la vida, sobre los perros, sobre las relaciones entre las personas. Frases con gran sentido del humor, atentas al ser humano y sus matices. A ratos bien lúgubre y triste, pero finalmente muy humano. Me encantó. En el tráfa Heredé de mi madre una tendencia a "tragarme" los libros; es decir, leerlos sin parar ni a pensarlos. Ella, claro, los lee una segunda vez con calma, lujo que yo no puedo darme. Eso es un problema porque perdí la oportunidad de copiar muchas citas brillantes de Saramago. Sobre la vida, sobre los perros, sobre las relaciones entre las personas. Frases con gran sentido del humor, atentas al ser humano y sus matices. A ratos bien lúgubre y triste, pero finalmente muy humano. Me encantó. En el tráfago del propio "Centro" en que vivo, espero encontrar tiempo para las citas... y quién sabe si para mi propia alfarería.
Ramiro de la Garza
Love, the march of history and progress, Creation, the mystical and powerful relationship between Man and Dog seen through one of the most powerful allegories in the literary world. Big ideas explained through the ordinary life of a potter. When the torch is passed, I guess the catharsis manifests itself on the page. It's the way it's been done since man wrote on a wall of rock through the darkness. Saramago tells a story here in a way I will never forget. I'll pick this one up again in a few ye Love, the march of history and progress, Creation, the mystical and powerful relationship between Man and Dog seen through one of the most powerful allegories in the literary world. Big ideas explained through the ordinary life of a potter. When the torch is passed, I guess the catharsis manifests itself on the page. It's the way it's been done since man wrote on a wall of rock through the darkness. Saramago tells a story here in a way I will never forget. I'll pick this one up again in a few years and I know it will mean more to me.

Saramago continues to play with related thems in The Double and Death with Interuptions.
Aduren
The cave is one of those books that made me weak to my knees. One of the few books that I am afraid I did not achieved any deep level of understanding. If any I dwelled in the characters, in a society of consumption, in the old age and lack of usefulness, and perhaps globalization. But for whatever reason the true meaning of the book eludes me. Perhaps the woman with glasses in Blindness was right, that we cannot describe in ourselves it’s what we are. That thing at the center that thing that is The cave is one of those books that made me weak to my knees. One of the few books that I am afraid I did not achieved any deep level of understanding. If any I dwelled in the characters, in a society of consumption, in the old age and lack of usefulness, and perhaps globalization. But for whatever reason the true meaning of the book eludes me. Perhaps the woman with glasses in Blindness was right, that we cannot describe in ourselves it’s what we are. That thing at the center that thing that is Us, that Cipriano himself ran away from, cannot be named.
Sharon
OMG, the blurbs on the book cover are right--this Saramago fellow IS the best author in the world. The Cave has story, plot, suspense, philosophy, psychology, life themes, dystopic themes, experimental mechanics, art commentary and more. By god, it even has a stray DOG who steals your heart. I had never heard of this author until my book club nominated The Cave. I could not put it down. I could very well read it thrice again to get the full effect. Love it.
Wanda
7 MAR 2015- recommended by Bettie. Many thanks!

I wonder ... could The Center be used as another word for the store (which I do not like one bit) and/or Wal-Mart (which I like even less)?! I think YES!
ZaRi
Amazing. The King of Allegory does it again. If you like dogs, you should read this for his description and character of "Found" the dog alone.
Saber
man asheghe saramguam. khoda in ketabesham khub bashe.
Joana Margarida
Absolutamente maravilhoso. Saramago surpreende sempre e tem todo o meu coração.

«(...) há quem leve a vida inteira a ler sem nunca ter conseguido ir mais além da leitura, ficam pegados à página, não percebem que as palavras são apenas pedras postas a atravessar a corrente de um rio, se estão ali é para que possamos chegar à outra margem, a outra margem é que importa (...) A não ser que esses tais rios não tenham duas margens, mas muitas, que cada pessoa que lê seja, ela, a sua própria margem, e q Absolutamente maravilhoso. Saramago surpreende sempre e tem todo o meu coração.

«(...) há quem leve a vida inteira a ler sem nunca ter conseguido ir mais além da leitura, ficam pegados à página, não percebem que as palavras são apenas pedras postas a atravessar a corrente de um rio, se estão ali é para que possamos chegar à outra margem, a outra margem é que importa (...) A não ser que esses tais rios não tenham duas margens, mas muitas, que cada pessoa que lê seja, ela, a sua própria margem, e que seja sua, e apenas sua, a margem a que terá de chegar.»

Eu cheguei à minha, e como me soube bem a viagem!
BookOfCinz
I received this book two years ago as a gift and I decided to read it as part of the #ReadWhatYouOwn September challenge. "The Cave" was such a hard read for me. I am not sure if it was the translation but this plot was soooo sllloooowwwww. I could not get over how slow it was. I had to physically gear myself to read this one.
SinEdad
Es el primer libro que leo de Saramago y debo reconocer que me pareció algo pesado, en ocasiones suele ser muy reflexivo y filosófico por lo que se hace un poco densa la lectura, sin embargo, es bastante interesante, llené el libro de post-it con frases que me gustaron. En cuanto a la historia es bastante sencilla pero la narración la hace interesante, con un final que te deja pensando muchas cosas.
Un pero que yo le pondría es que los personajes son bastante planos, muy similares.
Ionela Dan
Toti facem parte din pestera lui Platon, nimeni nu a evitat sa intoarca spatele realitatii, toti avem senzatia ca nu avem nici un viitor.
Ajeje Brazov
Immenso come sempre, nei contenuti, negli approfondimenti degli stati d'animo, nelle caratterizzazioni delle situazioni. Quando leggo Saramago è come quando, in alcuni casi, la sera mi appresto ad andare a dormire, mi siedo sul letto guardando la stanza nella luce debole della abatjour ed incomincio a fantasticare su ciò che è successo nella giornata appena passata, nelle situazioni piacevoli, quelle meno piacevoli e quelle strane. Poi spengo l'abat-jour e mi sdraio nel buio quasi totale, rischi Immenso come sempre, nei contenuti, negli approfondimenti degli stati d'animo, nelle caratterizzazioni delle situazioni. Quando leggo Saramago è come quando, in alcuni casi, la sera mi appresto ad andare a dormire, mi siedo sul letto guardando la stanza nella luce debole della abatjour ed incomincio a fantasticare su ciò che è successo nella giornata appena passata, nelle situazioni piacevoli, quelle meno piacevoli e quelle strane. Poi spengo l'abat-jour e mi sdraio nel buio quasi totale, rischiarato solamente da alcuni punti in cui la luce lunare riesce a penetrare nella stanza e la mente vaga nelle più disparate delle situazioni, fino a che il sonno prevale sull'immaginazione...
Questo scrittore ha un qualcosa che va oltre la "semplice" scrittura di un libro, perchè per la maggior parte dei libri si abbina un "genere", ed invece con Saramago c'è tutto!
Stephen Gallup
I opened this book a year or two ago and decided against reading it at the time because the pages are so densely packed, with almost no paragraph breaks and little regard for expected conventions like quotation marks and other punctuation. But I eventually came back to it, and found it well worth the effort.

However, I remain unconvinced that much if anything is gained by writing in this style. Perhaps it evokes the incessant barrage of thoughts and impressions that constitutes life. But I found I opened this book a year or two ago and decided against reading it at the time because the pages are so densely packed, with almost no paragraph breaks and little regard for expected conventions like quotation marks and other punctuation. But I eventually came back to it, and found it well worth the effort.

However, I remain unconvinced that much if anything is gained by writing in this style. Perhaps it evokes the incessant barrage of thoughts and impressions that constitutes life. But I found it an impediment to understanding basic points such as the identity of who is speaking, as in this example:

How come you know so much about the subject, Because I've lived, I've looked, I've read, and I've felt, What does reading do, You can learn almost everything from reading, But I read too, So you must know something, Now I'm not so sure, You'll have to read differently then, How, The same method doesn't work for everyone, each person has to invent his or her own, whichever suits them best, some people spend their entire lives reading but never get beyond reading the words on the page, they don't understand that the words are merely stepping stones ..."

The above dialog is between 64-year-old Ciprio Algore, a potter living in a village, and his married daughter. Working through passages of which the above is a tiny snippet brings out, first of all, the story of their circumstances. Algore has been supplying his ceramic dishes, jugs, etc. to a huge organization in the nearby city called "the Center," but that career has ended because customers of the Center now prefer plastic. Meanwhile, his son-in-law, who works in the Center as a security guard, has been offered a promotion that will mean moving the family to live there. Many people, including the son-in-law's parents, think life in the Center must be heaven on earth, a view that the Center encourages:

... the Center, as the perfect distributor of material and spiritual goods, has, out of sheer necessity, generated from and within itself something that almost partakes of the divine ...

Ciprio Algore dreads the thought of giving up his life to live there. Throughout most of the story, he clings to the hope of keeping his humble business alive by making an alternate product for the Center: little earthen figurines.

Many themes are evident as this unfolds. First, an enormous amount of attention is given to language, as in passages like this:

Arguing with what must be has always been a waste of time, as far as what must be is concerned, arguments are more or less random groups of words waiting to be placed in a syntactical order that will give them a sense they themselves are not entirely sure that they have.

Also, in fashioning the little male and female statues out of clay--and at one point even blowing a breath of air on one--there is an obvious parallel with the story of Creation that suggests something about the role of individuals who choose to make things, as opposed to simply consuming.

Primarily, it's about the way modern life is robbing our lives of meaning or even reality until we are in danger of reenacting Plato's allegory of the cave. If that message sounds overly didactic, it's softened by the human warmth in the relationships between the four principal characters--five, if we include their dog, as we should.

This novel deserves its acclaim. But I still wish the author had inserted paragraph breaks and used conventional punctuation.
Julián
Flojo. La apertura de un centro comercial deja en paro a una pareja, se ponen a hacer figuritas de cerámica como salida a su situación, y el padre de uno de ellos se lía con una vecina más joven, pero también madurita. Al final, el centro comercial representa el mito platónico de la caverna, pero vamos que parece que todo gira en torno a que el señor anciano se líe con la vecina.

"Autoritarias, paralizantes, circulares, a veces elípticas, las frases de efecto, también jocosamente llamadas pepitas Flojo. La apertura de un centro comercial deja en paro a una pareja, se ponen a hacer figuritas de cerámica como salida a su situación, y el padre de uno de ellos se lía con una vecina más joven, pero también madurita. Al final, el centro comercial representa el mito platónico de la caverna, pero vamos que parece que todo gira en torno a que el señor anciano se líe con la vecina.

"Autoritarias, paralizantes, circulares, a veces elípticas, las frases de efecto, también jocosamente llamadas pepitas de oro, son una plaga maligna de las peores que pueden asolar el mundo. Decimos a los confusos, Conócete a ti mismo, como si conocerse a uno mismo no fuese la quinta y más dificultosa operación de las aritméticas humanas, decimos a los abúlicos, Querer es poder, como si las realidades atroces del mundo no se divirtiesen invirtiendo todos los días la posición relativa de los verbos, decimos a los indecisos, Empezar por el principio, como si ese principio fuese la punta siempre visible de un hilo mal enrollado del que basta tirar y seguir tirando para llegar a la otra punta, la del final, y como si, entre la primera y la segunda, hubiésemos tenido en las manos un hilo liso y continuo del que no ha sido preciso deshacer nudos ni desenredar marañas" (90)

"Afortunadamente existen los libros. Podemos tenerlos olvidados en una estantería o en un baúl, dejarlos entregados al polvo o a las polillas, abandonarlos en la oscuridad de los sótanos, podemos no pasarles la vista por encima ni tocarlos durante años y años, pero a ellos no les importa, esperan tranquilamente, cerrados sobre sí mismos para que nada de lo que tienen dentro se pierda, el momento que siempre llega, ese día en el que nos preguntamos, Dónde estará aquel libro..." (240)

"Si te clavan una navaja en la barriga, al menos que tengan la decencia moral de mostrarte una cara en consonancia con la acción asesina, una cara que rezume odio y ferocidad, una cara de furor demente, incluso de frialdad inhumana, pero, por el amor de Dios, que no te sonrían mientras te están rasgando las tripas, que no te desprecien hasta ese punto, que no te den esperanzas falsas..." (330)

"Lo que se sabe que va a ocurrir en cierta manera es como si ya hubiese ocurrido, las expectativas hacen algo más que anular las sorpresas, embotan las emociones, las banalizan, todo lo que se deseaba o temía ya había sido vivido mientras se deseó o temió." (335)
Doina Chiselita
It is rarely that you open a book and find a revelation instead! This is what "The Cave" was for me - beautifully written prose, with cursive phrases that keep you going deeper and deeper into the characters' thoughts, worries, fears and hopes. With an unnoticed, but very powerful force, Saramago infiltrates us into the characters’ world and makes us live alongside them.

The book tells the story of a simple potter and his family, who finds himself deprived of his only means of existence. At his o It is rarely that you open a book and find a revelation instead! This is what "The Cave" was for me - beautifully written prose, with cursive phrases that keep you going deeper and deeper into the characters' thoughts, worries, fears and hopes. With an unnoticed, but very powerful force, Saramago infiltrates us into the characters’ world and makes us live alongside them.

The book tells the story of a simple potter and his family, who finds himself deprived of his only means of existence. At his old age, Cipriano has to accept the fact that The Center – the main commercial buyer in the area – refuses to buy his clay pots. After all, plastic surpasses clay in the two most important demands of modern society: practicality and low price. This way, we enter a strange world, where “The Center” becomes this omnipotent and invasive authority that can decide destinies and change someone’s course of life. Cipriano is torn between destructive and creative forces, between the quiet despair of his old age and the new, but not yet confessed love that has slowly invaded his soul. And let’s not forget about the beautiful relationship between father and daughter, as well as a lost man and his dog named Found.

The Cave is perhaps about digging deep inside our minds and spirits, finding the true meaning of what we are and what we really want, no matter how unsettling this discovery may be. We find our real dreams and desires – the ones that we were once too afraid or too comfortable to work for. Once we dig deep inside the Cave and revelation strikes us – our priorities become clear and everything in life becomes beautifully simple.

It is not a book for light readers, who look for smooth and comforting entertainment. It is a book for brave and passionate readers, who can absorb great literature and transpose its teachings into their own lives.
David Williamson
The Cave by Saramago is a book that on its surface does appears simplistic and deceptively so, but is by no means layering a maelstrom of complexity either. Although, I couldn’t say I particularly enjoyed the book I did find myself coming back to it and reading it, never really struggling to pick it up.
The premise that contemporary or modern life is a facsimile of an authentic ‘real’ existence or being - engrained with the sweat of working the land or the earth, or lets say clay, lets even ven The Cave by Saramago is a book that on its surface does appears simplistic and deceptively so, but is by no means layering a maelstrom of complexity either. Although, I couldn’t say I particularly enjoyed the book I did find myself coming back to it and reading it, never really struggling to pick it up.
The premise that contemporary or modern life is a facsimile of an authentic ‘real’ existence or being - engrained with the sweat of working the land or the earth, or lets say clay, lets even venture a potter - is a tired and somewhat unclear criticism of modernity: if this is one, it could just be the clash of two cultural generations (although the ending may contradict this) – but it is all too simplistic in its use of pathos.
The use of Plato’s allegory of the Cave is also slightly off. It is almost a reversal of Platonic thought; the world is a copy for Plato, it is reality for Saramago. The magical Centre, the place of emotionless experience, synthetic desires, illusory reality, does seem somewhat of a criticism of (a certain view of) Plato rather than an illustration of his thought (although this does depend on your reading of Plato, who’s prose are deceptively simple and do conceal a maelstrom of complexity), which is fine, but Saramago puts so much weight at the end to the effect of the Cave’s allegory turned real on the main characters, that two wrongs making a right doesn’t seem to fit in this instance.
Unfortunately, Saramago does tend to be a writer who serially disappoints me, I loved his The Gospel According to Jesus Christ – an absolutely beautiful book – but found the second book of his I read Blindness rather uninspiring. I would have to say that the Cave was somewhat in the latter, again.
Bullcitytaheel
Book club book that caused much thought - I am still not sure what to say about it. As I was reading it, I couldn't decide if I liked it or not - I am pretty sure I would not have read it on my own accord. I understood and appreciated it more after the book club discussion, where I learned that to "get it", you must know about Plato's allegory of "The Cave" from "The Republic", which is easily found on the internet. (I recommend reading this before reading the book - not the entire Republic, jus Book club book that caused much thought - I am still not sure what to say about it. As I was reading it, I couldn't decide if I liked it or not - I am pretty sure I would not have read it on my own accord. I understood and appreciated it more after the book club discussion, where I learned that to "get it", you must know about Plato's allegory of "The Cave" from "The Republic", which is easily found on the internet. (I recommend reading this before reading the book - not the entire Republic, just The Cave allegory.)
Saramago is a Portugese Nobel Prize writer; his style is pretty unique - I would describe it as storytelling-stream-of-consciousness. He comments on the story as a storyteller, but is also in the heads of the characters. He is a little difficult to read - his sentences (and paragraphs) are very long and he does not follow normal writing conventions for conversations. Conversations are included in one sentence - he indicates the changing of "voice" with a comma and capitalization. (This may also be useful "upfront knowledge".) While the simple plot is pretty much entirely described on the book jacket flap and sometimes maddenly slow to unfold (they finally move to the Center around page 265 out of 307), there is tremendous character detail. Those interested in pottery may also appreciate the huge amount of detail included about this art/profession. A dystopia that is not too far away from our current existence - in a place that could be anywhere, in a time that could be nowish. The big questions that this book raises for me: What is "real"? How does one live an authentic life? Through the thinking and actions of the characters, there are nuggets of wise observations on virtually every page.
David Roberts
Here are the top 5 reasons that you will love this book:
1) You prefer books that are 90% dialogue, but can't stand quotation marks.
2) You think that the number of paragraphs in a chapter should be two or less
3) You prefer EXTENSIVE descriptions of what people are thinking to actual action of any kind
4) You enjoy following the minute details of an extensive pottery project that people take that are quite obviously fruitless, even from the beginning
5) You like extensive descriptions of what the do Here are the top 5 reasons that you will love this book:
1) You prefer books that are 90% dialogue, but can't stand quotation marks.
2) You think that the number of paragraphs in a chapter should be two or less
3) You prefer EXTENSIVE descriptions of what people are thinking to actual action of any kind
4) You enjoy following the minute details of an extensive pottery project that people take that are quite obviously fruitless, even from the beginning
5) You like extensive descriptions of what the dog (named Found) is thinking, and feel comfortable suspending any potential disbelief you might have about the verifiability of such information.

So, why did I rate this a 4 given that none of the above apply to me?

Well, a friend of mine in one of my literary groups said he was 20% through it and planned to quit. I countered that with novels, you could never be certain until the last chapter. Little did I know.

So, the last chapter of the book does tie it all together. The primary themes turn out NOT to be corporate greed and capitalism, but rather the purpose of living, the meaning and comfort that come from close relationships, and perhaps death.

But, if you are contemplating reading the book, I STRONGLY recommend that you view this short video first, which recounts Plato's parable of The Cave, on which the book is based. While some might consider it a spoiler, I don't think it is cheating, and it will help you identify some of the effective foreshadowing in the book that I basically missed consistently. I would have enjoyed the book much more had I viewed this before, rather than after, reading The Cave.

The link is: http://pathstoutopia.wordpress.com/20...
Peter Goodman
WARNING: SPOILER ALERT. DO NOT READ THE END OF THIS REVIEW IF YOU MIGHT READ THE BOOK. NOT A THRILLER OR SUSPENSE, BUT STILL A VERY MARVELOUS SURPRISE.
“The Cave,” by Jose Saramago, translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jill Costa (2000, Harcourt). I really have no words to adequately describe the book or the writer. Brief plot: Cipriano Algo, elderly potter (62!), a widower, makes pottery in ancient kiln used by father, grandfather. One day the Center, the ultra-modern, all-encompassing mal WARNING: SPOILER ALERT. DO NOT READ THE END OF THIS REVIEW IF YOU MIGHT READ THE BOOK. NOT A THRILLER OR SUSPENSE, BUT STILL A VERY MARVELOUS SURPRISE.
“The Cave,” by Jose Saramago, translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jill Costa (2000, Harcourt). I really have no words to adequately describe the book or the writer. Brief plot: Cipriano Algo, elderly potter (62!), a widower, makes pottery in ancient kiln used by father, grandfather. One day the Center, the ultra-modern, all-encompassing mall-cum-world that is slowly swallowing the city and country, says it doesn’t want the pots anymore; plastic ones are cheaper and sell better. Subplots: Son-in-law trying to get promotion to resident security guard at center; daughter is pregnant; lost dog wanders into family; youngish widow may be a new mate for potter. The writing: not stream of consciousness, but run-on sentences, no breaks to indicate who is speaking, narrator breaks in to comment and give info, all sorts of wonderful ruminations on life, love, meaning, reality, etc.

The surprise: the Center, excavating for more expansion, makes a discovery. Top secret. Cipriano, bored with life at the Center (he has moved in w/daughter and son-in-law), sneaks down to see what it is. He finds, at end of long, dark cave, six mummified bodies: three men, three women, held with ropes at neck and feet so they cannot move, facing wall, and huge area of scorched earth behind them. He decides to leave the area; so does son-in-law and daughter; they are reunited with the widow, Fausta, and all move away. The Center advertises: COMING SOON, THE PUBLIC OPENING OF PLATO’S CAVE, AN EXCLUSIVE ATTRACTION, BUY YOUR TICKET NOW. Marvelous.
Shahina
I just finished it, a few minutes back and hence I am still there, happily floating in that intensely rich narrative weave of his. This is what struck me when I began the book too, the unique( at least for me) narrative style. Long, long, long sentences, teasing you to pause, conversations tumbling through the sentences, words building upon words. No quotes, no ease of syntax. It goes beyond mere language and breathes in a long whisper, an enigmatic entity all by its own.

This entity is no ordina I just finished it, a few minutes back and hence I am still there, happily floating in that intensely rich narrative weave of his. This is what struck me when I began the book too, the unique( at least for me) narrative style. Long, long, long sentences, teasing you to pause, conversations tumbling through the sentences, words building upon words. No quotes, no ease of syntax. It goes beyond mere language and breathes in a long whisper, an enigmatic entity all by its own.

This entity is no ordinary narrator, it feels like a soul floating free, a writer's keenly observing soul most certainly, attaching itself to the various characters, to the humans, to the dog, to the kiln, to the clay creations, to the mulberry tree and to the free floating thoughts of the universe. It often goes into tedious repetitions, a sort of chain reaction of thoughts, an unbridled indulging in that unique fancy.

Cipriano Algor, the ageing potter, his good son-in-law, Marcal, his daughter Marta and their small house and pottery unit by the mulberry tree near the village. The beauty of the work they do. The beauty of simple living. The work that is going to lack takers soon due to cheaper, lighter alternatives like plastic. And then their connection to the Centre, the Centre that is the huge concrete establishment that deals with all the goods and only with goods; more than just a mall, a monstrosity that controls all the buying and the selling and indirectly the people.

A fascinating allegory. Poetic and heart-warming.
Joey
The characters in 'The Cave' are endearing and I enjoy Saramago's musing style. This is the third book I've read by this author, so I guess I am growing used to his never-ending sentences. I find them quite emmersive and even the dialogue sections were quite easy to follow. The small details in the book really bring the characters 'to life' as you follow their everyday worries and striving. Saramago is the omnipotent author, he sees all and knows all, but of course he doesn't reveal all. Part of The characters in 'The Cave' are endearing and I enjoy Saramago's musing style. This is the third book I've read by this author, so I guess I am growing used to his never-ending sentences. I find them quite emmersive and even the dialogue sections were quite easy to follow. The small details in the book really bring the characters 'to life' as you follow their everyday worries and striving. Saramago is the omnipotent author, he sees all and knows all, but of course he doesn't reveal all. Part of the books appeal are the allusions to Plato's The Cave, creation of life and overbearing commercialisation and bureaucracy. The later reminded me of Kafka's The Trial.

One thing I'm not entirely sure about the meaning of the ending...
* What does the potter mean when he says we are them? Is he talking literally or figuratively?

* Is is significant that there are 6 types of figures & 6 prisoners in the cave?

* Why do they arrange the figures around the kiln at the end?

Perhaps the answers to these questions are obvious, but I didn't think they were. While I enjoy the 'unexpected' plot twist and was motivated to discover the mystery of 'the centre' I am left somewhat puzzled. I still plan to read more by this author as I find his ideas interesting and still found this an enjoyable read.
Alexander Boeringa
First an admission, I mostly like all of Saramago's books so honestly this is really a review of his style as much as any specific book. Andrew O'Heher seems to have the same take in his review in The Salon. But, as to the The Cave: A village potter confronts a growing competition to both his style of life and his liveyhood from a megalithic housing and shopping complex. My brief description is "Dark" and "Thought Provoking."

Here, as in many of his books Saramago posits a specific theoretical qu First an admission, I mostly like all of Saramago's books so honestly this is really a review of his style as much as any specific book. Andrew O'Heher seems to have the same take in his review in The Salon. But, as to the The Cave: A village potter confronts a growing competition to both his style of life and his liveyhood from a megalithic housing and shopping complex. My brief description is "Dark" and "Thought Provoking."

Here, as in many of his books Saramago posits a specific theoretical question and then runs with it. It is sometimes a wild ride but if you hang on until the end you will be able to go back and see that even the parts that confused you, and where did not see how they fit, will make sense in the larger context. Thinking of the entire story as an allegory helps, or perhaps even a parable. I love his irony, and the often biting humor that is frequently hidden in a seemingly innocuous sentence. What takes some getting used to is trying to figure out what happened to the quotation marks, and who is speaking when. This is especially true when he is stepping out from the plot and speaking directly to you the reader.

If you like this book I would next try Death With Interruptions.

Ron
An engrossing novel by one of the world's great writers. I highly recommend it. Be advised it is written in an interesting format: there are no dialog indicators, no paragraphs. One has to pay attention and be focused on the reading! Nevertheless, after a few pages it seems natural. From the store; Cipriano Algor, an elderly potter, lives with his daughter Marta and her husband Marçal in a small village on the outskirts of The Center, an imposing complex of shops, apartments, and offices to which C An engrossing novel by one of the world's great writers. I highly recommend it. Be advised it is written in an interesting format: there are no dialog indicators, no paragraphs. One has to pay attention and be focused on the reading! Nevertheless, after a few pages it seems natural. From the store; Cipriano Algor, an elderly potter, lives with his daughter Marta and her husband Marçal in a small village on the outskirts of The Center, an imposing complex of shops, apartments, and offices to which Cipriano delivers his pots and jugs every month. On one such trip, he is told not to make any more deliveries. Unwilling to give up his craft, Cipriano tries his hand at making ceramic dolls. Astonishingly, The Center places an order for hundreds, and Cipriano and Marta set to work-until the order is cancelled and the three have to move from the village into The Center. When mysterious sounds of digging emerge from beneath their apartment, Cipriano and Marçal investigate, and what they find transforms the family's life. Filled with the depth, humor, and the extraordinary philosophical richness that marks each of Saramago's novels, The Cave is one of the essential books of our time.
Nelson
While many reviews focus on the allegorical dimensions of the tale (it's pretty difficult not to, when the damn thing is titled 'The Cave'), what stays with me long after the dystopian and figurative elements fade, is the impossibly rich story of a father, his daughter, a son-in-law, a widow and a dog. This is second Saramago novel in row with a wonderful characterization of a dog as a key element in the plot; again, it works brilliantly. Saramago has a way with the animals in a story. Anyway, w While many reviews focus on the allegorical dimensions of the tale (it's pretty difficult not to, when the damn thing is titled 'The Cave'), what stays with me long after the dystopian and figurative elements fade, is the impossibly rich story of a father, his daughter, a son-in-law, a widow and a dog. This is second Saramago novel in row with a wonderful characterization of a dog as a key element in the plot; again, it works brilliantly. Saramago has a way with the animals in a story. Anyway, what matters most here is how these characters struggle toward mutual understanding under complicated economic and social circumstances. What makes late Saramago so beguiling a novelist is how his increasingly elaborate and nearly sci-fi set ups cast into ever sharper relief his skill at depicting in achingly beautiful detail the most intimate and basic of human relationships. If the use of lists and the frankly heavy-handed use of allegory occasionally pall in this outing, they are almost made up for by the relations between the Algors, Found, Marçal and Isaura. Another touching and moving exploration of people in a difficult place.
Patty
Saramago is an amazing writer. What you would expect a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature to be. Since he writes in Portuguese, perhaps the translater, Margaret Jull Costa, deserves my appreciation also.

Cave is the second book of his that I have read and I'm glad he has more for me to delve into. His extraordinary sense of humanity, humor and sensitivity fills his novels like no other author. This is not to say that you can speed through while on vacation or at the beach. Definately not a Saramago is an amazing writer. What you would expect a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature to be. Since he writes in Portuguese, perhaps the translater, Margaret Jull Costa, deserves my appreciation also.

Cave is the second book of his that I have read and I'm glad he has more for me to delve into. His extraordinary sense of humanity, humor and sensitivity fills his novels like no other author. This is not to say that you can speed through while on vacation or at the beach. Definately not an airport pulp novel. It takes some concentration and patience. But such satisfaction when he finally ties it all up.

Cipriano Algor is a potter, a father and father-in-law, a widower and a gentle, simple, caring man. He is 64 and his life is changing. What is he going to do? What will happen? What else but be carried on the current of events especially when the river is flowing in our favor.

The story takes place somewhere that we don't think exists. And yet we know that it could. Saramago uses a quote from Plato's, The Republic in the epigraph. "What a strange scene you describe and what strange prisoners, They are just like us." So true.
Lynn
I didn't know where this book was going for the first 10+ pages and almost gave up. It seemed to be a dystopian novel, a genre I don't enjoy. It's not, although that is an element. Instead, it's a wonderful evocation of three main characters (four with the dog) and how they interact, grow, and face reality.

At first, I found the dialog difficult to understand because there are no quotation marks, nor are there even new sentences when the speakers change. But I did get the hang of it, and I reali I didn't know where this book was going for the first 10+ pages and almost gave up. It seemed to be a dystopian novel, a genre I don't enjoy. It's not, although that is an element. Instead, it's a wonderful evocation of three main characters (four with the dog) and how they interact, grow, and face reality.

At first, I found the dialog difficult to understand because there are no quotation marks, nor are there even new sentences when the speakers change. But I did get the hang of it, and I realized that it's a very realistic way to portray dialog. Sometimes it's unclear, particularly when the characters are so (first) careful of what they're saying, then (later) in tune with one another, that the reader doesn't need that. Plus, I always like novel-dogs that are portrayed like real dogs, with doggy understanding and "goals."

I won't give away the ending, but it fits perfectly with the rest. I was expecting something quite different, but what a pay-off. I was reminded of both "1984" and the BBC series "The Prisoner," with people enjoying themselves to death.

I do recommend this book, and that you stick with it for at least 25 pages to get the rhythm of it.
Chris
Great book, not a breeze though, so you'll need to be up for some focused reading time. Mine was largely on two plane rides, and its length and pace were about perfect for a transcontinental round trip.

Saramago uses much conversation, but no quotation marks for instance, a stylistic decision that increases the fluidity of the prose but also requires strong involvement with the narrative so you feel the quotations, since you won't be seeing them. There are dozens of specific things to recommend Great book, not a breeze though, so you'll need to be up for some focused reading time. Mine was largely on two plane rides, and its length and pace were about perfect for a transcontinental round trip.

Saramago uses much conversation, but no quotation marks for instance, a stylistic decision that increases the fluidity of the prose but also requires strong involvement with the narrative so you feel the quotations, since you won't be seeing them. There are dozens of specific things to recommend about this book, the philosophical digressions, the sensitive examination of family rifts, and certainly the management of points of view including the dog's, a wise and wonderful character ingeniously named "Found" for his having wandered onto the property one day.

If you're up for some intense reading, it's a great book. I read Blindness last year, which is perhaps Saramago's masterwork, and am currently on a Saramago bender I guess. This was my second, and I seek another. He is one of the great novelists of the world and I am getting to him late. Better late than never.
Pac
I can't give too much away, because this novel builds up toward the last two revelatory chapters. What keeps it going are the relationships between a widowed father and his daughter, between the widower and a younger widow and that of the dog with all the carachters in the book. The first grows stronger with every apparent fall out, they are just deceptive ones and they are so tender in their sparring nature. The second is such an uncomplicated falling in love which leaves the two of them incred I can't give too much away, because this novel builds up toward the last two revelatory chapters. What keeps it going are the relationships between a widowed father and his daughter, between the widower and a younger widow and that of the dog with all the carachters in the book. The first grows stronger with every apparent fall out, they are just deceptive ones and they are so tender in their sparring nature. The second is such an uncomplicated falling in love which leaves the two of them incredulous and the reader incredulous because of their clumsiness. The most rewarding passages are kept for the dog and for the many beautiful exsamples of canine wisdom. You'll never look at a dog the same way again...., and maybe think twice before switching on your tv. There are many memorable passages describing the distopic nature of the world inhabited by the carachters and what it takes to remain human. This is the first novel by Saramago I have read and it certainly makes me want to read more.
Tanya
With this book, I continue my review of Saramago's work. I loved Blindness, and The Cave was an enjoyable read. As usual in his writing style, there are no quotation marks and some long conversations lack sufficient specificity to determine who is speaking, but nothing is lost, as it doesn't affect the story much. The majority of the dialogue is between a father and daughter who think and speak similarly in the first place. I found The Cave to be a love story, as well as a comparison between liv With this book, I continue my review of Saramago's work. I loved Blindness, and The Cave was an enjoyable read. As usual in his writing style, there are no quotation marks and some long conversations lack sufficient specificity to determine who is speaking, but nothing is lost, as it doesn't affect the story much. The majority of the dialogue is between a father and daughter who think and speak similarly in the first place. I found The Cave to be a love story, as well as a comparison between living in a rural area vs living on the 34th floor of "the Center" which is essentially a metropolis within the city. Having in the not too recent past spent a couple of months on the 32nd floor of a high rise, and subsequently moved to the most rural area one could find, I related a great deal to the contrasts.

The Cave is now my second favorite Saramago book after Blindness, and it was definitely better than Death with Interruptions, which disappointed me. I will continue to pick up unread Saramagos as I come across them.
Cathy Aquila
I just love Seramago's style. The stream of consciousness prose is a great vehicle to develop his characters. A very uncomplicated story about some very complicated modern issues. The book discription:

Cipriano Algor, an elderly potter, lives with his daughter Marta and her husband Marçal in a small village on the outskirts of The Center, an imposing complex of shops, apartments, and offices to which Cipriano delivers his pots and jugs every month. On one such trip, he is told not to make any mor I just love Seramago's style. The stream of consciousness prose is a great vehicle to develop his characters. A very uncomplicated story about some very complicated modern issues. The book discription:

Cipriano Algor, an elderly potter, lives with his daughter Marta and her husband Marçal in a small village on the outskirts of The Center, an imposing complex of shops, apartments, and offices to which Cipriano delivers his pots and jugs every month. On one such trip, he is told not to make any more deliveries. Unwilling to give up his craft, Cipriano tries his hand at making ceramic dolls. Astonishingly, The Center places an order for hundreds, and Cipriano and Marta set to work-until the order is cancelled and the three have to move from the village into The Center. When mysterious sounds of digging emerge from beneath their apartment, Cipriano and Marçal investigate, and what they find transforms the family's life. Filled with the depth, humor, and the extraordinary philosophical richness that marks each of Saramago's novels, The Cave is one of the essential books of our time.
Christina
You'll easily recognize "The Center," a mega-mall and housing complex Saramago describes. The ultimate Walmart/Stop & Shop/ Home Depot/etc., The Center has everything one would need housed under one roof. A simple potter living in The Center's shadow can't escape its power.
The book is slow-paced and requires some patience, not as easy a read as Blindness, but less complex than Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis if you've read either of those. It is one of my favorites, touches on themes so i You'll easily recognize "The Center," a mega-mall and housing complex Saramago describes. The ultimate Walmart/Stop & Shop/ Home Depot/etc., The Center has everything one would need housed under one roof. A simple potter living in The Center's shadow can't escape its power.
The book is slow-paced and requires some patience, not as easy a read as Blindness, but less complex than Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis if you've read either of those. It is one of my favorites, touches on themes so important to me as an artist living in the 21st century. It also references one of the only philosophical passages I remember from college, Plato's allegory of the cave. Plato's illustration of the human condition has haunted me ever since I read it, and it bowled me over to see it in the context of this book. You'll need to have read/know something about the allegory of the cave to really get The Cave.
Matt
I admit unabashed a deep love for Saramago's style, regardless of what he's writing. And I agree that his writing does seem to be hit or miss for most: either you love it or don't see the point, and find it over-reaching and trite. I loved Blindness, but thought Seeing was terrible, despite my continued infatuation with the writing style, and so was nervous for The Cave. And Saramago certainly reaches in The Cave, to an extent that most lovers of classic literature probably won't allow, in how p I admit unabashed a deep love for Saramago's style, regardless of what he's writing. And I agree that his writing does seem to be hit or miss for most: either you love it or don't see the point, and find it over-reaching and trite. I loved Blindness, but thought Seeing was terrible, despite my continued infatuation with the writing style, and so was nervous for The Cave. And Saramago certainly reaches in The Cave, to an extent that most lovers of classic literature probably won't allow, in how plainly he tries to make Plato's work his own, without a particularly strong narrative line. Were it for the narrative alone, I would not care much for this book. But, as Saramago has been a master of the tangent before, I found his tangents more insightful yet in this work, found myself waiting for the next time he'd let his words roam astray. So don't read it for the story -- you'll be disappointed if you do. But do read it for the tangents.
Wendy
I love Saramago's writing even though I'm guilting of skipping from time to time. it's always as if he's either telling the story orally or else it's a story passing through someone's mind.
There is always an element of apprehension in his stories - something isn't right and someone or a few people will perceive it while others will just continue on as if nothing is happening. I feel he's always saying watch out, you need to be more aware.
He's a sensitive, clean writer who sees into the heart of I love Saramago's writing even though I'm guilting of skipping from time to time. it's always as if he's either telling the story orally or else it's a story passing through someone's mind.
There is always an element of apprehension in his stories - something isn't right and someone or a few people will perceive it while others will just continue on as if nothing is happening. I feel he's always saying watch out, you need to be more aware.
He's a sensitive, clean writer who sees into the heart of things and people. He describes worlds where humans are at their worst, and at their best. The situations seem weird and a little like science fiction but he uses them to show how humans run away with themselves, driven by the baser instincts. What happens is scary but the most frightening part is that it could be real.
Paul
This has been quite a challenging read. It's certainly not your average bedtime reading. In fact my brain struggled to cope after about 10 minutes of night-time perusal. Saramago mimics the monolith that is the Centre in his writing - chapters of on average 12 pages but only 4 or 5 paragraphs and no traditional speech marks so the page has a quite forbidding block-like appearance. The narrator's voice is also deceptive and at times quixotic, sometimes bureaucratic in obfuscation, clarifying sub- This has been quite a challenging read. It's certainly not your average bedtime reading. In fact my brain struggled to cope after about 10 minutes of night-time perusal. Saramago mimics the monolith that is the Centre in his writing - chapters of on average 12 pages but only 4 or 5 paragraphs and no traditional speech marks so the page has a quite forbidding block-like appearance. The narrator's voice is also deceptive and at times quixotic, sometimes bureaucratic in obfuscation, clarifying sub-clauses rendered obscure with further twisting sub-clauses, and yet at other times, especially in the depiction of the central characters - Cypriano, Marta, Marcal and not forgetting the dog Found! - really warm and illuminating in his perceptions. You live with their sorrows and rejoice in their decision to be free.
Gerard
La Caverna es el primer libro que leo de Saramago. Su estilo se me ha hecho un poco pesado. Escribir la historia sin guiones para el diálogo ni acotaciones del narrador puntuadas siguiendo la convención clásica es un obstáculo para la inmersión, al menos la mía. Entiendo que se busca un estilo oral, un flujo ininterrumpido de acción y pensamientos, pero me ha costado habituarme.

La trama en sí se me ha hecho un tanto larga en su desarrollo, ganando emoción e interés sólo en sus últimas páginas, e La Caverna es el primer libro que leo de Saramago. Su estilo se me ha hecho un poco pesado. Escribir la historia sin guiones para el diálogo ni acotaciones del narrador puntuadas siguiendo la convención clásica es un obstáculo para la inmersión, al menos la mía. Entiendo que se busca un estilo oral, un flujo ininterrumpido de acción y pensamientos, pero me ha costado habituarme.

La trama en sí se me ha hecho un tanto larga en su desarrollo, ganando emoción e interés sólo en sus últimas páginas, en el desenlace.
No obstante, los apuntes sociológicos y las reflexiones antropológicas que el autor colocando en medio de la novela son de gran agudeza y clarividencia.

Destaco los sentimientos que el perro despierta en los protagonistas y el vínculo que vamos viendo construirse entre ellos, además de la complicidad y dulzura entre Cipriano y su hija.
Christin
This was my first Saramago novel but will not be my last. The lack of quotation marks for dialogue promotes a somewhat stream-of-consciousness style that slowed down my progress a bit and makes this a book that I, at least, wasn't going to read in one sitting, but I believe it's his hallmark. The action is slow through most of the book but the characters are captivating and there are some beautiful passages to keep the reader going. This slowness also makes the payoff of the action-filled ending This was my first Saramago novel but will not be my last. The lack of quotation marks for dialogue promotes a somewhat stream-of-consciousness style that slowed down my progress a bit and makes this a book that I, at least, wasn't going to read in one sitting, but I believe it's his hallmark. The action is slow through most of the book but the characters are captivating and there are some beautiful passages to keep the reader going. This slowness also makes the payoff of the action-filled ending greater. Definitely a lot of metaphorical and philosophical elements to the novel that I will be chewing over in the months to come, but even without analyzing the greater concepts the book represents Saramago has a gift for building characters whose daily lives you want to experience with them, and whose souls stay with you.
Ben
Saramago as an author pulls off what so many others try but then fail. He writes with almost staggering humanity and understanding: his books are almost universally concerned with humanity and humanity's place in modern life.

Only an author of his stature could pull off page after page of barely uninterrupted text. None of the typographical or editorial tricks which litter modern literary fiction are present here.

Instead, there's heart: there's real joy and sorrow and hope and despair. It's one Saramago as an author pulls off what so many others try but then fail. He writes with almost staggering humanity and understanding: his books are almost universally concerned with humanity and humanity's place in modern life.

Only an author of his stature could pull off page after page of barely uninterrupted text. None of the typographical or editorial tricks which litter modern literary fiction are present here.

Instead, there's heart: there's real joy and sorrow and hope and despair. It's one of the few books that summons real feelings rather than shadows on the wall that one can easily mistake for truth, but in fact, lack all substance.

Plus, Found (the dog) was brilliant and I would like him as a companion.
Edward Jawer
In many of Jose Saramago's works, his incredible use of language, engages the reader so fully, that the wordings themselves may tend to be as important to the reader, as the actual story. It seems sometimes, that the stories themselves are secondary to his completely unique syntax.

"The Cave" is largely an allegory about the futility of the ordinary man, to cope with the indifference of a futuristic society in which the giant corporate bureaucracy dominates life.

Simple honest people's lives depen In many of Jose Saramago's works, his incredible use of language, engages the reader so fully, that the wordings themselves may tend to be as important to the reader, as the actual story. It seems sometimes, that the stories themselves are secondary to his completely unique syntax.

"The Cave" is largely an allegory about the futility of the ordinary man, to cope with the indifference of a futuristic society in which the giant corporate bureaucracy dominates life.

Simple honest people's lives depend on corporate whims. Saramago imagines a family's attempts to find a way to lead a life, unencumbered by the state.

Very worthwhile reading, especially to delight in his brilliant and masterfully mile long sentences.
João Nuno
Um livro escrito com o rigor e cuidado de José Saramago. A história gira em volta de Cipriano Algor e a sua olaria. Com o progresso tecnológico, as pessoas preferem artefactos de plástico a louças de barro. Vivem fechadas em centros controlados e a sua realidade é que o centro lhes permite ver. Cipriano Algor ainda tenta vender uns bonecos, mas acaba por perceber que os bonecos que trabalha na olaria , não passam das pessoas do Centro. A caverna é apenas desvendada no fim, mas Saramago prepara Um livro escrito com o rigor e cuidado de José Saramago. A história gira em volta de Cipriano Algor e a sua olaria. Com o progresso tecnológico, as pessoas preferem artefactos de plástico a louças de barro. Vivem fechadas em centros controlados e a sua realidade é que o centro lhes permite ver. Cipriano Algor ainda tenta vender uns bonecos, mas acaba por perceber que os bonecos que trabalha na olaria , não passam das pessoas do Centro. A caverna é apenas desvendada no fim, mas Saramago prepara a sua revelação desde o início do livro.
No final, Cipriano liberta-se das amarras e escolhe ser livre fora da caverna, que como uma alegoria , a caverna pode ser considerada o mundo contemporâneo capitalista e consumista , onde as pessoas estão , claramente, viciadas ...
Kate
Beautifully written tale about life and its meaning, told in a beautiful voice which dances through the characters inner philosophical musings and their guarded external words as their way of of small village life comes up against the ugly realities of modernization, and the distraction of consumerism.
The rhythm of the words takes the reader to a gentler time of contemplation, as even in the most humble of families there is often more wisdom and philosophizing than most imagine. The music of thi Beautifully written tale about life and its meaning, told in a beautiful voice which dances through the characters inner philosophical musings and their guarded external words as their way of of small village life comes up against the ugly realities of modernization, and the distraction of consumerism.
The rhythm of the words takes the reader to a gentler time of contemplation, as even in the most humble of families there is often more wisdom and philosophizing than most imagine. The music of this tale reminds me of my grandparents and their way of speaking and not speaking what is in their hearts.
Renan Peixoto
This is a beautifully written book. It is not meant to be read quickly, rather sipped like a fine red wine to appreciate the different flavors of this writers writing style. His unconventional writing style obliges the reader to slow down and contemplate and appreciate the world around. in this instantaneous gratification world we are living in, it is nice to be reminded of the way it used to be.
Brenda
Anyone who reads my reviews knows that Jose Saramago ranks as my favorite author. The depth of his stories and complexity of characters as he burrows his way into the readers' mind results in a totally engrossing read. In "The Cave"the need for a meaningful life, unwillingness to give up one's craft leads to a horrifying discovery (no spoilers here). Saramago always displays a sense of humor, despite dire consequences. I highly recommend every book written by Jose Saramago.
Martha Bohn
This is the first Saragamo book I have read and I can understand why he won the Nobel prize! The simple lives of a few people and a dog are so beautifully portrayed, that one is immersed in beautiful prose and insights into life. It is not a page turner, but many sentences cry out to be read again and again, such as this one, "The frontier of morning was slowly moving westward, rather like the lip of the luminous vault pushing in front of it the dark cupola of night".
Ana Méndez
Excelente libro. El final de verdad me dejó pensando. Además considero esto como un libro verdaderamente trágico, no por el final, sino por el desarrollo. Es un sufrimiento más callado, verdadero. Se me hace mucho más real que las tragedias propiamente dichas, escandalosas y llamativas.
Excelente
Rebecca
With this book, I first encountered Saramago and fell in love, but given the nature of this book it was certainly a troubling love. this is a disturbing, unsettling read, looking at how lives are made and broken by distant economic forces that they don't fully understand, can never fully understand.
Lorraine Cange
Saramago is one of my FAVORITE authors. This is probably not my favorite Saramago work. But it is definitely a worthy read. His view of the world and ordinary circumstances becomes mysterious and fantastical under his pen and through his eyes.

Don't pass this one up!
Lewis Jones
Not that it isn't good. It's just very "deep"--too deep for me!
Kara
Saramago's writing style is hypnotic, though sometimes a little dense for me. Nevertheless, I enjoy his books and this one was good - not great - but I'm glad I read it.
Joseph Christy
Like most Saramago it gets little long and he runs off on tangents, but it is totally worth the journey. A wonderfully hidden gem of science fiction with philosophical roots.
Gelareh Khakbaz
this is the story of our time .... "People prefer plastic because they last longer and dont break" this is told to the potter in the story when he was informed that his craft is no longer needed.
Jon
The best book I've read about the relationship between human conscience and modern society and civilization. Excellent and honest portrayal of human existence.
Jenny
Saramago writes haunting books that combine surreal characteristics (usually sinister) overlaid with normalcy. An excellent read.
Steve
I initially struggled with this book because of the physical writing style (and I presume the translator was simply mimicking what was in the original Portuguese) in which the usual conventions of quotation marks, periods, etc. are not used so that a conversation is a long, long sentence with different characters' statements all run together, separated simply by commas and capitalization. Paragraphs went on for pages. It took a while to adjust and I was surprised at how uncomfortable I was readi I initially struggled with this book because of the physical writing style (and I presume the translator was simply mimicking what was in the original Portuguese) in which the usual conventions of quotation marks, periods, etc. are not used so that a conversation is a long, long sentence with different characters' statements all run together, separated simply by commas and capitalization. Paragraphs went on for pages. It took a while to adjust and I was surprised at how uncomfortable I was reading a book written this way - the long, long paragraphs were almost depressing in their seemingly endless length - perhaps symbolic for a basically gray, even somewhat dark, story. But I eventually adjusted and I never really had any confusion about who was speaking, or thinking, in the various segments of these run-on sentences.

And this style was somewhat consistent with the novel, with a fairly uncomplicated storyline, only 3 main characters really, 4 if you count Found, the dog. The book seemed to be much less about the plot then about the author's reflections, through his main characters, on any number of things. And these I did find interesting, some examples:
- on trite expressions, "Authoritarian, paralyzing, circular, occasionally elliptical stock phrases, also jocularly referred to as nuggets of wisdom, are a malignant plague, one of the very worst ever to ravage the earth. ...we say, to the apathetic, Where there's a will, there's a way, as if the brute realities of the world did not amuse themselves each day by turning that phrase on its head, we say to the indecisive, Begin at the beginning, as if beginning were the clearly visible point of a loosely wound thread and all we had to do was to keep pulling until we reached the other end..." (p 56)
- on expressions of affection, "An older dog and, always assuming that age carries with it a double load of guilt, a dog of an unnecessarily cynical turn of mind, would take a sardonic view of such an affectionate gesture, but this would only be because the emptiness of old age had caused him to forget that, in matters of feeling and of the heart, too much is always better than too little." (p 71)
- on male expressions of affection, "Marcal has withdrawn his hand, that's how it is between men, manly displays of affection have to be quick and instantaneous, some people put this down to masculine modesty, and perhaps they're right, but it would have been much more manly, in the full sense of the word, and certainly no less masculine, if Cipriano Algor had stopped the van and embraced his son-in-law right there and then and thanked him..." (p 90)
- on traditions, "the malignant root of all the other reasons, was his assumption that certain tastes and needs common to his founding grandfather's contemporaries vis-a-vis ceramics would remain unchanged...for the rest of his life..." (p 124)
- "They say that time heals all wounds, But we never live long enough to test that theory..." (p 132)
- "Fortunately, there are books. We can leave them on a shelf or in a trunk, abandon them to the dust and the moths...but they don't mind, they wait quietly, closed in upon themselves so that none of their contents are lost, for the moment that always arrives...and the book, summoned at last, appears..." (p 159)
- "As the saying goes, a worried man can't sleep, Or else he sleeps, but dreams all night about his problems, Is that why you woke up so early, so as not to dream, asked Marta, Some dreams are best escaped from quickly..." (p 172-172)
- "I'm just pretending, To yourself, of course, You're old enough to know that there is no other way of pretending, although it might not seem like it, we are only ever pretending to ourselves, never to other people..." (p 284)

There are also some meta-fictional asides as well, e.g.:
- "The first act of the play is over, the scenery has been removed, the actors are resting from their exertions in the final climactic scene. Not a single piece of pottery made by the Algor family remains in the Center's warehouses..." (p 148)
- "...the orderly logic and discipline of the story, which can, on occasions, be violated and, when appropriate, should be, will not permit us to leave Isaura Madruga and Cipriano Algor in this distressing situation any longer, standing there facing each other, silent and constrained, with the dog looking at them, unable to understand what is going on, with the clock on the wall that must be asking itself, as it tick-tocks on, what these two people want with time if they don't make some use of it. Yes, something, but not just anything. We could and should violate the orderly logic and discipline of the story, but we must never ever violate what constitutes the exclusive and essential character of a person, that is, his personality, his way of being, his own, unmistakable nature." Fun, interesting stuff. (p 186)

Lastly I should mention that to have some inkling, or some ideas about the ending (and I am not sure I am clear on the author's intent), about "They were us!," it would be useful to read Plato's cave allegory in Book VII of Plato's The Republic, or a synopsis of it anyway.
Dan
If you're a fan of Saramago's meandering, disorienting, dreamlike prose, with its digressions within digressions within a single sentence -- as I am -- then there's probably a fairly high baseline of, say, 7/10 below which one of his novels will never fall. And if you're not a fan of his distinctive style, then, well, you're not a fan. Either way, it can be tricky to separate your feelings about one particular book from your feelings on the author generally.

This is especially true of the Cave. If you're a fan of Saramago's meandering, disorienting, dreamlike prose, with its digressions within digressions within a single sentence -- as I am -- then there's probably a fairly high baseline of, say, 7/10 below which one of his novels will never fall. And if you're not a fan of his distinctive style, then, well, you're not a fan. Either way, it can be tricky to separate your feelings about one particular book from your feelings on the author generally.

This is especially true of the Cave. The book is so light on plot that it's just a step or two past "once there lived some people..." This isn't to say that the characters are generic or uninteresting, but it does sometimes feel like you could drop large chunks of this book into any number of other stories and plots, and it wouldn't much affect them. In other words, much of this book's appeal is the fact of it being Saramago; you're reading Saramago for Saramago's sake. You will know going in if this is a good thing or a bad thing. For me, it's a good thing.

The plot, such as it is, is almost entirely spoiled by the back-flap synopsis. The events described there unfold over the first 290 or so pages of this 307-page book. The book has a basic setup-and-punchline structure, and you know the broad strokes of the entire setup going in. It's hard to deliver a satisfying punchline in these circumstances, and Saramago does it about as well as can be expected, and in a way that feels true to his style, but it does feel a touch unsatisfying.

At its core, the Cave is a lightly satirical critique of modernity, with its shallow, disposable consumerism and discarded rural communities. As with all Saramago, though, the book makes ample room for philosophical asides and meanderings. We learn a lot about the interior life of a dog, for example.

After the punchline is revealed, everything up to that point is recast. Not in a "he was a double-agent all along" sort of way, but forest-for-the-trees sort of way. The punchline reveals the lens through which we should have been viewing everything. I suspect that this book is best read either very quickly, so that everything is fresh in your memory when you get to the end, or twice. Or with the punchline spoiled for you. I normally wouldn't recommend this, but this book is about the journey, not the destination, and in this case knowing the destination recontextualizes the journey. If you have time and inclination, read it twice; otherwise, spoil it for yourself before you read it.

I do have two quibbles with the book. For one, there's a romance that feels pretty underdeveloped, that seems to carry an unearned weight. For another, the book ends with an actual punchline. A punchline to the punchline, and it is at once both delicious and infuriating. It feels a bit like explaining the joke. It's a minor quibble, but to get through 300+ pages of Saramago's dense, demanding prose only to land on a final line that is, essentially, "Get it? Rosebud is the sled!" leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Even if the final line is also a bit clever.

I wish I had known going in how this book was going in; it would have completely changed how I read it and what I paid attention to. My backlog is to large and my free time to limited to read it again anytime soon. It might rise to the level of masterpiece if I could read it in the right frame of mind; or, who knows, it could sink to the level of confection. As it stands, it is, for a Saramago fan, pretty great.
TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez
Anyone who has any familiarity at all with Plato’a Republic will know that Nobel Laureate, Jose Saramago has drawn upon the same allegory of the cave in his novel, The Cave, published in 2002. And anyone who has any familiarity at all with Jose Saramago will know that his books are filled with both ironic wit and a deep and abiding reverence and love for humanity. This reverence and love is showcased to its fullest in The Cave.

The Cave is, like the two novels that preceded it, Blindness and All Anyone who has any familiarity at all with Plato’a Republic will know that Nobel Laureate, Jose Saramago has drawn upon the same allegory of the cave in his novel, The Cave, published in 2002. And anyone who has any familiarity at all with Jose Saramago will know that his books are filled with both ironic wit and a deep and abiding reverence and love for humanity. This reverence and love is showcased to its fullest in The Cave.

The Cave is, like the two novels that preceded it, Blindness and All the Names, not set in any specifically named locale. The locale could be almost "any country, any where." And The Cave shares something else with Blindness and All the Names...it has a very minimal plot, and though its characters are both warm and wise, the book is basically a thematic one.

The Cave centers around Cipriano Algor, an elderly man who is a third generation pottery maker. In fact, Cipriano still uses the rustic kiln his grandfather used and he still fires his pottery the way his grandfather did, taking great pride in his both his craftsmanship and his artistic abilities. Cipriano’s life is what some might consider a bucolic idyll. Although not, by any means, wealthy, he and his daughter, Marta and Marta’s husband, Marcal Gaucho, live on the outskirts of an old village beside an ancient mulberry tree. Every week, Cipriano loads his rickety, old truck with his pottery and delivers it to the gargantuan residential/shopping mall known as the Center. Fifty stories high and still expanding, the Center not only houses people and provides all the shopping in the area, it also provides medical and dental care, restaurants and recreational activities as well. In fact, most of the people living in the Center find they never have to leave it, nor do they care to. The Center is the heart and soul of life, and as such, it represents a city unto itself.

While Cipriano has no desire to live in the Center, he does have an exclusive contract with them to sell his pottery, and this contract is important to him, for the Center represents the only buyer in the area. Life, though, as we all know, can sometimes get a little complicated, even for an elderly man who wants to do nothing more than create and sell earthenware.

Cipriano’s son-in-law is employed by the Center and he’s expecting a promotion to "Resident Guard." When that promotion comes, Marta, who is pregnant, and Marcal will have to move into an apartment in the Center. Cipriano will miss them, but he has his pottery, his mulberry tree, and his life in the country. And Marta and Marcal really won’t be that far away.

Disaster strikes when the Center suddenly cancels Cipriano’s contract, telling him that earthenware pottery is no longer fashionable and they are now going to sell plastic, instead. With the canceling of his contract, Cipriano is deprived, not only of his income, but his reason to live as well. His daughter, Marta, the most inventive member of the family, decides that she and Cipriano should make clay dolls, and the Center does agree to accept one shipment of them on a "test" basis only.

Eventually, another lonely villager, a widow, enters the story as does a lost dog (a Saramago trademark) that Cipriano names "Found." Complications arise when Marcal’s promotion comes through and the Center finds they really don’t think the dolls will sell well enough to stock them on a permanent basis.

Even though, as I mentioned earlier, Saramago’s books are neither plot nor character driven, but thematic in nature, this is a master author who always creates warm, wonderful, complex characters that we care about and love. Cipriano Algor is certainly one of the warmest characters I’ve ever encountered in a book written by Jose Saramago, or anyone else, for that matter. He’s a gentle, sweet man possessed of much dignity. When the Center cancels his contract, it’s a heartbreaking moment in the story, and it brings more than one tear to the eye to read about this elderly man’s actions when told he must remove his pottery from the Center’s warehouse. With no warehouse of his own, no barn, no extra space in his tiny home, Cipriano, a frail and gentle man, does the best he can and lovingly stacks his unwanted pottery in a hollow in the woods.

It should be obvious by now that The Cave is an indictment against capitalist consumerism and the fear that it will destroy the humanity and individuality in life. Indeed, it might destroy life, itself. It is worth it to note that everything in the Center is artificial, while everything that Cipriano and his family love is real and authentic.

Saramago, himself, has said:

The world today behaves like a madhouse. The worst of it is that the values we had more or less defined, taught, learned, are thought of as archaic as well as ridiculous...The human being should be the absolute priority. And it isn’t. It’s becoming less and less so.

Perhaps in "real life" the above is true. However, in Saramago’s books, the human being, and the individuality of human life and the preservation of its dignity, are still the number one priority.

One character who’s caught in the middle of life in the Center and life as Cipriano has known it is Marcal. This certainly doesn’t make Marcal the "heavy," though. Not by any means. He’s a likable character who only wants the very best for his wife and unborn child...and he does love his father-in-law. But with the cancellation of Cipriano’s contract, Marcal is the only breadwinner in the family and winning "bread" means life at the Center, for there is no other work to be found. It seems all roads, eventually, lead to the Center, like it or not. But Saramago has more than one surprise in store.

Saramago has, unfairly, been called an author whose prose is "difficult." This is absolutely not true; he’s far too good to be "difficult." He’s such a master prose stylist that his prose, though different in many ways, reads as effortlessly as water cascading freely down an Alpine mountainside. True, Saramago eschews all punctuation save for commas and periods. His dialogue is not set off with quotation marks and he seldom separates the words of one speaker from another. This only takes about three or four pages to get used to, though, and really, it shouldn’t be a reason for anyone to avoid this wonderful and highly original author. Saramago’s sentences can be paragraphs long and his paragraphs can go on for pages, but I found this to be far less so in The Cave than it was in either Blindness or All the Names.

Saramago employs an omniscient narrator, but it’s certainly not a conventional one. Besides reporting the thoughts of the characters to the reader, Saramago’s narrator makes frequent authorial intrusions that really aren’t intrusions at all, but ironical comments on the characters, the happenings in the novel, and even the writing of the novel, itself. Despite this, I certainly wouldn’t call Saramago’s books metafiction. The voice of the narrator is far too detached for that.

While The Cave may not seem to be an emotionally involving story, it is. Far more so than many conventionally written books. It’s warm; it’s insightful; it’s loving. It says something intensely important about the world in which we live. It’s a book that deserves to be read, and once read, taken to heart.
Luis Cortes Mendez
Tengo que agradecer a mi taller de lectura "Libros de arena", la elección de este libro. Solo había leído del autor "Ensayo sobre la ceguera". Libro que abandoné y ahora retomaré. La prosa del autor, sin distinciones en los diálogos, aún tan escuetos e impactantes de meras palabras, antes de complicarlo lo hace más ágil de leer. Sin dudar qué personaje esta hablando. No solo por la estructura, si no por la descripción y entidad propia que da a cada sujeto que nos permite identificar a veces por Tengo que agradecer a mi taller de lectura "Libros de arena", la elección de este libro. Solo había leído del autor "Ensayo sobre la ceguera". Libro que abandoné y ahora retomaré. La prosa del autor, sin distinciones en los diálogos, aún tan escuetos e impactantes de meras palabras, antes de complicarlo lo hace más ágil de leer. Sin dudar qué personaje esta hablando. No solo por la estructura, si no por la descripción y entidad propia que da a cada sujeto que nos permite identificar a veces por una sola palabra que sujeto la pronuncia. El carácter de la familia Algor, como crece la relación entre el padre y la hija, como se van entendiendo y respetando. Como la hija, como mujer, va madurando a mayor velocidad que el padre a pesar de aprende el. Como el marido de la hija aprende del mismo modo, al tiempo que tiene un un papel secundario pero de unión entre ambos. El papel de la vecina Isaura, su carácter silencioso pero inquebrantable que aprendió como toda mujer en los pueblos de antes. Todo, Todo en la novela nos hace ir aprendiendo de las mujeres de esta novela. El resto del contenido, el horno de alfarería y el perro que participa como un sujeto más con sus pensamientos y actos, crean el contexto en el que crecen los personajes. Y por último, lo que el autor describe en mayúsculas como el Centro que identifica todo lo nuevo, mecánico, alineación, que al mismo tiempo identifica con la no evolución. Podría seguir, pero os dejo y os animo a intentar buscar un hueco en vuestro sofá....
Pontus Ridderstedt
Nobelpristagare ska ju faktiskt inte vara lättlästa. Men även om 1998 års pristagare José Saramagos stycken och meningar går över ett par sidor, där även dialogen ingår, så är han inte svårläst. Nästan lite väl simpelt ibland, även om det är en intressant blandning. Dels en moderniseringshistoria, dels en Kafkanojig tragedi och en varm lovsång till landsbygden; som i slutet blir en primitivistisk sciencefiction.
Cipriono Alger bor tillsammans med sin dotter och sin svärson på ett krukmakeri som d Nobelpristagare ska ju faktiskt inte vara lättlästa. Men även om 1998 års pristagare José Saramagos stycken och meningar går över ett par sidor, där även dialogen ingår, så är han inte svårläst. Nästan lite väl simpelt ibland, även om det är en intressant blandning. Dels en moderniseringshistoria, dels en Kafkanojig tragedi och en varm lovsång till landsbygden; som i slutet blir en primitivistisk sciencefiction.
Cipriono Alger bor tillsammans med sin dotter och sin svärson på ett krukmakeri som den äldre mannen får sitt levebröd av. Men nu har hans återförsäljare, ett galleri i ”Centrum”, beslutat sig för att inte längre köpa Algers krukor, vilket vänder upp och ner på hans liv där han tvingas till en mängd val han inte önskar in i detta farliga byråkratiserade och kommersiella ”centrum”
Saramagos karaktärer brukar ofta betecknas som en slags representanter för samhällsklasser än individer i sig själva. Nu är kanske inte detta fallet med denna bok där en mängd vackra detaljer om krukmakarens lantsortsliv, men han tillåts aldrig riktigt går utanför den tragiska rollen han får i denna bok. Även om titeln antyder en vidare mystisk version blir slutklämmen ändå den äckliga död som är essensen i kapitalismens sjuka samhälle. Kunde bara läsa någons partiprogram för ett sådant budskap.
Danny
This is my first time reading Saramago and I really loved his writing style. The text is all run together in large paragraphs, with no punctuation delineating the different speakers in dialogue. It is a fun challenge to work through (following a conversation between two characters by mainly relying on context clues). There's also a postmodern feel in the way the author/unidentified narrator sometimes interjects a quick idea of his own in the middle of the story. The sense of humor is wry but wit This is my first time reading Saramago and I really loved his writing style. The text is all run together in large paragraphs, with no punctuation delineating the different speakers in dialogue. It is a fun challenge to work through (following a conversation between two characters by mainly relying on context clues). There's also a postmodern feel in the way the author/unidentified narrator sometimes interjects a quick idea of his own in the middle of the story. The sense of humor is wry but witty and pops up at the most unlikely times throughout the novel.

As far as the plot and pacing, it is mostly slow going. We encounter scenes of a dystopian future run by a faceless corporate bureaucracy, but the true meat of the story involves the age-old struggles of humanity (love, loss, old age, a sense of purpose). The last line of the novel makes clear (almost too bluntly) the overarching theme (Plato's Cave i.e. Allegory of the Cave), if that wasn't obvious from the title (though there is a "cave" appearance earlier in the plot that leads us astray in that regard).

The more I think about it, the more I enjoyed it. I found Blindness at the bookstore today, so I'm looking forward to taking on Saramago's most well-known work soon!
migheleggecose
La Caverna prende spunto dal celeberrimo mito, omonimo, di Platone, e ne dà una rilettura moderna.
A Saramago piace spesso iniziare le sue storie con eventi quasi sovrannaturali per poi svilupparli in modo razionale e verosimile, qua non troviamo niente di tutto questo, ma semplicemente abbiamo il Centro, un immenso centro commerciale che è entrato ormai nella vita di tutti rendendoli dipendenti, portando addirittura molte persone a prendere casa al suo interno. Tutto si muove in funzione del Cen La Caverna prende spunto dal celeberrimo mito, omonimo, di Platone, e ne dà una rilettura moderna.
A Saramago piace spesso iniziare le sue storie con eventi quasi sovrannaturali per poi svilupparli in modo razionale e verosimile, qua non troviamo niente di tutto questo, ma semplicemente abbiamo il Centro, un immenso centro commerciale che è entrato ormai nella vita di tutti rendendoli dipendenti, portando addirittura molte persone a prendere casa al suo interno. Tutto si muove in funzione del Centro. Un evento che ci piacerebbe definire sovrannaturale, ma è fin troppo realistico.
La storia è allora quella di un povero vasaio di periferia, che non riesce più a vivere del proprio lavoro come un tempo, e che cerca di entrare in qualche modo nel giro del Centro, di vendervi le proprie opere, aiutato dalla figlia e dal cognato a reinventarsi costruttore di statuette anziché di vasi.
Si tratta, probabilmente, del libro più emozionante che abbia mai letto: Saramago è in stato di grazia e ogni pagina trasuda ora passione e amore, ora malinconia e nostalgia o paura e rabbia, rendendo impossibile non immedesimarsi nella storia di Cipriano Algor e della sua famiglia.
Un libro che consiglio a tutti.
Vivek
I am surprised I took only a month to read this 294 page book. I had the impression that I have been reading this for ages.

the story initially drags with the author going to the extremes to talk about the characters , the environment, some history, some philosophy and so on.

it's only near the half that it picks up pace and quite sadly loses it all at the end. I couldn't really comprehend the climax and look forward to reading about the inferences done by other readers to get some clarity.

Overall I am surprised I took only a month to read this 294 page book. I had the impression that I have been reading this for ages.

the story initially drags with the author going to the extremes to talk about the characters , the environment, some history, some philosophy and so on.

it's only near the half that it picks up pace and quite sadly loses it all at the end. I couldn't really comprehend the climax and look forward to reading about the inferences done by other readers to get some clarity.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the complex writing structure employed by the author, clubbed with the depths of emotional interactions between the various characters. none of the new characters turn out to be meant as new characters. they behave and gel with the story line as if that's what they have existed for since the beginning, though the author never gives us such an impression.

the book is full of tonnes of quotable sentences that require dedicated reading and ruminations of their own. but seriously, the climax just left me hanging about without being able to touch the ground.
Vicki Cline
This doesn't have much of a plot until about 5/6th of the way through. 64 year old Cipriano Algor, a potter living in a village with his daughter and son-in-law, makes earthenware plates, cups, etc. for sale at the Center, a giant mall in the nearby city, containing lots of shops, amusements, sports facilities and apartments. One day the director of purchasing informs him they will no longer be buying his stuff. He decides to make some figurines as a substitute, hoping the Center will buy them. This doesn't have much of a plot until about 5/6th of the way through. 64 year old Cipriano Algor, a potter living in a village with his daughter and son-in-law, makes earthenware plates, cups, etc. for sale at the Center, a giant mall in the nearby city, containing lots of shops, amusements, sports facilities and apartments. One day the director of purchasing informs him they will no longer be buying his stuff. He decides to make some figurines as a substitute, hoping the Center will buy them. Also he adopts a stray dog. More unusual things start to happen when the family moves to the Center. What makes Saramago's writings interesting is the way he handles conversations - no quotation marks, but lots of commas, changes in speaker marked by capitalizing the beginning of what each one has to say, and lots of philosophical musings along the way. (view spoiler)[The Cave doesn't even make an appearance until a few pages from the end. (hide spoiler)]
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