A noble prize impossible to duplicate

Having no boundaries
at all at expressing his personal opinions, convinced Communist until
the end, and atheist, Saramago has provoked polemic
admiration towards his creativity and integrity, plus he was
unanimously considered a worthy winner of the Nobel Prize. During his
intervention in Helsinki, he pinpointed the fact of having a break in
his writing process for more than 20 years.

Actually, he did not
publish anything from 1947 to 1966, because, as he has repeated many
, “I had nothing to say.” And he
also had time to defend the respect for the elderly, “When I
started to be published internationally, I was 60-years-old and I was
a beginner, when many others are retired. So I have a message for the
young people, and also for the ones who are not so young. That means
basically for everybody, and it is that life does not end when you
are 30…or 40 or 50. I have written my best books when I was old.
And I enjoy working, I do not believe in this thing called
retirement. So please, respect the older people because they still
have many things to offer.”

really, like with a good wine, the work of Saramago improved with the
passage of time. Since 1980 he has written many acclaimed titles such
The Year of the Death of Ricardo
, The
Gospel According to Jesus Christ
, The
and The

The author is quite
a talkative person who does not feel shy at all to analyze his works
or his previous
experiences. He exhales an
aura of satisfaction about all the things achieved in his life, but,
at the same time, he is very humble and respectful in his comments
and answers. Although Saramago’s schedule was very hectic, he kindly
had some minutes to answer a couple of answers from FREE! Magazine:

{mosimage}Mr Saramago,
coming back to the topic of your book
, how
would you feel if you went out to the street and met a duplicate of

I think I would not
like it at all. As I said, I think that if you meet a person exactly
the same
as you, the tendency would be to
eliminate that person. The topic goes very faraway in time; it was
treated already in old Greek Mythology, in the story of Zeus in the
role of Amphitrion to get Alcmena, his wife. And we could discuss a
long time about nowadays issues such as cloning, but well, I think we
have not enough time, and better things to do…

What was your
reaction when you
received the Nobel

Well, at the
beginning I was shocked, it was like if they had hit me with a hammer
in the head. But then, I took it more relaxed. Of course
it was very nice to go to Stockholm and receive the prize and
everything…but you know… I was alone at an airport when I
received the phone call that gave me notice of being awarded with the
prize, and after a while, I just thought…well… I have won the
Nobel Prize… so what? Life goes on…

After renouncing to
take a taxi, preferring to take the arm of his wife, the Spanish
Pilar Del Río, who is also his translator, they walk off into
an exceptionally sunny day in Helsinki. Later, at the end of one
interview in a bookstore full of admirers and curious people, he
received a quick visit from a very special fan: the president of
Finland, Tarja Halonen.


Photos by Eduardo Alonso