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Baltasar and Blimunda | [Jose Saramago, Giovanni Pontiero (translator)]

Baltasar and Blimunda

From the recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature, a "brilliant...enchanting novel" (New York Times Book Review) of romance, deceit, religion, and magic set in 18th-century Portugal at the height of the Inquisition.
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Publisher's Summary

Portugal, 1711: an amorous friar is pursued naked through the rubble-strewn streets of Lisbon; an enthusiastic procession of flagellants roars with pleasure over the damnation of adultery; a royal prince uses hapless sailors for target practice; and women dressed in colorful finery watch as lapsed converts and sorcerers are put to death by flames. In the midst of the terrors of the Inquisition and the plague, a seemingly mismatched couple discovers the wonders of love. This poetic tale, graced with exquisite historical detail and full of magic and adventure, is a tapestry of human folly and human will. The best-loved of all of the great Jose Saramago's works, this novel radiates with achievement.

©1998 Jose Saramago (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Much reverberates in memory after reading this enchanting novel, but most of all the love story which soars over the rest of the action like a flute above a heavy orchestra. Mr. Saramago, a writer of sharp intelligence, keeps this love story under strict control, free of pathos or sentimentality. It is a of, and on, the earth." (Irving Howe, The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.0 (11 )
5 star
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3.5 (11 )
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Story
2.4 (10 )
5 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Deladier Davis, CA, United States 01-13-13
    Deladier Davis, CA, United States 01-13-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    1
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    Story
    "Devastating narration"
    Any additional comments?

    This is a very memorable story if read in Portuguese but understandably hard to get into if you are not immersed in the Portuguese ethos. I was disappointed with the clinical quality of the translation but could have dealt with that. In a book such as this, which manages to run the gamut of the language's poetic edge, it is rare to find the skill set required to produce an equally nuanced version in another language. What really killed the joy for me was the choice of narrator. This person not only has no knowledge of Portuguese, she had no coaching whatever. Oh, the nouns... When you hear a narration of a translated work, you expect the nouns to be pronounced somewhat accurately. She shreds them all with abandon. She is clueless with a vengeance. She is not shy about her utter ignorance or inaptitude to narrate even in English. This is an insulting narration, if that is possible. I want my credit back.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela SANTA CRUZ, CA, United States 03-23-14
    Angela SANTA CRUZ, CA, United States 03-23-14 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Narrator makes this story a painful listen"
    Would you be willing to try another one of Tamir’s performances?

    No. In fact, I'll avoid ANYTHING that she narrates in the future.


    Any additional comments?

    No fault to the author (or even the translator) there were parts of the story so poorly narrated they seemed a tedious listen. However, I also have a hard copy of this book and reviewing the same sections, i found them interesting and engaging. Never have I encountered such a poor read. A disservice to Saramago, Pontiero and the rest of us as listeners.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Gorman Winters Berkeley, CA United States 07-08-13
    Ellen Gorman Winters Berkeley, CA United States 07-08-13 Member Since 2008
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Narrator ruined it for me."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A different narrator.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I have several in my library to which I have not yet listened. I have many many books in mind for listening.


    What didn’t you like about Tamir’s performance?

    1. Her weak voice.

    2. Her attempt to simulate character voices destroyed the flow of the story. Male and female switches were cringe-making. This kind of phony drama was totally unnecessary. Saramago's prose is considered rather good, don't you think?

    3. Her dramatic skills are nil.

    4. I could not listen for more than 10 mins before shutting off. Since I liked the story, I kept convincing myself that she was not as bad as I remembered. It made me sad to lose the story because of her really inadequate and silly attempts.

    Why in the world was this narrator chosen? Is this book so infrequently ordered that not much effort was put into selecting her?


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Baltasar and Blimunda?

    I'd like it done in its entirety by another narrator. Failing that, she should NOT be allowed to do ANY dialogue.


    Any additional comments?

    Is there any way I can use ZERO stars, or do I have to settle for ONE. One is 20% . I consider this narrator as owing ME for having ruined this experience for me, and NOT entitled to 20%..

    Where in the world is Step # 5?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tona KATY, TX, United States 09-25-12
    tona KATY, TX, United States 09-25-12 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Very disappointing:("
    What would have made Baltasar and Blimunda better?

    The author never really gives you an understanding of why these two characters are reallly together other than to keep each other company through life's journey. I really got the feeling that either of these characters could have gone off with anyone else. There is also too much time explaining the relationships between other characters in the book that are not related to the main characters. In addition, the ending was such a let down....really...Baltazar just ends up dying and Blimunda just goes off with his "will". I have often said that it is rare that I find a book I don't like, but this is one.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Jose Saramago and Giovanni Pontiero (translator) again?

    No I would not.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Tamir’s performances?

    No, she is too monotone. In addition, she made the two main characters sound like simpletons.


    Any additional comments?

    I would never recommend this book to anyone

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kimberly Pinole, CA, United States 01-04-12
    Kimberly Pinole, CA, United States 01-04-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    229
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    48
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    "Nobel Prize my Patootie"

    I know he's a big-time, world-renowned literary author, but he's boring, okay? I'm 4 hours into this sucker and not one damn thing has HAPPENED yet. Yes, there are lots of lovely, biting, funny and extremely sensitive descriptions of things. For me, that is better read than listened to - I keep falling asleep. The narrator is also just not very good - she is monotone, and where she is not monotone her voice is pitched high, making all the characters sound like children. I am hugely disappointed, coming off another listen - The Woman in White - to which I gave 5 stars. So I am giving up. Can I have my credit back?

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
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