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SYNOPSIS Source for information on Baltasar and Blimunda: World Literature whom Baltasar recognised as neighbours also helping to build the convent, which . an arranged royal marriage later in the novel (Baltasar and Blimunda, pp. The novel's focus on the body and its functions helps to vindicate this world-view. . Such allusions also reveal the relationship of royal and clerical power to handed ex-soldier Baltasar Sete-Sóis and the clairvoyant Blimunda Sete-Luas, is a. BALTASAR AND BLIMUNDA By Jose Saramago. And apart from its strong intrinsic interest, this novel should help put to rest the notion recently Such sardonic interventions suggest that in relation to Padre Bartolomeu's.
Baltasar and Blimunda, pp. The attraction between Baltasar and Blimunda is immediately obvious; Bartolomeu oversees a ceremonial union of the two lovers, which is very pointedly not a Christian marriage and, in its simplicity and sincerity, contrasts vividly with the rituals and expenditure surrounding an arranged royal marriage later in the novel Baltasar and Blimunda, pp. Subsequently Baltasar and Blimunda help Bartolomeu build his flying machine powered by the wills of ordinary people, which are captured from their bodies and stored in a glass jar by Blimunda before these people die.
The three characters take one exhilarating but uncontrolled flight in the machine before it comes to earth, after which Bartolomeu flees to Spain, never to reappear in the novel. The two other characters lovingly look after his flying machine while Baltasar also works on a number of projects connected with the construction of the convent at Mafra. Baltasar accidentally sets off the Passarola and is carried away by it to be seen again only inwhen Blimunda who has spent nine years searching for him all over Portugal finds him, just as he is being executed by the Inquisition for unspecified crimes.
Perhaps because of his blackened beard, a miraculous transformation caused by the soot, he looks much younger. And there is a dark cloud in the centre of his body. Then Blimunda said, Come. By this action Blimunda asserts the significance of the popular over the powerful but wealthy king, who is but a shadowy figure beside the more memorable characters of Baltasar and Blimunda. In he gave a demonstration at the royal court in Lisbon of a prototype of his projected flying machine based on a theory he described in a surviving document.
There is, however, no strong evidence to suggest that he ever succeeded in building a machine big enough to transport a human being, in spite of later reports of a flight carried out from the castle in Lisbon to the nearby Terreiro do Pago. His brother subsequently testified to the Inquisition that Bartolomeu had adopted Judaism in preference to Christianity: The poor youth declared that his brother had tenaciously instilled in him the belief that he, Bartolomeu, was the Messiah, the Redeemer foretold by the Old Testamentsince the redemption promised to the Jews by Holy Scripture had still not been fulfilled.
If he did not undertake the work of Redemption, God would call him severely to account. Also the Passarola becomes a symbol of the freedom lacked by ordinary people in the eighteenth century. The notion of flight in the novel points to the infinite capacity of the human mind, will, and spirit to seek new possibilities of thought and self-expression, a capacity that was repressed in the eighteenth century by a combination of the Inquisition which required absolute Catholic orthodoxy and the power of the king to treat his kingdom as his own possession, without any consideration for the needs or wishes of ordinary citizens.
Sources and literary context In spite of the prominent element of fantasy in his novel, Saramago makes extensive use of historically documented sources. Like these works, Baltasar and Blimunda focuses on the miserable experiences of the downtrodden poor in an authoritarian society that denies them any voice to express their feelings or alter their living and working conditions.
The insertion of Baltasar and Blimunda into this literary context can obscure as much as it clarifies however, for the novel clearly diverges from Neorealist practices: Both of these traditions emphasize the potential of the human voice and of the multiplicity of perspectives on life that have shaped the course of human history.
Frequently these remarks place the events described in a broader historical context, leading the reader to reflect on periods other than those in which the novel takes place. For example, News reached Mafra sporadically that Lisbon was suffering the tremors of an earthquake. The reference here is to an earlier, smaller earthquake that occurred in October No longer preoccupied with modernization, but rather with the entrenchment of power and privilege, Portugal returned to unenlightened absolutist rule.
The extract printed above is one of seven successive narratives of the same type presented at this point in the novel, each one reinforcing the image of a poor, exploited workforce, which has been hoodwinked into serving the interests of its real enemies, the twin forces of Church and State.
Not only does this strategy achieve equalization of commoner and royal, by foregrounding the commoner for a change, it also invites readers to reconsider their understanding of history in general and to see it not as an immutable, objective reality but as a collation of narratives shaped according to the needs and interests of its narrators at different periods.
Spanish and Portuguese Literatures and Their Times. Events in History at the Time the Novel Was Written From sovereignty to dictatorship—pertinent parallels By Portugal was a parliamentary democracy beginning to develop the full-scale integration into Western European patterns of life that are readily visible today.
This dictatorship had defined twentieth-century Portuguese history, invoking an introverted, economically austere, and socially conservative model of a pious society dedicated to following the will of its father figure Salazarwith a certain degree of connivance from the Roman Catholic hierarchy even if, at a popular level, the social and political attitudes of the Church were more mixed than this broad generalization might suggest.
As a result, the country entering a new era of democracy in had one of the highest illiteracy records in Europe, and rights and benefits that are today taken for granted in the West had still to be secured: These unpleasant realities were further reinforced by strict censorship of the press and the media in general, which reproduced only officially sanctioned opinions.
Portugal was the first and the last of the major European colonial powers in the continent, and, even after other imperial rulers such as France and Britain had relinquished these roles, Portugal continued to adopt a self-appointed and ultimately unsustainable role as importer of European civilization to Africa.
The hierarchical model of Portuguese society before was not totally dissimilar to the one of the absolute monarch depicted in Baltasar and Blimunda: In the end, the student would have been completely exonerated, had he not become involved in yet another dubious episode.
Given similar precedents, because the Franciscans are so well endowed with means to change, overturn, or hasten the natural order of things, even the recalcitrant womb of the Queen must respond to the solemn injunction of a miracle.
All the more so since the Franciscan Order has been petitioning for a convent in Mafra since the year sixteen hundred and twenty-four, a time when the King of Portugal was a Felipe imported from Spain, who had little interest in the religious communities of Portugal and persisted in withholding his permission throughout the sixteen years of his reign.
The judges of the Court of Appeal reserved the right to determine what those inconveniences dictated by human wisdom might be, but now they will have to hold their tongues and bury their dark thoughts, for Friar Antony of St Joseph has promised that once the friars have their convent there will be an heir to the throne. A pledge has been made, the Queen will give birth, and the Franciscan Order will gather the palm of victory, just as it has gathered so many palms of martyrdom.Kodaline - All I Want (Part 1)
A hundred years of waiting is no great sacrifice for those who count on living for all eternity. We saw how the student was finally exonerated of blame in the episode of the stolen altar lamps.
But it would be folly to suggest that because of secrets divulged in the confessional the friars knew of the Queen's pregnancy even before the Queen herself knew and could confide in the King.
Baltasar and Blimunda | badz.info
Just as it would be wrong to suggest that Dona Maria Ana, because she was such a pious lady, agreed to remain silent until the appearance of God's chosen messenger, the virtuous Friar Antony. Nor can anyone say the King will be counting the moons from the night the pledge was given until the day the child is born, and find the cycle complete. There is nothing to add to what has already been said.
So let not Franciscans be impugned, unless they should become involved in other equally dubious intrigues. I N THE COURSE OF the year some people die from having overindulged during their lifetime, which explains why apoplectic fits recur one after another, why sometimes only one is needed to dispatch a victim to his grave, and why even when spared death they remain paralysed down one side, their mouths all twisted, sometimes unable to speak, and without hope of an effective cure apart from continuous blood-lettings.
But many more people die from malnutrition, unable to survive on a miserable diet of sardines and rice along with some lettuce, and a little meat when the nation celebrates the King's birthday. May God grant that our river yield an abundance of fish, and let us give praise to the Holy Trinity with this intention in mind. And may lettuce and other produce arrive from the surrounding countryside, transported in great baskets filled to the brim by the country swains and maidens who do not excel in these labours.
And may there be no intolerable shortage of rice. For this city, more than any other, is a mouth that gorges itself on one side and starves on the other, and there is no happy medium between ruddy and pale complexions, between bulging and bony hips, between great paunches and shrivelled bellies.
But Lent, like the rising sun, is for everyone. The excesses of Shrovetide could be seen throughout the city, those who could afford it stuffed themselves with poultry and mutton, with doughnuts and fritters, outrages were committed on every street corner by those who never miss an opportunity to take liberties, derisive tails were pinned to fugitive backs, water was squirted on faces with syringes meant for other purposes, the unwary were spanked with strings of onions, and wine was imbibed, accompanied by the inevitable belching and vomiting, there was a clanging of pots and pans, bagpipes were played, and if more people did not end up rolling on the ground, in the side streets, squares, and alleyways, it is only because the city is filthy, its roads full of sewage and rubbish, crawling with mangy dogs and stray cats, and mud everywhere even when there is no rain.
Now the time has come to pay for all these excesses, the time to mortify the soul so that the flesh may feign repentance, the depraved, rebellious flesh of this pathetic and obscene pigsty known as Lisbon. The Lenten procession is about to commence. Let us mortify our flesh with fasting and abstinence, let us punish our bodies with flagellation.
By eating frugally, we can purify our thoughts, through suffering we can purge our souls. The penitents, all of them male, head the procession, and they are followed by the friars who carry the banners bearing images of the Virgin and of Christ crucified. Behind them comes the bishop under an ornate canopy, and then the effigies of saints carried on litters, followed by an endless regiment of priests, confraternities, and guilds, all of whom are intent upon salvation, some convinced they are already damned, others tortured by uncertainty until they are summoned to Judgment, and there may even be some among them who are quietly thinking that the world has been mad since it was conceived.
Baltasar and Blimunda by José Saramago
The procession wends its way through the crowds lining the streets, and as it passes, men and women prostrate themselves on the ground, claw their faces, tear their hair out, and inflict blows on themselves, while the bishop makes fleeting signs of the cross to right and left and the acolyte swings his thurible.
Lisbon stinks, but the incense bestows meaning on this putrid stench of decay, a stench that comes from the wickedness of the flesh, for the soul is fragrant. Women can be seen watching from the windows, as is the custom. The penitents walk slowly, with balls and chains twisted round their ankles, or with their arms holding massive iron bars across their shoulders as if they were suspended from a cross, or they scourge themselves with leather thongs ending in balls of solid wax spiked with glass splinters, and these flagellants are considered to be the highlight of the spectacle, as real blood flows down their backs and they give out loud cries, of pleasure as much as pain, which we should find a little strange if we did not know that some of the penitents have spotted their mistresses at the windows, and they are in the procession not so much for the salvation of their souls as for inciting carnal pleasures, those already experienced and those still to come.
As the penitent arrives beneath the window of his beloved, she throws him a haughty glance, she is probably chaperoned by her mother, cousin, or governess, or by some indulgent grandmother or sour old aunt, but they are all aware of what is happening, thanks to their own memories, recent or distant, that God has nothing to do with all this fornication, the ecstasies at the windows mirroring the ecstasies on the street below, the flagellant on his knees, whipping himself into a frenzy and calling out in pain, while the woman ogles the vanquished male and parts her lips to drink his blood and the rest.
The procession has paused, allowing the ritual to be concluded, the bishop has bestowed his blessing and consecration, the woman experiences languorous sensations, and the man passes on, relieved that he can now stop scourging himself with quite so much vigour, for now it is the turn of others to satisfy the cravings of their mistresses. Once they have started to mortify their flesh and observe the rules of fasting, it seems that they will have to tolerate these privations until Easter and they must suppress their natural inclinations until the shadows pass from the countenance of Holy Mother Church, now that the Passion and death of Christ are nigh.
The streets of Lisbon are full of women all dressed alike, their heads covered with mantillas and shawls that have only the tiniest opening to allow the ladies to signal with their eyes or lips, a common means of secretly exchanging forbidden sentiments and illicit desires, throughout the streets of this city, where there is a church on every corner and a convent in every quarter, spring is in the air and turning everyone's head, and when no breeze blows, there is always the sighing of those who unburden their souls in the confessionals, or in secluded places conducive to other forms of confession, as adulterous flesh wavers on the brink of pleasure and damnation, for the one is as inviting as the other during this period of abstinence, bare altars, solemn mourning, and omnipresent sin.
By day their ingenuous husbands will be enjoying, or at least pretending to enjoy, their siestas, by night, when streets and squares mysteriously fill with crowds smelling of onion and lavender, and the murmur of prayers can be heard through the open doors of churches, they feel at greater ease as they will not have long to wait now, someone is already knocking at the door, steps can be heard on the stair, mistress and maid arrive, conversing intimately, and the black slave, too, if she has been brought along and through the chinks the light of a candle or oil lamp can be seen, the husband pretends to wake, the wife pretends that she has awakened him, and if he asks any questions, we know what her reply will be, she has come back exhausted, footsore, and with stiff joints, but feeling spiritually consoled, and she utters the magic number, I have visited seven churches, she says, with such vehemence that she has been guilty either of excessive piety or of some monstrous sin.
Queens are denied these opportunities of unburdening their souls, especially if they have been made pregnant and by their legitimate husband, who for nine months will no longer come near them, a rule widely accepted but sometimes broken. Dona Maria Ana has every reason to exercise discretion, given the strict piety with which she had been brought up in Austria and her wholehearted compliance with the friar's strategy, thus showing, or at least giving the impression, that the child being conceived in her womb is as much a daughter for the King of Portugal as for God Himself, in exchange for a convent.
The horse is startled, no doubt because of the clattering of the carriage on the cobblestones, but when the Queen compares these dreams she observes that the Infante comes a little closer each time, What can he want, and what does she want. For some Lent is a dream, for others a vigil. The Easter festivities passed and wives returned to the gloom of their apartments and their cumbersome petticoats, at home there are a few more cuckolds, who can be quite violent when infidelities are practised out of season.
And since we are now on the subject of birds, it is time to listen in church to the canaries singing rapturously of love from their cages decorated with ribbons and flowers, while the friars preaching in the pulpits presume to speak of holier things.
It is Ascension Thursday, and the singing of the birds soars to the vaults of heaven regardless of whether our prayers follow, without their assistance, our prayers have little hope of reaching God, so perhaps we shall all remain silent. He was dismissed from the army where he was of no further use once his left hand was amputated at the wrist after being shattered by gunfire at Jerez de los Caballeros, in the ambitious campaign we fought last October with eleven thousand men, only to end with the loss of two hundred of our soldiers and the rout of the survivors, who were pursued by the Spanish cavalry dispatched from Badajoz.
By great good fortune, or by the special grace of the scapular he was wearing around his neck, his wound did not become gangrenous, nor did they burst his veins with the force of the tourniquet applied to stop the bleeding, and thanks to the surgeon's skill, it was only a matter of disarticulating the man's tendons, without having to cut through the bone with a handsaw. This was how he spent the winter, putting aside half of the money he managed to collect, reserving half of the other half for the journey ahead, and spending the rest on food and wine.
Crafted leather fittings were skilfully attached to the tempered irons, and there were two straps of different lengths to attach the implements to the elbow and shoulder for greater support.
The army was in tatters, barefoot and reduced to rags, the soldiers pilfered from the farmers and refused to go on fighting, a considerable number went over to the enemy, while many others deserted, travelling off the beaten track, looting in order to eat, raping any women they encountered on the way, in short, taking their revenge on innocent people who owed them nothing and shared their despair.
There was no one waiting to greet him in Lisbon, and in Mafra, which he had left many years ago to join His Majesty's Infantry, his father and mother, if they remember him, will think he is alive since no one has reported him dead or believe him to be dead because they have no proof he is still alive. All will be revealed in good time. The sun shines brightly and there has been no rain, the countryside is covered with flowers and the birds are singing.
And when he starts to dream tonight, if he catches a glimpse of himself in his sleep he will see that he has no limbs missing, and will be able to rest his tired head on the palms of both hands.
Baltasar keeps the irons in his knapsack for another good reason. He very quickly discovered that whenever he wears them, especially the spike, people refuse him alms, or give him very little, although they always feel obliged to give him a few coins because of the sword he carries on his hip, despite the fact that everyone carries a sword, even the black slaves, but not with the gallant air of a professional soldier, who might wield it this very moment, if provoked.
And unless the number of travellers outweighs the fear provoked by the presence of this brigand, who stands in the middle of the road, barring their passage and begging alms, alms for a poor soldier who has lost his hand and who but for a miracle might have lost his life, for the solitary traveller does not want this plea to turn to aggression, coins soon fall into the outstretched hand, and Baltasar is grateful that his right hand has been spared.
The robber who escaped stalked him for another half-league through the pine groves, but finally gave up the chase, continuing to curse and insult him from a distance but with no real conviction this would have much effect. He ate some fried sardines and drank a bowl of wine, and with barely enough money left for the next stage of his journey, let alone for lodgings at an inn, he sheltered in a barn, underneath some carts, and there he slept wrapped in his cloak, but with his left arm and the spike exposed.
He spent the night peacefully. When he opened his eyes, the first light of dawn had still not appeared on the eastern horizon, he felt a sharp pain in his left arm, which was not surprising, since the spike was pressing on the stump. He untied the straps and, using his imagination, all the more vivid at night, and especially in the pitch-black darkness under the carts, Baltasar convinced himself he still had two hands even if he could not see them.
He tucked his knapsack under his left arm, curled up under his cloak, and went back to sleep. At least he had managed to survive the war. He might have a limb missing, but he was still alive. As dawn broke, he got to his feet. The sky was clear and transparent, and even the palest stars could be seen in the distance. It was a fine day on which to be entering Lisbon, and with time to linger before continuing his journey, he postponed any decision.
Burying his hand in the knapsack, he took out his shoddy boots, which he had not worn once during the journey from Alentejo and had he worn them, he would have been obliged to discard them after such a long march, and demanding new skills from his right hand and using his stump, as yet untrained, he managed to get his feet into them, otherwise he would have them covered in blisters and calluses, accustomed as he was to walking in bare feet during his time as a peasant, then as a soldier, when there was never enough money to buy food, let alone to mend one's boots.
For there is no existence more miserable than a soldier's. When he reached the docks, the sun was already high. The tide was in, and the ferryman alerted any remaining passengers embarking for Lisbon that he was about to cast off. Blimunda, seer into bodies, can collect these and then, once she has done so, the Passarola will take off. Earthly miracle, celestial miracle, whichever it may be, the three of them soar rapturously toward the sky.
The priest, fearing the arm of the Inquisition, flees to Spain, there to die. Baltasar and Blimunda go to Mafra, where, to earn their bread, he works as a drover with the other laborers at the king's convent. One night the peasants sit before a fire and one of them asks Baltasar the heretical question: The tone darkens and the exuberance of the early pages thins out.
The sheer hardness of life, the implausibility of any full liberation, emerges as a dominant theme.
Yet Baltasar and Blimunda do not yield; they remember the Passarola, and every now and then Baltasar journeys to Monte Junto, where the flying machine lies hidden, to tend and adore it. In the novel's most tender passage, we see the aging Baltasar coming back from work - and suddenly Mr. Saramago drops his occasional mask of objective narrator and cries out to him with a full heart: But now here is surely a question of failing eyesight, because it is a woman in fact who is coming toward us, and where we saw an old man, she sees a young man, who is none other than the soldier whom she once asked: What is your name?
Blimunda - she too has wrinkles now - spends nine years scouring Portugal for her man. She finds him, a prisoner at an auto-da-fe, ''the last man to be burned. The will of Baltasar. Saramago, a writer of sharp intelligence, keeps this love story under strict control, free of pathos or sentimentality.
It is a love of, and on, this earth. I'd like to think we need assign it no precise symbolism, since it is so splendid an object in its own right.
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But if we must succumb to the rudely explicit, let's say that the Passarola and its creator are agents of a freedom glimpsed at a moment before it can be realized in history; that they sponsor an imaginative playfulness disdaining all orthodoxies; that they are precursors of the idea of the self - that great invention of the modern mind - as it breaks past every life-thwarting formalism.
How does a drover become a man? Perhaps by learning to fly. Padre Bartolomeu Lourenco had grabbed one of the plummets that supported the sails, which allowed him to see the machine move away from earth at the most incredible speed. What's that yonder in the distance? And the river, ah, the sea, that sea which I, Bartolomeu Lourenco de Gusmao, sailed twice from Brazil, that sea which I sailed to Holland. To how many more continents on land and in the air will you transport me, Passarola?
If only the King could see me now.