Book Review: The Double by José Saramago
March 14, 2013 11 Comments
This is a classic that I bought after I read Blindness, a dystopian novel that I loved. The Double is again a non-realistic novel, but closer to reality than Blindness. In fact, the only strange thing is that a man discovers there is someone who looks identical to him living in the same town.
Tertuliano Maximo Afonso, a History teacher, is depressed. His colleague, a Maths teacher, suggests he watches some fun DVDs to lift his spirits. The movie recommended by the Maths teacher includes a man that looks exactly like Tertuliano.
He then tries to find out who this man is, and how he can contact him. What happens next is all the result of him wanting to keep this similarity quiet from the people around him. I wasn’t quite clear why he found it necessary to keep this knowledge from people, but he goes through some trouble in order to make sure it does not become known.
There is of course a bit more to the story, but not a lot. The actual storyline is quite thin. Most of the fun of reading this book comes from the observations and reflections Tertuliano makes on the situation. A lot of it is anticipation of what people might say or do. While this is entertaining, it made reading the book quite slow, not helped by the sparse punctuation (lack of quotes and new lines in dialogs, for instance).
I loved the fact that in this very normal world that Tertuliano lives in, there is this one discrepancy: a man completely alike to himself (including identical scars and moles). It’s a fun but also tedious story, and not everyone will enjoy this. But if you loved Blindness, you must definitely try this book.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Number of pages: 304 (Dutch edition: De man in duplo)
First published: 2002 (Portugese: O Homem Duplicado)
I got this: bought at a secondhand book market
Genre: literary fiction, classic
Extra: My review of Blindness.