Inspired by Jose Saramago

Frequent visitors to Travel Between The Pages are well aware of my appreciation for the writing of the late Ursula K. Le Guin. If memory serves, I first discovered her work in the magazine Amazing Stories. The first of her impactful sci-fi books that captured my attention was the dystopian environmental novel The Lathe of Heaven. But Le Guin was more than a genre novelist, she also was a poet, philosopher, social critic, essayist, short story writer, and children’s author. And, late in life, at the age of 81, she embraced blogging. Unfortunately after Le Guin’s death in 2018 her online blog disappeared, but happily for us it has been resurrected.

One does not need to be a fan of sci-fi to appreciate Le Guin’s wide-ranging blog. In her initial entry, she attrubuted a new found interest in blogging to the online presence of the Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago. You can do a deep dive into Le Guin’s blog archive right here.

Here’s a taste of Le Guin’s first foray into the blog world:

October 2010

I’ve been inspired by José Saramago’s extraordinary blogs, which he posted when he was 85 and 86 years old. They were published this year in English as The Notebooks. I read them with amazement and delight.

I never wanted to blog before. I’ve never liked the word blog—I suppose it is meant to stand for bio-log or something like that, but it sounds like a sodden tree trunk in a bog, or maybe an obstruction in the nasal passage (Oh, she talks that way because she has such terrible blogs in her nose). I was also put off by the idea that a blog ought to be “interactive,” that the blogger is expected to read people’s comments in order to reply to them and carry on a limitless conversation with strangers. I am much too introverted to want to do that at all. I am happy with strangers only if I can write a story or a poem and hide from them behind it, letting it speak for me.

So, though I have contributed a few bloglike objects to Book View Café, I never enjoyed them. After all, despite the new name, they were just opinion pieces or essays, and writing essays has always been tough work for me and only occasionally rewarding.

But seeing what Saramago did with the form was a revelation.

Oh! I get it! I see! Can I try too?

My trials/attempts/efforts (that’s what essays means) so far have very much less political and moral weight than Saramago’s and are more trivially personal. Maybe that will change as I practice the form, maybe not. Maybe I’ll soon find it isn’t for me after all, and stop. That’s to be seen. What I like at the moment is the sense of freedom. Saramago didn’t interact directly with his readers (except once). That freedom, also, I’m borrowing from him.


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3 Responses to Inspired by Jose Saramago

  1. My teenage years were informed by Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, J G Ballard and the wonderfully whimsical Clifford D Simak. Among those I regularly read now is China Mieville, who I recommend if you are not already familiar with his work. Thank you for the news about the Le Guin blog archive, which I will now explore.

  2. This is so cool that her blog has been resurrected! I had no idea that Saramago also blogged, and I was delighted to realize that with my French/Latin/Spanish/Italian, I can understand most of what he writes! Thanks so much for sharing

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