The Double: A Novel

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A “wonderfully twisted meditation on identity and individuality” from a Nobel Prize–winning author who pushes fiction to its very limits (The Boston Globe).
 
As this novel by the author of Blindness and All the Names begins, Tertuliano Máximo Afonso is a divorced, depressed history teacher. To lift his spirits, a colleague suggests he rent a certain video. Tertuliano watches the film, unimpressed. But during the night, when he is awakened by noise, he finds the VCR replaying the video and watches in astonishment as a man who looks exactly like him—or, more specifically, exactly like he did five years earlier, mustachioed and fuller in the face—appears on the screen.
 
Against his own better judgment, Tertuliano decides to pursue his double. As he roots out the man’s identity, what begins as a whimsical chase becomes a probing investigation into what makes us human. Can we be reduced to our outward appearance, rather than the sum of our experiences?
 
The inspiration for the film Enemy starring Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Denis Villeneuve, The Double is a timeless novel from a writer John Updike described in The New Yorker as “like Faulkner, so confident of his resources and ultimate destination that he can bring any impossibility to life by hurling words at it.”
 
“It’s tempting to think of [The Double] as his masterpiece.” —The New York Times
 
Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa
 
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More by José Saramago

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“Saramago juxtaposes an eminently readable narrative of work and poverty, class and desire, knowledge and timelessness—one in which God, too, as he faces Cain in the wake of Noah's Ark, emerges as far more human than expected.” —San Francisco Chronicle

In this, his last novel, José Saramago daringly reimagines the characters and narratives of the Old Testament, recalling his provocative The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. His tale runs from the Garden of Eden, when God realizes he has forgotten to give Adam and Eve the gift of speech, to the moment when Noah’s Ark lands on the dry peak of Ararat. Cain, the despised, the murderer, is Saramago’s protagonist.

Condemned to wander forever after he kills his brother Abel, Cain makes his way through the world in the company of a personable donkey. He is a witness to and participant in the stories of Isaac and Abraham, the destruction of the Tower of Babel, Moses and the golden calf, the trials of Job. The rapacious Queen Lilith takes him as her lover. An old man with two sheep on a rope crosses his path. And again and again, Cain encounters a God whose actions seem callous, cruel, and unjust. He confronts Him, he argues with Him. “And one thing we know for certain,” Saramago writes, “is that they continued to argue and are arguing still.”

A startling book—sensual, funny—and in all ways a fitting end to Saramago’s extraordinary career.

“A winkingly blasphemous retelling of the Old Testament . . . Saramago, playfully stretching his chatty late style, pokes holes in the stated logic of the Biblical God throughout the novel.” —The New Yorker This e-book includes a sample chapter of BLINDNESS.
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Additional Information

Publisher
HMH
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Published on
Oct 3, 2005
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9780547538877
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Magical Realism
Fiction / Psychological
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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In the tradition of The Shape of Water, this “perfect novel” of a housewife who begins a passionate affair with a sea monster is “something of a miracle” (The New Yorker).

It all starts with the radio. Dorothy’s husband, Fred, has left for work, and she is at the kitchen sink washing the dishes, listening to classical music. Suddenly, the music fades out and a soft, close, dreamy voice says, “Don’t worry, Dorothy.”
 
A couple weeks later, there is a special interruption in regular programming. The announcer warns all listeners of an escaped sea monster. Giant, spotted, and froglike, the beast—who was captured six months earlier by a team of scientists—is said to possess incredible strength and to be considered extremely dangerous.
 
That afternoon, the seven-foot-tall lizard man walks through Dorothy’s kitchen door. She is frightened at first, but there is something attractive about the monster. The two begin a tender, clandestine affair, and no one, not even Dorothy’s husband or her best friend, seems to notice.
 
Selected by the British Book Marketing Council as one of the greatest American novels since World War II, Mrs. Caliban, much like Guillermo del Toro’s film The Shape of Water, uses an inter-species romance to explores issues of passion and loneliness, love and loss—and in its own wryly subversive way, it blends surrealism, satire, and a strong female perspective. A literary cult classic, it “skillfully combines fairy tale, science fiction, and ho-hum reality” (People).

“[An] ethereal, masterfully written book.” —Entertainment Weekly

 “If you consume only one piece of art about a woman sleeping with a sea monster this year, my advice is to make it Mrs. Caliban.” —Literary Hub
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