Etc.: early Saramago, plus Frank Herbert's 'Dune' meets poet Ted Hughes

raised-from-the-groundJOSE VS. THE MAN: Back in 1980, 18 years before he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Jose Saramago was a newspaper deputy editor who got canned from his job (nobody treats deputy editors right, do they?). He penned a big, fat novel that lets us know exactly how he was feeling, "Raised from the Ground: A Novel" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa.

Here we meet the Mau Tempo family -- poor peasants -- and follow them in their travails and misfortunes against the privileged> We hear that wry, mischievous narrator's voice that Saramago went on to perfect in a novel like "Baltasar and Blimunda"; and we relish the prose: "Ah, but life is a game too, a playful exercise, playing is a very serious, grave, even philosophical act..."

Classic Saramago, and to think: This was only the beginning for him.


poet-ted-hughesFRANK HERBERT'S "DUNE" MEETS TED HUGHES?: Someone pointed me in the direction of a long letter that's very uplifting and inspiring in spite of the circumstances surrounding it.

A recent post on Letters of Note, a worthy site maintained by Shaun Usher, offers in a letter the inspirational insights of Ted Hughes to his son, Nicholas.

You should check it out.

What unexpectedly resonated for me -- beyond the power and unique metaphors of Hughes' insights -- was something quite science fictiony and unexpected ...

Suddenly, I was thinking of Frank Herbert's novel "God Emperor of Dune" which I decided to reread this holiday season (I can't even explain what made me pick it up again - did Santa make me think of sandworms?).

Near the end of Hughes' letter, he alludes to an ancient bit of wisdom: "And as the old Greeks said: live as though all your ancestors were living again through you."  That, I realized, is exactly what the man-turned-Worm Leto II experiences -- all the voices of House Atreides speaking through him.