José Saramago Quotes

A human being is a being who is constantly ‘under construction’, but also, in a parallel fashion, always in a state of constant destruction.

Abstention means you stayed at home or went to the beach. By casting a blank vote, you’re saying you have a political conscience but you don’t agree with any of the existing parties.

Americans have discovered fear.

Americans have discovered the fragility of life, that ominous fragility that the rest of the world either already experienced or is experiencing now with terrible intensity.

As citizens, we all have an obligation to intervene and become involved – it’s the citizen who changes things.

As for the new world order, for the time being it will continue to be an arrangement that is convenient to the United States.

At 83, I don’t hope for much, but you have to keep a perspective.

Beginning with adolescence, my political formation was oriented in the ideological direction of Marxism. It was natural, being that my thinking was influenced by an atmosphere of active critical resistance. That was the way it was during all of the dictatorship and up to the Revolution of 1974.

Being fired was the best luck of my life. It made me stop and reflect. It was the birth of my life as a writer.

By 1974 – the year of the revolution that ended nearly 50 years of dictatorship in Portugal – I had published only six books.

Can you imagine what Bush would say if someone like Hugo Chavez asked him for a little piece of land to install a military base, and he only wanted to plant a Venezuelan flag there?

Deep down, I don’t create anything. I’m just someone who simply lifts a rock and exposes what’s beneath it. It’s not my fault that monsters come out some times.

For 20 years or so I wrote little and published nothing.

From literature to ecology, from the escape velocity of galaxies to the greenhouse effect, from garbage disposal methods to traffic jams, everything is discussed in our world. But the democratic system, as if it were a given fact, untouchable by nature until the end of time, we don’t discuss that.

Here in Spain, 90 percent of the population was against the war, and nobody in power was interested.

Hugo Chavez is someone who wants to make changes, and he has found the way to reach straight into the hearts and minds of the Venezuelan people.

Human vocabulary is still not capable, and probably never will be, of knowing, recognizing, and communicating everything that can be humanly experienced and felt.

I always ask two questions: How many countries have military bases in the United States? And in how many countries does the United States not have military bases?

I am a better novelist than a poet, playwright, or essayist.

I am a person with leftist convictions, and always have been.

I am not a prophet.

I am the same person I was before receiving the Nobel Prize. I work with the same regularity, I have not modified my habits, I have the same friends.

I am traveling less in order to be able to write more. I select my travel destinations according to their degree of usefulness to my work.

I can’t imagine myself outside any kind of social or political involvement.

I do not just write, I write what I am. If there is a secret, perhaps that is it.

I don’t think anyone would be able to find and trace that line that leads, in a person’s life, from nothing to something.

I don’t think there is anything more effective than demanding and keeping a vigilant watch over rigorous respect for human rights.

I had no books at home. I started to frequent a public library in Lisbon. It was there, with no help except curiosity and the will to learn, that my taste for reading developed and was refined.

I have this habit of only talking about my books for a few minutes, then I prefer to spend the time talking about the world in which we find ourselves, a world which is a disaster.

I never appreciated ‘positive heroes’ in literature. They are almost always cliches, copies of copies, until the model is exhausted. I prefer perplexity, doubt, uncertainty, not just because it provides a more ‘productive’ literary raw material, but because that is the way we humans really are.

I presume that nobody will deny the positive aspects of the North American cultural world. These are well known to all. But these aspects do not make one forget the disastrous effects of the industrial and commercial process of ‘cultural lamination’ that the USA is perpetrating on the planet.

I published a novel – Terra do Pecado – when I was just 24 years old.

I think we are blind. Blind people who can see, but do not see.

If people know who I am and read my books, well, good; that way, if I have something more to say, then everyone benefits.

I’m a writer, but I live in this world and my writing doesn’t exist on a separate level.

In 1955, I started to spend part of my free time in translation, an activity that would continue till 1981.

In effect I am not a novelist, but rather a failed essayist who started to write novels because he didn’t know how to write essays.

In Madrid and London, we marched, we did our duty, then we went home and those in power did nothing.

In the end we discover the only condition for living is to die.

Inside us there is something that has no name, that something is what we are.

It is difficult to understand these people who democratically take part in elections and a referendum, but are then incapable of democratically accepting the will of the people.

It is economic power that determines political power, and governments become the political functionaries of economic power.

It seems I am considered to be a political moralist.

It was becoming quite clear to me that I had nothing worthwhile to say. For 19 years, I was absent from the Portuguese literary scene.

Look what happened with the employment law in France-the law was withdrawn because the people marched in the streets. I think what we need is a global protest movement of people who won’t give up.

My country is the Portuguese language.

My parents reached the conclusion that, in the absence of resources, they could not go on keeping me in the grammar school. So for five years I learned to be a mechanic.

Our biggest tragedy is not knowing what to do with our lives.

People live with the illusion that we have a democratic system, but it’s only the outward form of one. In reality we live in a plutocracy, a government of the rich.

Perhaps it is the language that chooses the writers it needs, making use of them so that each might express a tiny part of what it is.

Since September 11, something has changed in the collective mentality of North Americans, who have lost the conviction that the United States are protected.

Society has to change, but the political powers we have at the moment are not enough to effect this change. The whole democratic system would have to be rethought.

The attitude of insolent haughtiness is characteristic of the relationships Americans form with what is alien to them, with others.

The distinct narrative voice became the hallmark of my work.

The human being of the future will be different from us. I am not sure at all that he and I would be able to understand each other.

The novel is not so much a literary genre, but a literary space, like a sea that is filled by many rivers.

The novel receives streams of science, philosophy, poetry and contains all of these; it’s not simply telling a story.

The painter paints, the musician makes music, the novelist writes novels. I believe we all have some influence, not because one is an artist, but because we are citizens.

The period that I could consider the most important in my literary work came about beginning with the Revolution, and in a certain way, developed as a consequence of the Revolution. But it was also a result of the counterrevolutionary coup of November 1975.

The problem is that the right doesn’t need any ideas to govern, but the left can’t govern without ideas.

The U.S. needs to control the Middle East, the gateway to Asia. It already has military installations in Uzbekistan.

The wisest man I ever knew in my whole life could not read or write.

The world had already changed before September 11. The world has been going through a process of change over the last 20 or 30 years. A civilization ends, another one begins.

The world is governed by institutions that are not democratic – the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO.

There are plenty of reasons not to put up with the world as it is.

There are times when it is best to be content with what one has, so as not to lose everything.

Things will be very bad for Latin America. You only have to consider the ambitions and the doctrines of the empire, which regards this region as its backyard.

This is a part of my life that I consider very important, not to limit myself to literary work; I try to be involved in the world to the best of my strengths and abilities.

Tomorrow, the role of the world leader may belong to China, a China once and for all converted to capitalism. Then, the United States will once again experience fear.

Up to and including The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, I was describing statues, insofar as a statue is the external surface of a stone.

Usually I end up talking about the problem of democracy, whether we truly have a democratic system, and I believe that we don’t.

We have to spend days on the street if we have to, until those in power recognise that the people are not happy.

We’re not short of movements proclaiming that a different world is possible, but unless we can coordinate them into an international movement, capitalism just laughs at all these little organisations.

What I try to do when I write is to get people thinking. I wouldn’t like to leave this life without at least knowing that I tried to do something.

What kind of world is this that can send machines to Mars and does nothing to stop the killing of a human being?

When I was about 19, and I was asked what I would like to be. I answered that I would like to be a writer. I did not postpone for long trying to achieve that objective.

Without the faintest possibility of finding a job, I decided to devote myself to literature: it was about time to find out what I was worth as a writer.

Words were not given to man in order to conceal his thoughts.

Writing became a regular activity for me-that old desire to be a writer was no longer so clear in my mind. I kept writing as a matter of habit.

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