By Jose Saramago
From the recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature, a “brilliant...enchanting novel” (New York occasions ebook assessment) of romance, deceit, faith, and magic set in eighteenth-century Portugal on the peak of the Inquisition. nationwide bestseller. Translated through Giovanni Pontiero.
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Extra info for Baltasar and Blimunda
Women can be seen watching from the windows, as is the custom. The penitents walk slowly, with balls and chains twisted round their ankles, or with their arms holding massive iron bars across their shoulders as if they were suspended from a cross, or they scourge themselves with leather thongs ending in balls of solid wax spiked with glass splinters, and these flagellants are considered to be the highlight of the spectacle, as real blood flows down their backs and they give out loud cries, of pleasure as much as pain, which we should find a little strange if we did not know that some of the penitents have spotted their mistresses at the windows, and they are in the procession not so much for the salvation of their souls as for inciting carnal pleasures, those already experienced and those still to come.
But neither the perseverance of the King who, unless there is some canonical or physiological impediment, vigorously performs his royal duty twice weekly, nor the patience and humility of the Queen, who, besides praying, subjects herself to total immobility after her husband's withdrawal, so that their generative secretions may fertilise undisturbed, hers scant from a lack of incentive and time, and because of her deep moral scruples, the King's prodigious, as one might expect from a man who is not yet twenty-two years of age, neither the one factor nor the other has succeeded so far in causing Dona Maria Ana's womb to become swollen.
The oarsmen, restored by alcohol and a good night's rest, rowed steadily at an easy pace. When they rounded the coastline, the ship was buffeted by a strong current, it was like a journey to paradise, with the sunlight flickering on the surface of the water, and two shoals of porpoises, first one, then the other, were crossing in front of the ship, their skins dark and shiny, their movements arched as if they were striving to reach the sky. On the other side, towering above the water and in the far distance, Lisbon could be seen stretching beyond the city walls.