Cain – Jose Saramago

So, let us begin by clearing certain malicious doubts about adam’s ability to make a child when he was one hundred and thirty years old. At first sight, if we stick to the fertility indices of modern times, no, he clearly wouldn’t, but during the worlds infancy, those same one hundred and thirty years would have represented a vigorous adolescence that not even the most precocious of casanovas would have sneered at.

So it has finally arrived, Saramago’s last novel before he died, I have a collection of short stories left to read (The Lives of Things) and, if I can convince myself, The Cave, which never seems to quite grab me.  These are pretty much all that’s left from arguably my favourite author (a Raised from the Ground review still to come).

Cain is, the story of Cain (see what he did there), given in Saramago’s ironic sideways style, his humorous digs at a very fallible and inhumane god once again given reign, following on from the wonderful The Gospel According to Jesus Christ.
For my own part, I was completely ignorant of the story of Cain, and even now, given Saramago’s wonderful storytelling, probably still am.  After killing Abel, Cain is embroiled in a seemingly never ending argument with God, a portion of which is told here.

It is Saramago’s gently digging prose that I love about this, the story doesn’t interest me, more the way Saramago commits it to page, almost a smug, knowing way of pointing out what seem to be, when highlighted, fundamental flaws with religion generally, but Christianity particularly. You can’t help but smile when you read, and how, despite his disdain for the omnipotent one, Saramago always seems to make his humans full of more humanity and compassion than their lord on high.

It’s a short novel, so I’ll allow myself a short review, I preferred his other works, perhaps because this has a base, and I was ignorant of that, more so than The Gospel According to Jesus Christ.  However Saramago is Saramago whatever he is writing about, and his style is always enjoyable to me, and his novels full of richness and texture that makes reading him an immense pleasure.

Yes, you read correctly, the lord ordered Abraham to sacrifice his own son, and he did so as naturally as if he were asking for a glass of water to slake his thirst, which means it was a deep seated habit of his. The logical, natural and simply human response would have been for Abraham to tell the lord to p*** off, but that isn’t what happened.

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