Tuesday, 20 October 2009

For Portuguese Nobel laureate Saramago the Bible is a 'handbook of bad morals'

"It [the book] might offend Jews, but that doesn't really matter to me."

"The Bible is a manual of bad morals [which] has a powerful influence on our culture and even our way of life. Without the Bible, we would be different, and probably better people."

Despite being an unrepentant communist, José Saramago seems to have a taste for pomp, graces and honours. In this photo he is humbly bowing to the king of Sweden while (shock and horror for an anti-bourgeois) receiving the Nobel Prize for literature in 1998 from the hands of the monarch. Portuguese bloggers are having a field day poking fun at Saramago's new anti-Jewish tirade and believe that it is a publicity stunt ... communist style. (Portuguese Nobel Laureate's Remarks on Jews and the Holocaust Are "Incendiary and Offensive", ADL, 2003)

Source: AFP (extracts)

Speaking at the launch of his new book "Cain", José Saramago, who won the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature, said society would probably be better off without the Bible. Roman Catholic Church leaders accused the 86-year-old of a publicity stunt. The book is an ironic retelling of the Biblical story of Cain, Adam and Eve's son who killed his younger brother Abel.

At the launch event in the northern Portuguese town of Penafiel on Sunday, Saramago said he did not think the book would offend Catholics "because they do not read the Bible".

"The Bible is a manual of bad morals (which) has a powerful influence on our culture and even our way of life. Without the Bible, we would be different, and probably better people," he was quoted as saying by the news agency Lusa.

Saramago attacked "a cruel, jealous and unbearable God (who) exists only in our heads" and said he did not think his book would cause problems for the Catholic Church "because Catholics do not read the Bible. "It might offend Jews, but that doesn't really matter to me," he added. Father Manuel Marujão, the spokesman for the Portuguese conference of bishops, said he thought the remarks were a publicity stunt. "A writer of José Saramago's standing can criticise, (but) insults do no-one any good, particularly a Nobel Prize winner," the priest said.

Rabbi Elieze Martino, spokesman for the Jewish community in Lisbon, said the Jewish world would not be shocked by the writings of Saramago or anyone else. "Saramago does not know the Bible," the rabbi said, "he has only superficial understanding of it."

The author caused a scandal in Portugal in 1992 with "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ." The book depicted Jesus losing his virginity to Mary Magdalene and being used by God to control the world.

- Anti-Israel writer José Saramago's foundation to be housed in Casa dos Bicos in Lisbon

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I guess he thinks of himself as being curmudgeonly, or as someone who's "speaking truth to power." Or maybe he thinks it's great to just be provocative.

What is he accomplishing, exactly?

And, given that he has a Nobel Prize, why does he feel the need to do publicity stunts (if that's what this is)? Any book he publishes would be an event, especially if it's a great book.

Joanne

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mr. Saramago.The bible was writen by man.If we read the old testament we se people against people. And after all we see a lot of hypocracy as the son of Mary said. I am not anti anithing.

cantueso said...

He was the greatest of story tellers. The beginnings of some of his books are out of this world. There was that split that slowly opened up between Spain and Europe, and the engineers came to fix it with iron hooks, and TV crews came to film it as it became broader and broader, until finally Spain took of into the Ocean, una balsa de piedra-- what is it in English? A stone pontoon?