“Intuition of the island”, a portrait of intimacy by José Saramago

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By Jorge Gil Angel |

Bogotá (EFE).- Pilar del Río’s voice lights up every time she mentions José Saramago, her late husband, whom she portrays in the privacy of her home in Lanzarote (Spain) in the book “La intuición de la isla”, in which she assures in an interview with Efe in Bogotá, he testifies about something he witnessed.

Del Río visited Bogotá as part of the centenary celebrations of Saramago (1922-2010), winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1998) and the Camoes Prize (1995).

The Spanish journalist (Castril, 1950) shared more than two decades of her life with the Portuguese writer and they lived together for 17 years in the town of Tias, on Lanzarote, “an island I never thought of in my life, which I discovered (…) and it became a kind of happy stadium.”

“It is the beginning of the world, it is the end of the world, it is beauty and above all intimacy,” he says of that piece of land where Saramago wrote some of his greatest works, such as “Essay on Blindness” and “Essay on Lucidity.

Journalist and writer Pilar del Río speaks during an interview with Efe in Bogotá (Colombia). EFE/Carlos Ortega

Testimony

“La intuition de la isla” (Alfaguara) is, in Del Rio’s words: “the testimony of something I witnessed, but I try never to be in a book. As if the journalist was there talking about it. The journalist is not the protagonist of anything.

But that testimony was written later, due to particular pressure: that of the workers of A Casa, the house museum in Lanzarote where she lived with Saramago, who insisted that she tell the anecdotes of that home that she told them in the book. told.

“They even threatened me that I had to write because if I die of the corona virus, no one else will know what happened in the house. So it was a lot of fun because they had a lot of insistence, but also a desire to know that what happened in the house will still be kept alive,” he explains.

In that sense, the process was exciting, because it happened at “a happy moment, because now these are letters for readers of José Saramago who want to know what José Saramago’s daily life was like.”

the joy of detail

The Spanish journalist, who also chairs the Saramago Foundation to preserve the writer’s legacy, assures that the writing was done with joy, because in “La intuición de la isla” she reflects the things that happened in A Casa.

The idea of ​​everything is that people who read the text feel comforted, because the stories they find there are “like love letters for the readers of José Saramago”.

“It is a book written out of joy and with love for reading, readers, with love for curiosity. With love for the value that books offer us, which make us bigger”, says the journalist.

One of the peculiarities is that, although she herself is one of the protagonists of her story, she took her role as a journalist very seriously, which is why her name does not appear in the stories because “journalists cannot be part of the information they give cannot be in the chronicle”.

Del Rio strove to write “the best chronicle with the best style” and tried to tell what he experienced from “different perspectives” but, he insists, “without appearing.”

“That’s what I did, I tried to apply what I learned in journalism school and I tried to do it with joy and dedication. With loyalty for the people who passed through the house, for the stories, for the writers, for the artists, for the politicians, for the anonymous, for the artists, I show affection for all of them”, he assures.

Immediately afterwards he says: “It is an act of recognizing Lanzarote, José Saramago, José Saramago’s friends and the world”.

Journalist and writer Pilar del Río speaks during an interview with Efe in Bogotá (Colombia). EFE/Carlos Ortega

Creativity in Lanzarote

In the book, Del Rio ventured to explain the context in which Saramago wrote his best texts in Lanzarote, such as “Cain”, “Journey of the Elephant”, “Essay on Lucidity” and “Essay on Blindness”.

“I explain the circumstances under which he wrote that book, from ‘Essay on Blindness’ to ‘Halberda, halberda’ going through ‘Cain’ (…) I explain why those books were written, why he wrote them, in what mood they were in”. he says.

He adds: “I try to do it with joy, I try to mix the intellectual with the moral man who expresses himself and with the everyday being who enjoys his dogs, the kitchen or a glass of good white wine.”

The book includes the Universal Charter of Human Duties and Obligations, a document inspired by a speech given by the Nobel laureate in 1998.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights needs the symmetry of the Universal Declaration of Human Duties and that is up to us. If we want to be humiliated, denigrated, we have a job, we have a home or we don’t have a job, let’s continue like this, if we take our responsibility, maybe the world will be better and that’s what Saramago said, we assume,” he concludes.

Web editing: Sebastián Bayona



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