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José Saramago: Literature, translation and politics

Press release issued: 17 October 2012

An event to celebrate the forthcoming publication of the first English translation of Portuguese writer and Nobel Laureate José Saramago's novel Raised From the Ground will take place in the University of Bristol's School of Modern Languages this Friday.

Award-winning translator and University of Bristol alumna, Margaret Jull Costa (BA Hispanic Studies 1977) will talk about the joys and challenges of translating the novel, and leading scholar of Saramago, Mark Sabine will discuss the political perspectives presented in the novel and will present some of his current work on the book.

First published in 1980, Raised from the Ground follows the changing fortunes of the Mau-Tempo family – poor, landless peasants not unlike the author’s own grandparents.  Set in the Alentejo, a southern province of Portugal known for its vast agricultural estates, the novel charts the lives of the Mau-Tempos as national and international events rumble on in the background – the coming of the republic in Portugal, the First and Second World Wars, the trials of rural life under the long dictatorship and an attempt on the dictator Salazar's life.

Saramago's most autobiographical and deeply personal novel, Raised from the Ground is a moving tribute to the men and women among whom he lived as a child, and a fascinating insight into the early work of this literary giant.

Dr Rhian Atkin, Lecturer in Portuguese and Lusophone Studies and scholar of Saramago, who organised the seminar said: "We are delighted to welcome two such distinguished guests to the University, and this is a wonderful opportunity for students to meet and work with an award-winning translator as part of their programme in Modern Languages at Bristol.

"Margaret Jull Costa’s translation of this complex, yet captivating and poetic text is a delight to read, and her perspectives on the challenges of translating an author such as Saramago will be of interest to anyone working in, or reading in, translation.  Mark Sabine’s work on Saramago is world-leading and he will be presenting an introduction to some of the ideas and preoccupations in this relatively under-studied novel."

The event – Literature, Translation and Politics: José Saramago's Raised From the Ground – takes place on Friday 19 October at 3pm in G59, 13 Woodland Road, University of Bristol.  A warm welcome will be extended to all, and the School of Modern Languages will be hosting an informal reception after the talks.

Margaret Jull Costa's translation of the novel will be published by Random House on 29 November.  Advance copies of this novel, along with other novels by Saramago, will be on sale at the event.

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