José Saramago was born into a family who lived in Azinhaga, a small village in the province of Ribatejo; located one-hundred kilometers north of Lisbon, Portugal. Saramago was born on November 16, 1922, but all of his paper showed the birth took place two days later on November 18, 1922. Born to landless peasants, Saramago was forced to move several times though out his lifetime. At age two, Saramago and his family moved to Lisbon, where his dad could get a job as a policeman. Shortly after moving to Lisbon, Saramago’s elder brother Francisco died.
Saramago was considered a great student by peers and teachers alike. “In the second class I was writing with no spelling mistakes and the third and fourth classes were done in a single year.” Saramago remembers. He was considered skilled enough to be placed in a grammar school, where for two years, he excelled. Due to financial problems with his parents, Saramago was unable to attend the grammar school any longer.
After being unable to attend the grammar school where he excelled, Saramago was forced to attend a technical school. None of the curriculum at the technical school fit Saramago’s interests, except the literature courses. With no money to purchase books and other materials needed to successfully pass the course, Saramago turned to his friend for help. To this day Saramago says he can still recite poems from those textbooks. After finishing the literature course, Saramago spent two years as a mechanic. During those years as a mechanic, Saramago began to spend a significant amount of time in a library in Lisbon. It was the library where Saramago became curious and had a desire to learn; “my taste for reading developed and was refined.”
When Saramago and his wife, Ilda Reis, welcomed their first child, was when Saramago’s writing career took off. He began work on his first novel, The Widow, which was published under the name, The Land of Sin. He began to write other pieces of literature that never seemed to have been completed, until 1966, nineteen years after his first novel was published. Possible Poems was his second noticeable work. “I was absent from the Portuguese literary scene, where few people could have noticed my...