Baltasar and Blimunda by Jose Saramago

By Jose Saramago

From the recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature, a “brilliant...enchanting novel” (New York occasions ebook evaluation) of romance, deceit, faith, and magic set in eighteenth-century Portugal on the peak of the Inquisition. nationwide bestseller. Translated by means of Giovanni Pontiero.

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Example text

The King's imminent arrival, however, has been announced, and he comes with burning zeal, eager and excited at the thought of this mystical union of his carnal duty and the pledge he has just made to Almighty God through the mediation and good offices of Friar Antony of St Joseph. The King enters the Queen's bedroom accompanied by two footmen, who start to remove his outer garments, the Marchioness, assisted by a lady-in-waiting of equal rank who came with the Queen from Austria, doing the same for the Queen, passing each garment to another noblewoman, the participants in this ritual make quite a gathering, their Royal Highnesses bow solemnly to each other, the formalities seem interminable, until finally the footmen depart through one door and the ladies-in-waiting through another where they will wait in separate anterooms until the act is over and they are summoned to escort the King back to his apartments which were occupied by the Dowager Queen when the King's late father was still alive, and the ladies-in-waiting come to settle Dona Maria Ana under the eiderdown that she also brought from Austria, for she cannot sleep without it, be it summer or winter.

It was already spring by the time he had paid off the final instalment he owed the saddler and collected the iron hook, as well as a spike he had ordered, because Baltasar Sete-Sóis fancied the idea of having an alternative left hand. Crafted leather fittings were skilfully attached to the tempered irons, and there were two straps of different lengths to attach the implements to the elbow and shoulder for greater support. Sete-Sóis began his journey when it was rumoured that the garrison at Beira was to remain there instead of coming to the assistance of the troops in Alentejo, where there was an even greater shortage of food than in the other provinces.

At least he had managed to survive the war. He might have a limb missing, but he was still alive. As dawn broke, he got to his feet. The sky was clear and transparent, and even the palest stars could be seen in the distance. It was a fine day on which to be entering Lisbon, and with time to linger before continuing his journey, he postponed any decision. Burying his hand in the knapsack, he took out his shoddy boots, which he had not worn once during the journey from Alentejo and had he worn them, he would have been obliged to discard them after such a long march, and demanding new skills from his right hand and using his stump, as yet untrained, he managed to get his feet into them, otherwise he would have them covered in blisters and calluses, accustomed as he was to walking in bare feet during his time as a peasant, then as a soldier, when there was never enough money to buy food, let alone to mend one's boots.

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