Write a seven-page (double spaced, Font 12, MLA style*) personal reflection on the novel The Stone Raft by
José Saramago. In drafting your essay, follow these guidelines:
1. Start your essay with a general comment on the experience of reading The Stone Raft. Did you appreciate the
novel? Explain why. If you did not particularly like it, comment on (what you consider) the ‘weakest’ or less
convincing parts of this work.
2. A key character in the novel is the third-person narrator. In his introduction to the work of Saramago, the
members of the Swedish Academy (the institution which gave the Nobel prize in literature to José Saramago in
1998), explained that: “This rich work, with its constantly shifting perspectives and constantly renewed
images of the world, is held together by a narrator whose voice is with us all the time. Apparently he is a
story-teller of the old-fashioned omniscient variety, a master of ceremonies standing on the stage next to his
creations, commenting on them, guiding their steps and sometimes winking at us across the footlights. But
Saramago uses these traditional techniques with amused distance. The narrator is also adept in the
contemporary devices of the absurd and develops a modern scepticism when faced with the omniscient claim
to be able to say how things stand. The result is literature characterized at one and the same time by sagacious
reflection and by insight into the limitations of sagacity, by the fantastic and by precise realism, by cautious
empathy and by critical acuity, by warmth and by irony. This is Saramago's unique amalgam.”(from the Nobel
Explain, with examples taken from the novel, in which sense the narrator of Saramago shifts perspectives,
displays an “amused distance” (similar to that of a scholar or even a scientist), and adopts irony.
3. The narrator of the novel opens innumerable digressions. For instance, he comments on the art of writing
(ex. on page 5). What did you think about this particular writing style? Which are the purposes, in your opinion,
of the narrator’s continuous reference (or allusion) to other works of literature, arts, and cinema? Are
digressions at the service of a particular aesthetic effect?
4. The Stone Raft is also a political novel. Explain in which sense.
5. Do you think that this novel could describe contemporary events, ideologies, or trends taking place
elsewhere? Consider, for instance, the reflections it proposes on the questions of national borders and identity
(ex. on page 62). What constitutes a national and personal identity in your opinion?
6. What is the role of Pedro Orce in the novel?
7. How can we connect the epigraph (“Every future is fabulous” by Alejo Carpentier) and the ending of the
8. Do you think that a new idea of community (other than “national community”) is suggested in the novel?
Explain with examples.
9. Would you recommend reading this book? Explain why in either case.