19 December 2008
The tale of the Unknown Island - Jose Saramago
A traveler comes to the door of the castle to make a request of the king. He is met by the cleaning lady, who, given the depth of bureaucracy, is left to make the important decisions of the kingdom. The traveler requests a boat and refuses to leave until his wish is granted. Upon hearing of such obstinacy, the king comes to see the traveler. With force of reason, the traveler's wish is grated. With a royal note in hand, the man travels to the dock to find his boat. With this, a wonderfully short, yet magical tale of travel commences.
Saramgo, much like his contemporary Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee, is a master story teller, whose fables' political overtones mirror the world in which we live. Saramago's genius is in the ugliness his mirrors often reveal.
A man went to knock at the King's door and said, Give me a boat.
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