PORTUGAL'S JOSE LUIS PEIXOTO

A Synopsis of Nenhum Olhar
Peixoto[1]1111
'José stands in the fields, halfway to the Mount of Olives, facing the sun and thinking of what the devil told him about his wife in the tavern in the nearest town.'

Nenhum Olhar (Blank Gaze), José Luís Peixoto.

Set in the Alentejo, an impoverished rural region in Portugal afflicted by drought, The Mount of Olives mirrors the sense of fatality that characterises the region's inhabitants. The biblical dictum that fathers' sins are visited on their children is illustrated by the novel's two evenly-divided parts which portray two generations of interrelated characters.

In the first part, José stands in the fields, halfway to the Mount of Olives, facing the sun and thinking of what the devil told him about his wife in the tavern in the nearest town. And he thinks of the day when absolute silence will fall over the plain and the thinnest branches of the olive trees will turn into stone.

Thirty years later, José, son of the first José, stands in the same place, facing the same sun, and thinks about his cousin's wife and what the devil has been saying to his cousin. And he thinks about the moment in which nothing will survive, not even the silence that all things make when they stare at us.

The moment when the man shut inside a windowless room writing will finally stop writing - perhaps the very story that the rest of the characters are living - and the whole universe constituted by the novel will vanish, taking along the entire world and all the characters that fill this narrative with unforgetable stories: Moisés and Elias, a pair of seventy-year-old Siamese twins who have spent their whole lives joined together by a common little finger; the wife of one of them, a cook from the Mount of Olives, who prepares exquisite and magical dishes; Salomão, who works for master carpenter Rafael, blind in his left eye, deaf in his left ear, missing his left leg and left arm, destined to marry the town's blind prostitute, descended from a long line of blind prostitutes; the hundred and fifty year old Gabriel, a tutelary figure whose wise words gloss the stories of his fellow characters.













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