PORTUGAL'S JOSE LUIS PEIXOTO

A Synopsis of Uma Casa na Escuridão
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'A masterful allegory of the end of a civilisation that is undoubtedly our own.'

Read about this book in Portuguese.

The house lives in darkness for one month a year, like everything in the universe, but the darkness spreads inexorably to devour all the light.

A writer is locked inside the house, in his world. Writing and the beloved woman spring, dreamlike and luminous, from a single place. The writer closes his eyes, loves and writes, closes his eyes to love, opens them to write, closes them to live his image of love. In the house, there also live a mother brutalised by pain, a silent slave girl, a host of cats appropriating the space and the humans that inhabit it.

The world outside the house is a country whose people live passively by established rules, a world of masters and slaves pulled along by inertia, purified by prisons, lulled by literature.

Suddenly, from outside there comes a friend long since departed - the prince of calicatri - and an artist of a new and unknown kind - the violinist. With them they bring contradictory things: on the one hand, the inventiveness of music, a force of organised sounds so powerful that it can overcome the mother's pain; on the other hand, a knowledge of the world so complete and so exhausted from horror that it regards as an inevitability the advance of the great darkness that is approaching and that nobody can take seriously: the advance of the invaders.

With the invasions, the last darkness sets in, the absurd darkness of the barbarity which that civilisation no longer knows how to deal with, fight against or even resist. The new installed order is that of the absolute devastation of everything living and all human values. The house is then transformed into an asylum of mutilated beings, maimed, desecrated, brutalised daily for the enjoyment of the invaders. But it is also, still, a garden: the kindergarten of the invaders' children.

Amputated of his capacity for writing, dreaming, loving, the writer is now a dead object, freed from death in life only by the loving power of children, freed for the absolute by the unifying mantle of the rottenness that descends upon all humans, invaders and invaded, masters and slaves, but which ends up releasing him, finally, into the luminous space of his love.

A House in Darkness is a novel in which José Luís Peixoto achieves a miraculous balance between darkness and light, between the thought of the gloom that threatens us as a species, and the joy of the tenderness that releases us and that forever releases the author's writing into a truly untouched and new space.

A masterful allegory of the end of a civilisation that is undoubtedly our own; a denunciation of the barbarity that submerges us, A House in the Darkness opens a door of hope that is much more than a new literary language: it is the hope that language is also, effectively the house of Being.










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