oa Litnet Akademies : 'n Joernaal vir die Geesteswetenskappe, Natuurwetenskappe, Regte en Godsdienswetenskappe - Die hiërargie van begeerte in José Saramago se roman : geesteswetenskappe

Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1995-5928



Die rol van persoonlike en kollektiewe obsessionele begeerte en wellus in José Saramago se roman is 'n tema wat nie voorheen spesifiek deur literêre kritici ontleed is nie. Hierdie artikel fokus op die verskynsel dat die begeertes wat die dryfveer in die uiteenlopende groep niefiktiewe karakters se lewens kenmerk, ook bepalend is van hulle lotgevalle. Die hiërargie van die status van die karakters in die roman korreleer onderskeidelik met 'n hiërargie van kreatiewe begeerte en immorele wellus, wat krities ontleed word ten aansien van die koning, Dom João V (Johan V, 1689-1750), as die belangrikste persoon in die Portugese Ryk, van sy koningin, en van ander karakters, tot die laagste arbeider wat met die bou van die klooster-paleis by Mafra tot gedwonge arbeid gedoem is. Die ontleding lei tot die slotsom dat Saramago die historiese karakters in 'n slegter lig stel as wat in werklikheid die geval was. Die afleiding word gemaak dat die romanskrywer die historiese gegewe met opset fiktief verdraai het om die tragiek van João V se absolute koningskap wat tot die ondergang en totale bankrotskap van sy ryk gelei het, te beklemtoon.

José Saramago was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. His novel deals with a wide-ranging group of characters in early 18th-century Portugal, from the king to the lowliest labourer. All are driven by diverse desires. Most common are desires of the flesh that drive those who experience its manifold and habitual cravings to submit to immoral behaviour.
The king, Dom João V (John V, 1689-1750), is no exception. He debauches his manhood by being unfaithful to his queen and impregnating countless nuns to produce a "horde of bastards" with his royal semen. He assumes that he is a great king because he wields power and possesses riches. Besides his sexual exploits he routinely passes the time by assembling the blocks of a miniature Basilica of St Peter's in Rome under the feigned admiring gaze of his courtiers. His desire for an heir motivates him to empty his kingdom's coffers to build a basilica, convent and palace at Mafra, intended to honour his superstitious vow to the Franciscans that if the seemingly barren queen, Dona Ana Maria de Áustria, bears him an heir he will reward them with such an edifice.
The king's obsession with the building project at Mafra is related in parallel with the obsession of the priest with an interest in scientific invention, Padre Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão, to build a flying machine.
Intermeshed with the king's and the priest's stories are the lives of various other personages whose dreams result in obsessions of lesser intensity than those of the king and the priest. Among them the most prominent are the lovers Baltasar and Blimunda, who are involved with both constructions.
Saramago interweaves fantasy and reality in what he calls a "fairy tale", but in the end the vicissitudes of all the characters prove that their dreams end in death and that their creativity, which was driven by desire, has bad, even tragic, outcomes.

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