Narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi with great feeling and style who also read it for Radio 4's book at bedtime broadcast. Set in the sweltering summer of 1938 in Portugal, a country under the Fascist shadow of Spain, Pereira Maintains tells a tale of reluctant heroism. An editor at a second-rate Lisbon newspaper, Dr Pereira, wants nothing to do with European politics. Something of a recluse, his closest confidante is a photograph of his late wife, and he is happy to immerse himself in stories from nineteenth-century French literature. All this changes when he meets Francesco Monteiro Rossi, an oddly charismatic young man. Pereira gives Rossi work, even after discovering that he is using the money to recruit for the anti-Franco International Brigade. Pereira Maintains chronicles Pereira's ascent to consciousness, culminating in a devastating and reckless act of rebellion. An extraordinary novel from one of Italy's most acclaimed contemporary writers read by Sir Derek Jacobi, one of Britain's best-loved actors who recently appeared in The Kings Speech. Tabucchi is the author of 20 novels, nine of which have been translated into English.
He has been awarded many prestigious literary awards and prizes including the Premio Campiello, The Premio Viareggio and the Aristeion Prize for this book.
©2010 Antonio Tabucchi (P)2011 Canongate Books
Classics,contemporary fiction, Politics, Philosophy, Economics - a weekly eye on The New Yorker & The Guardian and dense word style/play.
Until I travelled to and spent a week in Portugal last year - staying in Estoril but having a chance to get a look around Lisbon - I was completely ignorant of this very important and influential country. That an Italian is the guide to the rise of Salazarist Fascism in the near shadow of Franco - and in the context of this book of Berlusconi - was an added pleasure.
Tabucchi is a new voice to me and a welcome new chapter in Italian inspired art. As ever, the narrative is understated completely with events seeming to take a slow and non-committed route. The climax, however, is truly heroic - based as it is on layer upon layer of context building detail.
Countries, like our own today and people like Pereira and his editor do not march into fascism they creep and stumble into it. A great, important, exciting novel which must be read in the context of today’s Europe.
This audio book is a real gem - a great story with perfect narration by Derek Jacobi. The story is set in Lisbon in the late 1930's and although it's short, the description of the main character, the city and the heat of the summer are fantastic. The story unfolds quite slowly but never too slowly as there is always a sense of apprehension as you know that Pereira is going to face some sort of trouble. I would highly recommend this and will definitely look for more books by this author.
I enjoyed this novel. It is set in 1930s Portugal and steals up on you as the narrator increasingly, despite himself, becomes swept up by events. Derek Jacobi gives a fine reading and I would highly recommend this.
The main character of the novel is a middle-aged, overweight journalist with heart problems who manages the culture section of a newspaper in Lisboa in the late nineteen thirties. The political situation in Europe is very much present in the book. Pereira is lonely and a bit depressed, talking to and seeking advice from a photograph of his deceased wife. The story begins with Pereira coming into contact with a young politically active couple.
The story is beautifully written with a quiet charm and wisdom that stayed with me long after I had finished the novel. In the novel the naive but honest and decent Pereira gradually finds a courage that makes for an ending to the novel that is satisfying. The novel caught my interest at once, and the narration by Derek Jacobi is brilliant. He catches the warmth and humour of the story perfectly.
A brilliantly contrived and thoroughly enjoyable novel set in Salazar's Portugal and well worth listening to.
My only criticism was with Derek Jacobi's mis-pronunciation of Portuguese names and places but I don't suppose that this would really detract from the enjoyment for any non-Portuguese speakers!
Kildonan by the sea
“Philosophy appears to concern itself only with the truth, but perhaps expresses only fantasies, while literature appears to concern itself only with fantasies, but perhaps it expresses the truth.”
Pereira does not rock the boat but it is 1938 Portugal and Europe are about to explode. Spain is in a brutal civil war, Portugal is ruled by the dictator Salazar. Pereira maintains he is "nobody's comrade" that he is a journalist and cultural editor for a second rate publication describing it like this “We are non-political and independent, but we believe in the soul, that is to say we have Roman Catholic tendencies.”, he is concerned with death and resurrections of the soul and the flesh and he has too much flesh. His wife died but he speaks to her photo and takes her the photo with him on trips so that they can continue their talks, he Pereira maintains he still needs her. Pereira also maintains he is not healthy.
One day he meets a young man Monteiro Rossi and he offers him a job and pays him from his own pocket because as he explains to his wife he is “about the age of our son if we’d had a son”. Pereira maintains he does not want to change but his ailing heart can not help it.
A small book with some big messages and a character that is big in every aspect, funny and sad, satirical and real, that starts with small defiances, and a growing need for freedom; from a man facing his mortality, his morality, an assertion to stand up for truth and freedom with testimony and action.
This is a sparse yet moving story about the awakening of a man's soul.
The narrator's performance is in perfect sync with the ethos of the text
Sir Derek always excellent speaker of text, but arguably not perfect choice here, because it's too easy to see him as Pereira, protagonist, not the narrator. Some of the translation clunks, but not too often. Another reviewer has criticised DJ's pronunciation of Portugese names - I can't comment on that, but the pronunciation of French names isn't ideal either, but much worse in Italian audiobook. Book set in 1938 quasi fascist Portugal, but written when Berlusconi ruling media, being elected over and over.
What a spectacular "read"! Too often authors become convoluted in the language that they choose - this book is proof that straightforward words, woven together with character, can create vivid images and a compelling story. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Derek Jacobi, I must add, was largely responsible for my enjoyment - he is a true master in using intonation to pull you along with the story.
Books are life, beauty and truth.
Yes an excellent story and superb narration brought it to life.
Brilliantly read by Derek Jacobi this made it a joy to listen to.
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