A disgruntled portrait artist in 1970s Portugal turn to writing in the Nobel Prize-winning author’s debut novel, now available in English translation.
Manual of Painting and Calligraphy was José Saramago’s first novel. Written eight years before the critically acclaimed Baltasar and Blimunda, it is a story of self-discovery set in Portugal during the last years of Antonio Salazar’s dictatorship. It tells the story of a struggling artist who is commissioned to paint a portrait of an influential industrialist.
Disheartened by his squandered talent, the artist soon undergoes a creative and political awakening when he discovers the possibilities of writing. The brilliant juxtaposition of a passionate love story and the crisis of a nation foreshadows the themes of Saramago’s major works.