The Elephant's Journey

The Elephant's Journey

Book - 2010
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A delightful, witty tale of friendship and adventure from prize-winning novelist José Saramago

In 1551, King João III of Portugal gave Archduke Maximilian an unusual wedding present: an elephant named Solomon. In José Saramago's remarkable and imaginative retelling, Solomon and his keeper, Subhro, begin in dismal conditions, forgotten in a corner of the palace grounds. When it occurs to the king and queen that an elephant would be an appropriate wedding gift, everyone rushes to get them ready: Subhro is given two new suits of clothes and Solomon a long overdue scrub. Accompanied by the Archduke, his new wife, and the royal guard, these unlikely heroes traverse a continent riven by the Reformation and civil wars, witnessed along the way by scholars, historians, and wide-eyed ordinary people as they make their way through the storied cities of northern Italy; they brave the Alps and the terrifying Isarco and Brenner Passes; across the Mediterranean Sea and up the Inn River; and at last, toward their grand entry into the imperial city.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9780547352589
Characteristics: 205 pages ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Costa, Margaret Jull
Alternative Title: Viagem do elefante. English


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May 11, 2019

I read the book for my book club but I did not enjoy the writing style. The lack of capitalization and the run-on sentences got on my nerves. Perhaps something was lost in translation! I did learn something about European history though and I pulled out a map of Spain and Portugal to determine where the story was actually taking place. Only one or two copies of this novel in the OPL are sufficient!

Sep 12, 2011

A delightful book in so many ways! The flow of the writing is unique and pleasing, like nobody else. The little jokes are playful and heartwarming. Through little details you get a great insight into the characters. Loved it.

Jan 29, 2011

The true story of the trek across Europe of an Indian elephant and his mahout during the 16th century, told with humour and insight and unusual puntuation.

You learn historical facts. You laugh at the observations and descriptions. You get impatient with the digressions, some of which are quite lengthy and boring. And on several occasions you get completely confused as to who said what because of the writing style which, depending on your mood and patience that day, can be described as either highly creative or utterly demented. Prepare yourself to encounter endless run-on sentences, an unimaginable number of commas, and a few periods (and nothing else in terms of punctuation). Capitalizations appear after commas but never at the begining of a name (unless that name happens to be at the beginning of a sentence).

I enjoyed the first 75% of the book, but got really bored with the last quarter which seemed to include a lot of fluff and digression in order to bulk up the book.

Jan 11, 2011

I was given this book as a Christmas present and found it to be a touching and often humorous take on aristocracy and friendship.

Jan 01, 2011

I was having troubles to read it at the beginning. I had to push myself, but then... all of a sudden... it went so fast. I really liked it and this is the book I would recomment to read when you are in the mood to think a bit... some phrases (I will put them in Quotes sections) are still in my mind... I guess my patience was rewarded.

Nov 10, 2010

I thought that this might be an interesting read, but I just can't take Saramago's writing style. The lack of punctuation and the long run on sentaces littered with commas, the only punctuation used in abundance, drives me crazy. I made it through Blindness years ago, but couldn't bring myself to read Seeing. Now I can't bring myself to read past page 15 in this book. I'd be interested in reading other comments to determine if the story is worth it to suffer through.


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Jan 01, 2011

A nod is as good as a wink to a blind man.

Jan 01, 2011

It isn't elephants who are mouse-colored, it's mice who are elephant-colored.

Jan 01, 2011

That's one good thing about ignorance, it protects us from false knowledge.


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