All the Names and The Fictional World of Archives

Original Novel Title: All the Names

Author: José Saramago; translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa

Publisher: New York: Harcourt Brace, 15 September 2000.

Originally published under the title Todos os nomes.

Based on glowing reviews in and other sources, this novel is highly recommended. The principal setting is the Central Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths. So vast are its depths that

one poor researcher became lost in the labyrinthine catacombs of the archive of the dead, having come to the Central Registry in order to carry out some genealogical research he had been commissioned to undertake. He was discovered, almost miraculously, after a week, starving, thirsty, exhausted, delirious, having survived thanks to the desperate measure of ingesting enormous quantities of old documents that neither lingered in the stomach nor nourished, since they melted in the mouth without requiring any chewing. (quote from novel copied from

The protagonist is a clerk working in the registry, also described as an archives, who commits the archival sin of removing records nightly from his office for his personal research. And thereupon hangs the tale by this Nobel-Prize winning Portuguese author.

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CONTENTS: The Fictional World of Archives

Submitted by David Mattison, 2000.10.20. Updated 2000.10.20.