December 15, 2010
On the Road Again, with an Elephant
I'm heading into New York City for a few days to visit family and friends, and see some art. While I was setting up this still life, picking out toys on wheels, I realized that my little wooden elephant was a great segue into mentioning a marvelous book I just read, The Elephant's Journey by Jose Saramago. It is Saramago's last novel, published posthumously, and what a humorous, witty, tender romp to end a writing career. I've read three other Saramago novels, including the brilliant Blindness, which is on my list of greatest novels, and each one is different in content, tone and feeling. The Elephant's Journey, based on actual happenings, is about the travels of an Indian elephant and his mahout, or trainer, from Portugal to Vienna in 16th century Europe. The book is full of fun, skewering potentates and commoners alike, rendering skeptical judgment on religion, politics, customs. The Indian mahout has wry wisdom and expresses it unabashedly. And the elephant! a grandly generous character, stalwart, and patient. I felt uplifted and touched by this tale of animal and human life. I'll see you in a few days, after my much more mundane journey.