José Saramago's Seeing.

Reading between the lines.
April 10 2006 6:24 AM

The Election With No Results

José Saramago's timely political parable.

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In a famous poem, written in East Germany in 1953, Brecht quotes a contemporary as saying that the people have lost the trust of the government. Would it not therefore be easier, Brecht slyly asks, to dissolve the people and have the government elect another one? Saramago's novel is a parable of what happens when neither government nor people can be dissolved.

Michael Wood, who teaches at Princeton, is the author, most recently, of Literature and the Taste of Knowledge.

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