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Act of the Damned

de António Lobo Antunes

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1789131,949 (3.77)50
As the socialist revolution closes in, a once-wealthy Portuguese family is accused of "economic sabotage." They must escape across the border to Spain, then on to Brazil -- but the family is bankrupt, financially and spiritually. The patriarch, Diogo, lies dying, while his rapacious offspring rifle through his belongings, searching for his will. He remembers with bitterness and resignation his foolish marriage to his brother's beautiful mistress, who left him with a mongoloid daughter and asimpleminded son, who at sixty is running toy trains past his father's deathbed with the solemn self-importance of a five-year-old. Told through a rippling overlay of voices, Act of the Damned circles closer and closer to the revelation of the diabolical immorality of Diogo's greedy son-in-law Rodrigo . . . who has fathered a child of his own bastard daughter and who is closing in on Diogo's crumbling estate. In the oppressive autumn heat, the characters' schemes ebb and flow in an atmosphere of decrepit elegance, tarnished silver, and rotting brocade. When the moment of departure finally arrives, the scene shifts from chaos to vacuum and Rodrigo finds himself no longer at the center of the group but firmly, terrifyingly, outside and alone.… (més)
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Imagine, if you will, a darkly comedic melodrama set in Portugal at the start of Communist takeover. A decaying social situation and a decaying, formerly wealthy family, comprised of absurdly & horridly immoral and/or damaged individuals, who are awaiting the death of the patriarch so that they can flee to Spain, then to Brazil. The patriarch, the daughter with Downs Syndrome, the son (age 60ish) who believes he is master of a train station at the foot of his bed, the children of incest and so many more. I literally couldn't keep the characters straight until near end of the book. Quite confusing. The author described this book as "painful" to write, and on some levels it was painful to read. The incredibly vivid imagery and the fluidity of shifts from one narrator to another perpetuated a sense of chaos. Even the chapters were not numbered, just titled "Chapter ". Greed is the primary theme of this chaotic, intense, and also thought-provoking novel. Be wary before taking this one on! ( )
  hemlokgang | Jan 14, 2022 |
This is a somewhat awkward review to write. Mere weeks ago I was praising one of this author's other works "The Natural Order of Things". I was not so enthralled with "Act of The Damned". Let's start with the positive, Atunes is undoubtedly a literary talent worthy of the mention for a possible Nobel Prize. As one reviewer noted his prose often challenges the boundary with poetry. (In fairness, that reviewer saw that as a fault.)

So, what was the problem. with this work? First, it frequently feels as though Atunes is trying too hard. Every sentence does not require a literary metaphor. I submit one. Atunes describes a character dropping a child's doll in this fashion. The man spoke as he was "dropping it from the tip of its arm like a horse it's cylinder of faeces." I am not a prude. (I made it through Nikanor Teratologen's repulsive "Assisted Living".) But what the hell? Is it descriptive, yes. Does it, in any way, fit the flow or nature of the story, no. I am not saying this is typical of Atunes' use of simile and metaphor. But I am saying that it seems to reflect a need to find (and add) literary devices in every sentence. Relax!

Caveat: some (I say some) of this could be laid [or "dropped"!] at the feet of the translator.

My larger concern with this work can be summarized with my frequent visceral response. Why? Why does this story merit telling? The plot is not interesting. The theme seems to boil down to the banality of pettiness. The characters almost universally don't even rise (fall?) to the level of evil or sinister. The word that continually popped into my mind to describe them was "assholes". People displaying little redeeming merit. If you are looking for a novel of human worthlessness, this is your book. Me, not a fan. ( )
  colligan | Dec 22, 2021 |
> J'ai lu facilement ce roman –ce qui n'est pas le cas de tous les livres de cet auteur- Je parle de facilité technique et d'intérêt ne se perdant pas. Je l'ai aimé et admiré. J'avais plaisir à le retrouver à chaque fois que je le pouvais. Pour ces raisons, je vous le conseille sans hésiter pour voir un peu en quoi Lobo Antunes est un grand écrivain. --Danieljean (Babelio)

> Citations et Extraits (Babelio) : https://www.babelio.com/livres/Lobo-Antunes-La-farce-des-damnes/145931#citations ( )
  Joop-le-philosophe | Feb 18, 2021 |
“Wat is me dat?”, is ongetwijfeld de spontane uitroep van de lezer die achteloos aan deze roman begint. Want je lijkt aanvankelijk in een vrij conventioneel verhaal terecht gekomen, waarbij de verteller je informeert dat alles zich afspeelt kort na de Anjerrevolutie in Portugal, in een rijke familie die zich bedreigd voelt door de alomtegenwoordige communisten en naar Spanje wil vluchten, en tegen de achtergrond van de patriarch van de familie die op sterven ligt.
Die informatie-elementen zijn bruikbaar, daar is geen twijfel over, want je ziet regelmatig verwijzingen naar dat kaderverhaal voorbijkomen. Maar Lobo Antunes verdrinkt ze met opzet in een kolkende veelheid van stemmen en perspectieven, waarvan sommige herkenbaar zijn, andere dan weer niet, en waarbij tijdlagen, echte en ingebeelde realiteit door elkaar doorvloeien, in een bombastisch geheel van kletterende zinnen die soms kant noch wal lijken te raken. Af en toe zijn er passages die charmeren door hun intimiteit of hun hilariteit, maar ze worden afgewisseld met grove, brutale, en absoluut ontaarde gedragingen en toestanden; zo is het geen toeval dat regelmatig de woorden ‘imbecielen’, ‘mongolen’ en ‘incest’ vallen. De kakofonische woordenbrij lijkt dus bewust bedoeld om de chaos te evoceren van een familie die de grond onder zich weg voelt schuiven. Of wil Lobo Antunes aangeven dat het leven zelf zo grof, ontaard en enigmatisch is?
Het minst dat je kan zeggen is dat deze roman intrigeert en dat de auteur behoorlijk wat in zijn mars heeft. De referenties aan Faulkner en Marquez zijn zeker niet uit de lucht gegrepen. Maar ik kan niet zeggen dat ik echt genoten heb van dit burleske zwartgalligheid in dit boek, voor mij was het er echt over (teveel van het goede). Wellicht was dit niet de beste keuze om met Lobo Antunes kennis te maken. ( )
  bookomaniac | Jan 31, 2019 |
This irreverent and almost indescribably wacky novel is initially set in September 1975 in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, less than 18 months after the Carnation Revolution spelled the end of the fascist Estado Novo, the beginning of a democratic government, and the end of colonial rule and civil wars in Angola, Mozambique and elsewhere, as wealthy conservative families saw their worth plummet. The motley cast of characters consist of the younger relatives and in laws of a dying wealthy patriarch who lives in the Alentejo, as they seek to claim his substantial inheritance before they flee to Spain, which was still under the dictatorial rule of Francisco Franco. The novel consists of narratives from different family members, and from them the decadence and depravity of each of them is revealed, with frequent references to infidelity, incest and other immoral behaviors. The characters are absurdly funny but neither believable nor worthy of sympathy, and because I could not relate to any of them I struggled my way through this novel, even though I'm a fan of Antunes's work. ( )
1 vota kidzdoc | Jul 7, 2018 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Antunes, António Loboautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Lemmens, HarrieTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Meyer-Minnemann, MaraldeTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Zenith, RichardTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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Wikipedia en anglès (1)

As the socialist revolution closes in, a once-wealthy Portuguese family is accused of "economic sabotage." They must escape across the border to Spain, then on to Brazil -- but the family is bankrupt, financially and spiritually. The patriarch, Diogo, lies dying, while his rapacious offspring rifle through his belongings, searching for his will. He remembers with bitterness and resignation his foolish marriage to his brother's beautiful mistress, who left him with a mongoloid daughter and asimpleminded son, who at sixty is running toy trains past his father's deathbed with the solemn self-importance of a five-year-old. Told through a rippling overlay of voices, Act of the Damned circles closer and closer to the revelation of the diabolical immorality of Diogo's greedy son-in-law Rodrigo . . . who has fathered a child of his own bastard daughter and who is closing in on Diogo's crumbling estate. In the oppressive autumn heat, the characters' schemes ebb and flow in an atmosphere of decrepit elegance, tarnished silver, and rotting brocade. When the moment of departure finally arrives, the scene shifts from chaos to vacuum and Rodrigo finds himself no longer at the center of the group but firmly, terrifyingly, outside and alone.

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