The Elephant's Journey: Book summary and reviews of The Elephant's Journey by Jose Saramago

The Elephant's Journey

By Jose Saramago

The Elephant's Journey
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published in USA  Sep 2010,
    224 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

In 1551, King João III of Portugal gave Archduke Maximilian an unusual wedding present: an elephant named Solomon. The elephant’s journey from Lisbon to Vienna was witnessed and remarked upon by scholars, historians, and ordinary people. Out of this material, José Saramago has spun a novel already heralded as "a triumph of language, imagination, and humor" (El País).

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, our unlikely heroes traverse a continent riven by the Reformation and civil wars. They make their way through the storied cities of northern Italy: Genoa, Piacenza, Mantua, Verona, Venice, and Trento, where the Council of Trent is in session. They brave the Alps and the terrifying Isarco and Brenner Passes; they sail across the Mediterranean Sea and up the Inn River (elephants, it turns out, are natural sailors). At last they make their grand entry into the imperial city. The Elephant’s Journey is a delightful, witty tale of friendship and adventure.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"This charming tale of an elephant given by the 16th-century Portuguese king João III to the Archduke of Austria has much to recommend it, despite its being a minor work from the late Nobel laureate." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Solomon's trek across Europe, across mountains and rivers, accompanied by his Hindu keeper and a host of other retainers and attendants, is followed in this extremely amusing, historically resonant, fablelike, and technically challenging narrative." - Booklist

"While Saramago’s tale veers into tedium now and then, it nevertheless firmly establishes the pachyderm in our hearts along with all the other great animal heroes in literature." - Library Journal

"A triumph of language, imagination and humor." - El Pais

. "A Quixote-like journey, in the company of porters, guards, priests, officials, lords and ladies, across a Europe riven by the Reformation and civil wars. And at the same time, a meditation, a reflection - typically Saramagian - on humanity, on its flaws and its weaknesses, on power, on friendship..." - La Repubblica

. "[Saramogo's] funniest, earthiest, most tongue-in-cheek book...[It] transforms a travel narrative into a dazzling human comedy, full of laughter, feeling, and wisdom." - Le Monde

The information about The Elephant's Journey shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Jose Saramago Author Biography

Photo: José Frade

José Saramago was born in 1922 in Azinhaga, Portugal, the son of rural laborers. He grew up in great poverty in Lisbon, and was forced to abandon school at the age of 12 in order to earn a living. Saramago was spent 2 years training as a technician,did a number of manual jobs before becoming a journalist, translator, and eventually a writer . In 1969 he joined the Communist Party of Portugal, which was forbidden during the military dictatorship, but he also criticized the party. In the 1970s Saramago supported himself mostly by translation works, and since 1979 he has devoted himself entirely to writing.

Following the publication of his most controversial book, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, he faced intense criticism from members of the country's Catholic community, and ...

... Full Biography

Other books by Jose Saramago at BookBrowse
  • Death with Interruptions jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

More Recently Published Historical Fiction

more...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...
  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Who Said...

I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.