Friday, 18 June 2010

Forrester and Saramago: Two Stars Leave the Firmament, One after Years of Sad Decline, the Other, Still Brilliant

Two great artists left the scene this week: the Canadian contralto Maureen Forrester and the Portuguese writer José Saramago. As a way of memoria, here are two videos which give a taste of their accomplishment: Forrester sings, directed by another Canadian legend, Glenn Gould, and Saramago, who only began publishing novels in his 50s, after he had won the Nobel Prize and sees the movie made from one of his most celebrated novels: Blindness.

Both of them were born into humble circumstances, but both accomplished much. That should inspiration to us all, although their lives ended in starkly contrasting fashion. Sadly, Forrester declined into dementia, exacerbated by alcoholism, so that in her last years her voice was stilled. Saramago's literary production grew as he aged, however. He even experimented with a blog in recent years.

How much of this difference in final years is luck? How much, the result of striving, striving, striving so long that part of one's soul is worn away? I don't know, but we should be grateful for the pleasure they gave, and, thankfully, will continue to give us.

1 comment:

lagatta à montréal said...

Perusing a street sale on St-Laurent (interesting people-watching, but just junk on sale) I happened to sit down on the José Saramago bench (as it was in shade) and was struck by the quote: "Hoje, uma língua que não se defende, morre," and wrote it down in Portuguese. Think it was on the very day he died.

I read your Recreating Eden blog entry about Forrester and Saramago. Later I happened to see the quote in the original on your Portuguese blog, which I have no trouble at all reading, but am not really capable of writing in Portuguese.

Yes, it does remind us of Québec's situation in North America, but also of the situation of Indigenous languages in Québec, Brazil and other nations in the Americas.