Blank Gaze

by Jose Luis Peixoto

The harsh lives of the inhabitants of an impoverished Portuguese village are played out in this dark tale. Although at times I found the multiple narrative voices complicated to follow, it nevertheless effectively lent a commonality to the experiences of the characters, as fate is shown to determine life, love and death throughout the generations.


Jose wasn't breathing or, if he was breathing, his breath couldn't be distinguished from the almost unbearable breeze of absolute silence. The giant's boots against Jose's prostrate body. The giant's boots against Jose's defenseless body. The giant's boots against the body without body of Jose without Jose. ... When the giant got tired, he went away. The devil vanished, smiling.
Translated by Richard Zenith


Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

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