The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon

The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon

by Richard Zimler

Many of these New Christians persevered in their Jewish prayers and rituals in secret and at great risk; the hidden, arcane practices of the kabbalists, a mystical sect of Jews, continued as well.One such secret Jew was Berekiah Zarco, an intelligent young manuscript illuminator.

Risking his life in streets seething with mayhem, Berekiah tracks down answers among Christians, New Christians, Jews, and the fellow kabbalists of his uncle, whose secret language and codes by turns light and obscure the way to the truth he seeks.

  • Series: The Sephardic Cycle
  • Language: English
  • Category: Historical
  • Rating: 3.87
  • Pages: 318
  • Publish Date: March 15th 2000 by Harry N. Abrams
  • Isbn10: 1585670227
  • Isbn13: 9781585670222

What People Think about "The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon"

The Strength of Weakness Mystics are the smart alecks of the religious world, always exhibiting some degree of ironic detachment from the average believer. It's the fact that mystics can't be reached by the organisational control-tools of doctrine and liturgy that really irritates religious leaders most. While The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon is structured as a mystery and contains immense historical detail, the book, not unlike Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose, is more than a simple genre study. What semiotics was to Eco, Kabbalah is to Zimler. In fact Zimler borrows Borges's technique by claiming an entirely factual base to his story in the discovery of a set of documents. Kabbalah is a different matter entirely. Kabbalah breaks the links between signifiers and signifieds even more radically than in the Borges-like pretence of fact. Kabbalah makes no claim to know what the connection is between its vocabulary and things in this world or any other, concrete or conceptual. What is relevant to Kabbalah is the expression of subjective experience. Like all mysticism, it seeks, in fact, to destroy any trace of this distinction in one's experience. Even the term 'one's experience' is antithetical to the spirit and intention of Kabbalah. Zimler's use of mystery, with just a sprinkling of kabbalistic vocabulary, is enough to keep the reader interested. But notice that the genre of mystery depends on the reader's trust in what the deconstructionists now call, echoing Kabbalah, the 'deferral of meaning. This is precisely the function of kabbalistic language: the involvement of a person in the cosmic mystery, which will eschatologically reveal its meaning. Zimler's story also makes much of the factual perfidy of the Portuguese Christians who in the first instance force mass Jewish conversion and subsequently slaughter these Jews for reasons that are incomprehensible. But the demands of Kabbalah force the issue of justice, thus involving the Kabbalist intimately in the sordid affairs of the world.

Ainda assim, gostei do ritmo e suspense da investigação; o autor tem uma escrita fluída, mas por vezes um pouco repetitiva. Todo o enredo é explicado (o que não invalida que às vezes tenha ficado a léguas de entender todos os pormenores) e ainda desvendou o desenrolar das vidas de todas as personagens ao longo dos 44 anos após a matança.

The hero of this historical mystery is Berekiah Zarco, a Portuguese secret Jew who is determined to find out who murdered his uncle, even though Lisbon is teeming with maddened Christians determined to attack anyone they suspect may be a Jew. This was my favorite of the 54 books I read in 2011 for several reasons: It takes place in fascinating time period, about a century after the Spanish Reconquista, when the Inquisition was wreaking terror in Spain and Portugal was in danger of being next. This is a book I plan to read again, in part because the plot was so complex and in part just to enjoy being with these characters again.

Este é o segundo livro que leio do autor Richard Zimler, tendo o primeiro sido Os Anagramas de Varsóvia, cuja opinião pode ser lida aqui. Por coincidência ou não, ambos os livros narram momentos muito negros para os judeus...

O autor começa por dizer no prefácio que a obra é baseada num manuscrito da época que encontrou uma casa de um amigo em Istambul, na Turquia (antiga Constantinopla, onde o protagonista irá morar), escrito por Berequias Zarco, o último cabalista de Lisboa, após o assassinato do seu Mestre e tio Abrãao Zarco e o Massacre dos Judeus de 1506 em Lisboa. Tinha uma vaga lembrança da história deste livro, sabia que falava do Massacre dos Judeus que ocorreu na Páscoa de 1506 em Lisboa (de 19 a 21 de Abril) e que o protagonista Berequias Zarco deambulava pelas ruas de Lisboa da época em busca de respostas para o assassinato do seu tio Abrãao Zarco. O que aconteceu posteriormente foi que, tal como o Mestre Abrãao Zarco previu e Berequias narra na obra, Portugal deixou de ser um país com futuro para os judeus, pois em 1540 deu-se a entrada da Inquisição e do Tribunal do Santo Ofício em Portugal.

I couldn't sympathize with the main characters or visualize the minor ones: they all ran together. A Dickensian chapter at the end reveals what happens to all the characters in later life, but since I didn't care for them in the main body of the story, I had no interest in their further adventures.

I picked it up intending to read a couple chapters in the tub before going to bed early. I'm making this sound ponderous, but Zimler keeps all those balls in the air, and doesn't ram his opinions down our throat.returnreturnThis novel isn't only for Jews or mystery fans.

This book, set in Portugal just after the Inquisition, where Jews (New Christians) were massacred, the nephew of the famous Kabbalist Abraham is at the center of both a mystery, and the race to save the lives of his remaining family, neighbors, and community, while also saving a genezia full of books and torahs, and other sacred writings, largely done by members of his family. I swear to God this is like the fifth book I have read in the last six months which features a geniziah as its central character and plot twist. Watching the friends communicate in a deeply profound way, and witnessing their precious friendship, even in the most perilous of times, was the absolute heart and soul of the book for me.

Um livro baseado numa história real, escrita em manuscritos antigos encontrados pelo autor na Turquia.

Zimler projects Porto out into the world and brings the rest of the world to us." Richard has published eleven novels over the last 22 years, and his works have been translated into 23 languages. In chronological order, his novels are: The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, Unholy Ghosts, The Angelic Darkness, Hunting Midnight, Guardian of the Dawn, The Search for Sana, The Seventh Gate, The Warsaw Anagrams, Teresa Island (only in Portugal and Brazil), The Night Watchman and The Gospel According to Lazarus (forthcoming). Richard Zimler has won numerous other awards for his work, including the Marquis de Ouro prize in 2010 - as Book of the Year in Portugal - for The Warsaw Anagrams. He also won the 2009 Alberto Benveniste prize in fiction for Guardian of the Dawn (for best Jewish-themed novel published in France), and the 1998 Herodotus Award, for The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon (Best Historical Novel). Hunting Midnight, The Search for Sana, The Seventh Gate and The Warsaw Anagrams have all been nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award, the richest prize in the English-speaking world.