[EPUB] ✼ O Último Cabalista de Lisboa Author Richard Zimler – Thomashillier.co.uk

O Último Cabalista de Lisboa The Last Kabbalist Of Lisbon, An International Bestseller, Is An Extraordinary Novel That Transports Listeners Into The Universe Of Jewish Kabbalah During The Lisbon Massacre Of April Just A Few Years Earlier, Jews Living In Portugal Were Dragged To The Baptismal Font And Forced To Convert To Christianity 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 WellOne Such Secret Jew Was Berekiah Zarco, An Intelligent Young Manuscript Illuminator Inflamed By Love And Revenge, He Searches, In The Crucible Of The Raging Pogrom, For The Killer Of His Beloved Uncle Abraham, A Renowned Kabbalist And Manuscript Illuminator, Discovered Murdered In A Hidden Synagogue Along With A Young Girl In Dishabille 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


10 thoughts on “O Último Cabalista de Lisboa

  1. says:

    The Strength of WeaknessMystics are the smart alecks of the religious world, always exhibiting some degree of ironic detachment from the average believer They re tolerated but generally everyone is annoyed by their aloof strangeness The main gripe comes from religious leaders Religious authority is exercised through two channels creedal attestation and conformity to ritual But mystics have as much regard for creeds as the average computer user does for the Microsoft Users Agreement You sig The Strength of WeaknessMystics are the smart alecks of the religious world, always exhibiting some degree of ironic detachment from the average believer They re tolerated but generally everyone is annoyed by their aloof strangeness The main gripe comes from religious leaders Religious authority is exercised through two channels creedal attestation and conformity to ritual But mystics have as much regard for creeds as the average computer user does for the Microsoft Users Agreement You sign it but who knows what it really means, and really, who cares And mystics live in their heads whether they re in public or not So established ritual is of little importance even though they might participate in it fully.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 Medieval bishops were intensely suspicious of Meister Eckhart and his pals among the Rhineland Mystics Sufis are still persecuted by fellow Muslims And Orthodox rabbis often eschew the Kabbalah and its devotees Mystics are only rarely shown as heretics But they also rarely fit the desired mould of a true believer.Early 16th century Portuguese Jews who delved into the arcana of Kabbalah were hit with a double whammy of hostility First from Christians who suspected any Jewish practice but especially those of the forcibly converted as intended to hurt them either spiritually or physically And then by fellow Jews who felt Kabbalah was another name for magic, which is expressly forbidden by the Torah Turning inward to unlock spiritual discovery may be objectively harmless but it remains an abiding threat to those in charge.This is the central theme of Zimler s narrative, and, I think, the basis of its literary merit 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, isthan a simple genre study What semiotics was to Eco, Kabbalah is to Zimler And it s the real subject of the piece The fundamental concepts of semiotics are familiar enough to most readers of literature signifiers and signifieds The first is comprised of sounds or words and the second of, not things, but concepts Signifiers and signified are united in a sort of linguistic dance in which each influences the other continuously This theme runs continuously in Eco, as it does in other writers like Borges 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 evenradically than in the Borges like pretence of fact It is literally a language without referents, except referents to itself In theoretical terms Kabbalah has a grammar and a semantics but no pragmatics That is, it can be used for communication among human beings but that communication is only about itself Everything is signifiers, nothing is signified in Kabbalah But as with the non signification of the idea of zero in mathematics, this has enormous significance Borges, for example, used it to create an entirely new genre of factional fiction inspired by kabbalistic method.Kabbalah s vocabulary, therefore, is viciously and solely defined circularly by and within its own vocabulary One submits to it trustfully, if at all, but any attempt to analyse its terms is fruitless Kabbalah makes no claim to know what the connection is between its vocabulary and things in this world or any other, concrete or conceptual It does point beyond itself, like a Greek icon But it does not claim to express truth as a correspondence between words and things since it is not concerned about truth but about reality Epistemology the science of how we know what we know, therefore, is completely irrelevant to Kabbalah.What is relevant to Kabbalah is the expression of subjective experience Call it the experience of transcendence to give it an indicative category But even this is misleading because Kabbalah doesn t trade in the subjective objective distinction 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 The meaning of Kabbalah is what it allows the perception of the real totality of existence.Or so they tell me And this is what Zimler is getting at amidst the mass of narrative and historical detail in The Last Kabbalist 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 The reader must trust the author to provide ultimate enlightenment This is precisely the function of kabbalistic language the involvement of a person in the cosmic mystery, which will eschatologically reveal its meaning The genre therefore isn t at all arbitrary but entirely appropriate as hinted at by the author in his preface.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 It is this incomprehensibility which is also so clearly a part of Kabbalah Not in the sense that Kabbalah as such is irrational or impenetrable but that the world itself is so And it is so both here in the visible world and there in that above since these two are images of one another Kabbalah does not rationalise the mess of the world, it reveals it.The gross injustices done to the Jews of Lisbon, therefore, are a reflection of similar injustices endured even in heaven There is no gnostic tendency in Kabbalah That is, there is nothing which suggests that this world will be saved by its destruction and assimilation into a heavenly ideal Improvement is not a matter of apocalyptic upheaval but of constant, often tedious, sometimes dangerous graft, sheer hard work Consequently, it is necessary for Zimler s protagonist, Berekiah, to pursue justice for his slain uncle at the risk of his own life By seeking retribution Berekiah is, in fact, doing his duty to improve both the world Below and the world Above In theological terms, it is the responsibility of mankind as agents of the divine to continuously re create a defective but not inherently evil cosmos This is not a tale of blind, obsessive, revenge but of cosmic improvement The protagonist knows this from the moment he receives the keys to his family home in Lisbon He returns from his exile in Constantinople only with great apprehension, and certainly not with any blood lust.Finally, as I mentioned above, Kabbalah, although it intends no explicit opposition to established authority, implicitly undermines all authority by isolating itself from the instruments of political power The political powers involved in the book include not just the Catholic Church and the Portuguese Crown as the direct instigators of injustice to Judaism, but also the powers that be within Judaism itself, rabbis and other leaders of the community These latter would like to suppress if not persecute kabbalistic practice Peaceful relations not justice is their principle goal So in a very specific sense the book, is about the Kabbalah as a strategy of resistance to power, as a liberation not just from power, but from the need for power to escape power There is of course an overriding irony to the entire story Followers of Kabbalah essentially just want to be left alone But the demands of Kabbalah force the issue of justice, thus involving the Kabbalist intimately in the sordid affairs of the world A remarkable tale, therefore, that has farto say that is apparent at first reading.Zimler is a smart aleck of the first rank More power to him Or perhaps less if he is indeed a follower of Kabbalah


  2. says:

    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 P 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 Part of the book takes place in Istanbul, a city I love Zimler writes beautifully The book is rich in period details that bring both Lisbon and Istanbul then Constantinople to life The plot is complex This is a book about relationships as much as it is a mystery novel The interactions between Berekiah and his Uncle Abraham, between Berekiah and his best friend, and between Berekiah and his extended family both moved the plot along and made one care about all the characters I enjoyed learning about kabbalism in the early 16th century.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 I recommend The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon to anyone who likes historical fiction or historical mysteries or who has an interest in the history of the Sephardic Jews


  3. says:

    This was not a book but a landscape the landscape of Portugal into which the Spanish Inquisition had spread The author gives us many details of the daily life of the New Christians, the Jews forced to convert to Christianity, and then shows in graphic detail how that life was shattered and the blood ran out What he doesn t give us are characters who make any sense I couldn t sympathize with the main characters or visualize the minor ones they all ran together The Muslim friend of the her This was not a book but a landscape the landscape of Portugal into which the Spanish Inquisition had spread The author gives us many details of the daily life of the New Christians, the Jews forced to convert to Christianity, and then shows in graphic detail how that life was shattered and the blood ran out What he doesn t give us are characters who make any sense I couldn t sympathize with the main characters or visualize the minor ones they all ran together The Muslim friend of the hero of the book is a magic token, much like the magic Negro in a lot of American literature The prose is florid and overwrought, while the mystery is half baked 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 also believe that some of the thoughts in the mind of the major character belong to our century, not his and they are thoughts about Judaism from someone who thinks that belief or secularism are the only two options, and mutually exclusive That s not how Judaism has been lived, and certainly that is not the choice today.It s disappointing that a book with a promising premise a kabbalist is murdered at home, in a locked hiding place, during anti Jewish riots in Lisbon, and his nephew and heir has to figure out what happened without getting killed himself lost so much in the execution


  4. says:

    3.5 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.What is it about Geniziahs these days I swear to God this is like the fifth book I have read in the last six months 3.5 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.What is it about Geniziahs these days 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 And it sounds like the author wrote the novel out of actual pages, from an actual person detailing his adventures leaving Portugal in 1506 as the Last Kabbalist in Lisbon The book was filled with violence and hatred, and that was painful, but also mysticism and mystical experiencing, and the unveiling of all the characters of how they survived keeping pieces of their old identities alive, as their very lives were at risk It was interesting, painful, and the whole mystical mystery, and the saving of the sacred writings and illustrated works, is at the center of the tale Just one detail to mention that for me makes the book and in no way destroys the plot Its the friendship Beri has with his deaf Arab friend Farid As children they played together, and they had developed a sophisticated language of communication using sign and spelling, totally that they had devised 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 Just beautiful and enduring And private Seemingly no one else had the relationship with Farid, no one valued him, nor knew how smart and insightful, committed and loyal he was What is unknown to most, is that Arab Jewish, or Gentile Jewish tight friendships like these have existed for centuries and still today So glad that was an element featured in the book


  5. says:

    It s difficult for me to express just how much I adored this book I picked it up intending to read a couple chapters in the tub before going to bed early I ended reading until the water was cold and my room mates banged on the door When I finally finished I immediately wanted to reread it to getof the details return return It s captivating and exciting, making you want to devour the text in big gulps Putting this down is painful because you want to knowThe loose ends are not n It s difficult for me to express just how much I adored this book I picked it up intending to read a couple chapters in the tub before going to bed early I ended reading until the water was cold and my room mates banged on the door When I finally finished I immediately wanted to reread it to getof the details return return It s captivating and exciting, making you want to devour the text in big gulps Putting this down is painful because you want to knowThe loose ends are not neatly tied up at the end of each chapter, nor at the end, which is wonderful I hate it when an author ties up the story with a neat little bow return return The book operates on several levels It s a historical novel about Jews in Portugal, anti semitism, forced conversion, reactions to the plague, kabbalah, and bonds of friendship and blood It also deals with the masks that people wear in varying social situations, and losing yourself in those masks Jewish religious practice and the Kaballah are, not surpisingly, very important to how the mystery plays itself out Then there is the murder mystery, friends and family lost and feared dead, and stolen property I m making this sound ponderous, but Zimler keeps all those balls in the air, and doesn t ram his opinions down our throat return return This novel isn t only for Jews or mystery fans It s a brilliant work of fiction that most anyone would love Buy a copy for yourself, and a copy to give away


  6. says:

    I ve seen this book praised for its historical detail, but I found it grating because it imposed a lot of modern sensibilities on the past It proposes itself as a translation of a period manuscript, but it captures nothing of the writing style of the era, and asks us to suspend our disbelief that a 16th century Portuguese Jew would have written a thoroughly modern novel, complete with sexual references I ve read medieval texts and while they talk about sex, sometimes in a ribald way, they don I ve seen this book praised for its historical detail, but I found it grating because it imposed a lot of modern sensibilities on the past It proposes itself as a translation of a period manuscript, but it captures nothing of the writing style of the era, and asks us to suspend our disbelief that a 16th century Portuguese Jew would have written a thoroughly modern novel, complete with sexual references I ve read medieval texts and while they talk about sex, sometimes in a ribald way, they don t how can I put this focus on it the way we moderns do For medievals, sex is a plot element, not a scene or character development.Another modernity the protagonist has a deaf gay sidekick which I wouldn t mind except that the other characters seem to find this completely unremarkable because being gay a modern construction in the early 1500 s in one of the most Catholic countries in the universe is perfectly normal At the end the gay man even has a long term committed relationship and adopts two kids and nobody bats an eyelash It reminds me of this horrible novel some of my suitemates had to read our freshman year in college It was pretty clear the characters were designed to meet some sort of diversity quota.I only gave it three stars because I m so interested in the era in which the book is set


  7. says:

    1 NOV 2015 it s a re read 7 NOV 2015 this is a book to read slowly in order to savor the goodness It is still a 5.


  8. says:

    The Inquisition and the persecution of Jews are topics that always interested me, so I was curious to read this book because it s focused precisely on them and it s set in ancient Portugal If you like historical fiction and to learnabout historical events which are entangled in a fictional narrative, you should probably give this novel a try I really enjoyed Zimler s writing style as well as his way of narrating, and I sure want to readfrom him.


  9. says:

    A fascinating story of the Jewish remnant hidden in Lisbon in plain sight Living as Catholic and holding to their own religion behind the facade and eventually fleeing or worse A beautifully written story laced with historical truth.


  10. says:

    I must get around to a re read of this.


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