The Biggest Flower in the World
“What if the stories for children became mandatory reading for adults? Would they be able to really learn what they have been teaching for so long?
– José Saramago, in “The biggest flower in the world.”
“The biggest flower in the world” is a beautiful story for children. Still, first, it is a legitimate Saramago. Transforming into a character, the author tells us that he once had an idea for a children’s book. He invented a story about a boy who gives birth to the largest flower in the world. He did not think he was capable of writing for children. Still, he came to imagine that if he had the qualities necessary to put the idea on paper, it would be genuinely extraordinary.
“it would be the most beautiful of all that has been written since the time of fairy tales and enchanted princesses …”.
We use words to understand each other and even, sometimes, to find each other.
It is from this fantasy of grandeur that the book is born. Readers are called to a funny joke, as Saramago tells them the story of the boy and the flower not as if it were the real story, but as if it were just the outline of what he would have told if he had the power to do the impossible.
Entering the game with the author, small readers will know that no one has ever had and will never have that power. They will also know that literature is an impossible place: the boy in this story makes a simple flower give shade as if it were an oak. Then, when he “passed through the streets, people said that he left the village to go and do something much bigger than his size and all sizes.” As in the old children’s literature books, Saramago concludes: “And that is the moral of the story.”
“This was the story I wanted to tell. I’m very sorry that I don’t know how to write stories for children. But at least they got to know what the story would be like. They can tell it in another way, with simpler words than mine. Maybe later they will learn to write stories for children …Who knows if one day I will reread this story, written by you who read me, but much more beautiful?”
José de Sousa Saramago was a Portuguese writer and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature. His works, some of which can be seen as allegories, commonly present subversive perspectives on historic events, emphasizing the theopoetic human factor.
The Short Movie
“The biggest flower in the world” by José Saramago, directed by Juan Pablo Etcheverry
Narrated by José Saramago himself, this animated film has the soundtrack by Emilio Aragón. He received the Friends of Music Badalona Award for Best Original Music.
The short film received the Best Animated Short Film award at the Goya in 2008 and had great success at festivals such as the Mestre Mateo Awards, Tokyo Global Environmental Film Festival, Anchorage International Film Festival of Alaska, and the International Film Festival Ecological and Nature of Canarias.
Short film: The most giant flower in the world
Director: Juan Pablo Etcheberry
Voices: José Saramago
Script: Juan Pablo Etcheberry