‘The Land at the End of the World’ by Antonio Lobo Antunes – Part 2 : The Sublime Use of Simile and Metaphor

If you love words, you will probably love what Antonio Lobo Antunes does with them. Nearly every sentence captures its subject so brilliantly and devastatingly as to have left nothing unsaid. Multiple similes and vivid metaphors roll off his pen (or computer) in every sentence.

While reading ‘The Land at the End of the World’, I was so impressed with Antune’s skillful use of those two literary devices, similes and metaphors, that I decided to write an entire article about it. Never have I encountered such effective use of similes and metaphors. All quotes in this article are from that novel.

A simile draws a resemblance between two dissimilar things. Similes can usually be spotted by seeing the words “is like a” or “is ___ as a”. Similes are apt comparisons.

The ship’s orchestra blasted out boleros for the officers, who looked as melancholy as owls caught in the dawn light”.

speaking a strange language I could barely understand, which sounded like Charlie Parker’s saxophone when he’s not screaming out his wounded hatred for the cruel ridiculous world of the white man.”

kisses as loud as the sucking of sink plungers”

ah, the meals eaten in silence opposite one another, full of a rancor you can smell in the air like a widow’s cologne.”

We are therefore in a condition to go over to the bed to make love, a love as insipid as that frozen fish we ate in the restaurant, whose one eye fixed us with the dying glassy glare of an octogenarian among the faded green of the lettuce.”

these long winters as dull as blown light bulbs”

An exhausted soldier slings his rifle “over his shoulder as if it were a useless fishing rod”.

Knitting needles “secrete sweaters as they clashed like domesticated fencing foils”.

As these examples show, Antunes frequently goes over-the-top with his similes, brazenly and delightfully over-the-top.

A metaphor is the direct comparison of two unlike things by saying that one of them is the other.

inside my head, a slow October rain is falling on the sad geraniums of the past.”

If I were a giraffe, I would love you in silence, gazing down at you from over the wire fencing, as melancholy as a dockyard crane, I would love you with the awkward love of the very tall, and, thought-fully chewing a leaf as if it were gum, jealous of the bears, the anteaters, the duck-billed platypuses, the cockatoos, and the crocodiles, I would slowly lower my neck on the pulleys of my tendons in order, tenderly, tremulously, to nuzzle your breasts with my head.”

The war has made animals of us, you see, cruel stupid animals trained to kill”.

In the case of ‘The Land at the End of the World’, the effective use of these literary devices makes for a colorful entertaining read.


Grade:    A



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