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Cecità PDF, ePub eBook In un tempo e un luogo non precisati, all'improvviso l'intera popolazione diventa cieca per un'inspiegabile epidemia. Chi è colpito da questo male si trova come avvolto in una nube lattiginosa e non ci vede più. Le reazioni psicologiche degli anonimi protagonisti sono devastanti, con un'esplosione di terrore e violenza, e gli effetti di questa misteriosa patologia sulla co In un tempo e un luogo non precisati, all'improvviso l'intera popolazione diventa cieca per un'inspiegabile epidemia. Chi è colpito da questo male si trova come avvolto in una nube lattiginosa e non ci vede più. Le reazioni psicologiche degli anonimi protagonisti sono devastanti, con un'esplosione di terrore e violenza, e gli effetti di questa misteriosa patologia sulla convivenza sociale risulteranno drammatici. I primi colpiti dal male vengono infatti rinchiusi in un ex manicomio per la paura del contagio e l'insensibilità altrui, e qui si manifesta tutto l'orrore di cui l'uomo sa essere capace. Nel suo racconto fantastico, Saramago disegna la grande metafora di un'umanità bestiale e feroce, incapace di vedere e distinguere le cose su una base di razionalità, artefice di abbrutimento, violenza, degradazione. Ne deriva un romanzo di valenza universale sull'indifferenza e l'egoismo, sul potere e la sopraffazione, sulla guerra di tutti contro tutti, una dura denuncia del buio della ragione, con un catartico spiraglio di luce e salvezza.

30 review for Cecità

  1. 5 out of 5

    William

    When you sit in a coffee shop at the corner of two busy streets and read a book about blindness, you find yourself thinking unfamiliar thoughts, and you believe, when you raise your head to watch the people passing, that you see things differently. You notice the soft yellow light of the shop reflecting off the bronze of the hardwood floors. You notice among the people coming from the train two girls who intersect that line, spilt, call back, and go their ways, dividing into the two directions o When you sit in a coffee shop at the corner of two busy streets and read a book about blindness, you find yourself thinking unfamiliar thoughts, and you believe, when you raise your head to watch the people passing, that you see things differently. You notice the soft yellow light of the shop reflecting off the bronze of the hardwood floors. You notice among the people coming from the train two girls who intersect that line, spilt, call back, and go their ways, dividing into the two directions of larger traffic. When the girl working the shop goes out and leans against the brick entrance – to clear her head of coffee smells or just to see more of the sky – you feel the breeze blow in, and you smell it, and you feel that all these things – the sights and smells of a place you already know – are now something different. The place you know, you don’t know. It becomes mysterious, romantic: a newness you don’t have to search for, or travel toward, because you are already among it. You only want to feel more of it sweep over you, and as a result feel new yourself. If only for a few minutes longer. You walk home and notice a discarded knit hat at the foot of a tree; you see the street cleaners’ orange signs tied to tree trunks, lampposts, telephone poles. You see a train run alongside you the color of the silver clouds, of the reflected golden light. You see people, in all their shapes, walk past you, each individual and anonymous. You feel anonymous yourself, and therefore more forgiving, more patient. You think everything is possible. You think everything possible must already exist. You think again of something you already believe: that people read the books that find them. That stories arrive to tell themselves, as relevant as news. A little King, a little Camus, a little Gabriel Garcia: which is to say Blindness is a lot of everything.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”The advantage enjoyed by these blind men was what might be called the illusion of light. In fact, it made no difference to them whether it was day or night, the first light of dawn or the evening twilight, the silent hours of early morning or the bustling din of noon, these blind people were for ever surrounded by a resplendent whiteness, like the sun shining through mist. For the latter, blindness did not mean being plunged into banal darkness, but living inside a luminous halo.” We have all e ”The advantage enjoyed by these blind men was what might be called the illusion of light. In fact, it made no difference to them whether it was day or night, the first light of dawn or the evening twilight, the silent hours of early morning or the bustling din of noon, these blind people were for ever surrounded by a resplendent whiteness, like the sun shining through mist. For the latter, blindness did not mean being plunged into banal darkness, but living inside a luminous halo.” We have all experienced blindness. Not that long ago I woke up in the middle of the night. There was no reassuring red glow of the digital clock by my bed nor the diffused yellow light from the streetlight making slat patterns across my floor . The dark was ink vat black, not gray or any other color on the spectrum, dark soul black. My eyes ached from holding them open so wide trying to capture any stray light that could reassure me that the wonderful array of cones and rods in my eyes were still functioning. Any creak or thump took on so much more significance giving my active imagination ample incentive to flash an array of possible horrible scenarios. My heart rate climbs. I wondered if I’ve went blind. I think about the room full of books that will have no more significance to me than a pile of bricks or cement blocks, something I held reverence for that is now less than useless. I lay there in various stages of disbelief and reassurances until a sliver of light announced the dawn and my eyes, my beautiful eyes, luxuriated in those first rays of a new day. I could see. The influenza epidemic of 1918 was one of the most terrifying events to happen to humanity in the 20th century even eclipsing two horrific world wars. 50 million people worldwide died suffocating from fluid filled lungs. Doctors were baffled, unable to find a cure or slow down the symptoms to allow the human immune system to have a chance. The disease had no compassion or any sense of a person’s economic situation, rich, poor, young and old all died. The average life expectancy in the United States dropped by twelve years. And then it just disappeared. As if a magic number of dead had been reached. Can you imagine the fear that any flu symptoms must have inspired in people for years after the event? The Blind Eyes Looked Fine. This book is about such an epidemic. An epidemic that spares no one. It begins with a man going blind while sitting in his car at a traffic light. He is brought to an opthamologist and his trip to see the doctor spreads this contagion at the speed of a prairie fire. The opthamologist is in the midst of researching this baffling disease when he goes blind as well. The government on the verge of panic rounds up all those infected in an attempt to contain the spread of the disease. The wife of the eye doctor packs his suitcase and even though she can still see packs her own clothes as well. When the government people come to get him she goes with him. They are taken to a vacant mental hospital. At first there are only a handful of people and then there are hundreds of people crammed into this facility. Soldiers are left to guard them and feed them. As more soldiers go blind fears become reality and in one such moment of desperation the soldiers fire into the crowd of blind people. The soldiers retreat and the blind are left with dead bodies to bury and spilled food to collect. ”Their hunger, however, had the strength only to take them three steps forward, reason intervened and warned them that for anybody imprudent enough to advance there was danger lurking in those lifeless bodies, above all, in that blood, who could tell what vapors, what emanations, what poisonous miasmas might not already be oozing forth from the open wounds of the corpses. They’re dead, they can’t do any harm, someone remarked, the intention was to reassure himself and others, but his words made matters worse, it was true that these blind internees were dead, that they could not move, see, could neither stir nor breath, but who can say that this white blindness is not some spiritual malaise, and if we assume this to be the case then the spirits of those blind casualties have never been as free as they are now, released from their bodies, and therefore free to do whatever they like, above all, to do evil, which as everyone knows, has always been the easiest thing to do.” Any supernatural element, spirits or otherwise take a backseat to living breathing humans when it comes to perpetrating evil. A gang of men, empowered by a gun wielding leader, take control of the food. All of the internees are asked to bring all their valuables to be assessed and traded for food and water. I had to almost laugh at this point because these thugs are trapped in pre-blindness thinking. What value will jewelry or paper money have with people that can’t see? A good belt or a pair of shoes or a glass of water or a sandwich are the only things of any real value anymore. Well there is one other thing that will continue to have value. Women. The inmates have been split into groups by rooms. After the valuables have been exhausted as a bartering tool for food and water the thugs tell the groups that if they want to eat they need to send their women to them. Hunger is all consuming. When you are hungry you can not think about anything else other than finding food. Your body, as part of our survival instinct, makes you very uncomfortable. We can all say what we would be capable of doing and not capable of doing when we are sitting in a bar casually munching on free peanuts and pretzels between pints of beer. The fact of the matter is most of us have never felt real hunger. We have had moments where our stomachs rumble or experienced a headache due to a missed meal, but true hunger, not eating for days hunger we can only speculate about what that is like. One man in the group sounding like some of the Republican candidates in this last election said: ”What did it matter if the women had to go there twice a month to give theses men what nature gave them to give.” I think even the women had no idea what it really would mean to be raped. They have all had sex, no blushing virgins among them. They were hungry too and after some speculation decide that they need to do this not only to feed themselves, but also their men. It is way beyond anything they could even imagine. It was horrible and Jose Saramago pulls no punches. Being raped by one man is bad enough, but when being raped by several men a woman has become an object, not even an object of desire, but merely a receptacle for lust. Being attractive, or smart or any of the things that made men desire her, in the world before blindness, are suddenly immaterial. She is faceless, a base unit to be used and abused devoid of the uniqueness that identify all of us beyond being just a male or a female. As the world goes blind the wife of the doctor is left unaffected. She continues to help where she can, but is reluctant to let everyone know she can see. She would be a slave to the group if they ever found out she could still see. She breaks out with a group of people all identified by their past professions or by some other identifying marker. We never do learn any of their names as if their identities have escaped them with their loss of vision. There is a sweet scene when the doctor and his wife first arrive back at their home. ”The doctor put his hand into the inside pocket of his new jacket and brought out the keys. He held them in mid-air, waiting, his wife gently guided his hand towards the keyhole.”The world is in chaos as blind people stumble everywhere looking for food and shelter. It is truly a horrific vision of a world disintegrating and brings home to me just how vulnerable we all are to a pandemic event or the loss of the electrical grid or for those with more fanciful terrors a zombie apocalypse. Will you kill someone to live? Jose Saramago Jose Saramago by keeping the wife of the doctor immune to the disease gives himself a conduit to describe events. Without her the novel would have been difficult to write and would have been more difficult for us to read. We need vision and if we don’t have it ourselves we certainly need someone to provide it for us. There are lots of great themes in the novel, exploring the human condition and how we fail ourselves; and yet, eventually overcome the most severe circumstances. The text is a block of words with few paragraph breaks or markers to help us keep track of who is talking. This certainly adds to the difficulty of reading the novel, but I must counsel you to persevere. You will come away from the novel knowing you have experienced something, a grand vision of the disintegration of civilization and certainly you will reevaluate what is most important in your life. This is a novel that does what a great novel is supposed to do; it reveals what we keep hidden from ourselves. To see all my latest book and movie reviews visit my blog at http://www.jeffreykeeten.com. You can also like my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nataliya

    This book left me speechless (which is a rare occurrence). Please enjoy the pictures to illustrate the plot while I recover my gift of rambling. An unexplained plague of "white blindness" sweeps the unnamed country. Initial attempts to hastily quarantine the blind in an abandoned mental hospital fail to contain the spread. What they succeed at is immediately creating the easy "us versus them" divide between the helpless newly blind and the terrified seeing. Before we know, we are immersed in the This book left me speechless (which is a rare occurrence). Please enjoy the pictures to illustrate the plot while I recover my gift of rambling. An unexplained plague of "white blindness" sweeps the unnamed country. Initial attempts to hastily quarantine the blind in an abandoned mental hospital fail to contain the spread. What they succeed at is immediately creating the easy "us versus them" divide between the helpless newly blind and the terrified seeing. Before we know, we are immersed in the horrifying surreal world of hopelessness, filth, violence, and hate, where the true enemy is not their affliction but people themselves, which we can see through the eyes of the only person who appears immune to blindness. “Perhaps only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are.” As the blindness epidemic spreads, we see the disintegration of society just like we witnessed the destruction of humanity in the quarantine area. Excrement covers sidewalks, dogs munch on human corpses, the blind rot in the stores after futile attempts to find food. Even the saints in the churches are blinded. The world is a bleak picture of desolation and destruction. ... Lovely, no? .... We don't know why it happened - whether it's a test, a warning, or a punishment. Instead, we get a nagging haunting feeling that the real blindness was there all along - the blindness towards the others, the blindness towards our real selves, and the physical blindness served as a way to unveil it. What was always there but went unseen before because it used to be easy to shrug off. Fear. "Us against them" attitude. Greed. Contempt. Hatred. Selfishness. Love of power. Cowardice. Apathy. Isolation. Filth. Rape. Murder. Theft. Ignorance. Indifference. Blaming the victim. It was all already there, and blindness amplified it. And, as society decays and falls apart, the question of what is means to be human comes up. “I don't think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.” Things that made us human are gone. Faces don't matter. Names don't matter. Homes don't matter. Possessions don't matter. Shame and modesty are gone. Medicine is useless. Government is useless. Morals seem obsolete. Empathy is gone. Is anything left? Anything inside us? “The difficult thing isn't living with other people, it's understanding them.” The vestiges of humanity are the only rays of hope in this bleak world. The girl with the dark glasses taking care of the boy with the squint. The man with the eye patch and his love. And the doctor's wife, the only one who retained her sight. Why? Was it because she was the most human? Or maybe she remained human because she retained her sight? Who knows? She is quiet and caring, leading the blind, washing the raped women, weeping over the dead but killing if she must. She sticks by her morals even if she is forced to violate them. She is the guiding light and the quiet hero in this world of darkness whiteness, keeping her charges from degradation without expecting anything in return. “If we cannot live entirely like human beings, at least let us do everything in our power not to live entirely like animals.” The style of this book may not be for everyone (disclaimer: I loved it!). The pages are filled margin to margin with solid wall of text. There are no dialogue marks, and the seemingly mundane bits of everyday speech are separated only by capital letters. Sometimes you need to almost read the sentences out loud to get a feel for who is speaking (it's very fitting that the book about the blind is better perceived in a non-visual medium). The sentences are long (in a European fashion), run-on, and beautifully punctuated. It is not a book to skim, it requires concentration, and definitely is not a light read. If all of the above does not scare you, you should give this one a try. I will finish this review with the plea in the epigraph for this thought-provoking eye-opening (no pun intended) book: "If you can see, look. If you can look, observe." Please, do. Let's try to look past our own blindness and actually SEE.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    Just imagine that you are going about your daily life as you always do. It's a normal day; nothing out of the ordinary. But then, suddenly, without any forewarning, you go completely blind. One second seeing the world as you know it, the next experiencing a complete and unending whiteness. Then imagine you go to the trusty health professionals so they can get to the bottom of it... the doctor doesn't know what's wrong with you, but you're confident he/she will figure it out and prescribe accordi Just imagine that you are going about your daily life as you always do. It's a normal day; nothing out of the ordinary. But then, suddenly, without any forewarning, you go completely blind. One second seeing the world as you know it, the next experiencing a complete and unending whiteness. Then imagine you go to the trusty health professionals so they can get to the bottom of it... the doctor doesn't know what's wrong with you, but you're confident he/she will figure it out and prescribe accordingly. And then the doctor goes blind. But not just him - everyone you have come into contact with is experiencing the same sudden white blindness. The condition spreads and takes hold within a few hours... soon this contagious blindness is spreading like wildfire and no one knows how to cure it. This book is so frightening and so... realistic. Blindness is not an alien concept like monsters and ghosts, neither are contagious diseases. So imagine a disease that prompted sudden blindness; that spread from one person to another quicker than the common cold. This book feels like a story that could happen. One of the main issues readers have with this - if they have any - is the writing style. It's written in huge blocks of text with little punctuation, no quotation marks, and many run-on sentences. It can get a little disorientating, but I guess that's the end of the world for you. I actually found it incredibly effective in creating the air of blind panic that Saramago clearly wanted to impart. People fumbling around in the whiteness, hoping no one around means them harm and being powerless to do anything about it if they did. Someone once said: "You are who you are when no one is watching." And in this world, no one is watching. Fear reigns and some will choose to exploit the fear or succumb to it. I thought it was a frightening and believable portrait of the disintegration of society. Very highly recommended. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  5. 4 out of 5

    Adina

    I finished this masterpiece last week and I let it to sink in a little bit before reviewing it. The power of this book was quite overwhelming at times and I had to stop reading for a few days at a time. I do not think there are many books that disturbed me like this one. Maybe Never Let Me Go but there the message was much more subtle. Some say that the structure of the book makes it very hard to read. I suppose the voice in my head did quite a good job in reading it as I did not encounter any d I finished this masterpiece last week and I let it to sink in a little bit before reviewing it. The power of this book was quite overwhelming at times and I had to stop reading for a few days at a time. I do not think there are many books that disturbed me like this one. Maybe Never Let Me Go but there the message was much more subtle. Some say that the structure of the book makes it very hard to read. I suppose the voice in my head did quite a good job in reading it as I did not encounter any difficulty to follow the narration. What made it difficult to read at times were the images and smells that were projected into my brain. At some point It seemed that excrement odor was rising from the pages in front of me. Short version of the plot. One day people start to go blind without any prior symptom. Frightened, the Government tries to restrain the blindness epidemic by isolating the blind people. The quarantine is not successful and more and more people go blind. The book focuses on the life of a few "patients" locked and guarded into a mental institution, among who lives the only person immune to blindness. The loss of sight reduces people to their primal instincts (good or bad) and soon we are witnesses of some unimaginable horrors in the fight for food/supremacy/life and to the demise of all social and moral institutions. However, there are people that still try to help and to keep a bit of humanity and decency. “If we cannot live entirely like human beings, at least let us do everything in our power not to live entirely like animals.” I thought that the book is a metaphor of the people that are walking through life without thinking about the violence and cruelty that is in front of them, their ignorance of anything that could menace their civilized life. I believe the book brings forward our fear/avoidance to see our mortality and the insignificance of our lives. “I don't think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.” “Perhaps only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are.” “This is the stuff we’re made of, half indifference and half malice.”

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Imagine the most ordinary situation in the world. People waiting at a traffic light. All of us can see that before our inner eyes, relive thousands of similar situations we have experienced ourselves, without ever giving them a moment of consideration. Thus starts Saramago's Blindness. But there is a disruption. One car is not following the rules all take for granted. The car doesn't move when the light switches to green. People are annoyed, frustrated, disturbed in their routines, but not worri Imagine the most ordinary situation in the world. People waiting at a traffic light. All of us can see that before our inner eyes, relive thousands of similar situations we have experienced ourselves, without ever giving them a moment of consideration. Thus starts Saramago's Blindness. But there is a disruption. One car is not following the rules all take for granted. The car doesn't move when the light switches to green. People are annoyed, frustrated, disturbed in their routines, but not worried: "Some drivers have already got out of their cars, prepared to push the stranded vehicle to a spot where it will not hold up the traffic, they beat furiously on the closed windows, the man inside turns his head in their direction, he is clearly shouting something, to judge by the movements of his mouth he appears to be repeating some words, not one word but three, as turns out to be the case when someone finally manages to open the door, I am blind." I AM BLIND. This is the beginning of what my son labelled the scariest book he ever read, and yet such a perfectly brilliant masterpiece. Similar to Camus' La peste and Ionesco's Rhinocéros in more than one respect, it takes the reader to the darkest abyss of despair and filth and pain. Deprived of the sense of seeing, the characters have to cope with brutal bestiality and suffering to survive in a world limited by the loss of vision - an accurate symbol for overview, control, and objective judgement of reality. If Camus' characters are invaded by plague-stricken rats and dying of the disease, Saramago's society breaks down even more completely when the epidemic blindness strikes. Humans turn into beasts, comparable to the rhinofication in Ionesco's allegory on community collapse. One character, a Cassandra of sorts, is excluded from the plague, and she guides the plot with her seeing eyes. What she sees is unbearable, even to the reader. Rarely have I felt more shaken than while reading the scene with the blind thugs raping hungry women. The seeing woman steps in and uses her power to break off the horror show, but it will leave a scar on my reading inner eye forever. Bizarrely, that means a scene I never actually saw is engraved on my visual memory. When reflecting on why the women didn't fight back from the beginning when the opportunist gangsters started to take control of the blind community, they give the same reasons as so many women facing sexual abuse: "We failed to put up resistance as we should have done when they first came making demands, Of course, we were afraid and fear isn't always a wise counsellor..." Desperate needs, inequality of power, shameless gang mentality, helplessness in an exposed situation, loss of control, all these things play a role. And the humiliation of being exploited as an object without individual value is not diminished in blindness. Inside, we remain seeing. An allegory of the breakdown of civilisation, Blindness is also the story of those who finally start resisting raw violence and brutal force, and of those who see through the darkness. However, even as the blind spell breaks, and people are regaining their vision, the world is changed forever. Blindness has become a real threat, a terrifying possibility lurking underneath everyday worries. If it can happen once, it can happen again. And who knows when? You may be waiting at a traffic light, and all of a sudden, life goes white... The one person who remains seeing through the whole catastrophe realises in the end that people might not actually have been literally blind at all: "Blind people who can see, but do not see." That is a tragic reflection on humankind. We turn to mass blindness in periods, not because we are physically unable to see, but because we DO not see. We can see, we have the tools for seeing, but we do not use them - not as long as the cars keep moving when the traffic lights turn green. We only start to see that we do not see when we turn blind and there is a disruption in our unseeing complacency. We sometimes need an epidemic blindness to wake up and see what happens underneath the polished surface of our civilisation. Let's use our eyes, literally and figuratively, to see what we need to see. Let's not turn a blind eye to the world's troubles! We know we can easily fall into the barbaric state of blindness. It has happened before. Let's not forget blindness in order to keep our vision clear.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Renato Magalhães Rocha

    Blindness is a great novel by Portuguese writer José Saramago that deals with human's individual and collective reactions when in the face of adversarial forces. With gorgeous prose, this thought-provoking book shows us how our world, ever so concerned and consumed by appearances, would deal with the loss of our most relied upon sense: vision. When it's every man by himself, when every man is free to do whatever he wants without the impending fear of recognition and judgement, we start to feel - Blindness is a great novel by Portuguese writer José Saramago that deals with human's individual and collective reactions when in the face of adversarial forces. With gorgeous prose, this thought-provoking book shows us how our world, ever so concerned and consumed by appearances, would deal with the loss of our most relied upon sense: vision. When it's every man by himself, when every man is free to do whatever he wants without the impending fear of recognition and judgement, we start to feel - I was going to say see - what the man's true nature is and the crumbling down of a civilization diseased with selfishness, intolerance and ambition, to name just few symptoms. Saramago tells us the story of a mysterious mass plague of blindness that affects nearly everyone living in an unnamed place in a never specified time and the implications this epidemic has on people's lives. It all starts inexplicably when a man in his car suddenly starts seeing - or rather stops seeing anything but - a clear white brightness. He's blind. Depending upon a stranger's kindness to be able to go home in safety, we witness what appears to be the first sign of corruption and the first crack in society's impending breakdown when the infamous volunteer steals the blind man's car. Unfortunately for him, the white pest follows him and turns him into one of its victims as well. Spreading fast, this collective blindness is now frightening the authorities and must be dealt with: a large group of blind people and possibly infected ones - those who had any contact with the first group - have now been put in quarantine until second order. Living conditions start to degrade as the isolated population grows bigger, there is no organization, basic medicine is a luxury not allowed in and hygiene is nowhere to be found. To complicate things further, an armed clique acquires control and power, forcing the subjugated to pay for food in any way they can. The scenes that follow are extremely unpleasant to read, but at the same time they're so realistic that you can't be mad at Saramago for writing such severe events packed with violence that include rapes and murders. Contrasting with this dystopian desolation, there is some solidarity and compassion in the form of one character: the doctor's wife. The only one in the asylum who miraculously is still able to see, she takes care of her husband and of those who became her new family: the girl with the dark glasses, the boy with the squint, the old man with the black eye patch, the first blind man and the first blind man's wife - the characters' names are never mentioned, which is an interesting choice the author made. When we think of someone, when we hear their name, we always conjure an image in our head; a picture is formed before our eyes. Here we are with a bunch of people who no longer can rely on their sight so, in not giving them names, Saramago also puts us in the dark, forcing us to rely instead on personal characteristics and descriptions given to conjure these characters ourselves. After an uprising, folks find out the asylum has been abandoned by the army who was until then responsible for it and they're able to leave. Realizing that what they went through in quarantine was only a detail in the huge landscape, now we follow our protagonists as they wander through the city in search of better conditions: water, food, clothes, a way to find their homes and their relatives. Talking about Saramago's writing style, I should say that it may be a bit confusing at first due to the lack of punctuation; there are many long sentences and no quotation marks around dialogues. But in no time you'll get used to his simplistic style - not in any way devoid of meaning or deepness -, and you'll realize that it actually adds to this reading experience as you'll be going faster through the words; with fewer pauses and breaks, you'll find yourself feeling suffocated and almost breathless, which will only add to the book's atmosphere of urgency, anxiety and despair. Film adaptation: there is a good film by Fernando Meirelles also called Blindness starring Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Gael García Bernal, released in 2008. While this adaptation isn't as graphic and visceral as Saramago's novel, it's still worth seeing. It is said that Saramago was in tears when the movie ended and said to director Meirelles: "Fernando, I am so happy to have seen this movie. I am as happy as I was the day I finished the book." Rating: unfortunately, it seems the late José Saramago - the only Portuguese-language novelist to win the Nobel Prize in Literature - has yet to gain the world recognition he deserves. For his torturing novel, for his fearlessness in going deep and telling a brutal and violent story that makes us wonder, as Virginia Woolf greatly put it, "Why, one asked oneself, does one take all these pains for the human race to go on? Is it so very desirable? Are we attractive as a species?": 5 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Better Eggs

    Update. I said I would never read another Saramago because of his writing style. I did though. All the Names and Death with Interruptions. Both brilliant. But I listened to them. I wouldn't have appreciated them as much if I'd had to struggle through Saramago's idiosyncratic writing style. _________________ In H.G. Wells 'In the Country of the Blind' the only person who can see suffers great discrimination and has to agree to have his eyes removed and become as blind as the rest of the people who Update. I said I would never read another Saramago because of his writing style. I did though. All the Names and Death with Interruptions. Both brilliant. But I listened to them. I wouldn't have appreciated them as much if I'd had to struggle through Saramago's idiosyncratic writing style. _________________ In H.G. Wells 'In the Country of the Blind' the only person who can see suffers great discrimination and has to agree to have his eyes removed and become as blind as the rest of the people who over the generations have adapted to life without vision. In Saramago's book, the only person who can see is the heroine of the book. This is a device for telling the story which is the collapse of the social order as with just about all dystopian stories. One wonders if, given time, those blinded by the disease wouldn't adapt as in Country of the Blind? And if they did so, then resent those who could see and instead of relying on the few sighted people for help despise them for the obvious power they have. Perhaps even suspect them of exploiting that power for their gain and the blinds' detriment. I read the book and watched the film. I didn't find Saramago's style easy to read. Extremely long sentences, endless paragraphs and an idiosyncratic grammar made me have to concentrate on the reading more than the subject matter. It was worth it, but written in standard English I think I would have enjoyed it more. The film was a good, standard, Hollywood film meaning it appeals to the masses, has pretty people and no depth and has been designed to make money. I quite enjoyed it, but am glad I read the book first. Although I found this book interesting, I didn't find it the cutting edge work of genius that I had read about. I don't think I would ever read another Saramago because life is too short to struggle through such a difficult writing style. The book took me about three times as long as if it had been written in a more usual manner. It seems to me to be an ego thing to write in a way that is completely different to everyone else. The reason there is a standard way of writing is that it is easy for us all to understand rather than having to adapt to anyone's idiosyncratic idea of spelling and grammar. Writing is communication and understanding is key. This applies just as much to the reviewers on GR who don't ever use paragraphs and or/capital letters, but it's one thing reading a review and another a whole book - I'm prepared to go along with someone's style if they write good reviews (view spoiler)[reasonably short ones. Write an unparagraphed essay-length review and you've lost me (hide spoiler)] , but a whole book.... no, not again.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lizzy

    “I don't think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.” José Saramago’s Blindness can be viewed as an allegory for a world where we see but in fact neglect what is around us. It is a human condition, unquestionable a disease that in contemporary time has only agravated. "..blindness is also this, to live in a world where all hope is gone."Blindness is more than a dystopian novel, it is a philosophical work that makes us wonder about our “I don't think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.” José Saramago’s Blindness can be viewed as an allegory for a world where we see but in fact neglect what is around us. It is a human condition, unquestionable a disease that in contemporary time has only agravated. "..blindness is also this, to live in a world where all hope is gone."Blindness is more than a dystopian novel, it is a philosophical work that makes us wonder about our way of living. Moreover, it brings forth the horrifying truth of how the loss of only one sense can almost instantly dismantle our society, our civilization crumbles to nothing. People are reduced to living in unimaginable filth and rummaging for food and water like animals. "We're going back to being primitive hordes, said the old man with the black eyepatch, with the difference that we are not a few thousand men and women in an immense, unspoiled nature, but thousands of millions in an uprooted, exhausted world, And blind, ..." So, it is all about being human, with its own fundamental virtues and vices. In a world without vision only our voices remain. A revolution, you could say: people are no longer identified by their appearances, now worthless. Outward values are replaces by what kind of person each one is. Social statuses as we knew them are no more. And in a new disorganized world: "There must be a government, said the first blind man, I'm not so sure, but if there is, it will be a government of the blind trying to rule the blind, that is to say, nothingness trying to organize nothingness. Then there is no future..." Saramago’s work reminded me of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, both are about the crumbling of our civilization as we know it. Blindness is a masterpiece and an important reminder for us to be appreciative of several things that we take for granted, to look around and really see. Without an honest and accurate vision our very existence can disintegrate. ___

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    Not at all disturbing, not at all compelling and not at all interesting, Jose Saramago's Blindness only succeeds in frustrating readers who take a moment to let their imagination beyond the page. Yes, Saramago's story is a clever idea, and, yes, he creates an intentional allegory to force us to think about the nature of humanity, but his ideas are clearly those of a privileged white male in a privileged European nation. Not only do his portrayals of women and their men fall short of the mark, bu Not at all disturbing, not at all compelling and not at all interesting, Jose Saramago's Blindness only succeeds in frustrating readers who take a moment to let their imagination beyond the page. Yes, Saramago's story is a clever idea, and, yes, he creates an intentional allegory to force us to think about the nature of humanity, but his ideas are clearly those of a privileged white male in a privileged European nation. Not only do his portrayals of women and their men fall short of the mark, but Saramago has clearly never had to fend for himself in the world. If he did, he'd realize that there were a thousand easy answers to the dilemmas he created for his characters, and he could have then focused more on the internal filth of their souls than the external excrement of their bodies. Blindness is not worthy of a Nobel Winner.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Seemita

    Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. What an irony that a book which holds, loss, filth, loot, stomp, cruelty, disorientation, putrefaction, injustice, helplessness, murder, rape, misery, nakedness, abandonment, death and unimaginable suffering in its bosom, left me with a climactic emotion of beauty, overwhelming beauty. Beauty of what you ask? That of resilience, that of courage, that of insurmountable human spirit which perhaps hits its zenith when it is brutally pinned to the bottommost Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. What an irony that a book which holds, loss, filth, loot, stomp, cruelty, disorientation, putrefaction, injustice, helplessness, murder, rape, misery, nakedness, abandonment, death and unimaginable suffering in its bosom, left me with a climactic emotion of beauty, overwhelming beauty. Beauty of what you ask? That of resilience, that of courage, that of insurmountable human spirit which perhaps hits its zenith when it is brutally pinned to the bottommost pit. Blindness has a chilling plot – a city where people start going blind, without a warning or faintest history. A man behind a car, a robber escaping from the back door, an ophthalmologist reading reference book, a call girl in the midst of making love – this moment, they are going about their business and the next, they are blind. As this terrifying infliction gains the proportion of an epidemic in shuddering no time, the state machinery jumps into action by hoarding the blind and the contaminated and dispatching them to a quarantine. The events that unfold thenceforth grow into a numbing testimonial of limits that humankind pushes with the weakest of hands but the strongest of beliefs. Saramago slits his heart and lets the blood do the talking, for how else does one explain the impeccable conjuring of a land that is crumbling under the consistent attacks of physical needs and rising from the tireless crenellating of mental walls, at the very same instance? With the passing of time, as well as the social evolution and genetic exchange, we ended up putting our conscience in the colour of blood and in the salt of tears, and, as if that were not enough, we made our eyes into a kind of mirror turned inwards, with the result that they often show without reserve what we are verbally trying to deny.” The blind stay close and maintain proximity akin to a herd of helpless antelopes; always alert but not without a sinking feeling of falling prey, eventually. In the midst of this nebulous blindness, food makes a demand and water makes a cry, shit gets spilled and showers run dry. Bullies emerge from within them, like ugly exhalations of a poisonous body, often unaware of its obvious power of self-destruction. Arriving at this point, the blind accountant, tired of describing so much misery and sorrow, would let his metal punch fall to the table, he would search with a trembling hand for the piece of stale bread he had put to one side while he fulfilled his obligations as chronicler of the end of time, but he would not find it, because another blind man, whose sense of smell had become very keen out of dire necessity, had filched it. What do we know what we are capable of? Of the high we can inspire ourselves to? Of the lows we can shovel ourselves to? Do we even know that if thrown into the arms of gut-wrenching starvation and mutilation, our lofty ideals can turn evanescent and the feral desire to survive at any cost can reign supreme? she knew that if it were necessary, she would kill again, And when is it necessary to kill, she asked herself as she headed in the direction of the hallway, and she herself answered the question, When what is still alive is already dead. But it is from these repugnant ashes of human extremities that the human spirit arises. Like a new-born phoenix, it breathes in short puffs but never stops breathing. A fledgling resilience, no matter how threatened, pervades the blind group, who hobble painfully towards a future that is white in their blindness but imaginable in their collectiveness. When a lonely hand is clasped and a crying baby is cuddled, when a single soul performs vigil and the wasted sacrifices, when the timid find voice and the brave, their clan, the world remains no longer white; it regains its colour. While reading this book, I felt its power in every page, its vulnerability at every turn. In many ways, it was an allegory of life. For every burden placed on our soul, there is a corresponding lever to dispel it. (view spoiler)[There is a solitary character who miraculously retains sight, throughout the book. (hide spoiler)] And a consistent persuasion is all it takes to become free. Should that come easy, blessed we are. Should that come with unexpected caveats, memories we will have (or be). We are already half dead, said the doctor, We are still half alive too, answered his wife.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Megha

    Whether you interpret it as an allegory or otherwise, you will find that most of all Blindness is about being human, and the virtues and vices that define the fundamental human nature. In a world full of blind people, where the civilization as we know it has completely deteriorated, people are no more identified and judged based on their profession, social status, outward appearances etc. All that remains to distinguish one person from another is one's voice, and the kind of person one is. When Whether you interpret it as an allegory or otherwise, you will find that most of all Blindness is about being human, and the virtues and vices that define the fundamental human nature. In a world full of blind people, where the civilization as we know it has completely deteriorated, people are no more identified and judged based on their profession, social status, outward appearances etc. All that remains to distinguish one person from another is one's voice, and the kind of person one is. When people are struggling for survival, trying hard to hold on to life, they drop all the outward pretenses and reveal their true nature. Their actions and behavior mirror the person they are on the inside. And this is how Saramago lets us see every shade of human nature and manages to effectively convey the psychological impact of the epidemic by describing the actions of the people in this blind world. We, as the human race, take pride in the civilization we have built for ourselves and how we have changed the world in a way that no other life forms could. Blindness brings forth the horrifying truth about how soon the entire system and entire civilization crumbles to nothing if we lose just one of our senses. People are reduced to living in unimaginable filth and rummaging for food and water like animals. "We're going back to being primitive hordes, said the old man with the black eyepatch, with the difference that we are not a few thousand men and women in an immense, unspoiled nature, but thousands of millions in an uprooted, exhausted world, And blind, ..." "There must be a government, said the first blind man, I'm not so sure, but if there is , it will be a government of the blind trying to rule the blind, that is to say, nothingness trying to organize nothingness. Then there is no future..." On the positive side, even in times of utter hopelessness people do all they can to survive. The spirit which keeps them going and struggling to go on living commands respect. The narrative voice comes across as very honest. The narrator gives a transparent description of what is going on, without ever trying to mitigate the horrors of the situation or to poetize people's misfortune. The narrator maintains an emotional distance and does not offer any judgement on what it observes. The narration, however, is not dry by any means. There are tender moments with love and compassion, and several darker ones which leave one gasping in horror. The writing, though simple, is laden with meaning. And many of those ideas are easy to identify with and understand, since they are not too far from the human nature that we encounter in real world too. They are often things we already know and understand, but haven't looked at them in the way Saramago presents them. "....since we know that human reason and unreason are same everywhere." As a dystopian novel, Blindness is a very convincing one. I remember reading Lord of the Flies which, too, is about complete break-down of civilization. I could never understand what could possibly give rise to murdering instincts in those innocent kids. With Blindness, on the other hand, it is difficult to imagine how things could have been any better than the way they have been portrayed in the book. "No, I am not an optimist, but I cannot imagine anything worse than our present existence. Well, I am not entirely convinced that there are limits to misfortune and evil." Saramago does not try to provide justifications for the course things take, but everything we read about there is very possible and does not leave room for doubt. It was specially the section about people in the asylum which makes this book memorable for me. One can't possibly read through that section without a lump in the throat. The feeling of hopelessness that prevails is haunting. "..blindness is also this, to live in a world where all hope is gone." Blindness is a reminder for us to be appreciative of several things that take for granted, but without which our very existence can crumble. "..when the experience of time has taught us nothing other than that there are no blind people, only blindness." "..I don't think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see." "If you can see, look. If you can look, observe. (From the Book of Exhortations)"

  13. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    This book was brutal in the most literal sense of the term. It looks at how humans can devolve into savages when put in certain situations, in this case when a 'white blindness' epidemic breaks out and causes people to suddenly lose their sight for no explicable reason. Saramago is a pretty harsh critic, it seems, of organized structures like government or religion—and that's most clearly seen in the ways that the affected people create communities, how they respond to crises, and ultimately how This book was brutal in the most literal sense of the term. It looks at how humans can devolve into savages when put in certain situations, in this case when a 'white blindness' epidemic breaks out and causes people to suddenly lose their sight for no explicable reason. Saramago is a pretty harsh critic, it seems, of organized structures like government or religion—and that's most clearly seen in the ways that the affected people create communities, how they respond to crises, and ultimately how they serve or hurt one another in this novel. Despite its darkness, the book also showed some hope for the ways we can see one another, and through that seeing bring light into the world. The acts of service the characters do, or are willing to do even if not performed, for one another are astonishing, heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting. I think that's what the author wants us to focus on the most and that's definitely what I will take away from this book. If you're a fan of McCarthy's The Road, I think you'd enjoy this one as well; not only for its themes, but also its stylistic choices (no proper nouns, long sentences, and lack of quotation marks). I am definitely interested in checking out more of Saramago's work after this one.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephan

    This is not just a book you read, it reads you too. It is not a book that you can shelve, once it is read - it stays with you. Will you dare pick it up, let it stare into your soul? I read this over 10 years ago and it is still very present in my mind. It has repeatedly come back to me, I have been recommending it and thinking about it. Yes, also worrying a bit more. Without spoiling it the story is quickly told: blindness spreads like a disease. It is terrifying in that it just happens, suddenly This is not just a book you read, it reads you too. It is not a book that you can shelve, once it is read - it stays with you. Will you dare pick it up, let it stare into your soul? I read this over 10 years ago and it is still very present in my mind. It has repeatedly come back to me, I have been recommending it and thinking about it. Yes, also worrying a bit more. Without spoiling it the story is quickly told: blindness spreads like a disease. It is terrifying in that it just happens, suddenly life is very very different. Also it doesn't only happen to you, it happens to others. As more go blind, more must deal with life without seeing. It gets very very nasty very quick. The next remarkable attribute of this book is the way it is told. People don't have names, they are only described. The mother, the wife, the doctor. Sentences unfold and meander, flow long and wash your awareness with them. Saramago's chosen style builds the engrossing atmosphere. Just for this I wish I could read the original Spanish. This book is among the greatest for me. Special among the few. Read it, if you dare.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jibran

    Perhaps only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are. Goodness me. The horror. The chaos. These two moist pulpy vibratile objects of anatomy, one on either side of the nose, 'the window to the soul', are steering wheels of the body, the basis of all order in the fragile human world, without which the purpose of evolutionary biology is moot. What would it be like if everyone was struck by an epidemic of blindness, sudden and inexplicable, you and I 'catching' blindness from one Perhaps only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are. Goodness me. The horror. The chaos. These two moist pulpy vibratile objects of anatomy, one on either side of the nose, 'the window to the soul', are steering wheels of the body, the basis of all order in the fragile human world, without which the purpose of evolutionary biology is moot. What would it be like if everyone was struck by an epidemic of blindness, sudden and inexplicable, you and I 'catching' blindness from one another? This novel explores the premise to the fullest possibility. Saramgo sets the scene with a cast of half a dozen characters who are quarantined in an abandoned army barracks for the purpose of containing the epidemic. From this begins the horror. This story is as much an exploration of the horrendous possibilities created by the dysfunction of human anatomy as it is of the limits and capacities of human resilience to resist eventual annihilation. After all the process of evolution has taught us very little; we can adapt to external dangers but we have always failed ourselves when something goes amiss internally. We would live longer had it not been the case. Our seven major characters go to the last stretch of human endeavour to remain floating in a world wherein the order of life has suffered a total breakdown. In that this is like a dystopian novel, but without the invention of a parallel universe, without poking us in the proverbial ribs to stretch our imagination painfully to make sense of the world the writer throws us in. No, it is a story grounded in day-to-day reality, true and humanly believable, even relatable, if you are the relating type. But it still shocks, because a world without seeing eyes is a place we wouldn't want to be in, which actually it is, and we live in just such a place, if one alludes to the allegorical aspect of the story: humanity is so blinded towards its own failings that it cannot see the extent to which its blindness has caused havoc in the world it's so proud of. People lost their identity when they lost their eyesight. So the writer doesn't bother to name those phantom-like humans who can't see and be seen. They are first blind man, first blind man's wife, blind doctor, the doctor's wife, the boy with the squint, the girl with glasses, the old man with the black eyepatch. I admire Saramago's other stylistic inventions. Dialogue is not set into inverted commas and every first-person utterance starts with a capitalised alphabet to separate it from the narrating voice. Full stops come rarely. Paragraphs which run in length into multiple pages chain you to the text that you can't tear your eyes off the page without a shoot of pain. Spellbinding - Saramago's has redefined the adjective for me. I'm still reeling from the blind rapes (we don't need seeing eyes to feel the excitement of skin and flesh, the blind men made full use of this truth), half-eaten corpses stuck in abandoned cars and looted foodstores, and squelch of feet on human excrement littering the streets that I will need to clear my head, read something musky and rosewater-like, before I can think what to make of this novel. But without doubt it's a brilliantly told story, a fascinating study into human failings, if you allow for the vicarious witnessing of the horror of human degradation to be called fascinating. In-between Saramago manages to create comedy out of devastating tragedy. This is not a new phenomenon in literature but Saramago's treatment has been so light and deadpan that you could deny he ever meant to be ironically humorous in its telling. In one scene from the quarantine a group of soldiers on duty entered the premises to bring foodboxes to the blind internees who had been ordered to stay out of sight for fear of passing on their blindness to healthy ones. But as chance would have it, the mealtime had passed and the hungry internees moved toward the entrance, crashing into one another with outstretched arms and unsteady steps in the manner of Egyptian mummies, to reach the foyer so that they could shout to demand food. Just at that moment soldiers entered the place and, on spotting a group of staggering and tottering blind men, howled in utter terror, dropped the boxes and their guns and fled the building to be away from the field of vision of the blind internees! This was a powerful, highly ironic moment when the fear of the unknown abandons logic and control to the much destruction that follows. I don't think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see. 4.5/5 March 2015 Edited 25th July 2015 to fix some sentences.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    What kind of a person is it who relishes reviewing the books he hates and quails at the thought of reviewing his five-star books? It would appear that that could be a description of me. Well, the reason's obvious - it's great fun to boot a bad book and some bad ideas all around this site, a chance for a few jokes, a laugh, a song and a hand grenade, a couple of pints of Scruttock's Old Dirigible and everyone goes home with a smile on their face, no harm done. Not so easy to describe greatness, s What kind of a person is it who relishes reviewing the books he hates and quails at the thought of reviewing his five-star books? It would appear that that could be a description of me. Well, the reason's obvious - it's great fun to boot a bad book and some bad ideas all around this site, a chance for a few jokes, a laugh, a song and a hand grenade, a couple of pints of Scruttock's Old Dirigible and everyone goes home with a smile on their face, no harm done. Not so easy to describe greatness, something so strange and awe-inspiring that your keyboard falls silent, abashed. So this is the book, this Blindness novel, which was so hard to read, so painful, so strange, so brilliant, that I don't really want to sing its praises or recommend it to everyone because everyone won't like it and those who do might not be glad they read when they finally fall over the threshhold of the last page back into the light of some sort of sanity and order we hope, and look back and shudder. Well. You have to read this one, but I didn't tell you to.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sammy

    This is definitely a book that people will either love or hate. It's just that kind of book. Not everyone is going to pick this up and like it. Even the people who end up really liking it, while reading it keep finding themselves putting down the book, looking around the room and sighing in discomfort, wondering if they should really continue. They will though, and they will once again find themselves fully immersed. Jose Saramago writes this specific story in such a way that you are one of the b This is definitely a book that people will either love or hate. It's just that kind of book. Not everyone is going to pick this up and like it. Even the people who end up really liking it, while reading it keep finding themselves putting down the book, looking around the room and sighing in discomfort, wondering if they should really continue. They will though, and they will once again find themselves fully immersed. Jose Saramago writes this specific story in such a way that you are one of the blind people. Punctuation is few and far between, at least when it comes to dialogue. When people are talking to each other, it's just one continuous run on sentence, forcing the reader to try and discern who is talking and what they are talking about. It forces you to be in the same predicament as the blind. The way he writes makes you realize just how much we all do rely on visual stimuli, even in books! Even though our protagonist is one of the few with sight, Saramago often forgoes visual descriptions of objects and places with the way the feel, sound and even smell. For me, it marked Saramago as a truly brilliant writer. But even brilliant writers and brilliant books have their flaws. The time spent in the hospital seemed too long and unneccessary to further the story along, rather it stopped the story. It was that portion of the book I found it most difficult to get through, but in the end I got through it and to their journey out into the real world. It's there that the book picks back up and you find yourself absolutely enthralled. Overall, this book was beautifully written and wonderfully told. An interesting story made even more so with the way Saramago writes it. This is a book I definitely recommend, but I give you a warning, it becomes slightly wordy at times and drags at different times. Give it a chance though, because it does pick back up.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    I can *almost* slip this book into that enormous category that is zombie-fiction, but alas, no. There are no zombies here. There are, however, an increasingly large number of people going blind until there is only one left. Chaos ensues... one heartbreaking step at a time. Simple concept, of course, but in this case, it is brilliantly executed. The writing is clear and transforms us every step of the way from our modern society into a cold cinder of civilization, with the fall of humanity experienc I can *almost* slip this book into that enormous category that is zombie-fiction, but alas, no. There are no zombies here. There are, however, an increasingly large number of people going blind until there is only one left. Chaos ensues... one heartbreaking step at a time. Simple concept, of course, but in this case, it is brilliantly executed. The writing is clear and transforms us every step of the way from our modern society into a cold cinder of civilization, with the fall of humanity experienced first-hand and in great detail. It's no gimmick of a novel. It's heartfelt. The characters scramble by their fingernails as they degrade into offal-smeared wretches, and all the while they still try to hold on to decency even while sickness and the collapse of all civilization ensues. Heartbreaking. When I first started reading this, I assumed it was going to be something of an offshoot from that great classic, The Day of the Triffids, where just as much devastation happens when most of humanity goes blind as from the man-eating plants that gobble them up, only this brings us much closer to the complete hell without a commentary on niche species and survival of the fittest. Indeed, we bear witness to every single degradation that mankind can inflict on itself, from suicide, murder, rape, and apathy. I'm an honest optimist. I actually see a lot of hope in this book, but I'm not going to kid anyone here... this is a harsh one. It's also one of those kinds of novels that outdoes itself. It's not a simple dystopia. It's an exemplary one. Hell, it probably should be on the top of all the lists if you call yourself a fan of the genre. :)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Adam Floridia

    It is easier for me to lambaste a book when it is a translation; after all, maybe it is not the author who should be held accountable for the text’s flaws. Whether or not the translator is culpable, Blindness indeed has many flaws. First: In order, one must assume, to make the reader’s experience as tantamount to the characters’ as possible, there are no names and no quotation marks to indicate speech. That’s fine enough, but he chooses not to use periods either, that makes almost every sentence, It is easier for me to lambaste a book when it is a translation; after all, maybe it is not the author who should be held accountable for the text’s flaws. Whether or not the translator is culpable, Blindness indeed has many flaws. First: In order, one must assume, to make the reader’s experience as tantamount to the characters’ as possible, there are no names and no quotation marks to indicate speech. That’s fine enough, but he chooses not to use periods either, that makes almost every sentence, whether it is conversation or not, a long-ass run-on, there is no reason for it, it is not like the final chapter of Ulysses, the whole thing just pissed me off and made me hate reading, good books don’t do that. Second: The narration, or rather the narrator, is not consistent. It/he/she/they shift from third person omniscient, to third person limited, to first person seemingly present in the scene, to first person removed and either omniscient or limited, to first person plural all of the above. This is not like Mitchell’s books in which different characters narrate different sections—this is just one voice that paradoxically and capriciously changes. Oh, and that has reminded me that the tense suddenly shifts from past to present then shifted back to past then shifts again all arbitrarily. Pathetic! Third: Unfortunately, the only constant that the narrative voice does have is a meaninglessly verbose style. While I laud Nabokov for one sentence that appears to be a paragraph, that is only because that sentence is composed of so many beautiful parts (all punctuated correctly, no less) that work together to create an even more beautiful image. This writing is more akin to the wandering, rambling speech of Grandpa Simpson which, while hilarious on The Simpsons, has no place within this story. Finally: The countless instances in which suspension of disbelief is just impossible. A whole city/country/world suddenly goes blind? Okay, sounds like an interesting premise—I’ll buy it. How the author has these newly-blinded people speak and act, well that’s just too much. My main gripe is actually with the primary protagonist, the Doctor’s wife, the only one who does not lose her eyesight. Her utter lack of action and sense of responsibility for the majority of the book almost made me quit reading. I would suggest that one of the themes evident is how readily civilization/morals/mores/humanity/meaning can deteriorate when something changes (like, for instance, being stranded on a desert island with only your schoolmates or Camus' The Plague). My contention is the seeing-woman, who is clearly supposed to be portrayed as the hero, is responsible for many of the injustices and just downright abominable acts that happen. Does she cause them? No. But does she prevent them from happening? No. After all, there’s some saying like “with great eyesight comes great responsibility” or something like that, but for all the trite aphorisms she spouts she must not have heard that one. Hers read like lines in a “B” (at best) grade movie: “We are already half dead, said the doctor, We are still half alive too, answered his wife,” “The woman I was then wouldn’t have said it, I agree, the person who said it was the woman I am today, Let’s see then what the woman you will be tomorrow will have to say…” and “it is his duty to follow her, one never knows when one might have to dry more tears.” All stagy, affected drivel. Finally, hey woman who can see: why not grab a damn flashlight when going down a dark hall or worrying about night setting in? Yes, silly things like that bothered me. They are the things I can overlook in that “B” action movie, but not in a good book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    spencer

    Like Stephen King without all the punctuation.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ram Alsrougi

    Shocking and enormous the universe of the Portuguese writer - the bright universe you are called to live through a fantastic story that is horribly unlikely to real. This famous book begins with a pandemic of blindness somewhere-anywhere, which is unexplained and extremely unprecedented, rather transmitted, so that in a few days the society of suddenly and abruptly blind and helpless people is created. This society is quarantined by prominent governmental actors and the rule of law that is still n Shocking and enormous the universe of the Portuguese writer - the bright universe you are called to live through a fantastic story that is horribly unlikely to real. This famous book begins with a pandemic of blindness somewhere-anywhere, which is unexplained and extremely unprecedented, rather transmitted, so that in a few days the society of suddenly and abruptly blind and helpless people is created. This society is quarantined by prominent governmental actors and the rule of law that is still not lacking in sight ... it is - as we all know - before the pandemic is being abolished. In this new society of white blindness prevails pain, panic, tremor, despair, and all about human nature in the face of the unknown and the absurd. They are described by the writer as remarkably cynical and intimate - somewhat away from the nervous breakthrough - as well as plausible. We are therefore beautiful and poetic to the collapse of all. In the abolition of everything, institutions-bonds-barriers-moral-ideas and, above all, the logic and sobriety of culture in the animal's mentality of the jungle. The next stage is the mutation of people - our fellow human beings - here begins the horror reading and the importance of the writer. Simple and everyday our neighbors are mutated from naturally calm and polite creatures to murderous rapists and blacksmiths. With a spin, a shine, all the limits are broken down without hope and consolation. Somewhere here is that you wish you had not touched this holy damn book. Here somewhere you realize the hell of the cursed is a step away from you. And here somewhere you realize that this book is legacy and true literature. The writer desperately unpleasant and cynical but bright and loving leads us to paths that could change the world. Just amazing! 😍😍😍 Many shouts !! 😍❤

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paquita Maria Sanchez

    Whoa! This will be a bit scatterbrained. Maybe I will come back later and try to really give this the long, well-thought-out review that it deserves, but right now I am too busy basking in a mix of discomfort and disorientation. Somewhat important fact concerning this book and my review and rating of it: I saw this movie first, and felt that it (to be totally clear) fucking sucked*, but was fascinated by the plot enough to randomly pick up this novel one day when I so happened to pass a faced-ou Whoa! This will be a bit scatterbrained. Maybe I will come back later and try to really give this the long, well-thought-out review that it deserves, but right now I am too busy basking in a mix of discomfort and disorientation. Somewhat important fact concerning this book and my review and rating of it: I saw this movie first, and felt that it (to be totally clear) fucking sucked*, but was fascinated by the plot enough to randomly pick up this novel one day when I so happened to pass a faced-out used copy of it. Basically, I went into it with my judgments high, readier than you could believe to just really hate all up on it. I've been holding on to it for several years, and started reading it the other day for no discernible reason other than the fact that my current poverty, unemployment, and general constant state of having "the Fear" have been driving me toward post-apocalyptic horrorscapes. I can only assume that this is so that I can comfort myself with several different somewhat subconscious thought-patterns, such as "Ehhh, it could always be a lot worse. You could literally be living in rags and surrounded by shit, rather than just figuratively." Well, this novel definitely takes that notion to a whole new level, through the hideous descriptions of the living quarters of the confined blind people, slipping in diarrhea, crawling on all-fours through piles of diarrhea, fucking in diarrhea, sleeping in diarrhea, eating food sitting in crates surrounded by diarrhea, vividly depicted rape scenes with descriptions of all manner of sex fluids mixing with blood and screams of terror and, of course, diarrhea; umm, this is an ugly book. I have a strong stomach, and there were actually 3 or 4 times while reading that I faintly felt like I was going to hurl. It takes a powerful writer to invoke such an emotional response as to actually elicit physical bad feelings, and he does not handle it with disrespect or embrace it simply for its shock value like, for example, that chicken rape scene in Pink Flamingos (aside: fuck that movie). Every element of terror in the book is carefully placed there in order to highlight the tenuous divide between man and beast. I won't bore you or insult your intelligence by explaining the metaphor of "blindness," but I will say that it is used well, and doesn't feel trite despite how sort of terribly obvious it seems. Be forewarned that the writing style may bother some people. If you were annoyed by the lack of punctuation distinguishing dialogue in The Road, then this book is most certainly not for you, as Saramago gives no formal names to his characters and frequently shifts who is talking in the middle of a sentence along with refusing to punctuate any of the dialogue. I can fall into the stream-of-consciousness style of writing as it is similar to my sloppy, random "thinking style," but I can also see how it is not for everyone. In this instance, it communicates the universality of the experiences the blind are facing, how they are all in the same boat (well, technically mental institution), all victim to the same needs to eat and sleep and defecate and piss and fuck and fight, so it is really of no concern who is speaking, as they are all screaming out the same frustrated banshee yell. This book is fantastique. Sorry for all the swearing and whatnot, but if you couldn't make it through this review without getting all fussy and wound-up, then you won't make it 50 pages into this kick in the balls of a novel. Consider this coarse review as my way of sparing you. *To be fair, I think part of me was just really pissed that THIS GUY was the big, mean, evil, rapey, sadistic, sociopathic creep in the movie. Come on! He just makes awkward boob jokes and has no social graces, but he's sweeeeeeeeet and imaginative and stuff, too. Okay, the silly girly-girl in me is done taking over this review, as she has made that nausea I was previously speaking of suddenly return.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gautam

    I had been idle on goodreads for several months due to a form of torpor arising from being workaholic. I had been toiling hard at my work to impress my superior and, concomitantly, get a hike or promotion (God knows why! No matter how much I get persistent in shunning the beaten track of life, I again get sucked back to it as if the common-place life is a giant blackhole, always ready to engulf back those who go astray from it). One day, 18th feb 2016, I started reading Blindness by Jose` Sarama I had been idle on goodreads for several months due to a form of torpor arising from being workaholic. I had been toiling hard at my work to impress my superior and, concomitantly, get a hike or promotion (God knows why! No matter how much I get persistent in shunning the beaten track of life, I again get sucked back to it as if the common-place life is a giant blackhole, always ready to engulf back those who go astray from it). One day, 18th feb 2016, I started reading Blindness by Jose` Saramago for no particular reason. Saramago, the Portugese writer, gave me a ticket instantly for a mental sojourn outside of the mettlesome and cumbersome reality that I am in, trapped. I am grateful. Into the pages, I dissolved. I grew wings and I flew into the realm of Blindness. My mind’s eye closed revealing a luminous white ‘blindness’, while my physical eye trudged past enthusiastically the haunting sequence of words that flows with a never ending turbulence. The full-stops are frighteningly less… before you reach a full-stop after series of run-on sentences, you will already be panting. But the exhaustion is an exhilarating one, not enervating. This is an exhaustion you get addicted to. Thank you Saramago for pushing me into a delectable state of exhaustion. An unknown person in an unknown land suddenly plunges into a strange blindness in the middle of a road. His visual canvas is suddenly painted all white, milky white, obliterating the colourful painting his vision once was, by an unknown ‘brush’. He sees nothing but absolute white. He screams out of sheer despair, out of sheer terror. Thus ‘Blindness’ has been born, unprecedented and devoid of any explanation. The eyes that fell victim to this white sickness didn’t spare anyone that had normal vision. With an unswerving determination, the disease spreads like an inundating fog. The government, in a frantic attempt to curb the unprecedented cataclysm, decides to confine the initial victims. An erstwhile mental asylum was chosen as the quarantine. Thus came together the characters of our story : Doctor, Doctor’s wife, first blind man, first blindman’s wife, car-thief, girl with glasses, boy with the squint and the blackman with eyepatch. In the realm of blindness ‘Names’ are insignificant, meaningless. In the realm of blindness, all factors like beauty, features, expressions, gestures diffuse into an all-obliterating white mist. The person’s identity narrows down to his voice alone. The voice that speaks out his soul. Who are you? I am the voice that you hear No matter what conditions strike humanity, there exists an animal nature that clings to everyone like a leech. Altruism and magnanimity are just a garb that one dons in good times. As soon as the wards of the asylum get inundated with victims, the animal nature looms out as the shortage of food and water became harrowing. As everyone is blind, there is no masquerade left for the animal instinct, and it sticks its head out in all its selfish ferocity. Hunger and despair drive everyone to madness. A clique of ruffians takes over the asylum using armed coercion, wresting control over the food and its supply. Soon the ruffians demanded women, money as payment for providing sustenance to the blind internees. Amidst the cataclysm of blindness and the paucity of life-sustaining food, the blind internees are forced to surrender their pride, their masculinity, their soul. Will they strike back? You got to read to know everything in its complete form. Saramago created an all powerful dystopian fable that is so haunting and so eye-opening that, we understand that once the deceptive and alluring vision is lost, the beautiful garb our soul has donned– our body- no longer exists and the soul itself looms out of the surface, revealing its fang. This animal nature resulting from the utmost despair and haplessness is beautifully portrayed in this ghastly novel of paramount significance. Excerpts from the novel expounds why humans are selfish and animal-like in the utmost sense: “Many hours have passed since he last asked his mummy, but no doubt he will start to miss her again after having eaten, when his body finds itself released from the brute selfishness that stems from the simple, but pressing need of sustenance.” “When the bowels function normally, anyone can have ideas, debate, for example, whether there exists a direct relationship between the eyes and feelings, or whether the sense of responsibility is the natural consequence of clear vision, but when we are in distress and plagued by pain and anguish that is when the animal side of our nature becomes most apparent” Saramago painted a very accurate picture of the’ blind’ world. He even refrained from naming his characters which is meaningless in an incorporeal world of blindness where a person is merely the voice he utters, and he possesses nothing, even the 8 or 9 inches of land his feet is on. Among the characters, Doctor’s wife is a tantamount to perfect composure and maturity. When all the blind people turned to mere hungry animals, she with her unswerving determination fed and guided the people she loved, saving them from a very terrible abyss. She is akin to Ma Joad of Grapes of Wrath, both being composed and essentially matured in the face of debilitating reality. But Doctor’s wife is much more intellectual than Ma Joad ( a simple lady) and has a philosophical inclination, if that is a big difference. She, the only one who could see, carried into her arms all the mentioned above, guiding them like a mother. She transcended her limitations as being a wife, a well-bred middle aged woman as you can see as you read the novel (I don’t wish to reveal anything that is important). I personally have chosen at random a dialogue by Doctor’s wife which shows how sturdy her character and resolve is, which is absolutely essential for anyone who is facing a crisis. “Do we have enough strength for this task of carrying this dead woman, asked the girl with dark glasses, The question is not whether we have enough strength, the question is whether we can allow this to ourselves to leave this woman here, Certainly not, said the doctor, Then the strength must be found.” As I turned the last page, though I was joyfully tired, a sharp pang of sadness developed in my heart. The strange, ensorcelling sojourn into the literary genius of Saramago has been fruitful, satiating. To revisit once more, though briefly, the world I visited, I, furtively, closed my eyes feigning that I am blind. Blindness. I smiled. 5 stars on 5! -gautam

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amos

    Saramago is an incredible writer and I think Blindness is, hands down, his best novel. There are no names in the book (the narrator identifies everybody by their traits) which makes the characters universal. In typical Saramago style, there are very few paragraph indents and very few periods, but a great number of commas. Also, as Saramago readers have come to expect, the language is deceptively simple yet loaded with meaning. Saramago conveys in half a dozen words what another writer would take Saramago is an incredible writer and I think Blindness is, hands down, his best novel. There are no names in the book (the narrator identifies everybody by their traits) which makes the characters universal. In typical Saramago style, there are very few paragraph indents and very few periods, but a great number of commas. Also, as Saramago readers have come to expect, the language is deceptively simple yet loaded with meaning. Saramago conveys in half a dozen words what another writer would take half a chapter to convey. Please note that when I say this I am not exaggerating. It is the absolute fucking truth. The premise is this: over the course of a few weeks, everyone in the country is suddenly and inexplicably struck with a case of white blindness. Only one individual in the whole country -- the wife of the opthalmologist who examined the first man to go blind and who was subsequently one of the earliest people to go blind himself -- is spared. She and her husband are quarantined in an abandoned mental asylum along with the others who are first struck by the white blindness. The rest of the book follows the story of her, her husband, and the other individuals who settle in their ward. Weirdly, even though the premise is so fantastical, the events that follow and the responses of the characters are written in such a way -- so close and personal and yet at the same time so universal -- that it's almost like you're reading a memoir of something that actually happened. There is something alarming about Saramago's ability to write like this. The universality of his language and his characters shouldn't create for such intensely personal dramas. But they do. Of all the authors that I've read in my life, it's something I've found only him capable of doing. And it shakes me every time.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Johann (jobis89)

    “Perhaps only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are.” An unexplained mass epidemic of blindness spreads throughout a city, afflicting almost everyone, as civilisation begins to fall apart. First things first, this book has an incredible premise and story but you gotta be prepared to put in a little elbow grease to get it! Unless, of course, you are used to reading walls of text with no speech marks and long-ass sentences that go on for half a page... That is honestly my only re “Perhaps only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are.” An unexplained mass epidemic of blindness spreads throughout a city, afflicting almost everyone, as civilisation begins to fall apart. First things first, this book has an incredible premise and story but you gotta be prepared to put in a little elbow grease to get it! Unless, of course, you are used to reading walls of text with no speech marks and long-ass sentences that go on for half a page... That is honestly my only real complaint about this book - once you got into the swing of it and you can sit and read for an extended period of time, it becomes second nature! But if you’re picking it up here and there it felt like hard work to get back into it each time. The premise is TERRIFYING and so disturbingly realistic. As civilisation breaks down and succumbs to chaos and destruction, the blindness amplifies what was already there in the first place - hate, greed, selfishness, theft, rape, murder. Sewage fills the streets, there’s no electricity, food is in short supply, dogs feed on corpses... Everything is stripped back as we are left to wonder what really makes us human? *Trigger warning for rape, by the way* Blindness is a pretty powerful dystopian novel with an incredibly harrowing message. We might be able to physically see, but what else are we blind to? I’d recommend this one for sure if the writing style doesn’t put you off - the audiobook might be a great way around that! 3.5 stars.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Χαρά Ζ.

    _Blindness_ In the first half of this book i was constantly thinking "We are fucking animals". I found everything that was going on to be disturbing and disgusting. You know that feeling, the one that you feel like you want to vomit a little bit. The thing that frightened me the most was that i got used to it while the book was progressing. I didn't mind anymore. It is pretty clear. If we ever get to be in this situation that's how things will go. Or even worse. In the second half we get to relax _Blindness_ In the first half of this book i was constantly thinking "We are fucking animals". I found everything that was going on to be disturbing and disgusting. You know that feeling, the one that you feel like you want to vomit a little bit. The thing that frightened me the most was that i got used to it while the book was progressing. I didn't mind anymore. It is pretty clear. If we ever get to be in this situation that's how things will go. Or even worse. In the second half we get to relax a little bit. The savage part is gone and yes, there are still parts of it here and there, but the tender moments, the human moments are so warm and real and beautiful that you cannot help it but feel the hope rising. Not everything is lost. Yes you may die, but the way you will do it reveals a lot for you. The way you decide to live, and whether you want to give up or keep fighting, that defines you. In a world like that there are still some humans left, real people, people who feel, people who help, people who do the right thing, people who love. And there are no names in the book. That indicates that these people, are universal people, they could be you and me and anyone. It's a very special book. Read it people, it's important.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    I’ve read more than my share of post-apocalyptic novels where humanity is suddenly wiped out by a sudden plague or enslaved by aliens, attacked by zombies, buried under snow or under volcanic ash. I have even read one about people going blind overnight in The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. Yet, none of them managed to touch me so deeply and to disturb me out of my comfortably numb daily routine as Jose Saramago’s account. There are no teenage chosen ones to pull us back from the brink of e I’ve read more than my share of post-apocalyptic novels where humanity is suddenly wiped out by a sudden plague or enslaved by aliens, attacked by zombies, buried under snow or under volcanic ash. I have even read one about people going blind overnight in The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. Yet, none of them managed to touch me so deeply and to disturb me out of my comfortably numb daily routine as Jose Saramago’s account. There are no teenage chosen ones to pull us back from the brink of extinction, no armed to the teeth Rambo’s to drive back the forces of evil, no scientists to discover a cure by the 25th hour. The blindness epidemic is as unavoidable as the radiation cloud closing in on the last survivors of the atomic holocaust in Nevil Shute’s novel On the Beach (my top choice for post-apocalyptic novels until this one). Blindness is also this, to live in a world where all hope is gone. While the description of the affliction and of the progressive dissolution of all social and moral institutions is ‘concrete and real’, (... no imagination, however fertile and creative in making comparisons, images and metaphors, could aptly describe the filth there.) I believe the correct way to read the novel is as a master metaphor of going through life blind to the fragility of our existence and of our ‘civilized’ way of life, ignorant or indifferent to the abuses and the violence going on all around us. This is the stuff we’re made of, half indifference and half malice. The phrase ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ has been used before, and the way the unnamed governement in the novel reacts to the first cases of the epidemic (first denial, then frantic damage control, later isolation and military guards with trigger happy fingers) is sadly reminding me that life beats fiction as I watch the unfolding events and the mass hysteria in the ongoing Ebola epidemic. I will not delve too much on the plot, as I believe the message is more important than the details. I could make a comparison and say the novel is kind of like Lord of the Flies with adults instead of children, devolving all the way back to the animal instincts, to predator and prey and ruthless selfishness. But it would be a false image. Yes, there is a group of isolated people in a kind of concentration camp, and yes, some of these people try to take the law into their own hands and treat others as slaves, but throughout the novel there is an enduring inner core that still distinguishes between right and wrong, there are still people who try to maintain their dignity and their integrity, who are ready to fight back and help a person in distress. The moral conscience that so many thoughtles people have offended against and many more have rejected, is something that exists and has always existed, it was not an invention of the philosophers of the Quaternary, when the soul was little more than muddled proposition. With the passing of time, as well as the social evolution and genetic exchange, we ended up putting our conscience in the colour of blood and in the salt of tears, and, as if that were not enough, we made our eyes into a kind of mirror turned inwards, with the result that they often show without reserve what we are verbally trying to deny. There is a writer at one point of the story, blind himself, yet still trying to put down on paper his thoughts in unintelligible scribbles goind up and down and crosswise over a blank page (my favorite cover of the novel among several). It may be a interpreted either as a pointless exercise, as the ultimate failure of art to help with real life and death problems, or as the irrepressible spirit of man that refuses to go silently into the night, that fights back against oblivion and hopelessness: ... words inscribed on the whitenes of the page, recorded in blindness, I am only passing through, the writer had said, and these were the signs he had left in passing. “Don’t lose yourself, don’t let yourself be lost!” I have looked through the rest of my bookmarks, and all the quotes I have selected are a reiteration of the basic conflict between the material dissolution and the persistence of the moral spirit. I believe they are self explanatory: If we cannot live entirely like human beings, at least let us do everything in our power not to live entirely like animals. --- The tuning knob continued to extract noises from the tiny box, then it settled down, it was a song, a song of no significance, but the blind internees slowly began gathering round, without pushing, they stopped the moment they felt a presence before them and there they remained, listening, their eyes wide open turned in the direction of the voice that was singing, some were crying, as probably only the blind can cry, the tears simply flowing as from a fountain. --- You have no idea what it is like to watch two blind people fighting. Fighting has always been, more or less, a form of blindness. --- Blind people do not need a name, I am my voice, nothing else matters. --- Dying has always been a matter of time. But to die just because you’re blind, there can be no worse way of dying, We die of illnesses, accidents, chance events, And now we shall also die of blindness, I mean, we shall die of blindness and cancer, of blindness and tuberculosis, of blindness and AIDS, of blindness and heart attacks, illnesses may differ from one person to another but what is really killing us now is blindness, We are not immortal, we cannot escape death, but at least we should not be blind.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ammara Abid

    I was too dumbfounded to speak yesterday. But I really want to speak my heart out but don't know how. Because this book is not an ordinary one, it's heartbreaking work of a genius, phenomenal, painstakingly brilliant, terribly terrific, exceptionally good, & one of the most horrible tragedy I have ever read. I never give spoiler in my reviews but I can't resist myself sharing few of my favourite quotes here, "If we cannot live entirely like human beings, at least let us do everything in our po I was too dumbfounded to speak yesterday. But I really want to speak my heart out but don't know how. Because this book is not an ordinary one, it's heartbreaking work of a genius, phenomenal, painstakingly brilliant, terribly terrific, exceptionally good, & one of the most horrible tragedy I have ever read. I never give spoiler in my reviews but I can't resist myself sharing few of my favourite quotes here, "If we cannot live entirely like human beings, at least let us do everything in our power not to live entirely like animals". José Saramago." "If I'm sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow?" "The difficult thing isn't living with other people, it's understanding them". "Replies do not always come when needed, and it often happens that the only possible reply is to wait for them". "Animals are like people, they get used to everything in the end". "They go around like ghosts, this must be what it means to be a ghost, being certain that life exists, because your four senses say so, and yet unable to see it".

  29. 4 out of 5

    Meike

    Saramago's Nobel prize is well-deserved: His writing is edgy and inventive, and while this is certainly no feel-good-lit, it is absorbing and fascinating. "Blindess" is a daring novel about human nature that avoids clichés and doesn't shy away from drastic descriptions. The story is more of a thought experiment: In an unnamed city, people suddenly start to go blind. The condition is spreading like an epidemic, and in an attempt to contain the disease, the blind are locked into a former mental ho Saramago's Nobel prize is well-deserved: His writing is edgy and inventive, and while this is certainly no feel-good-lit, it is absorbing and fascinating. "Blindess" is a daring novel about human nature that avoids clichés and doesn't shy away from drastic descriptions. The story is more of a thought experiment: In an unnamed city, people suddenly start to go blind. The condition is spreading like an epidemic, and in an attempt to contain the disease, the blind are locked into a former mental home and prevented from escaping by armed soldiers. But the mysterious blindess cannot be explained and understood, and thus not contained... Saramago plays with and subverts all kinds of tropes and ideas. "Blindness" can be read as an inverted version of Poe's The Masque of the Red Death, but more obviously, it refers to The Plague. In Camus' existentialist classic, the plague erupts, and the protagonist of the book is a doctor who goes on to do his job although he knows that he has no chance to beat this vicious opponent of an illness - he is like Sisyphus, performing a task both noble and absurd, while around him, the world crumbles. In "Blindness", one of the protagonists is an optometrist who has turned blind, and his wife is the only one who can still see inside the former mental hospital. Just like the plague, the spreading blindess randomly affects people - it's the futility, arbitrariness and resulting helplessness in the face of a world they cannot comprehend and master anymore that is the real challenge for the characters both in Camus' and in Saramago's books. And then there are of course the different reactions to this threat: As the rule of law cannot be enforced anymore and there is no government as well as no property, Saramago's society of the blind, composed of people ruled only by fear, introduces us to a situation that is a mixture of what different philosophers imagined a "state of nature" could be, but while some people show solidarity and try to form groups to help and protect each other, life generally becomes dominated by violence and selfishness (hey, fellow PoliSci nerds: It would be interesting to try and identify different governmental theories in there). You certainly have to be interested in questions like "how do societies function?" in order to appreciate this text, because the story is not fast-paced and does not necessarily go for suspense. Another interesting factor is Saramago's language, which is very dense. Most strikingly, there is a lot of dialogue, but there are no quotations marks, which plays well with the theme of blindess: You have to pay close attention where the voices are coming from in order to piece together who is speaking, because you don't see it, as the text does not clearly indicate it. I wouldn't say that the text is hard to read, but it sure makes the reader work. So all in all, while I didn't absolutely love this (which is also true for "The Plague", btw), I can clearly see (haha, sorry) why "Blindess" is a classic: It's an important book and highly recommended.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rakhi Dalal

    I read somewhere that this work of Saramogo, when published, was compared to Camus’ The Plague by many critics. Perhaps it is owing to the portrayal of a city facing an endemic in both works. On this account, the comparison is permissible. However, in my view, both works stand apart from each other. The reason primarily being that whereas The Plague, through an endemic, successfully brings forth the idea of solidarity among humans for a survival in an otherwise absurd world, Blindness on the oth I read somewhere that this work of Saramogo, when published, was compared to Camus’ The Plague by many critics. Perhaps it is owing to the portrayal of a city facing an endemic in both works. On this account, the comparison is permissible. However, in my view, both works stand apart from each other. The reason primarily being that whereas The Plague, through an endemic, successfully brings forth the idea of solidarity among humans for a survival in an otherwise absurd world, Blindness on the other hand, is a portrayal of collapse of humanity in the wake of an epidemic. Camus’ stance is an idealistic one in the novel as he strived to demonstrate that empathy and compassion make man’s life meaningful amidst meaninglessness, whereas Saramago doesn’t hesitate to bring forth to the surface human vices which debase humanity. He portrays how when faced with extreme situations the civilized humans reduce to the stage of being animals or even worse. Both works are quite powerful in their rendition. It is however sad to note that the latter is not a mere idea and has shaken the foundation of our social system many a times in the past, more evidently as aftermaths of world wars and holocausts. The novel starts with a man turning suddenly blind and thereby triggering an unknown and incomprehensible plague which turns the entire city blind except for one person. In the initial stage of the plague, government tries to restrain the situation by keeping the infected people isolated in an asylum but when the whole population goes blind, chaos reigns and the city turns into a hell. The most disturbing part of the novel is the one covering the events at asylum. All the unimaginable horrors become reality for the helpless victims of Blindness. They grapple with shortage of adequate food, unhygienic living conditions and uncertainty of future. The most gruesome event being forced sex imposed upon the female inmates in exchange of enough food for the members of their respective wards. Here Saramago unabashedly makes use of a language that may leave many uncomfortable but it achieves its purpose of delineating the horror of the situation to the reader who is left unnerved at the mere thought of such cruelty. And though the narrative kept me hooked, making me jittery through the entire course, there were few things which I couldn’t take in. First being the murder of the leader of thugs by doctor’s wife which in my opinion could have been carried earlier. Did Saramago deliberately wanted us to witness the rapes, thereby making the murder seem justified? The fact that only doctor’s wife could see and could have at least injured the leader or robbed him of his gun kept crossing my mind. The second thing was the willingness of male members to let the thugs abuse the women violently in exchange of food. It was quite extreme and kept me pondering whether the blindness robbed them not only of their sight but also of their thinking power. Or was it that it corrupted their souls too? Or did they let it happen for it made one thing certain amidst all the uncertainty hovering over them i.e. the availability of food? Do humans really degrade to such base a state in face of such pestilence? Or is it that they became blind not only physically but morally too? “Why did we become blind, I don't know, perhaps one day we'll find out, Do you want me to tell you what I think, Yes, do, I don't think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.” Blind people who can see but do not want to see. In that sense, the novel is also allegorical for it presents to us the picture of a society which is already blind. We are blind or indifferent when we witness injustice being perpetrated on helpless, powerless being abused or the innocents murdered. We are blind when none of it makes us shiver because it doesn’t disturb our normal lives, because we have become so used to living our isolated lives that the virtues like empathy and compassion have become obsolete terms merely. In this work, there are only two characters – ‘doctor’s wife’ and ‘the girl with dark glasses’ who seem to be concerned about others. ‘Doctor’s wife’, being the only one who can see, is the chronicler of the events who states things as they happen to us and ‘the girl with dark glasses’ being the only one who seems to have empathy for others. The work ends with blindness being lifted suddenly and people regaining their vision whereas no explanation is given for the cause of its occurrence. Regardless, the book leaves you pondering upon our social construct which is so fragile that it can easily crumble and collapse in the face of a devastation. A compelling read.

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