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Blindness by José Saramago
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Blindness (1995)

by José Saramago

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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10,076325434 (4.08)5 / 513
1990s (19)
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English (265)  Spanish (16)  Dutch (13)  Italian (8)  French (6)  Swedish (4)  Catalan (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (324)
Showing 1-5 of 265 (next | show all)
I'm not sure what to think of this book. Certain scenes (the second visit to the abandoned supermarket, and many of the conflicts occurring while the main characters are in quarantine) are really moving, cutting, or painful to read. The style also works well in many ways I think, especially the way conversations are presented.

On the other hand the novel seems really pompous at times—the narrator's criticisms of moralists who would look down on "the girl with dark glasses" or make judgments about her character based on her profession left a bad taste in my mouth; they felt moralizing in their own way, and also superfluous or unnecessary, as if remarks which basically amount to "don't make assumptions about people's character based on their profession, don't judge a book by its cover" were really novel or profound. The observations on human nature, morality, blindness, etc. which pop up in the novel often felt kind of clichéd or empty to me, a problem made worse by the fact that they're often delivered in (what felt to me like) a solemn, knowing tone. This isn't to say that clichés or "timeworn truths" are empty, just that it felt to me like the way they're delivered in this book feels pretty uncritical, and slightly pompous, self-satisfied, silly or moralizing. I have a sense that the book, which actually is quite effective at points, imagines itself as saying and being something far more insightful and original than what it actually says or is. ( )
  slplst | Jun 23, 2019 |
Ensayo sobre la ceguera es la ficción de un autor que nos alerta sobre «la responsabilidad de tener ojos cuando otros los perdieron».«Dentro de nosotros hay algo que no tiene nombre, esa cosa es lo que somos.»Un hombre parado ante un semáforo en rojo se queda ciego súbitamente. Es el primer caso de una «ceguera blanca» que se expande de manera fulminante. Internados en cuarentena o perdidos en la ciudad, los ciegos tendrán que enfrentarse con lo que existe de más primitivo en la naturaleza humana: la voluntad de sobrevivir a cualquier precio.Ensayo sobre la ceguera es la ficción de un autor que nos alerta sobre «la responsabilidad de tener ojos cuando otros los perdieron». José Saramago traza en este libro una imagen aterradora y conmovedora de los tiempos que estamos viviendo. En un mundo así, ¿cabrá alguna esperanza?El lector conocerá una experiencia imaginativa única. En un punto donde se cruzan literatura y sabiduría, José Saramago nos obliga a parar, cerrar los ojos y ver. Recuperar la lucidez y rescatar el afecto son dos propuestas fundamentales de una novela que es, también, una reflexión sobre la ética del amor y la solidaridad
  Haijavivi | Jun 7, 2019 |
Yipes. A single premise dystopian parable, badly and inaccurately translated. This book may be beautifully written in Portuguese, but with clumsy or worse phrasing the plot is not enough. Greater or lesser realism might have worked, but as it was there was neither a sense that this was a possible in the real world nor that the imagined world was interestingly different. Nobel or not, this was my second, and last, attempt at Saramago. ( )
  Eoin | Jun 3, 2019 |
Originale e molto riflessivo. Non basta vedere e se perdi la vista puoi perdere anche la dignità! ( )
  Ste1955 | Apr 24, 2019 |
Un capolavoro che tutti dovrebbero leggere per quanto è attuale e vero. ( )
  Feseven78 | Apr 17, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 265 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Saramago, Joséprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davies, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Desti, RitaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lemmens, HarrieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mertin, Ray-GüdeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pontiero, GiovanniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weissová, LadaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
If you can see, look.

If you can look, observe.

-- From the Book of Exhortations
Dedication
For Pilar
For my daughter Violante
First words
The amber light came on.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156007754, Paperback)

In an unnamed city in an unnamed country, a man sitting in his car waiting for a traffic light to change is suddenly struck blind. But instead of being plunged into darkness, this man sees everything white, as if he "were caught in a mist or had fallen into a milky sea." A Good Samaritan offers to drive him home (and later steals his car); his wife takes him by taxi to a nearby eye clinic where they are ushered past other patients into the doctor's office. Within a day the man's wife, the taxi driver, the doctor and his patients, and the car thief have all succumbed to blindness. As the epidemic spreads, the government panics and begins quarantining victims in an abandoned mental asylum--guarded by soldiers with orders to shoot anyone who tries to escape. So begins Portuguese author José Saramago's gripping story of humanity under siege, written with a dearth of paragraphs, limited punctuation, and embedded dialogue minus either quotation marks or attribution. At first this may seem challenging, but the style actually contributes to the narrative's building tension, and to the reader's involvement.

In this community of blind people there is still one set of functioning eyes: the doctor's wife has affected blindness in order to accompany her husband to the asylum. As the number of victims grows and the asylum becomes overcrowded, systems begin to break down: toilets back up, food deliveries become sporadic; there is no medical treatment for the sick and no proper way to bury the dead. Inevitably, social conventions begin to crumble as well, with one group of blind inmates taking control of the dwindling food supply and using it to exploit the others. Through it all, the doctor's wife does her best to protect her little band of blind charges, eventually leading them out of the hospital and back into the horribly changed landscape of the city.

Blindness is in many ways a horrific novel, detailing as it does the total breakdown in society that follows upon this most unnatural disaster. Saramago takes his characters to the very edge of humanity and then pushes them over the precipice. His people learn to live in inexpressible filth, they commit acts of both unspeakable violence and amazing generosity that would have been unimaginable to them before the tragedy. The very structure of society itself alters to suit the circumstances as once-civilized, urban dwellers become ragged nomads traveling by touch from building to building in search of food. The devil is in the details, and Saramago has imagined for us in all its devastation a hell where those who went blind in the streets can never find their homes again, where people are reduced to eating chickens raw and packs of dogs roam the excrement-covered sidewalks scavenging from corpses.

And yet in the midst of all this horror Saramago has written passages of unsurpassed beauty. Upon being told she is beautiful by three of her charges, women who have never seen her, "the doctor's wife is reduced to tears because of a personal pronoun, an adverb, a verb, an adjective, mere grammatical categories, mere labels, just like the two women, the others, indefinite pronouns, they too are crying, they embrace the woman of the whole sentence, three graces beneath the falling rain." In this one woman Saramago has created an enduring, fully developed character who serves both as the eyes and ears of the reader and as the conscience of the race. And in Blindness he has written a profound, ultimately transcendent meditation on what it means to be human. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:53 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"A city is struck by an epidemic of "white blindness." Authorities confine the blind to a vacant mental hospital secured by armed guards under instructions to shoot anyone trying to escape. Inside, the criminal element among the blind holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and assaulting women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers--among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears--through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation and a vivid evocation of the horrors of the twientieth century, Blindness is a powerful portrayal of man's worst appetites and weaknesses--and man's ultimately exhilarating spirit"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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