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Blindness by José Saramago (1995)


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English (227)  Spanish (14)  Dutch (13)  Italian (6)  French (5)  Swedish (4)  Catalan (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (281)
Showing 1-5 of 227 (next | show all)
5***** and a ❤

A man stopped at a traffic light suddenly goes blind. Within hours others who have been in contact with him also go blind. The government quickly quarantines the afflicted in hopes of stopping the "epidemic," and chaos quickly ensues. The only person who retains eyesight is the wife, who becomes our narrator.

What happens when government and the rules of society break down? This extraordinary book will really get you thinking!

Saramago is not for everyone. His style is difficult (a paragraph may be 3-4 pages long; a sentence, over a page), but I thought this was one of the best books I have ever read. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 10, 2016 |
Another excellent book that I found by working through the 100 New Classics list. I'm categorizing this with classic books such as 1984 because it is shocking in the sense of changing how the world works and leads you through the implications that arise. Excellent! ( )
  deldevries | Jan 27, 2016 |
Well, what shall one say? Saramago definitely deserved the Nobel Prize. His style is highly special and the way he deals with the topic of blindness and a society breaking apart is brilliant! This book is as shocking as it is a pleasure to read. On the one hand there is the apocalyptical frame of people going blind and being sent into inhuman quarantine and society completely falling apart, on the other hand there is his writing style and the philosphy behind the story.
All in all, I recommend this book!
  catalina8 | Jan 19, 2016 |
Through the eyes of children, we get a sense of the social consequences of passive, pervasive racism. The damage that can be done to the fragile self esteem of the weak, seeping in through the very climate of a culture. A black child praying for blue eyes, in the belief that such a simple beauty could change her reality. That her parents rage would be calmed, the cruelty of children quieted, and the indifference of society would be lifted. This tragic story is blanketed in stunning prose, a poetic but versatile command of language enriches every line of Morison’s work. ( )
  Alidawn | Jan 16, 2016 |
Imagine that you're in your car, stopped at a traffic light; suddenly the whole world goes white and you're blind. This is how Jose Saramago's award-winning novel opens. With a single man struck by blindness. Eventually this blindness spreads to every person he has been in contact with, from the person who helped him home, to his wife, to the eye doctor he saw and all the patients in his office. It spreads rapidly, prompting the government to quarantine all of those who have been blinded and all of those whom have had contact with the blind. An abandoned mental asylum is chosen as the quarantine location. The internees are guarded by soldiers who are terrified that they too will go blind, treating the blind as little more than criminals, with orders to shoot if the sick and contaminated get too close. The rest of the novel tells the story of what happens within the wards of their confinement.

This novel surprised me. I had previously heard of it, and thought it was something I might like to read, so I was fairly pleased when my book club made it our August selection. What I had not expected was to be hooked from start to finish. I literally sat up until 2:30 in the morning finishing the book, unable to put it down to go to sleep. Even after I did go to sleep, I laid awake thinking of it. Saramago seems to have a very strong grasp upon human nature which made the book feel real. Given today's society, if some medical crisis of this nature were to actually occur, I could easily see that our own collapse would happen in nearly the same fashion he described.

Saramago's writing style is experimental. He uses almost no punctuation beyond commas and periods with miles of sentences in between. None of the characters are given names, instead referred to by defining characteristics such as the doctor, the first blind man, the car thief, the man with the black eye patch. For some this could be off-putting. For me it was perfect. I thought that the stylization only emphasized the bleak reality of the blind, their lack of identity and the breakdown of civilization into chaos. However, this could deter a lot of readers, which is unfortunate because if you can past that into the real heart of the story, it is completely unforgettable.

"Then, as if he had just discovered something that he should have known a long time ago, he murmured sadly, This is the stuff we're made of, half indifference and half malice." ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 227 (next | show all)
¿Qué pasaría si, un día, nos volvemos todos ciegos por una extraña epidemia? Esto se lo pregunta José Saramago y su respuesta es esta apasionante novela. Saramago teje una apasionante historia que te engancha y de la que no puedes salir porque piensas que podrías ser tú uno de esos ciegos, y quieres saber qué les pasa.

Pero Ensayo sobre la Ceguera es mucho más. http://www.destejiendoelmundo.net/201...

» Add other authors (28 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Saramago, Joséprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davies, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lemmens, HarrieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mertin, Ray-GüdeÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pontiero, GiovanniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weissová, LadaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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