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Blindness by José Saramago (1995)


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English (239)  Spanish (15)  Dutch (13)  Italian (8)  French (5)  Swedish (4)  Catalan (3)  All (2)  All (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (296)
Showing 1-5 of 239 (next | show all)
I can't get past his style of writing. The story may be good but the telling is dreadful. ( )
  Kitty.Cunningham | Jul 19, 2017 |
What Happens?
One man goes blind for no reason and the contagion quickly envelops a country. The story follows the fortunes of a doctor’s wife who can see but fakes blindness to accompany her husband to a quarantine centre where their little group tries to survive first the institutionalised anarchy of the blind prison and later in a city that has abruptly come to a stop.
How is it written?
Saramago is seen as the master of recent Portuguese fiction, but anyway he has that flat style that is typical of the country. Sentences run to paragraphs, with commas replacing standard punctuation, switching between different character’s perspective and direct speech within the paragraph. In translation, at least, verb tenses get mixed up between present and past - presumably this is deliberate. You quickly realise this is Literature, since no character is named - they are identified by how we first see them (e.g. the woman with the dark glasses, and the dog of tears). If this sounds daunting, it is fair to say that 300+ pages fly by and the book is a page-turner.
Why should I read it?
Some readers might dismiss this book as a pretentious foreign language version of “Day of the Triffids” (John Wyndham). ’Blindness’ can be enjoyed as a simple story, engagingly written (somewhat in the manner of the Portuguese cult classic of Pessoa “The Book of Disquiet” which I ploughed through with an increasingly disquieting sensation that I was wasting my time reading style over self-indulgent absence of substance). At least with Saramago, stuff happens. Obviously, the underlying theme is human interrelation; and more, decency and what it may demand of us in a situation where all the established rules of society are thrown over when life, which we normally take for granted reveals it’s fragility. In this respect, a work very much like Albert Camus’ “The Plague” which has more overt existential baggage, but reaches similar conclusions. The visceral details make this an Iberian “The Road” (Cormac McCarthy) but Saramago is a more hopeful writer, whose sense of humour keeps poking through. ( )
  martinsowery | Dec 22, 2016 |
A terrifying and humbling glimpse at the true nature of the human beast. a compelling mix of 'Lord of the Flies', every zombie or plague apocalypse story, and written by a Nobel laureate. ( )
  Scerakor | Dec 20, 2016 |
Excellent book! This author's detail and storyline were incredible and very real. It's hard to write a review without telling what's involved. but I couldn't put it down. Unlike most books that I've read. ( )
  sh2rose | Sep 6, 2016 |
Interessting narrative on how civilssation falls apart. How easy people become animals and just the stronger or smarter survives. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Jul 6, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 239 (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 (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-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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