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Blindness (Harvest Book) by Jose Saramago
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Blindness (Harvest Book) (1995)

by Jose Saramago, Giovanni Pontiero (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,469265362 (4.11)5 / 452
Member:georgnbay
Title:Blindness (Harvest Book)
Authors:Jose Saramago
Other authors:Giovanni Pontiero (Translator)
Info:Harvest Books (1999), Edition: 1, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:None

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Blindness by José Saramago (1995)

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English (212)  Spanish (13)  Dutch (12)  Italian (6)  French (5)  Swedish (4)  Catalan (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (264)
Showing 1-5 of 212 (next | show all)
This one was quite a tough read. The style made it quite difficult to get through at times, and I often found it hard to get back into it after leaving it alone for a while.

The story in the former mental asylum was quite intriguing, but this came to an abrupt end and it felt a little like the book lost its way after this. Some interesting points and observations throughout, but I'm not sure what the book is trying to say overall. ( )
  fothpaul | Apr 28, 2015 |
[Blindness] by [[Jose Saramago]]

I am rating this 5 stars, but I can guarantee that I will never read it again. It is well done, but so hard. I could hardly bear to read it, but at the same time I couldn’t put the book down.
In this modern fable, a city experiences an epidemic of sudden blindness. The blindness is contagious, leading to futile attempts at quarantine, and then to a breakdown of the structure of the city. The blindness is figurative as well as literal. We see quickly how a veneer of humanity covers shocking brutality and selfishness.
Saramago is a good writer! He manages to develop his characters fully with a minimum of detail, and no names. The dialogue is told without punctuation, which makes it hard, at times, to figure out who is speaking and where the speeches stop and start. Somehow, this difficulty added to the impact of the story. ( )
  banjo123 | Apr 17, 2015 |
Because there are so many books to read and so little time, it is unlikely I reread books. But this book is so good I will read it again some day.
  TLkirsten | Mar 21, 2015 |
This is a hard book for me to review. It's translated from Portuguese with long paragraphs that have very little punctuation. There are no quotes for conversations and that makes it difficult to determine who is speaking. The story sure made me think of what life could be like when blind. I kept asking myself if an epidemic like this could actually be possible.

The author deserves the many accolades he has received. He is able to create scenarios that make you feel as though you are there. You get to know his characters and feel connected to them as the novel continues. You get a deeper understanding of human nature, both the good and the bad sides. Sometimes it's hard to continue reading because of disturbing occurrences but, by this time, you are so involved in the story that you must continue on to find out what happens.

I would have given this novel 5 Stars, but because of the format difficulties, I'm rating it 4 Stars. ( )
  pegmcdaniel | Jan 30, 2015 |
Challenging and disturbing. ( )
  anitatally | Jan 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 212 (next | show all)
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» 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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Epigraph
If you can see, look.

If you can look, observe.

-- From the Book of Exhortations
Dedication
For Pilar
For my daughter Violante
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:25 -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)

(summary from another edition)

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