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Blindness by Jose Saramago

Blindness (original 1995; edition 1998)

by Jose Saramago

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,790310428 (4.09)5 / 501
Authors:Jose Saramago
Info:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (1998), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library

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Blindness by José Saramago (1995)

1990s (19)
To Read (19)

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English (252)  Spanish (15)  Dutch (13)  Italian (8)  French (5)  Swedish (4)  Catalan (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (309)
Showing 1-5 of 252 (next | show all)

Una reflexiva historia que cuenta más de lo que aparenta.

Lee mi reseña completa aquí. ( )
  LuisBermer | Sep 2, 2018 |
This book was picked out by a member of my book club. None us had read or seen the movie or knew much about it general. It’s my understanding it was referred to her by a friend and she thought it sounded interesting. I was not a fan of this book. This is the first book I’ve ever read that was translated and in my copy there are no quotation marks or sentence structure and it was pretty confusing to tell when someone was talking and to whom they were talking and who was saying what and who was replying. Even more so confusing since none of the characters had names. Getting past all those issues and onto the actual story, it just was not my cup of tea. There were parts that were good and entertaining but over all I didn’t really care for it. I think that was the overall vibe from the whole book club too. My favorite parts were the parts from when they were still in quarantine. After they got out of the facility it honestly got kind of boring. ( )
  JessVillafane | Aug 25, 2018 |
Like many books that create a buzz in the literary circle, Blindness is not very entertaining, the characters are not the most endearing, there is often something missing in the translation, and in this case, the author doesn't use quotations.
Not very appealing, right? Except the book is a little bit genius. It pulls this magic trick that I didn't see coming, that one where a book seems okay, and then grows on me after I walk away. Blindness is an interesting thing to be written as a plague. Like all plagues, it creates fear in society, however; there is no fear of death. Therefore, the stricken go on living, but without the ability to see, or to be cared for by others. The struggle of a society with an epidemic on it's hands and how it can bring out the worst in people was a part of the story from the beginning, but it was after the book was finished that the deeper truth and insight of how chaos and evil are lurking just under the surface of society. It is waiting to come out at the first sign of unrest, and will fully bloom when the government falls.
That concept isn't exactly original, but the way in which it is delivered is quite original and done well. So while this isn't one of my favorites of all time, there is a lot to be said for a book that stays with it's reader well after it has been read, and I have a feeling that I will remember the details of Blindness for a lifetime. ( )
1 vote StephLaymon | Aug 12, 2018 |
This is a tough read. Little punctuation, characters without names, and a disturbing tale told thru the eyes of a single narrator. Check other reviews for the storyline. This is really well written, insightful and disturbing. A little "The Road" a little "Animal Farm", this Nobel Prize winning novel is so thought provoking, it would make a great book club selection! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
I have a lot to say about this book; some good and some bad. This book is very much a post-apocalyptic read and shows how quickly civilized society can degenerate into chaos. It was a fairly engaging read but I had some issues with it. I wouldn’t say I actually enjoyed it all that much, this isn’t really a story you enjoy. I really have no idea why it won so many awards because the concepts didn’t seem all that original to me.

The premise is that a epidemic of blindness quickly hits the population of a city (we never find out how widespread it really is). The government tries to contain it by putting the people who are initially blind in a mental hospital. Conditions both outside and inside of the mental hospital quickly degenerate.

I had a lot of issues with the writing style. Saramago seems to believe that punctuation is optional and uses mostly commas through the book. Capitalization is also spotty. This is one of those books you kind of have to just read out loud in your head and go with. If you concentrate too much you’ll get confused by the lack of any structure to the writing. It reminded me a bit of “The Reapers are the Angels” by Alden Bell...but much worse. Once I fell into the writing style I didn’t have an issue following it, but each time I sat down to read it I had to kind of get back into a certain mindset to follow it.

The premise is actually pretty basic. Something horrible happens and society descends into chaos. Anyone who has read any type of post-apocalyptic novel has read this before (whether it be illness, epidemics, zombies, or the moon crashing into Earth) the unraveling of society is always similarly portrayed. The biggest difference here is that everyone goes blind. While it was interesting to realize how much people depend on their sight to keep things going, it wasn’t all that unique of an idea or that unique of a representation of societal collapse.

I had a lot of issues with some things in the story. First of all a lot of what happens in the mental hospital seems contrived and flat out silly. Why would 200+ blind people let themselves be demoralized and tortured by a small group of blind inmates (~ 15 of them) just because one of the blind guys has a gun? Yes, some people are sheeple and fear will make that worse...but I have a really really hard time believing people would allow that to happen and not do something. The violent raping and torture of women seemed especially gratuitous and didn’t really add anything to the story; I am still struggling to see how this really added anything to the story. People, at least the ones I deal with, aren’t that accepting of their loved ones getting hurt and would self-organize and deal with any issues. The guy with the gun couldn’t even point it and see for goodness sake.

I also found it really hard to believe that society outside would degenerate that quickly. I mean people are very clever and they can easily come up with ways to deal with a loss of sight. I thought this was overall a very bleak and depressing look at what would happen if the dregs of society lost their sight. I could think of a million ways people could develop ways to navigate with sound or by feel and find it hard to conceptualize everyone starving to death rather than innovating solutions to deal with blindness. So...yeah...I struggled with a premise...a lot.

The ending was bizarre and completely unrealistic. It had me rolling my eyes in exasperation.

Overall this was an okay book. The story is strangely engaging and it was a fairly easy (if not pleasant) read. The writing style takes some to get used to, but it did give the story urgency and fit the tone of the book well. The premise was hard for me to swallow. This was a very very adult read and very violent so just FYI. I would recommend to those who like post-apocalyptic reads that are written in a different sort of writing style. I personally won’t be reading anymore of Saramago’s books. ( )
  krau0098 | Jun 22, 2018 |
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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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If you can see, look.

If you can look, observe.

-- From the Book of Exhortations
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 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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