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Blindness (1995)

by José Saramago

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Blindness (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
11,291353442 (4.07)5 / 547
"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)
  1. 203
    The Road by Cormac McCarthy (browner56, ateolf, lilisin, petterw)
    browner56: Two harrowing, well-written looks at what we can expect when society breaks down
  2. 140
    The Plague by Albert Camus (amyblue, roby72)
  3. 60
    The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (infiniteletters)
  4. 50
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding (petterw)
  5. 72
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (Simone2)
  6. 41
    José Saramago: A Consistência dos Sonhos - Cronobiografia by Fernando Gómez Aguilera (Ronoc)
  7. 10
    Death with Interruptions by José Saramago (Birbuv)
  8. 10
    High-Rise by J. G. Ballard (bertilak)
  9. 21
    In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster (BenTreat, Vonini)
    BenTreat: Both books are personal, tragic accounts of the collapse of civil society.
    Vonini: Same surreal feel, absent government, feeling of people being left to their fates, creeping despair, dismantling of society.
  10. 10
    Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (petterw)
  11. 10
    State of Siege by Albert Camus (colagold)
  12. 00
    Into That Darkness by Steven Price (lkernagh)
  13. 11
    White Noise by Don DeLillo (chrisharpe)
  14. 12
    Rhinoceros by Eugène Ionesco (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Surreal epidemic spreads through the population.
1990s (22)
To Read (29)
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English (282)  Spanish (17)  Dutch (13)  Italian (10)  French (6)  Portuguese (Portugal) (4)  Swedish (4)  Catalan (3)  Portuguese (Brazil) (3)  German (3)  Portuguese (2)  Danish (2)  Hebrew (1)  Arabic (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (352)
Showing 1-5 of 282 (next | show all)
Hobbesian depravity reigns when everyone in an unnamed city mysteriously goes blind. A wonderfully dark premise by which to explore human behavior and psychology. Saramago knew only a woman left sighted would serve others, though it’s damning that her heroism manifests in servitude. I disliked the more contrived scenarios (e.g., blind women meekly accepting gang rape for food). The style mimicked disorienting blindness: this book is written in ~100 long, run-on sentences without standard punctuation to guide the reader. ( )
  jiyoungh | May 3, 2021 |
I finished reading Blindness a few days ago, and have not until now tried to write a review just because I am still musing about it. As the 5 stars attest, I am among those that did like the book very much, but I can see why it is a book that is not attractive to many. Saramago leaves the reader meandering about the possible “message” of this story, to the point of it seeming almost meaningless. If some authors are guilty of proselytizing, Saramago – in the opposite spectrum - lets us alone make our own conclusions about it. This way, and only in this way, it reminded me of Suttree by Comarc McCarthy, or better yet, The Road, which like Blindness has a claustrophobic effect on the reader.

I read it in Portuguese, and I don’t have in me now to read it again translated into English, as I previously meant to do. I found it so emotionally exhausting to follow these individuals trapped in a Kafka like universe that this book is going to stay among those that I loved but never intent to re-read.

Saramago’s prose is not poetic or beautiful. The imaginary he paints is bleak, and his narration is dense and deep. He writes strenuous long sentences, broken only by comas. This is especially hard while reading dialogues, because often it is impossible to recognize who said what. But as literary devices, these all add to the impact of the story being told.

As for the story itself, it made me reflect on the meaning of “humanity”. What is it, and how fragile is it? Can we retain our humanity if the basic structures of civilization crumble? And can we find it in something as simple as a cup of clean water? I don’t know if those were the philosophical questionings intended by the author, but I don’t think it maters. At the end, I believe the author is just there to make us wonder, and wonder I did.
( )
  RosanaDR | Apr 15, 2021 |
DNF 2nd read at p91. Read it in Dutch years ago, still not thrilled by it. ( )
  HeyMimi | Dec 28, 2020 |
Really interesting concept but I couldn't get past the writing style. The mix of translation to English and lack of punctuation was difficult to get past and made reading this an enjoyable experience.
  JustZelma | Dec 20, 2020 |
Fuck everything about this book. It's full of plot holes and a bunch of people who spend their entire time acting stupidly instead of fixing their damn problems -- just so the author can wallow in misery porn. Avoid this book unless you're looking for something that'll make you want to shove scissors into your eyes. ( )
  isovector | Dec 13, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 282 (next | show all)

» 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
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The amber light came on.
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"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.

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