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العمى by جوزيه ساراماجو
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العمى (original 1995; edition 2002)

by جوزيه ساراماجو (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,997318434 (4.08)5 / 510
Member:almoadhadi
Title:العمى
Authors:جوزيه ساراماجو (Author)
Info:دار المدى (2002), 379 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:Read, PDF, In-B-ogs

Work details

Blindness by José Saramago (1995)

1990s (19)
To Read (19)
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English (259)  Spanish (15)  Dutch (13)  Italian (8)  French (6)  Swedish (4)  Catalan (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (317)
Showing 1-5 of 259 (next | show all)
We don't know the city; we don't know the country. The author provides very few identifiers, and the result is that this could be anywhere. As with other dystopic literature, this adds to the bleak circumstances that befall its characters. It also invites speculation of "would that happen here?" It would. People suddenly go blind; people who haven't (yet) gone blind quarantine those who have. There are those who attempt to establish a functioning society within the abandoned mental institution where they have been placed. There are those who cannot or will not follow the norms of a civil society. And there are the guards who are so frightened of becoming blind themselves that they keep the blind "inmates" at a great distance and will shoot anyone who tries to escape.

The first part of the novel deals with the experiences in the mental institution and also with the character development of one particular group of blind people. The conditions are brutal inside: excrement everywhere. Remember, no one can see where they are, and the plumbing doesn't work anyway, even if they could reach the bathrooms in time. There is the wretched stench associated with excrement and dirty clothes on dirty people. There is unequal distribution of rotting food; sexual violence; no fresh water.

The second part of the novel is no less brutal. The guards are all stricken with blindness and desert their posts. The "inmates" flee. The environment they enter is no better than the one they just left; in fact, because they have no way to tell where they are and where they're going, and because even if they could find their old domiciles, marauders (these, remember, are people who are struggling to survive with blindness as well) have broken into many of the homes and food establishments.

An interesting twist to the storyline is that one woman can see. She keeps that to herself for a long time, wisely realizing the complications and expectations that would befall her, but for the group that she is with, she often assures survival.

At the end of the day, life goes on in its various ways, and I'll avoid a spoiler. Saramago's writing style can be challenging, but I feel that if I understood his various literary devices, I'd understand how they enhance this very disturbing novel. And it IS very disturbing. When I finished it, I had to read a book about fairies, just to allow all my foreboding to evaporate. A little. ( )
  PatOsborne | Jan 18, 2019 |
When I was six, I got the greatest gift of my life.

In my neighborhood in Jerusalem at that time, it was not customary to distribute gifts on birthdays. Just like any other family with little means, the joy itself was enough. However, at six I received one; A pink pair of bicycles, huge as if they had once belonged to another girl who was fed up with them. Back then Dad was still at home; He tried to teach me how to ride my new bikes with a strong push down the street, then when I was wounded he gave up, panicked, then left. Forever. However, I did not give up, for days I fought those bikes. I fell, crashed, injured, and threw them angrily on the floor until I learned to ride correctly. Then for years, I rode on them whenever possible.
Moreover, I loved them. Mainly Because this bikes (metaphor spiking) gave me wings. They made me more stable, faster, and they also gave me my freedom and a little memory of the time when mother and father were still happy before Dad had left home.

However, One day they were too small for me. Mom sold them to the parents of another six-year-old girl in our neighborhood and did not buy me another bike, and I? I did not ride a bike anymore. Every once in a while I would remember everything I got from them, the painful things and the freedom they gave me even though I have received a few more gifts in my life since then, I still remember this bicycle as the greatest gift I have ever received.

In his book "blindness," Jose Saramago gives almost all his characters an eye-opening gift. These are their big, pink bikes, the ones that will teach them about the real freedom in life. However, in Saramago's book, there is no bicycle. Instead, he embraces his ( )
  mazalbracha | Jan 12, 2019 |
Jose Saramago uses literary techniques in Blindness that I don't usually like: I'm unlikely to start, let alone finish, any novel that lacks quotation marks and contains page-long paragraphs. Here, though, they generate momentum, helping the stories and existential themes in Blindness become so compelling that I had a hard time putting the book down.

Some scenes are brutal, almost necessarily so, because Saramago focuses on what separates humans from animals. The book is vivid, memorable, and very likely to inspire introspection. ( )
  LizoksBooks | Dec 15, 2018 |
Partiendo de la base que José Saramago nació en el seno de una familia de clase media baja, que careció de medios económicos para estudiar, y que sus ideologías progresistas fueron poderosamente censuradas... tener el privilegio de poder leer libremente 'Ensayo sobre la ceguera' y otros de sus grandes títulos es algo que cualquier lector que se precie sabe valorar.

Popularmente, el ensayo de Saramago está al alcance de todos. Su comprensión es sencilla y su lectura es amena e interesante. Sin embargo, la crudeza de su narración hay que tenerla en cuenta. La sensibilidad de los más aprensivos puede verse resentida en determinados fragmentos que se exponen sin tapujos, sin temores, sin la temida censura.

Repentinamente, una epidemia muy contagiosa hace que la población de un país (que no se determina, ni tampoco se determina si se expande a nivel mudnial) se quede completamente ciega paulatinamente. El pánico empieza suavemente hasta estallar en el corazón de la obra. José Saramago aprovecha este argumento, esta trágida cirunstancia, para reflexionar, no tan sólo sobre la imposibilidad de ver, si no también sobre las facetas más crueles y egoístas de la sociedad y el ser humano.

Su forma de escribir es diferente a cualquier otra. Los personajes no tiene nombres propios, siendo identificados por características genéricas: El médico, la mujer del médico, la chica de gafas oscuras, el niño estrábico, etc. La razón de esto, puede ser, tal vez, que carece de importancia su identidad en sí, pues se pierde lo que son, o lo que eran, en el momento fulminante de que son encerrados en cuarentena en un manicomio abandonado. Sea como fuere, no se necesita tener detalles minuciosos de cada uno e ellos para conocerlos, empatizar con ellos y apreciar su evolución (o des-evolución).

Condierado un genio, la literatura de Saramago puede antojarse caótica en ciertas partes. Sus diálogos son escritos sin guiones, sin puntos. Separados por ',', sin respetar los sígnos de puntuación ni ciertas reglas ortográficas, queda latente que para el escritor premio nobel era más importante en contenido que la forma del mensaje. Es complicado pensar através de su mente, pero se puede llegar a conocer mucho de sus ideas a través de su escritura tan personal.
( )
  MiriamBeizana | Dec 3, 2018 |
This book had one of the worst writing styles - if that's what you can call that. He didn't use quotation marks so it was hard to follow who was speaking. He also used commas in place of most periods. It was strange and extremely difficult to get through. The story also had a lot of religious undertones which I didn't care for. This is one of the few times I'll easily say the movie was way better. It took me a month and a half to finish because I almost dreaded reading it. Why did I finish it? I wanted to see if it ended differently than the movie. ( )
  thisismelissaanne | Oct 29, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 259 (next | show all)
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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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Epigraph
If you can see, look.

If you can look, observe.

-- From the Book of Exhortations
Dedication
For Pilar
For my daughter Violante
First words
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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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