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Blindness Paperback – 2 Sep 1997

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (2 Sept. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860466850
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860466854
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 102,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

1998's Nobel Prize winner for Literature, José Saramoga, has, with his astonishing and superb story Blindness, written one of the finest European novels of the last 20 or 30 years. Portugal's best-known writer--but like many Nobel winners hardly a household name in the UK--Saramoga has created a formidable and beautiful body of work deserving (and receiving) the very highest recognition. From the sublime, humanistic The Gospel According to Jesus Christ to the intelligent, metaphysical The Cave, Saramoga challenges, warns, argues but also entertains and enlivens through the truth of his transcendent and highly cultured fictions.

Suddenly, while stopped at a red light in his car, a man goes blind. A "white evil" obliterates his vision plunging him into light as fathomless and impenetrable as the darkest night. A crowd gathers and one man is kind enough to see him home. It is not long, however, before an epidemic of the new blindness causes the government to act in the most authoritarian and fearful of ways, throwing many of the recently disabled into a mental asylum, guarded by scared, trigger-happy soldiers, left to fend for themselves.

While Lord of the Flies might seem an immediately similar reference, Saramaga's work has both more craft and more acuity than William Golding's tale. Blindness is a luminous piece and a wonderful starting point for readers seeking a scrupulous and wise guide to these injudicious and myopic times. --Mark Thwaite


Extraordinary...a tour de force of thought-experiment and feeling-experiment (Observer)

This is a shattering work by a literary master...a book of real stature (Boston Globe)

Saramago repeatedly undertakes to unite the pressing demands of the present with an unfolding vision of the future. This is his most apocalyptic, and most optimistic, version of that project yet (Independent)

He writes a prose of particularly luminous intensity, brilliantly rendered into English by his regular translator Giovanni Pontiero... Sweepingly ambitious (The Times)

A powerful fable (Scotsman)

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Wuzart on 4 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
I read this book after it was highly recommended to me by a good friend and i can honestly say it's up there with the best books I've ever read. It takes a while to get used to the writing style of different authors but with Saramago this is even more the case because of the way he avoids the use of punctuation etc. This can seem a bit confusing at times, but it does nothing but heighten the confusion felt my the blind condition of the population so it works a lot better than it sounds. There is a movie of the film due out any time soon and from the trailer I would say it's nigh-on spot on to the images the book conjured in my minds eye, which is no mean feat.

The story covers all the expected 'stuff' when society is faced with it's breakdown: filth, chaos, death, relationships, strength - ranging from sheer horror (with regards to the conditions the people have no choice but to experience) to odd moments of utter delight. But the bit that hit me like a bolt was a page towards the end: I guarantee you will never thing about a glass of water in the same way again.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Boof VINE VOICE on 27 July 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is amazing, incredible, breathtaking. It was recommended to me and once I started it 2 days ago I have barely been able to put it down. This book has just earned a place in my top 5 ever books and deservedly so.

The story starts with a man in his car at traffic lights who goes suddenly blind. He is helped home by a stranger, who a few hours later also goes blind. Within a few days the blindness has spread round half the city and also those afflicted are herded up by the government into a disused mental assylum and left alone. The wards quickly become overrun with filth and chaos ensues. In the middle of this, though, we get to know a handful of characters very well and it is really their story that we follow through the neverending days, lack of food and riots. The whole story is told through long paragraphs of uunbroken text. There are no quotation marks, hardly any punctuation and none of the characters are given names.

I admit to being concerned that I would find it difficult to overcome the lack of punctuation, but for commas and fullstops, and the lack of names (characters are referred to in such ways as the girl with dark glasses, the boy with the squint etc) but not only was it very easy to get used to this it actually added to the story. Also, although the characters don't have names, I found myself identifying with and caring about these characters far more than I have done in other books as Saramago writing drags you in and you find yourself unable to let go. It's as though I was "there". Genius!

If you read nothing else this year, make it this. It is astounding and I only wish I could award more than 5 stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David H J Ashdown TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 July 2013
Format: Paperback
If you don't mind the rather dated way of writing and the fact that the translation from the original Portuguese seems to be quite stilted at times , also none of the characters are given names apart from "The Doctor", "The First Blind Man", "The Boy with a Squint" etc. this at first appears strange but after a while it actually improves the overall effect. The terrible treatment of the people who suddenly go blind appears to be a metaphore for the way humans treat all minority groups. The tension and chaos that ensues is palpable. At the end you're left imagining that our dependency on modern conveniences such as electricity, sanitation , government and all other things we take for granted are the only things that distinguish us from all other living creatures - A sobering thought
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Kenneth W. Douglas on 29 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
This may well be Saramago's greatest book (and he did win the Nobel prize, after all). It is one of that very rare class of novels which deal with terrible events, and should by rights be a depressing read, but instead leave the reader uplifted and more able to deal with life's horrors: the only real parallel I can think of is with Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones", and not with Golding's "Lord of the Flies".
A man stuck at traffic lights suddenly goes blind in his car. Passers-by who come to help him (or not) are soon similarly afflicted. An opthalmologist can't come up with a diagnosis, and is soon blind himself. As the contagion appears to be spread by close contact, the authorities are soon interning the sufferers at gunpoint in an abandoned lunatic asylum. After a horrifying bloodbath, the survivors break out of the asylum to discover a desecrated, almost post-nuclear city, inhabited by wandering bands of the blind...
On the face of it, Saramago goes out of his way to make things difficult for the reader: the text is virtually unpunctuated, and none of the characters are named. He also gives us frequent authorly "asides" on the action: as noted by other reviewers, it is not always clear how to take these, but they seem likely to be meant ironically rather than literally. Despite these apparent obstacles, the novel actually reads like a thriller, and the reader may well find it unputdownable (I certainly did).
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