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Seeing Paperback – 4 May 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker (4 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843432323
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843432326
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,428,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

José Saramago was born in Portugal in 1922 and has been a full-time writer since 1979. His oeuvre embraces plays, poetry, short stories, non-fiction and novels, which have been translated into more than forty languages and have established him as the most influential Portuguese writer of his generation. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.

Product Description


"An interesting and topical subject, but heavy going and low in ready entertainment value." -- The Works

"Seeing is a worthy companion to his brilliant novel Blindness…" -- The Week Magazine

"This is political satire delivered with rare intellectual gravitas" -- The Mail on Sunday, 16th July 2006

"a brilliant, cruelly ironic, surreal exposé of what we think of as civil society…". -- John Burnside, Scotland on Sunday

"the narrative voice is impressively uncompromising" -- Sarah Emily Miano, The Times

' this dense, dark and occasionally brutal book he never forgets the satirist’s duty to be funny.’ -- Sunday Times: Peter Parker

'Seeing is a profound fable.' -- John Gray, New Statesman.

Book Description

'Nothing I can remember reading tells me more and with such arresting humour and simplicity, about the imposture of the times we live in' - Julian Evans, Independent --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
TERRIBLE VOTING WEATHER, REMARKED THE PRESIDING OFFICER OF polling station fourteen as he snapped shut his soaked umbrella and took off the raincoat that had proved of little use to him during the breathless forty-meter dash from the place where he had parked his car to the door through which, heart pounding, he had just appeared. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Yestermoro on 27 Sept. 2006
Format: Paperback
A sequel of sorts to Blindness, I would recommend you read that book first, as, while not vital to the plot's enjoyment, it certainly embellishes the sparsely illustrated back story and gives a clearer idea of just how bad things got four years previous to (and referenced throughout) this novel's chronology.

Saramago is a challenging writer; his insistence upon endless prose with little to no puntuation, and a refusal to give names to characters, let alone use the conventions of paragraphs and speech marks for dialogues, all add up to a slower, more arduous read - but perhaps a more detailed and careful one for that.

The story is as outlined, but I would say that I disagree with the other reviewer, insomuch that I felt the second half was plot driven as the first, rather it becomes a slightly different plot - an investigation. The story moves from macro-study to micro-study, but throughout, as with Blindness, concerns itself with the paranoia of power and the desperate, despicable methods invoked to maintain power and control.

Personally, I enjoyed Seeing more than Blindness, but that is mainly because Blindess is a far more harrowing read, not that Seeing is the better novel. Seeing shows us the folly and weakness of those in power - something one can examine with a degree of (powerless?) complacency; Blindness holds a bleached mirror up to each and every one of us and terrifies.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DTK Molise on 5 April 2010
Format: Paperback
"Seeing" is the ostensible follow up to Saramago's "Blindness" and is once again focused on an unnamed city (Lisbon) and an unnamed populace. Whereas Blindness focused on the fragility of human nature, and how an epidemic of blindness brought about the reduction of humanity to animals, Seeing focuses its gaze on the fragility of democracy. For Saramago democracy is as inherently fragile as human nature - when a spate of blank votes forces politicians and leaders to reject just what they are trying to defend.

This book started off very well and if you enjoy Saramago's writing style then you will enjoy the first 50 pages or so as he develops his thesis. However, here is where the flaw exists - he just does not know when to stop. At one point the narrator even explains that he does not know where this story is going and that is what I, as the reader, also felt. The book then moves onto a more functional narrative following a detective as he investigates those suspected of leading the so called "blankers". Luckily it comes in time and manages to save the book from itself and finally finishes with some crisp writing leading the political assassination of a number of characters.

To conclude I think it is important to note that Seeing is not nearly as good as Blindness (and probably does not work as a single piece of work). The idea underpinning the book is intellectually engaging but it is not enough to carry the story. Only when we are given a functional narrative does the book actually begin to work properly. All in all this is a flawed piece of work but commendable nonetheless - there are not many writers grappling with such important themes and to do them with his individual sense of style is even more important. One for the Saramago purists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 April 2012
Format: Paperback
Translated from the Portuguese, "Seeing" by the Nobel prize winner Saramago was published in 2004 as a sequel to "Blindness" which came out nine years previously.

"Seeing" can be read as a "standalone" although the final section makes more sense and has more poignancy if you have read "Blindness" which describes the rapid social breakdown after a nameless city is struck down by an epidemic of blindness in which everything appears white.

Whereas "Blindness" contains passages of almost unbearable but plausible violence and degradation, "Seeing" seems quite mild at first, more of a political satire. After a city election in which 83% of the votes casts are blank (parallel with white blindness?), the Government is uncertain how to respond to this apparent act of mass subversion, and takes a number of crass measures in which democracy and freedom are steadily crushed. Beneath the figurehead of a benign President, the Prime Minister assumes ever more roles as a sinister intelligence service exerts control in the background. The irony which seems to escape their leaders is that, far from breaking out into crime and disorder as predicted, people seem to behave much better when left to their own devices without being governed. Also, if they really start trying to organise themselves against the state, it is because they have been driven to it.

In a country like Portugal which experienced recent dictatorship, Saramago's vision seems very apposite, and his tendency to write in allegories is understandable.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sam J. Ruddock on 16 May 2007
Format: Paperback
Four years ago a City was hit by a plague of blindness. It was contagious and there was no cure. Before long the entire population was blind and the City descended into savagery. But one woman retained her sight, leading her friends to survival. Through it all she had to watch as the savage and horrific events unfolded. But then, as quickly as it started, the blindness began to ease, people regained their sight and everything returned to normal.

This was the plot of the startlingly original and thoroughly terrifying novel from Portuguese Nobel Prize winning author Jose Saramago. `Blindness' was a pleasure to read, as is `Seeing'.

We are now four years later and it is election day. But when the results are announced the government is devastated to discover that over 70% of the votes cast are blank. Not spoiled, not abstained, just blank. They hastily call a new election but the results only get worse, now over 83% have cast blank votes. The Government panics, indignantly struggling to contain what they see as a strike at the very heart of democracy. But there is no sign of where this conspiracy has come from, no sign of what criminal mastermind is behind it all. They declare a state of emergency and blockade the City, to teach the people a lesson about democratic responsibility.

Just as in `Blindness' the premise behind this novel is absolutely fantastic. There are few books which are as timely or whose satire is as incisive and funny. The portrayal of a pseudo-dictatorial democratic government dogmatically using every dirty trick in the book to dissuade the populace from dissent is disturbingly believable.
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