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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
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...
Published on 4 Jun 2008 by Wuzart

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blindness
I came to read this book having been frustrated by the ending of "seeing" which is the sequel. This one was better, but the frustration remains: Samarango gives us a nightmare scenario, but never gives us any explanation for it, nor indeed any real resolution. The prose style is difficult and ultimnately many readers will be disappointed.
Published on 10 Oct 2007 by T. N. Bloomer


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 4 Jun 2008
By 
Wuzart (Wrexham, Wales.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blindness (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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars is not enough, 27 July 2008
By 
Boof (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Blindness (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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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking; disturbing; uplifting., 29 Feb 2004
This review is from: Blindness (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).
As well as giving us a tale which works perfectly well on its own, what-if terms as a bit of imaginative fiction, Saramago is obviously using blindness as a metaphor for moral blindness (how we turn a blind eye to human suffering; how we take our sight, health, wealth and so on for granted; how it is only possible for us to go on by ignoring how utterly fragile we actually are). The transcendent quality of the novel comes from the final third of the book, when the doctor's wife and her motley band finally find safety and clean water, and are able to wash (the dirtiness of the blind and of their world has become another powerful metaphor). Along with other extraordinary images noted by others (the Dog of Tears; the blindfolded statues in the church), this allows Saramago to transcend the book's grimness and leave us with a powerful statement of human compassion and survival against the odds.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a understated masterpiece, 24 Nov 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Blindness (Paperback)
This is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. I rember stumbling into a secondhand book shop on my year out in Australia, and stumped for choice, I asked an assistant for a recommendation. He said that Blindness wasn't in stock but that it was absolutely unputdownable. I bought it elsewhere, and a week of missing stops on the tube later I was inclined to agree. The stark, unpunctuated prose, and the nameless, almost two dimensional characters add to the feeling of disorientation and fear. Saramago uses his characters as vehicles to convey his complex themes extremely effectively, also allowing us to both experience the stumbling of the blind and to see the devastating effects through the eyes of the doctor's wife. The resultant breakdown of society and of the individual to its basest forms due to the contagion is both plausible and terrifying. Even within the raw, sometimes brutal prose there are moments of powerful imagery and symbolism that evoke intense emotion within the reader, such as the "dog of Tears" scene and the blindfolded images in the church. It is incredibly thought provoking, original novel that I cannot recommend highly enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Appreciate the wonder of the everyday, 27 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Blindness (Paperback)
This book was chosen by a member of my book group. I read it knowing nothing about the book or the writer. Not for the first time, I am indebted to my book group as I would be unlikely to have come across this book any other way.

The writer employs an unusual style: no quotation marks for dialogue, and many long sentences which frequently have a "stream of consciousness" quality. Despite this I found it easy to follow. Characters do not have proper names e.g. the doctor's wife, the girl with the dark glasses, the dog of tears etc.

The dystopian tale follows a group of characters as they come to terms with sudden blindness that ultimately affects the entire population. Society breaks down and the characters all question long held assumptions and form new and unexpected bonds with each other. The book is powerful and contains a few disturbing scenes. The more disturbing scenes are an intrinsic part of a tale that remind the reader of the fragility of civilisation.

The message I took from the book is simply a reminder to appreciate the wonder of the everyday - sanitation, drinking water, plenty of varied food, feeling secure - and, above all, the gift of sight. The book is original, unusual, compelling, and memorable. Since finishing it I have discovered there is a sequel called "Seeing". I'll be reading that soon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly rewarding, 26 Dec 2011
By 
Douglas (Madrid, Spain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blindness (Paperback)
José Saramago's writing style is unique and, at times, very dense given that he largely dispenes with paragraphs and character names, but well worth persevering with. Blindness, a book about the consequences of a whole population suddenly losing its sight, is harrowing, but only too easy to believe. The novel is hugely rewarding and Saramago tells us much about the dangers we face today and the facile political assumptions, such as democracy and law and order, that so many of us take for granted.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Turning a blind eye, 7 Nov 2011
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Blindness (Paperback)
I put off reading "Blindness" for a book group because the topic seems so bleak: an entire population becomes afflicted with a "white blindness", an authoritarian government tries in vain to contain the apparent contagion by imprisoning sufferers and those likely to be contaminated, but society degenerates rapidly into "primitive hordes" bent on survival.

Despite this, and a translation which may lack editing, after only one chapter into the book, I was hooked by the author's precise, dispassionate description of the first victim's experience of a sudden loss of sight, his reactions and relationship with others. In a kind of "La Ronde" chain reaction, the malady is passed on in an arbitrary way, with the focus on a small number of well-developed characters. One of these is the only one to remain sighted, which adds an extra twist to the plot e.g. should she reveal this fact, how can she remember to conceal it, how does her sight help the others to survive? She is of course well-placed to observe how people's normal inhibitions break down when they believe no one can see them.

The inevitable grim decline into anarchy is leavened with surprising acts of humanity and promising signs of people beginning to organise themselves as a rational means of surviving as long as possible.

Ironically, the aspect most likely to make me give up reading was the punctuation: no paragraphs or inverted commas. Once you realise that a capital after a comma is the start of a different person's comment, Saramago's technique certainly helps the meaning to flow more quickly into one's brain, but does give rise to occasional confusion over the speaker's identity. It's also harder to flick back and check on a point.

Saramago's tone is sometimes moralising e.g. over the promiscuous woman who has more empathy and compassion than other more upright citizens. He shows flashes of tongue-in-cheek humour, such as over people's tendency, even in a crisis, to pontificate about or latch on to theories of redemption on one hand or principles of organised systems on the other.

The characters find time to philosophise:

"We're dead because we're blind."
"Without a future, the present holds no purpose."
"Don't ask me what good and evil are, we knew what it was each time we had to act when blindness was an exception, what is right and wrong are simply different ways of understanding our relationships with the others, not that which we have with ourselves."
"Revenge, being just, is something human. If the victim has no rights over the wrongdoer, there can be no justice."
"Do you mean that we have more words than we need?" - "I mean we have too few feelings. Or that we have them but have ceased to use the words they express. And so we lose them."
"If I am sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow?"

Despite all their patience and ingenuity, all the characters seem doomed to die prematurely of starvation and disease, yet, as Saramago observes, death is our ultimate fate anyway. I am left unsure that I have fully grasped the author's intended message: I think he is concerned about the abuse of power, but seems more preoccupied with the individual soul than mankind's pillage of the earth's resources. Whatever his intentions, the book certainly seems topical in our current unstable situation and stimulates ongoing discussion.

The story reminds me of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road", and in the same way, after a harrowing journey, ends on a perhaps surprisingly positive and upbeat note, paving the way to the sequel "Seeing" which I shall certainly read - but not straight away!.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding., 3 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Blindness (Paperback)
I was convinced that this was one of the best books I had ever read even before I finished this Nobel Prize-Winning author's masterpiece.

It's unbelievable how such a simple concept can be so terrifying, engaging, and enjoyable. It has some deeply dark, nasty moments, and is definitely not for the easily offended.
Poignantly, through an epidemic of blindness the author opens our eyes and minds to the brutality and animalistic instincts of our race. Also, the sheer dependency of society on the contributions of the people in it, and how fragile it all actually is.
The scary thing about this book is that the depiction of the degradation of the world as we know it is so damn believable.

In his writing, Saramango is bold enough to break traditional storytelling methods; the characters do not have names and are referred to with simple descriptions like 'the old man with the black eye patch', speech marks are completely absent even though there is a lot of speech in the book, and many sentences roll on for a long time, punctuated only by the occasional comma and capital letter.

I can't recommend this book enough!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 3 Nov 2010
By 
This review is from: Blindness (Paperback)
I was reluctant to read this, because I'd seen the film before I even knew there was a book. But it is brilliant - compelling, compassionate, gripping without being full of orchestrated suspense, while at the same time full of terror and fear. The film was a faithful rendition, though some important episodes in the book (and of course the interior life of the characters) have been left out.

Definitely recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute MUST, 16 April 2010
By 
Silvia Lemon - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Blindness (Paperback)
This book simply has to be read! Dramatic, frightening, enlightening, an absolutely fundamental part of one's personal library
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