- 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: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Blindness Paperback – 2 Sep 1997
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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)
Top Customer Reviews
The book also has minimal punctuation so that it takes a while to get used to and also sometimes to work out who is speaking. But it works and in fact the writing is wonderful. It could be read on many different levels, as an allegory or parable, there are many biblical references throughout, blindness of course is often used as a metaphor. There is one startling scene with the doctor, his wife and a prostitute which makes one think of the situation being an eye opener - the doctor's wifes' eyes were opened to her husband - I think if I re-read the book I would see many more allusions and themes such as redemption, human relationships, and altruisim versus selfishness.
Of course the book is harrowing, in a way I was putting off reading it, but ultimately it is uplifting and I am intrigued to know there is a sequel, Seeing. Blindness was made into a film in 2007.
I needn't have worried. Yes, it's a thought-provoking allegory, but it's also a page-turner. The style plunges you into the heads - and the terrifying predicament - of the protagonists. The lack of familiar punctuation to give shape to the sentences and the dialogue, like the lack of names for the characters, is all part of an immersive experience that leaves you, like them, groping around the story, trying to get your bearings, fearful of what you're not seeing and what you're about to stumble onto. And it works. It's like having an intelligent conversation while binge-watching The Walking Dead.
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.
Published in 1995, the translation is by Giovanni Pontiero, 1932-96, who died before completing the task, subsequently fulfilled by Margaret Jull Costa. Very soon this translation engages the reader’s interest and Saramago’s literary hurdles are significantly lessened.
The opening is dramatic as a motorist is struck down with blindness at a busy cross roads. As the driver says ‘it’s as if I were caught in a mist or had fallen into a milky sea.’ Soon the condition is spreading across the unnamed city, although the means of transmission and aetiology baffle medical specialists. The book centres on one group of people, including the driver, who are amongst the earliest to be affected. These are simply referred to as ‘the doctor’, ‘the girl with dark glasses’ and ‘the old man with the black eyepatch’, ‘the boy with the squint’. The reader is forced to imagine, ‘see’, these characters rather than being able to read their descriptions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautifully and sparsely written. Not exactly cheery, but excellent and it lingers in the mind long after finishing.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
I cannot say in all honesty that I enjoyed this book. Yet it may be one of the greatest works of imaginative literature that I've read. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Fishbonealice
While Saramago's novel has an interesting premise, I am afraid it failed to stir my emotions. The stream-of-consciousness style will not be to everyone's taste (although I quite... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Diogenes
The literary equivalent of Superman vs Batman. Staggering potential and an epic hook that is dwarfed only by its failure. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Ian F.
A classic of its genre. Can be challenging read due to its structure but worth the effort!Published 13 months ago by FDouglas