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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The fragility of democracy, 5 April 2010
This review is from: Seeing (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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Location: London

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