Blindness by José Saramago

Blindness is a novel by Portuguese novelist and winner of the Nobel prize for Literature José Saramago which involves a whole city being engulfed by an epidemic which consumes their sight till all they see is a milky whiteness. The authorities with no action plan on how to deal with such a problem decide to confine the first victims in an empty mental hospital where without the authiorities to help the blind, disorder and corruption start to appear starting with the stealing of food rations from other inmates escalating to the sexual assault of the woman interned there.  All the time this is going on there is one person who can see the nightmare unfolding around them. After seeing and dealing with as much as is humanly possible things come to a head, whereby the outcome is that the gates of the quarantine zone are opened letting the detainees leave and head back into the city. A group led by the seeing walk through the streets of their old home finding first hand the horrors that ensue when a twentieth century city falls in to mayhem and madness.

Although i took quite a while to read the book due to Christmas getting in the way, i really enjoyed it. The style of writing is also quite strange, it took me a while to get used to it but once i did i found it rather easy to follow. Although this is my first book by José Saramago i believe this is quite normal for the author. Taken from wikipedia:

Like most works by Saramago, the novel contains many long, breathless sentences in which commas take the place of periods. The lack of quotation marks around dialogue means that the speakers’ identities (or the fact that dialogue is occurring) may not be immediately apparent to the reader. The lack of proper character names in Blindness is typical of many of Saramago’s novels (e.g. All the Names or The Cave). The characters are instead referred to by descriptive appellations such as “the doctor’s wife”, “the car thief”, or “the first blind man”. Given the characters’ blindness, some of these names seem sharply ironic (“the boy with the squint” or “the girl with the dark glasses”).

My only trouble with the book is the ending and that’s not saying i didn’t enjoy it, its just that i found the questions raised within the book to be much more interesting than the ending. I’ve also tried to come up with an ending that i would prefer and i still haven’t come up with anything bettter and i’m not sure there is. that said maybe he address’s this in the sequel to blindness called Seeing. I’ll let you know when i get around to reading it…



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