A stunningly powerful novel of man's will to survive against all odds, by the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature.
“This is a shattering work by a literary master.”—The Boston Globe
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year
A city is hit by an epidemic of "white blindness" which spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and raping women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers—among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears—through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation and a vivid evocation of the horrors of the twentieth century, Blindness has swept the reading public with its powerful portrayal of man's worst appetites and weaknesses—and man's ultimately exhilarating spirit.
Brilliant Portuguese fabulist Saramago (The History of the Siege of Lisbon) has never shied away from big game. His previous works have rewritten the history of Portugal, reimagined the life of Christ and remodeled a continent by cleaving the Iberian peninsula from Europe and setting it adrift. Here, Saramago stalks two of our oldest themes in the tale of a plague of blindness that strikes an unnamed European city. At the novel's opening, a driver sits in traffic, waiting for the light to change. By the time it does, his field of vision is white, a "milky sea." One by one, each person the man encounters--the not-so-good Samaritan who drives him home, the man's wife, the ophthalmologist, the patients waiting to see the ophthalmologist--is struck blind. Like any inexplicable contagion, this plague of "white sickness" sets off panic. The government interns the blind, as well as those exposed to them, in an abandoned mental hospital guarded by an army with orders to shoot any detainee who tries to escape. Like Camus, to whom he cannot help being compared, Saramago uses the social disintegration of people in extremis as a crucible in which to study the combustion of our vices and virtues. As order at the mental hospital breaks down and the contagion spreads, the depraved overpower the decent. When the hospital is consumed in flames, the fleeing internees find that everyone has gone blind. Sightless people rove in packs, scavenging for food, sleeping wherever they can. Throughout the narrative, one character remains sighted, the ophthalmologist's wife. Claiming to be blind so she may be interned with her husband, she eventually becomes the guide and protector for an improvised family. Indeed, she is the reader's guide and stand-in, the repository of human decency, the hero, if such an elaborate fable can have a hero. Even after so many factual accounts of mass cruelty, this most sophisticated fiction retains its peculiar power to move and persuade. Editor, Drenka Willen. FYI: Paperback editions of The History of the Siege of Lisbon and Baltasar and Blimunda will be issued simultaneously.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A tour de force, what an incredible imagination coupled with a deep knowledge of the human heart.
At the end of the book there is a publishers note regarding the translation. At times the book was difficult to read due to improper punctuation. Several instances where use of quotation marks would have been helpful, very annoying to read dialogue between multiple people and commas are used to intermediate between what each person is saying and no indication of who said what.
I don't normally read these types of novels, but this one is really an awesome read! Would recommend it to anyone!!