One of the best pieces of fiction I have ever read. It is a challenge to read it, no doubt, as there are no character names or even quotation marks to indication dialogue between people. It's like reading Faulkner, in some ways. But once you get the hang of it, it is an amazing story about an epidemic of white blindness that strikes a town, and eventually spreads around the world. It is a commentary as to how society treats the ill, and poses questions as to the disaster preparedness and reaction by the government, military and humanity as a whole. A superb book!
A novel in which an entire population of people is struck with "white blindness" and the general breakdown of civilization which ensues. We follow a group who are linked by having all been exposed to the blindness in (ironically) an opthamologist's office. They are among the first of those to be rounded up and put into quarantine in what used to be a mental institution, and left food and supplies at erratic intervals, but otherwise left to their own devices.
It's a very abstract, allegory-type novel, not your everyday straightforward bestseller. You know there's a deeper meaning beyond the surface but you have to really work a bit harder to get the full experience.
The author won the Nobel Prize for Literature for this novel in 1998.
This is fascinating, brutal, horrifying ... truly stirs up the imagination. Think Lord of the Flies with blind people. Very sad in places, and amusing in others. Saramango is a very adept author, excellent at sharing his visions with the reader, and this is accomplished in some part by his unique style of punctuation. This is a surprisingly quick read, but not for the faint of heart.
The storyline sounds good, and the story even starts out good. It begins to go downhill very quickly. It's VERY abstract and lacks important punctuation. You really have to concentrate to read it, it's not a leisure book at all. I didn't even finish it. I couldn't keep up!
Saramago has a unique writing style and while it feels like everything is running together he has a way a making one feel as though he is writing to them. This one I read after reading his THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS CHRIST (an alternate version of the life of Jesus) and was so wowed by it that BLINDNESS shortly followed.
How would you react if suddenly one day, in the midst of doing something that is part of your normal everyday activity, you went blind and then everyone around you went blind, everyone you came into contact with became blind. Would you, could you, How would you survive? Call it hysterical, biological, the plague, call it whatever you want but focus on the reality of surviving in the dark while totally surrounded by darkness, this is the opportunity for searching out the soul.
This is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting and startling books I have ever read. I have read it three times and have bought copies for several friends. It is not like my normal selections, but I think it is a novel that everyone should read.
What a smart story from a fabulous Portuguese writer. You will love the way this plot unfolds as one adventure after another evolves in the horror of mass blindness (hysteria?). The author is well-known for his satiric slant in which the foibles of us humans is brought into the blinding light for everyone to see. And as quickly as the crisis erupts so the resolution is very satisfying and uplifting. Definitely worth reading. Check out his other books as well; "All the Names" is equally fascinating.
I bought this book from a used book store because, frankly, I couldn't ignore the accolades from the masses. I knew it was going to be a bit of a frustrating read (ala Falkner and lately, Cormac McCarthy...but I did indeed like several of their books regardless...)
I can't lie, I thought the style was dull as dishwater, and felt it belonged more in the science fiction genre. I kept an open mind from beginning to end, but it's lessons and irony never moved me or struck me in any way as a 'must read'. As the story unfolded, I found nothing surprising or fascinating even by descriptions - for human nature's sake or otherwise. I can't help but feel it gained more of a cult following for it's 'artsy' avante guard nature.
This is my second favorite books out of all my favorite books ever! Jose Saramago is such a wonderful writer and he should be better known. Blindness deals with the aftermath of the whole world going blind, starting with a man suddenly and for no reason at a red light. The characters are so believable, the plot wonderful. I have no complaints and doubt anyone else will either.
More of a social commentary with a bit political satire, not so much a thriller as it sounds. You are never told why the blindness occurs but the way this book is structured and written, you don't care. Oh, and the author's writing style takes a while to get used to (no punctuation). I do think this was a brilliant book, but it takes your full attention to understand.
For those who like to compare movies to book, there was a movie released that was pretty true to the book. This may sound odd but I prefered the book for the most part (the descriptions of people going blind and then the subsequent quarrantine and life inside jail) but really liked the movie ending since seeing the emotions on the actors faces was more "real" on screen.
I don't know what I could add to the reviews already written about this book.
Yes, it is harder to read than a "leisure book" or what I call "cotton candy books". You know, the kind of books that are easy and even fun to read. But when you put them down you put down the story too. Like cotton candy on your tongue they dissolve in your mind.
This is not those books. This book lacks punctuation and character names. What is doesn't lack are questions for the reader, a harrowing plot, and unfolding drama--even horror.
I'm listing this book because I want other people to read it. It is a book that should be passed around and read.
This is one of my favorite books. It took me a few tries to get into the story because the style is very different. The most striking characteristic is that none of the characters have names. They are identfied by their titles such as 'The Doctor' and 'The Doctor's Wife'. This was a very dark pessimistic tale but with a great ending. Some scenes were so horrific that I had to read on just to see the purpose of them. Utter chaos and confusion were two very good motivaters for finding out what happens at the end.
Saramago explores the social repurcussions of a vast plague. The "white blindness" strikes randomly, afflicting its hosts with loss of sight. What would happen to the fabric of our social order if a sudden, mysterious disease strikes? Are we organized to contain it? Are we humane enough to help the afflicted? The author paints a nightmare portrait of a society consumed with fear. He deftly portrays the worst (and the best) of human nature. The horrors in the novel are not easy to stomach, but like a nasty car wreck, you will find it difficult to look away and impossible to forget. (Faint-hearted readers beware: this is not your book)
This book is one of the 'best-books-that-I-almost-didn't-finish' (along with Marilynne Robinson's "Gilead"). It is a difficult text to read, with unusual formatting and a lack of quotation marks for dialogue. What is interesting is that this creates a metafictional "blindness" for the reader: you have no idea at first who is talking and what is going on. As you adjust to it, you begin to follow this downward spiral, hoping beyond all hope that despair and cruelty will not win the day, and that the unexpected heroes will survive. After "Blindness" marinates in your mind a bit, you will enjoy it for the rich questions it provokes about the nature of humanity.
What would happen if over the course of a few weeks everyone in the world went quickly, irrevocably and inexplicably blind? How would we survive? What would become of our society? To what lows would we stoop? It's an interesting and frightening premise. What would you do if one day you found yourself to be the only sighted person left in a world where everyone else has gone blind? The story is powerful and gut-wrenching and well worth the read if you can get over the writing style. But that's a big if. There is a distinct paucity of punctuation in this novel. There are no quotation marks despite many conversations making it sometimes difficult to tell who's speaking, sentences ramble on such that more than four on a page is a rarity, and paragraphs continue for pages--one paragraph I counted took up 14 pages. At first I found this very distracting and I had difficulty paying attention through the monotony of the punctuation-good luck finding a stopping point--but eventually I got used to the writing style. My big questions, though, is: why? What's the point of writing this way? The story also lacks personal identifiers. We never know which city or even what country the story takes place in and no characters are referred to by name, only by designations such as "the boy with the squint" or "the girl with the dark glasses." You'd think that the author would've gotten tired of writing "the old man with the black eyepatch" when "Bob" would have served just as well, but I found this bit of quirkiness to make the story more interesting instead of less. This book was originally written in Portuguese and it was filled with lots of sayings I'd never heard before, which I very much enjoyed. This is a thought-provoking book that I'd recommend to anyone who won't be too put off by the writing style.
I got this book after seeing the 2008 film. It took a while to get used to Saramago's train of thought writing with no punctuation to indicate a change in speakers. Once I started reading at the pace of a real conversation, it went much more smoothly.
I think it was accurately described as "Lord of the Flies with blind people". Although, some of the "breakdowns" of civilization are a little far fetched in my opinion, and some likely problems were ignored.
As for the style, the lack of punctuation only increased my respect for Saramago's writing because each sentence (or clause) was crafted so that if you pay attention, it is always clear who was speaking and to whom. This only became vague where it was intentional and benefited the story.
I would absolutely recommend this book to others. Just note that the book does slow down after the exciting beginning, but don't allow yourself to become uninterested. It is worth reading through, not because there is a climatic ending, but because the story can only be properly evaluated as a whole.
I did not particularly like this book. I can understand why some do, because it is a unique premise. It reminded me of "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy, which I did not particularly like either, in that it is an apocalyptic-type tale written strangely with no quotation and rambling sentences where you weren't always sure who was speaking. None of the characters are named-they are referred to as the first blind man, the woman with insomnia, the doctor's wife, etc. While it was interesting, perhaps it was too realistic for me, with details that often sickened me. Those with stronger stomachs and psyches can probably appreciate the exploration of society and our humanity, but not I.
Blindness is one of the best books I have ever read.It's more than a book, but a classic that people will be reading generations from now. It's the story of what happens in an ordinary world, when the whole world, slowly but surely loses their sight. It's about how they live, who they are and who they become as people.In the year that it was publish, Blindness was a New York Times Notable book of the year and a Los Angeles Times Best book of the year. The year after it was published,Jose Saramago was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. I'm tempted to get every copy of this book off of PBS just to give to all of my friends.
Unbearably tedious and extremely boring!! I was so annoyed that I had actually purchased this silly book. Sorry to disagree with the majority, but I can't believe this is so highly touted. Jose is no great writer - don't waste your time or money on this one.
Having all those people go blind reminds me of the beginning of The Day of the Triffids, though I read that one so long ago that I can't recall the details. It is an interesting idea, but I found this book annoying right from the start, with the author's decision to do away with the use of quotation marks, and worse than that, his careless and frequent shifting from the present or present perfect to the past tense. I'm not sure yet if I can bear to finish it.
This is an interesting book about an unknown city in an unknown country that is plagued by an unknown "white blindness" that first strikes a man driving his car. It soon spreads to the man's wife, the doctor who examines him, and other people with whom he has come into contact with. Soon it turns into a national crisis with hundreds of new blind victims turning up daily. The blind are first kept quarantined in an old hospital, guarded by the military, but it quickly becomes apparent that the entire country or city has become blinded, and chaos ensues.
This is a great book written by a talented author, but it has some unique features. First, his sentences are very long and run-on sentences, sometimes going the length of a full page. Secondly, he uses no quotation marks when characters are speaking; you can figure out who is speaking from the other details, but it sometimes gets confusing and I had to backtrack frequently to figure out where I left off. Finally, the characters themselves don't even have proper names like one would expect in a more mainstream novel. Instead, the author identifies his characters by their relations to one another: the first blind man, the first blind man's wife, the doctor, the girl with the dark glasses and so on. Because of all this, it took me longer than usual to read this book, but I'm very glad that I did.
I disturbing book about human nature. Saramago is one of my favorite authors, and this is written in a more common style than the other novels by this author though I love his unique style. "Blindness" addresses human nature both in a positive and negative way. It also addresses the fear and inadequate nature of governments, all governments. This is a great read though not a lite read.
Interesting concept. Different execution. Strange writing style. I'm not entirely sure if it was a translation thing or if Saramago just writes without punctuating (which I've glanced at one of his other books and it seems to be the case). The story is very deep in the sense of examining what it is to be human and how vastly different reactions and personalities can be in events of crisis. And it does a superb job at commenting on what it is to be blind metaphorically as well as literally.
I really liked this story....kept me interested and reading well into the night after I should have stopped and gone to sleep. I've heard that the movie that was made from this is not worth watching, so I will just keep the story fresh in my mind from the book. The characters were all very interesting, story flowed well. I have thought about this book long after finishing it, and recommended it to many. It's very dark, and disturbing, but plausible?
This book was really hard to get started because of the style in which it was written, but I'm very glad I stuck with it. This book was amazing. It made me uncomfortable and claustraphic just reading it... I was so sucked into it I felt like I was blind at times. Very moving.
Interesting story, and although there was a conclusion, I wanted more of an answer for why it all happened. Everyone turns blind, and then suddenly they gain back their sight. In between, terrible chaos. Terribly depressing. Good job on some of the characterization, but felt something was missing for a few characters.
Yes I've read the other reviews and yes this is not a book for the light hearted. What it is though is one of the most profound pieces of work written. It makes you think. Absurd to say it, but the blindness in Saramago's novel is an allegory for not being able to see. What exactly it is we should see, what Saramago -- with all his years as a man and a writer and having lived through dictatorship and revolution -- fears we cannot see, is present in the writing, present abundantly, but it is not to be paraphrased.
I found this book strangely disturbing. It was well done, interesting situations explored and how society can go from bad to worse.
I found the fact that no one had a name in this book very interesting. As if being blind made having a name mute and just the description of oneself is what is now important since you can no longer see.
I found some of the situations just not all that believable in that I don't think most people would act like that and more would have stood up for themselves.
Interesting and disturbing. Something you will think about long after finishing.
I have a lot to say about this book; some good and some bad. This book is very much a post-apocalyptic read and shows how quickly civilized society can degenerate into chaos. It was a fairly engaging read but I had some issues with it. I wouldn't say I actually enjoyed it all that much, this isn't really a story you enjoy. I really have no idea why it won so many awards because the concepts didn't seem all that original to me.
The premise is that a epidemic of blindness quickly hits the population of a city (we never find out how widespread it really is). The government tries to contain it by putting the people who are initially blind in a mental hospital. Conditions both outside and inside of the mental hospital quickly degenerate.
I had a lot of issues with the writing style. Saramago seems to believe that punctuation is optional and uses mostly commas through the book. Capitalization is also spotty. This is one of those books you kind of have to just read out loud in your head and go with. If you concentrate too much you'll get confused by the lack of any structure to the writing. It reminded me a bit of âThe Reapers are the Angelsâ by Alden Bell...but much worse. Once I fell into the writing style I didn't have an issue following it, but each time I sat down to read it I had to kind of get back into a certain mindset to follow it.
The premise is actually pretty basic. Something horrible happens and society descends into chaos. Anyone who has read any type of post-apocalyptic novel has read this before (whether it be illness, epidemics, zombies, or the moon crashing into Earth) the unraveling of society is always similarly portrayed. The biggest difference here is that everyone goes blind. While it was interesting to realize how much people depend on their sight to keep things going, it wasn't all that unique of an idea or that unique of a representation of societal collapse.
I had a lot of issues with some things in the story. First of all a lot of what happens in the mental hospital seems contrived and flat out silly. Why would 200+ blind people let themselves be demoralized and tortured by a small group of blind inmates (~ 15 of them) just because one of the blind guys has a gun? Yes, some people are sheeple and fear will make that worse...but I have a really really hard time believing people would allow that to happen and not do something. The violent raping and torture of women seemed especially gratuitous and didn't really add anything to the story; I am still struggling to see how this really added anything to the story. People, at least the ones I deal with, aren't that accepting of their loved ones getting hurt and would self-organize and deal with any issues. The guy with the gun couldn't even point it and see for goodness sake.
I also found it really hard to believe that society outside would degenerate that quickly. I mean people are very clever and they can easily come up with ways to deal with a loss of sight. I thought this was overall a very bleak and depressing look at what would happen if the dregs of society lost their sight. I could think of a million ways people could develop ways to navigate with sound or by feel and find it hard to conceptualize everyone starving to death rather than innovating solutions to deal with blindness. So...yeah...I struggled with a premise...a lot.
The ending was bizarre and completely unrealistic. It had me rolling my eyes in exasperation.
Overall this was an okay book. The story is strangely engaging and it was a fairly easy (if not pleasant) read. The writing style takes some to get used to, but it did give the story urgency and fit the tone of the book well. The premise was hard for me to swallow. This was a very very adult read and very violent so just FYI. I would recommend to those who like post-apocalyptic reads that are written in a different sort of writing style. I personally won't be reading anymore of Saramago's books.