Monday, April 8, 2013

Review - Blindness by Jose Saramago

Book Summary

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. The stunningly powerful novel of man's will to survive against all odds, by the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Publication - Oct, 1999

My Review - 4 stars

I have been sitting on this review for a week, I couldn't find the right words immediately and wanted to see what I would remember with the details not being fresh.

A dynamic thought provoking novel that is not for everyone.  This is a book I would not know who to recommend to other than those that want to think about what the bigger meaning the author is trying to get you to consider is.  What would life mean to you if you and the country was struck by the epidemic, blindness.  I enjoyed the real life feeling of this book and would categorise it as an intense thriller.

The main character is the wife of an eye doctor who does not go blind but lies to stay with her husband.  She is the voice and site of reason, most of the victims trust her without knowing she still has her vision.

An interesting style used was there were no formal punctuation used only commas and periods, so there were paragraphs of dialogue and description in a very long paragraph.  I found this easy to understand and it added to the effect of the blindness epidemic for me but would confuse or irritate others.  All the characters did not go by name but more, the girl with the dark shades, the doctors wife, the first man blind etc.

All those infected were put in quarantine and those that were in contact with the blind also but on another ward until their fatal day of becoming blind.  With no site, how quickly morals and integrity go which is a complete new reality for humanity.

The fear and torture everyone had to go through was amazing.  The woman with the site was a powerful character and the book only worked because of her really.  To see how humanity had changed was her own torture to deal with.

When the epidemic hit everyone they were free to the streets again, I enjoyed this change, it allowed some to have hope and believe again.

I am not one that usually enjoys details but I really wanted to know and understand each moment.  This book did take me 2 weeks to read, I was engaged but it was a hard dark read and the tiny words on paperback didn't help, wish I had read on my Kindle.

I found this to be a mind blowing read, a really good debatable book club read.

I have read some debates on the ending, I have to smile as I believe the author achieved what he wanted, discussion, also, for us to make some personal conclusions.

A favourite quote and example of paragraph without true punctuation

....If we cannot live entirely like human beings, at least let us do everything in our power not to live entirely like animals, words she repeated so often that the rest of the ward ended up by transforming her advice into a maxim, a dictum, into a doctrine, a rule of life, words which deep down were so simple and elementary, probably it was just that state of mind, propitious to any understanding of needs and circumstances, that contributed, even if only in a minor way to the warm welcome the old man with the black eye patch found there when he peered through the door and asked those inside, Any chance of a bed here.  Page 116



  1. This sounds very thought provoking. I bet it would make a great book club read.

  2. This was a book club pick for us last year. I tried to read it. didn't like it. Saw the movie instead. BIG mistake. God i was depressed after that one. :(

    1. You reminded me I had it, I tried to pick it up during your book club but wasn't in the mood.

      I watched it this weekend and enjoyed it the same as the book. It can be depressing, maybe because it is so realistic???

  3. I always hesistate on his books and then end up liking them.

  4. Was this book the basis for the movie with Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo? I watched that last year and it was VERY disturbing. The book sounds similar.

    1. Yes it was. I watched it after reading it, very disturbing for sure, both are.

    2. Movie or book? I am curious with the concept... and wonder if the movie would require less time...

  5. This has been on my tbr list waaay too long! I love this type of story.

  6. I've been thinking of reading this one for awhile. I like dark books sometimes so I think I'd like it!

  7. Glad you enjoy it! I do have it on my TBR since it's thought provoking... but I think I have to be in the right mood for this one as it requires effort/concentration/thinking...

  8. Replies
    1. It requires great concentration for sure. I enjoyed it but have no interest in reading Seeing.

  9. I love the paragraph that you shared! Blindness is definitely going on my To Read list. I hope to get to it soon! Have a great week.
    Happy Reading,
    Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate

  10. People I trust tend to love this one, but I'm afraid the lack of punctuation would drive me crazy! I can be a stickler... I'll probably get around to it someday. I'm glad you liked it though!

  11. This was such an intense read for me!! I know what you mean on not knowing who to recommend it to...this is definitely not a book that everyone would enjoy. I read this one a few years back and it has still stuck with me. I'm glad to hear that you liked it as much as I did...although that it is almost weird to say that I liked such a dark book :) Great review!!


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