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In this community of blind people there is still one set of functioning eyes: the doctor's wife has affected blindness in order to accompany her husband to the asylum. As the number of victims grows and the asylum becomes overcrowded, systems begin to break down: toilets back up, food deliveries become sporadic; there is no medical treatment for the sick and no proper way to bury the dead. Inevitably, social conventions begin to crumble as well, with one group of blind inmates taking control of the dwindling food supply and using it to exploit the others. Through it all, the doctor's wife does her best to protect her little band of blind charges, eventually leading them out of the hospital and back into the horribly changed landscape of the city.
Blindness is in many ways a horrific novel, detailing as it does the total breakdown in society that follows upon this most unnatural disaster. Saramago takes his characters to the very edge of humanity and then pushes them over the precipice. His people learn to live in inexpressible filth, they commit acts of both unspeakable violence and amazing generosity that would have been unimaginable to them before the tragedy. The very structure of society itself alters to suit the circumstances as once-civilized, urban dwellers become ragged nomads traveling by touch from building to building in search of food. The devil is in the details, and Saramago has imagined for us in all its devastation a hell where those who went blind in the streets can never find their homes again, where people are reduced to eating chickens raw and packs of dogs roam the excrement-covered sidewalks scavenging from corpses.
And yet in the midst of all this horror Saramago has written passages of unsurpassed beauty. Upon being told she is beautiful by three of her charges, women who have never seen her, "the doctor's wife is reduced to tears because of a personal pronoun, an adverb, a verb, an adjective, mere grammatical categories, mere labels, just like the two women, the others, indefinite pronouns, they too are crying, they embrace the woman of the whole sentence, three graces beneath the falling rain." In this one woman Saramago has created an enduring, fully developed character who serves both as the eyes and ears of the reader and as the conscience of the race. And in Blindness he has written a profound, ultimately transcendent meditation on what it means to be human. --Alix Wilber
I immediately turned to page one as soon as I finished reading it the first time.
Though the characters are not named and the narrative is written without quotation marks, and other punctuation we rely on as readers, it didn't really matter.
Because it makes us ask if, indeed, we have to become blind to see the way things are and to understand what it means to be human.
This story is a fast yet painful read. The horror and disgust of how society goes awry due to fear is terrifying yet believable. Read morePublished 2 hours ago by Tina G.
This book is amazing. Graphic yes, but makes you really think about human society and the way we operate as people.Published 1 day ago by gravytrain
This is an amazing book. Though it can be quite difficult to read at times as it does not follow conventional grammatical or punctuation rules. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Eve Olson
Engage lit fic college class filter.
Blindness is not a book for curling up in front of a fire with a cup of tea.
This book is challenging on many levels. Read more
Even though I bought it used it barley looked touched. I was very impressed and the shipping was good, I got it in less than a weekPublished 15 days ago by Mckenzie Karim
This story represents a complex summation of human behavior when faced with abrupt change. The author commands respect by telling something universal and introspective.Published 17 days ago by Vanessa I. Nagy
Who better to critique a book called BLINDNESS, than a woman who is blind? After all, I probably wouldn't notice the Portuguese-to-English punctuation "difficulties" (not). Read morePublished 20 days ago by Lori Parker
one of my favorite books, gorgeous prose, creative speculative fiction, harrowing emotional content. I wish all books could be this amazing.Published 24 days ago by Travis C. Reeder