Thursday, October 24, 2013


Blindness is a 1995 novel of indeterminate genre by José Saramago. I could make an argument that it's a science fiction novel of the apocalyptic sub-genre and I could make an argument that it's a horror novel. It was shelved with literary fiction when I found it, probably because the author is a Nobel Prize winner.

Favorite quotes:
  • "And there are certain things that are best left unexplained, it's best just to say what happened, not to probe people's inner thoughts and feelings..."
  • "It is foolish to ask what anyone died from, in time the cause will be forgotten, only two words remain, She died..."
  • "... it is not unusual for good to come of evil,less is said about the evil that can come out of good..."
The book is scattered throughout with short sayings. I actually found that part of the book annoying.

There are a lot of literary references, which I enjoyed. There's no telling how many of those I missed.

It's been adapted for film, but I haven't seen it. Having read the book, I'm not much tempted to see the movie. The book was fine, mind you, but I don't want to watch this blind-leading-the-blind story played out on the big screen.

from the back of the book:
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 assaulting women. There is one eye-witness to this nightmare who guides sven 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 is a powerful portrayal of man's worst appetites and weaknesses -and man's ultimately exhilarating spirit.
NPR says not many books are worth re-reading but that this one is, saying,
Saramago tackles all of human nature — love, loyalty, fear, jealousy, bravery, heroism, cowardice, violence, happiness, disappointment — it's all in there, revealed through characters so beautifully rendered, so vibrant on the page, that each time I read it, I immediately join Saramago's sightless band, tossed together by circumstance first into a chaotic quarantine center for the newly blind, and then loosed into a world that has fallen apart.
Kirkus Reviews calls it a "masterpiece".


  1. This sounds very interesting. I may have to look for this one. It sounds like there's a bit of a mystery involved, too.

    1. it didn't read much like a mystery to me, but then i wasn't a big fan so i'm not a good judge of that. i'll never re-read this.