Blindness – José Saramago

Blindness is perhaps the most famous of José Saramago‘s novels. The plot is quickly told: A whole city suddenly suffers from an epidemic blindness, which spreads quickly and is – contrary to the usual kind – all white. The first affected people are gathered into an old asylum, in the hope to quarantine the disease. Among those people is a doctor and his wife. The Doctor’s Wife doesn’t want to leave him, so she pretends to be blind. Quickly alliances are formed in the asylum as things spin more and more out of control.

The premise of the whole thing is interesting and fascinating. I’m a sucker for those “let’s lock people in a closed spaced together and watch the shit hit the fan” kind of stories. And Blindness does not disappoint. Unfortunately, the plot gets a bit lost along the way. It ends about 100 pages earlier than the book does.

But then again, the ending’s pretty cool and I’ll definitely read the sequel – Seeing – to see what’s going on with the characters.

The characters were really cool, although he could have one or two less main characters. But I liked Doctor’s Wife and Dark Glasses. [Before you ask – none of the characters had a name, they were refered to like that.]

Saramago’s style was pretty interesting and it needed time to get used to it. Not bad, but I don’t think the book would have lost much if he had cared to use the right punctuation, especially when people were talking. On the other hand, that was kind of like experiencing blindness – you couldn’t see who was talking, you had to guess from the context. [I know, this doesn’t really hold because you can still hear the different voices. Still…]

In this case, I was really glad that books don’t come with the aroma of the world they’re about… it made me gag just to read about it.

There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the release of the movie adaptation about how the blind people are portrayed in the book. Which in my opinion is ridiculous. The book is not about blind people being crappy human beings. Of course, a blind person can find the way to the shower and knows how to use a bathroom. But not at first. At first, they will need help and guidance to find their way round. And in a society, where within a matter of days everybody is going blind and the before-epidemic-blindness-blind people get kind of swallowed up, no guidance is to be had. Add to that the deteriorating circumstances of a society, which is not made for blind people, supposed to be run by them and you have chaos. And that in this chaos the worst traits of human beings come out, is not because they are blind, but because of the general circumstances of “theft or death” etc.


I am looking forward to the movie, even though it got crappy reviews. But, honestly, watching Julianne Moore can make up for a lot of things. I’m just not sure it will come to the cinemas in Austria. In Germany, it’s out already, in Austria, I can’t even find info on a release date… *sigh*

3 thoughts on “Blindness – José Saramago

  1. Pingback: Blindness (2008) « Stuff

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