A city is hit by a sudden and strange epidemic of "white blindness", which spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there social conventions quickly crumble and the struggle for survival brings out the worst in people.
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 - out of their prison and 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 20th century, by Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago, Blindness has swept the masses with its powerful portrayal of man's worst appetites and weaknesses - and man's ultimately exhilarating spirit.
English translation by Juan Sager.
©1995 Jose Saramago and Editorial Caminho; ©1997 Juan Sager (English translation); (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks America
This is a very different kind of doomsday fiction. The writing and reading of "Blindness" are vivid enough that I'm still a bit haunted by it several weeks after finishing.
The storytelling is very like Gabriel Garcia Marquez; disparate events are woven into a well told tale. While a Latino ken for life-metaphors is apparent, "Blindness" could be any time or place.
I heartily recommend it, but be prepared to "see" things differently.
Saramago is a Nobel laureate, so I think we have to credit him with having insight worthy of our attention. Blindness is a powerful parable, but I think it has to be read as a surrealistic allegory rather than any attempt to portray the situation as it might actually occur in the real world. I agree with the reviewer that pointed out that this parable is much more accessible in the oral than in the visual format. The endless run-on sentences and lack of proper names makes the reading hard to follow, but as a narrative, it isnt so bad. Maybe this was the intention of Saramago. In the story he has the blind listening to readings from the only sighted individual as their only source of entertainment, and he may have intended this as a more powerful verbal parable that a written one. I am an ophthalmologist myself, I found this story to be an intriguing thought experiment, but I was waylaid by the fact that the author made no attempt, or possibly consciously avoided the attempt, to make the story scientifically plausible. There are so many incongruous elements in time and space, its like a Dali painting. For instance he talks about the doctors wife being distraught about not winding her watch. The last time I had to wind my watch was probably in the 1960s, and then he talks later about computers functioning the water system. The ophthalmologist talks about ordering an encephalogram , which we havent used since the 1970s, instead of a CT scan or MRI. He also talks about how the blind stop gesticulation when they talk. But people with acquired blindness have their gesticulations programmed into their extrapyramidal system and never loose that habit. Did he intentionally ignore present day science so as to make the story more surrealistic, or is he a lazy Nobel laureate researcher?
I thought it was a provocative read, intriguing and thought provoking. But dont expect Crichton. Think Lord of the Flies by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
This book is being made into a movie and the trailer intrigued me. The book was not available on Audible yet, so I went to the book store and purchased the text version.
I could not read it. The author is known for his long sentences and paragraphs. Wikipedia warned me that the author does not give any of the characters names. It was too difficult to read the text. I wondered how in the world did this author ever win the Pulitzer Prize for literature.
Then, I saw the Audible version was available. I listened to a sample. The narrator made up for the author's idiosyncrasies. I purchased the book and could not stop listening. What a story! Rarely has a book taken me so deeply into the psychology of human nature ... why they do what they do ... how the mind works. I felt I knew some of these characters better than I knew members of my family. I recommended this book to a teacher/friend for her Advanced Placement English class.
Read this book. It's worth it. I hope Audible makes the sequel available.
"There is scarcely any passion without struggle." Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
The famous Portuguese author Jose Saramago paints a cold and halting portrait of what it would be like were Blindness suddenly contagious.
To prevent a pandemic, the government quarantines the first stricken, including the Doctor (an optometrist) and the Doctor's wife, the latter of whom is obviously immune to the disease. As the story progresses, the gov't puts more and more blind people into the abandoned building, with little food and zero supervision, forcing them all to fend for themselves. To add to the icy subtext, Saramago gives all the characters only descriptors, like the Doc, the Doctor's Wife, the Girl with Dark Glasses, the Cab Driver, etc.
This is a tale of both the goodness and baseness of humans in a world of darkness and squalor. Evil and the treachery of men initially wins, but goodness eventually prevails, so that this novel is ultimately hopeful.
The potential reader should be forewarned that this book contains graphic scenes of the rapes of several women.
As usual, the narrator Jonathan Davis is excellent.
Great story, very well written
Yes, the multiple characters with a single voice becomes an issue sometimes. The reader does a great job in interpreting different characters but it becomes a bit confusing at times.
Great audiobook. The story is for you to judge, but the audio was great. The quality was good, the audio was very clear. And the reader was able to change his voice in order to adapt to the characters. One of the best audiobooks I've heard!
thoughtful story about the assembly of society and human behavior. I started reading this book and really enjoyed the author's writing style...it adds an element to the story that you won't get with an audible version. I switched to the audible version so i could finish it... I spend so much time on the road and not enough time to put my nose in a book :( I recommend this read!
This book was emotionally warm. It does go to show that people in order to come together have to exepeience a hardship. How one person can make a difference.
Big Cajun Man
The story itself was quite raw, and unapologetic in its descriptions of the 'post-apocalyptic' world the survivors live in.
Somewhat like Stephen King's tales of the end of the world, but a different narrative style.
Breaking away from the imposed imprisonment, and the exodus back to their homes.
The "thugs" collecting their payment for food was moving and disturbing.
the performance was great and it made an often sporadic style clear, however, this is certainly best read. I enjoyed it most when I was reading along wit a copy of the book. I will think about this story for along time and surely it's value to literature at large can't be understated.
"We need more audiobooks from Saramago"
Saramago left this world last week, leaving for us one of the most incredible work written by a human being. He won the Nobel prize as the only Portuguese writer to conquer that title, revealing to other languages an unique way to express through words. This way, is like somehow he collected all those poems throughout his entire life and connected with a prosaic line through his stories. His books are never about that or some other story, it is more than mere stories, it is about to touch our soul and move us, to be connected with human history again and be willing to do something better to this world. I think a better thing would be to record his entire work as audiobook. He deserves this homage. Looking forward, OK, audible? :) Thanks!
"Gripping and chilling"
Feeling completely steamrollered by this amazing novel! I listened to a BBC America audio, via Audible, and, although it was an English translation of the original Portuguese, the text retained its poetic quality, horrific and beautiful. Perhaps Margaret Atwood crossed with Cormac McCarthy! I appreciated the 'no names' device - the woman with dark glasses, the first blind man, the woman nobody knows - as it aided understanding their world. The philosophising throughout is very moving and I thought that the calm narration by Jonathan Davies was the perfect way to immerse myself in this dystopian city.
Jose Saramago isn't well appreciated in this country, it seems to me. OK, so some of his books are very specific to his native Portugal so it's not that surprising but I find it a bit sad that this one seems to be the only full-length title available, and that only because it was made into a film. It's an eerily believable magical-realist tale about a world turned blind and the way society changes. when nobody can see. It's definitely worth a listen and when you've finished get hold of the paper copies of some of his other stuff too.
"Maybe it's me?"
I suppose this is what one would call a good book, but I gave up half way. Both my husband and daughter really liked it (in French translation), but the unrelenting miserableness of it all really got to me. And I was bored, bored, bored. Maybe he writes wonderfully in Portuguese, and maybe it translates well into French, but I found the English stilted and clunky, not poetic at all. It really irritated me that the characters had no names (probably to dehumanise them even more) but I just felt this was a pretentious attempt to be "literary". And it just made it repetitious, having to constantly have people referred to as "the girl with dark glasses" or "the first man". I thought I would love this (I love post-apocalyptic fiction, and its themes of how normal people survive in a disastrous situation) - I never thought such a dramatic story could be so tedious.
"Superb book and flawless narration"
A harrowing book but well worth the ride.
The ending. I stopped what I was doing and put everything on hold until the final words had been spoken.
Jonathan Davis' narration was phenomenal. This is a man who was born to read books aloud. The way he takes on every single character - with such care and consideration - is amazing.
When the doctor's wife gets bloody revenge on the brute who has abused her, on behalf of all the women, was particularly satisfying.
Some people have found this book hard to read due to the lack of punctuation. This being an audiobook removes that obstacle. The narrator makes it accessible and engaging. Great book, great narration.
Great book to provoke a discussion. I really wanted to keep discussing this with friends and family.
I have not listened to the book, but read it in paper form, long before I was an Audible member and also a long time before the film was released. It's not a pretty book, it'll make you angry and sad, but it will also make you think, it's very psychological.
It's also worth noting that the film is a very good and accurate reflection of the book (as apposed to most films), so read the book first, if you can, as it's much more vivid.
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