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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
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  • Overall

Dark

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.

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Surrealistic

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.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

One of the best books I've ever "read"

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.

22 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Stark Portrait of Blindness as Contagious Disease

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.



6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicole
  • Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada
  • 12-26-13

Very well read, audio is nice and clear.

Any additional comments?

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

This isn’t saying anything new

Hey, in case you haven’t seen a million zombie movies or shows, or if you haven’t read any post-apocalyptic books, maybe you need reminding that a loss of societal norms means that man will descend into chaos and give into his darker impulses of Only The Strong survive.

Or maybe you don’t.

This book has a POV from a person with the capability to help people WAY more than she does, yet we still have to sit through gratuitous rape scenes before she gets her ass moving to do shit. It was endlessly frustrating and rather than rooting for her I wanted to slap and shake her. At this point, I’m so bored by stories that only seem to want to point out how humanity is mostly garbage, and the characters in this that we are supposed to believe are good people don’t feel real at all. I found everyone to be flat and dull and they all spoke in the same kind of unbelievable way, agreeing immediately to start calling one another by names like “The girl with the dark glasses” instead of, you know, THEIR ACTUAL NAMES. I think the author was trying to make some kind of profound statement by saying names no longer matter if you can’t see the people those names belong to, but that’s such nonsense it made me want to scream.

I do not know why people love this book. It was tedious, repetitive, didn’t make me care about the characters, didn’t say anything new or make me think about things in a different way. I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Good 'read'

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

This book was extremely heart filling

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Interesting and Raw

What did you love best about Blindness?

The story itself was quite raw, and unapologetic in its descriptions of the 'post-apocalyptic' world the survivors live in.

What other book might you compare Blindness to and why?

Somewhat like Stephen King's tales of the end of the world, but a different narrative style.

Which scene was your favorite?

Breaking away from the imposed imprisonment, and the exodus back to their homes.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The "thugs" collecting their payment for food was moving and disturbing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

A parable, and a winding symbolic one at that.

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Fibri
  • 01-27-13

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Danilo
  • 06-25-10

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephanie Jane
  • 01-28-14

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Colin
  • 04-08-13

Wonderful

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-07-17

Deep thoght about our reality.

I loved this book. My first book by Saramago and i am lookimg forward for more.

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  • A. Reuben
  • 08-09-16

Superb book and flawless narration

What made the experience of listening to Blindness the most enjoyable?

A harrowing book but well worth the ride.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Blindness?

The ending. I stopped what I was doing and put everything on hold until the final words had been spoken.

Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis – was your favourite?

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.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When the doctor's wife gets bloody revenge on the brute who has abused her, on behalf of all the women, was particularly satisfying.

Any additional comments?

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.

  • Overall
  • w
  • 02-02-13

Discussion

Great book to provoke a discussion. I really wanted to keep discussing this with friends and family.

  • Overall
  • Mr. M. C. F.
  • 01-29-11

Amazing book

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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  • Laeticia Muller
  • 04-10-15

Loved this thought provoking book

Well written and illustrating the rotten human nature and its needs and the struggle between the world and the soul. It also dhow the conflict of the Atheistic author, culture, religion and society.