Blindness

Josť Saramago
Blindness Cover

Blindness

nottheone
7/3/2016
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Such a disappointment. I don't know if it was the translation, but I doubt it. I have read a lot of Spanish lit (& I do mean SPANISH as in IBERIAN, not Latin Amer) and am usually ok with its pedantic and preachy tone, but I found this book nearly intolerable. I can't claim to have spent any time, myself, finding out from a blind person what blindness is like, but it seems unlikely that Saramago checked any of his assumptions about blindness with actual blind people. They are portrayed in the most insulting and inhuman ways in this book. They wait for the one sighted individual in the story to help them with everything from cleaning their own bodies to providing entertainment. "If only there were a working radio" laments one character over and over, as if going blind has also stopped her from being able to sing. And don't even get me started on the public health aspects of the story. The idea that a doctor would wait overnight to report a possible epidemic of blindness to the medical authorities is ludicrous, that people would immediately be quarantined and abandoned without sanitary facilities, food, water, etc is absurd, and that only one person would be untouched by such an epidemic is ridiculous. There have been much better books exploring the breakdown of society because of nuclear or biological catastrophe, if that was what the author was attempting. I would recommend "A Canticle for Liebowitz" by Walter M Miller, "Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood,"Dies the Fire" by SM Stirling, "Speech Sounds" (short story) by Octavia Butler. Some folks here in their reviews, and some people in my own book club, found the book thought-provoking as a parable of man's inhumanity to man, or blindness standing in for our isolation from one another, but I disagree that this was a parable. For an actual parable about blindness, interested readers should check out the fabulous play "En la ardiente oscuridad" by Antonio Buero Vallejo, in which the blind really do lead the blind. Now, THAT'S a parable.