Karen's Reviews > Blindness

Blindness by José Saramago
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May 30, 11

bookshelves: dystopia, european-literature
Recommended to Karen by: Alan Tinkler
Read from May 16 to 23, 2011

Saramago offers a dystopia, achieved by an act that renders an entire city blind--all with the exception of one citizen. When the population is hurled into a blinding whiteness, we quickly see how quickly the brutal nature of most is revealed. The novel does show some people transcending the animal state, but most of the book describes how filth, violence, and depravity dominates. I kept thinking of Hobbe's statement, "the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." We work so hard to create an image of civility and warmth, but history (and imagination) has shown how quickly people devolve into chaos when their social network is compromised. Witness the horrible acts committed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Because our society is increasingly complex, I fear it's increasingly frail. The book gives me some inkling of what to expect if faced with a city-wide or nation-wide disaster. But as stated above, Saramago does include some acts of genuine humanity, offering some hope that people are more than well-dressed animals.

Yes, I only gave it three stars, but that may have more to do with my current distaste for dystopias (and allegories, etc.). If I had read it in my twenties when I was more wed to the genre, I would have given it a higher rating. I chose to read it because it came highly recommended. You can see that most ratings are 4 or 5 stars, so take my rating with a grain of salt.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Shannon Ohhhhh, this is one of my top favorite books of all time. Once I got over the lack of punctuation, I couldn't put it down. :)


Karen Alan Tinkler--English prof at SU, hired maybe after you left--taught this in English 102 (I think?). He's now in Vermont, but I keep seeing this book on various lists, so one of these days I'll have to pick it up. It's basic conceit reminds me of a Twilight Zone epi. Thanks for the nudge. I'll move it higher on my "to read" list.


Shannon I remember Dr. Tinkler sidelong... I was on the student hiring committee that interviewed some of the potential replacements for Dr. Can't-Remember-His-Name-But-Wore-His-Shirt-Open-Way-Too-Far-At-The-Collar-For-His-Age. It's definitely, I think, a sort of take on dystopian fiction, which I have a very bizarre love for, given my distaste for science fiction. (I know, not the same thing, but it sometimes delves into that genre.) My suggestion would be that if you read Blindness and love it, immediately dive into Seeing before you lose your familiarity with the author's rhythms. I find it kind of amazing how the mind automatically puts in the rhythms of thought v. narration v. speech when there is drastically little punctuation to denote what's what. Sort of like that thing where you can read words with no vowels because your mind punches them in automatically, I guess. But anyway, yes. Loved it! Hope you will too. <3


Karen Oh, that's right. I think Dave H. was also on the search committe. It was Phil B's replacement. OK, I'll set up Seeing as a follow up to Blindness. This week I'm just rereading chapters for finals. I went crazy and read 4 non-school books between writing my term paper and the start of finals week. Now I have to get back to the textbook (blah).


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