Thursday, December 08, 2005
BLINDNESS by Jose Saramago
Imagine if the entire world went blind at one time. What would happen to us all? Imagine the chaos, the horrors of not being able to see . . .of not knowing where you are . . .not able to find your way home. Not being able to find food, or even a place to go to the toilet. Jose Saramago brings these terrifying consequences to life in his disturbing novel, BLINDNESS.
An epidemic of "white blindness" takes over and spares all but one person. The first victims of this unexplainable nightmare are forcibly taken away to an abandoned mental hospital where they are quarantined from the rest of the population to prevent the spreading of the "illness," however, nothing seems to prevent the blindness from spreading and soon everyone is stricken and forced to try and survive the best way they can. Humans find themselves reverting to primitive and animalistic behaviors in order to live. Modern technology and medicine are useless. The entire world comes to a standstill except for the accumulating garbage and human excrement in the streets and even inide places where people take shelter.
Despite horrific scenes of carnage and unthinkable violence, I HAD to keep reading. I had to find out what would happen to the main characters. Would this group of seven survive? Would they get their sight back? What was going to happen to their world?
Saramago's writing style fits perfectly with this novel. He uses few paragraphs, very little punctuation, and no quotation marks to indicate dialogue, however, I had no problem with knowing who was talking and to who. As one critic pointed out, the chaotic way in which the story is written fits well with the chaos that is happening in the story itself.
Saramago portrays human's at their very worst, as well as our will to survive the worst imaginable things that may happen to us in life. If I say more, it will ruin the story for you. It must be experienced totally for yourself. On a 1-5 scale, I give this novel a 5+ and thinking I should raise the numbers on the scale so I can give it a much higher rating than that. I can understand why Saramago won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.