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José Saramago: Blindness

Discussion in 'Fiction Books' started by Jillean, Sep 12, 2003.

  1. Jenem

    Jenem kickbox

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    Everything said above I agree with, so I won't repeat it in a review of my own. But I will mention my favorite part was when
    the women are laughing and bathing together in the rain on the balcony. That moment was brilliant- it was sheer joy for me to read.
    I look forward to reading the book again.
     
  2. Maya

    Maya New Member

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    I just finished reading this book, and found it to be great.
    It made me think.
    However, I was wondering; had the entire world gone blind? Or was it just a country? If so, why didn't the other countries react?
     
  3. Ell

    Ell Well-Known Member

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    Saramago never tells us what country it is or if it's worldwide - which I believe is the intent. He wants the reader to see the characters in a universal light - i.e. it could have been anybody; you, me, your friends, or people half-way 'cross the globe. Whether or not it was worldwide isn't pertinent to the story he's conveying.
     
  4. Evil Homer

    Evil Homer New Member

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    Currently Reading:
    The Iliad - Homer
    I just finished this, and I loved it. Definitly one of the hardest books to read I've come across. Firstly, because of the sometimes gruesome subject matter, secondly, the style. Which although stripped to the bone and near as damn it a continous stream of words, only added to the sense of anarchy and chaos that the book created. But more importantly, because blindness terrifies me. To the point where I honest to god winched every time I read the word. For that reason it really struck a nerve. I also loved how he transported you inside the prison by only describing things that the prisoners could know about, isolating you from whatever the hell was going on outside. Plus it had just the right amont of scientific description of the actual disease and how it is caused. (That would be none). I'll have to read this again because I know there's stuff I missed. Its just not possible to take in every word when it's written like it is.
     
  5. Maya

    Maya New Member

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    Thank you for explaining Ell, I understand what you mean, I don't know why I started thinking that. :)
     
  6. hay82

    hay82 Active Member

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    Currently Reading:
    The Gathering Storm
    I finished this book a couple of days ago, and I'll just post about the things I found strange, perhaps someone has the answers.

    This book probably has the most depressing view of the human race I have ever seen.. besides the news. I don't understand the lack of names, the explanation that names have no meaning to blind people, as is often said in the book, makes no sense to me. Even if we are blind we would want to have something to call people by, and instead of names he just calls them things like Girl with the dark glasses. Why should names stop to matter just because we were blind?

    There also seems to be a strong implication that the loss of sight makes the people loose their humanity, this is said by a lot of the characters in the book, but I'm not sure if this is supposed to be the view of Saramago or if he is trying to say something I didn't get. I think somewhere in the book, someone says that those who where blind before the white blindness, felt things through those who could see, thereby saying that the reason they were still human was because there were still people who could see.

    The main thing I wondered about in the book was why the doctor's wife was the only one who could see. Is there an explanation to that which I have just missed? I would assume that some of the answer, if there is any, can be found in what she sees in the church. Does anyone have any ideas about this?
     
  7. Jenem

    Jenem kickbox

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    i agree only partially. i found the bond between the wife and her band of survivors to be quite admirable. the women washing eachother on the balcony in the rain was such a beautiful part to read. the fact that the wife stayed with her husband and helped the other people (risking catching the disease, too) when she could have taken off is extraordinarily courageous. not to mention the guilt the woman whose action lead to the death of the groper. a few other examples too. all these things said to me that in the worst conditions, decency can survive.
    i don't know that it is the loss of sight that implies this or the issue of survival. it is only when society begins to break down that the characters get ruthless and cruel- and i'm sure it's done to survive.
    i don't think it was addressed. the book was about the blindess only, and now what happened afterwards or before it struck. i assumed she (and any others) would be studied once things got back to normal
     
  8. hay82

    hay82 Active Member

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    I just got the impression that the only reason that they were able to have that bond, was because the wife still had her sight. The group of men who try to take over the asylum by controling the food, is something that is probably very likely to happen, but still not a very positive view.

    It just seems that a lot of them loose the will to live after they have turned blind. They just go around in search of food, they make no attempt to restore some sort of system, although it should be plain to see that their situation won't last for long.

    I was just wondering about the paintings she saw in the church, a man nailed to a cross with a white bandage around his eyes, a woman with her heart pierced by 7 swords, all of the people in the pictures blind, except for the woman with her gouged-out eyes on a silver tray. I figured there had to be something in this.
     
  9. Ell

    Ell Well-Known Member

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    Hay, on the whole, I thought it was a hopeful story. Yes, there is ugliness and cruelty, but there is also a core of humanity that tries to break through despite the bleakness.

    It kind of speaks to the world we live in, doesn't it. There will always be horror and inhumanity, but there's also great kindness and caring if you look. Of course, I'm a glass half-full kind of gal. :D

    I don't have the book anymore, so can't look up the precise context of your description. However, I remember thinking the symbolism, at least on the surface, seemed fairly straightforward.

    My thoughts:
    The woman with her gouged-out eyes on the tray = doctor's wife who remains sighted, still has her eyes;

    Woman with heart pierced by 7 swords = sighted woman, loves/cares for/leads the 7 blind because of innate goodness of her heart (they have penetrated her heart, therefore she loves them);

    The crucifix figure (man nailed to cross with white bandage) = Christ-like forgiveness of the sins/depravity of the God-caused white blindness (white bandage). Not sure about this last one.

    There are other interpretations, I'm sure.
     
  10. hay82

    hay82 Active Member

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    Well perhaps I'm just a pessimistic person. I just think that the way the story was going, had they not regained their sight, they would not have lasted very long. The doctor's wife was, in my view, about to break.

    Ell. I got the same things out of the pictures. I was just wondering if there was something more to them, or if it was this sort of religious meaning.
     
  11. Martin

    Martin Active Member

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    Man, I have to read this again.

    Cheers
     
  12. Erica

    Erica New Member

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    Currently Reading:
    'Misfortune' by Westley Stace
    In a word...........
    FANTASTIC!

    Defy one I could and will re-read.
     
  13. jamieh

    jamieh New Member

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    Currently Reading:
    The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
    Just finished this one because of many, many Book Forum recommendations. I'm so glad I read it. Although some of the material was pretty gruesome and tough to read, I believe Saramago truly conveyed what would be happening if something like this occurred in real-life.

    A couple questions, though. Not sure how to handle this with spoilers, so

    Did the doctor's wife lose her sight at the very end? I know it sort of says that, but I think the last paragraph could be taken many ways. 1) it could mean she lost her sight, 2) it could mean she thought she lost her sight looking into the bright sky (maybe that she never noticed before because life seemed dark even though she could see), but actually could still physically see, or 3) it could be allegorical, like maybe she went through this test and proved herself up to the task, and now she could truly see.

    Also, I too didn't quite understand why the author chose to omit names. In the situation they were in, how would they talk to each other without knowing names? I can't believe that they wouldn't have addressed each other, esp. the doctor and his wife, the girl with the dark glasses and the boy, and the girl with the dark glasses and the doctor's wife. I can see how it may have changed how you read the story, and the effect it has on the reader, so maybe it was just for the author's purposes alone, rather than conveying realism in this aspect.

    Lastly,
    why would the doctor have slept with the girl with the dark glasses, knowing his wife could see? Maybe I missed something there, and feel like I missed an important point. What could've possibly been going through the doctor's mind, and why exactly did the doctor's wife accept it so well?

    Great, great, great read and I'm so glad you all recommended this.
     
  14. Bernard

    Bernard New Member

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    Currently Reading:
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    This was one of the most stimulating books I've ever read. I felt I was with them until the end. I felt so much for the doctor's wife going through what she went through.
    How she still had remorse after killing the leader of the hodlums!
    She is the greatest character in this book for me.



    I think she still does see at the end as it says: "It is my turn, she thought. Fear made her quickly lower her eyes. The city was still there."
     
  15. wilderness

    wilderness New Member

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    Currently Reading:
    Seven Types of Ambiguity - Elliot Perlman
    Hey
    I read about what a good book it is from this website, so I baught it. I'm 114 pages through and I'm dyinggggggg. It's excruciating to read, its so slowww.
    Since you guys here loved it, I'm wondering when it will get better cos I'm struggling to read it.
    Lani
     
  16. direstraits

    direstraits Well-Known Member

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    I'm just a couple of pages from the end and I think that the book is one of the most interesting that I have read. I wasn't bothered by the unusual writing style, but I found that I was interested to know what would happen next.

    I'm gonna finish it and then go to the Blindness discussion thread, which I haven't read yet. :)

    ds
     
  17. cabrasopa

    cabrasopa New Member

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    Currently Reading:
    Faithless - Karin Slaughter
    It's on my list.
    Like wilderness i've read too many good things about it to put me off.
    When i'll get around to reading it is another matter, my TBR pile is getting bigger all the time.
     
  18. Delta_doh!

    Delta_doh! New Member

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    Currently Reading:
    The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
    Blindness - Jose Saramago

    Don't know how to help you wilderness ... Other than to say keep going.

    I really enjoyed/loved this book from start to finish! its now one of my all time favorites.... Even have two copies of it one for lending, the other is all mine :D
    I think this is the first time I have heard it not being enjoyed :confused:
    Still I guess we can't all like the same books.
     
  19. bookclubnazi

    bookclubnazi New Member

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    Currently Reading:
    The Beauty Myth
    loved the book, could not put it down, had no problems with the un-dialoque-ish dialogue. it is going in my section of books to be read over and over, and i will recommend to all my friends.

    oh, um...advice? *blush* well, many books use not-natural events/circumstances to highlight human nature. (come to think of it, i'm about 10 pages away from the end of the time traveler's wife--it does the same highlight-human-nature thing.) blindness does this beuatifully, so much so that it is hard to read in places. yet i didn't feel doom'n'gloomy after i finished the book. it's well worth reading!
     
  20. MonkeyCatcher

    MonkeyCatcher New Member

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    Currently Reading:
    Superfreakonomics -- Levitt & Dubner
    I just finished this book yesterday, and although I'm probably going to cop a lot of flack for it, I'm just going to go ahead and say it. I think that this book is over-rated. There.. I guess it wasn't so bad ;)

    The writing style was, to me, unnecessarily confusing. It took me a while at the start to understand what was happening, and who was saying what, and even near the end I was still at times unsure if people were talking or not, and who was doing the talking (or not talking, as it were). I understand that it was meant to mirror the confusion of the blind people, but I believe that the book would have been much better if they had have just left the confusion to the imagination of the reader, instead of making it a reality.

    I also disliked the way that the story would just blab on about something which had nothing at all to do with the plot of the story. I could almost swear that they had the whole history of the sunrise or explained in depth the method of eating food somewhere in the novel.

    And frankly, the book didn't really shock or scare me. The hardest bit to overcome for me was them walking through human excretement, and even that got old after awhile. The confusing way in which the book was set out did not allow me to fully sympathise with the people in the book - all it made me do was wish that the darn thing was over.

    As has already been mentioned here, the lack of names also put me off. People are so much easier to relate to when they have names.

    Just my opinion - try not to bite my head off too aggressively :D

    Monkeycatcher
     

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