Latest Reading: “Essay on Blindness” by Jose Saramago

I finished reading over the holiday break this book by 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature laureate, Jose Saramago. Saramago is from Portugal, and this 1995 novel is about a mysterious plague that turns everyone blind instantly. The book focuses on the group of people who first contracted the disease which causes people to lose their sight and see only a bright, white, light. The ensuing chaos is horrific and you can imagine how this affects society. Without electricity and water, things go bad in a hurry in a big city. The heroine of the book is the only person who does not go blind and leads her husband and a small group out of quarantine and out into the city.

I liked the book in two ways. First, I love post apocalypse, wasteland stories (Stephen King’s The Stand, 28 Days Later, etc). It is a great adventure story of survival. the other meaning of the book is a bit deeper. It made me think about how fragile our society is and what a small thing can happen and chaos and the worst of human nature comes out. I told the story to my family in the car and we had a good discussion about it. I thought it would make a good movie, and it was already done in 2008. I also want to read his book, “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ,” which is a fictional, alternative account of the life of Jesus. He was an atheist and in a strongly Catholic Portugal, he left because of official government criticism of his works. He recently died at the age of 87. In reading his biography, he came a long way, from landless peasant to Nobel laureate. He didn’t become famous until age 60.

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One thought on “Latest Reading: “Essay on Blindness” by Jose Saramago

  1. I enjoyed — if “enjoyed” is the right word — Blindness and have posted on it. You can read it as dystopia or you can read it as metaphor, but makes you think. Of Saramago’s books I have read so far, I most liked All the Names. It is not as dark as Blindness but even more thought provoking.

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