Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Blindness" by Jose Saramago

Get me out of here was all I could think through most of this book. The hopelessness, the degradation, the ubiquitous excrement, the cruelty--I didn't want any part of it, but the fastest way out of it was through it. Unfinished books haunt me, and I think this one would have been worse than most.

This is the story of an epidemic of white blindness. It begins with one man who is stopped at a traffic light and suddenly finds that he sees nothing but whiteness. The blindness quickly spreads to others. The government first hopes to contain it with a quarantine, but their plan fails and societal breakdown follows with relentless rapidity. We first see it on a small scale, from inside the abandoned mental institution where the blind are confined, but life as we know it is dissolving outside those walls, too.

I put this book on my TBR list in June of 2010 when I heard that Saramago had died. I didn't even know who he was until that day (and I should probably be embarrassed about that, considering the fact that he was a Nobel prizewinner and the back cover of my copy of Blindness shouts "THIS IS AN IMPORTANT BOOK,") and I don't regret reading this book (finally! you don't know how many times I've almost read it but have chosen something else instead), but I don't feel driven to add any of his other works to my TBR. I'm sure some of you reading this pity me because of this choice, but I'll survive.

The book wasn't boring, the writing wasn't bad (though the overuse of commas in place of full stops annoyed me a bit), and Saramago had some interesting things to say about morality and society and perspective, but I was (forgive me) blinded to these deeper meanings by my impatience to get to the end of the book. I don't even want to see the movie, which is highly unusual for me--I'm normally very eager to see movie adaptations of books I've read, to experience someone else's visualization--but not this time.


Ti said...

I love, love, LOVE your opening paragraph. I felt the same way about this book but did not push through it years ago when I picked it up.

Kathy said...

I'm sure I've said this to you before, but I wish I had the--what is it, strength of character? self-assuredness? panache?--to NOT finish books I don't like . . . :)