Archive for September 30th, 2014

Lost in light: A city descends into chaos in José Saramago’s ‘Blindness’

September 30, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Sept. 30, 2014

In 1995, the Portugese author José Saramago published a novel in his native tongue. Two years later, a translated version of the work was released in English under the title Blindness, and it attracted a great deal of acclaim.

At some point, I acquired a first edition of the American publication of the book. I started reading, but I got no more than 30 or so pages in before I stopped.

I carted the book around with me from home to home to home, but not until a few weeks ago did I resume reading. (Actually, I restarted from the beginning. Quibbles, quibbles…)

This is a strange book, due both to the unusual proceedings that it depicts as well as as its unique style. The story begins at a busy intersection during afternoon rush hour in an unnamed city when a driver stops in the middle of the road:

Some drivers have already got out of their cars, prepared to push the stranded vehicle to a spot where it will not hold up the traffic, they beat furiously on the closed windows, the man inside turns his head in their direction, first to one side then the other, he is clearly shouting something, to judge by the movements of his mouth he appears to be repeating some words, not one word but three, as turns out to be the case when someone finally manages to open the door, I am blind.

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