Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Book Review - Blindness - Jose Saramago

In a word, FRUSTRATING

Blindness was my first encounter with Jose Saramago, and between being beaten over the head with his allegorical commentary, struggling through the lack of punctuation and quotations, and experiencing some of the most horrifying and disturbing scenes I’ve ever read, I am almost at a loss for words. I can only assume that some of the story was lost in translation, or at least I hope so, because even upon reading and re-reading page-long paragraphs, I still didn’t have a clear picture of some of the finer nuances within this daunting narrative.

As I gather, this is a statement on the fragility of society, and the weakness of the human condition. It points an accusatory finger at government and authority, and its inability to provide for its citizens in a time of crisis. This of course is brutally honest when considering the disastrous outcome of tragedies like Hurricane Katrina. Its nameless characters are reduced to animal instinct, and as such, spend every waking hour in survival mode, forging for food and water, seeking shelter and protecting their precious lives from others, also just looking to survive, all of this while completely blind. In this regard, Saramago shows us that we are just one small step away from complete and utter chaos, in a world where we rely so heavily on technology and the systems which it has created. Although the main cast of characters are rather one dimensional, they do provide hope that humans can remain civil and loving, even in the most desperate of situations, at least in small groups.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad novel, and you do eventually get used to the style in which it was written, but I definitely expected more from it, and find that it was slightly overrated. The plot was gripping, and Saramago’s mind is quite creative, but in the end I just found myself wishing that someone with a different style had produced it

3/5 Snakes

2 comments:

  1. I read this book a couple of years ago and loved it, partly because of the same reasons that you found it frustrating! I loved the change in style, found it effective for the story being written, and was fascinated with the idea that we are so close to utter chaos. Despite our differences in opinion, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review and plan to check out the rest of your blog! Thank you!!

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  2. Thank you for your comment Tif. I always find it interesting to hear others opinions, especially if they are different from mine. What a boring world this would be if we all thought about things the same way. I hope you enjoy my blog. Happy Reading!

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