I found a way to recover part of my old blog content, so I decided to rerun some posts from that, mainly reviews of books I liked. The following review was part of a post first published in September 2009. (All tagging is new, and I’m afraid I don’t have any means of saving the old blog comments.)
The book: Blindness, by José Saramago
The edition: Italian translation by Rita Desti
The story: a man in his car, waiting at a traffic light, suddenly finds himself blind. An inexplicable event that turns out to be a just-as-inexplicable, contagious illness. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but inside, anarchy and crime soon prevail. And to no avail: one by one, everybody falls victim to this new disease, the whole city, the nation, who knows, maybe the whole world. Except for a woman, who — inexplicably — remains safe in the middle of it all, and able to bear eyewitness to what happens.
My thoughts: scary. I’m not too much into the philosophical/metaphorical side of it (as in: what does blindness represent, is the woman immune because blindness can only have a meaning if opposed to vision, etc.), but to me this book is a clear, lucid representation of the horrors we can bring upon our race, horrors that we already did experience in human history. It could be colour, it could be ethnicity, it could be a white blindness with no cure, there’s no difference to it: people treating each other as animals, as inferiors, as non-human. Will we ever learn? And again, anarchy, hunger, crime, war: human beings have already been there, and still get back to it every time. For civilized that we think our society to be, we could fall back into it anytime. That’s what scares me when I think of the future. So I found this book scary, good but scary.
What I liked most: Saramago’s convoluted but fluid style, and the translator’s ability to render it. Bravo!
Read this if: if you like dystopian novels, if you enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale, and if you like convoluted style.
Counts towards: Orbis Terrarum Challenge (Portugal)