Micro-Review: “Blindness”

Blindness, by José Saramago

Just finished Saramago’s Blindness, a bad choice to read during an actual pandemic, but a excellent if often brutal novel…though it is really more of an extended parable or allegory, a combination, if you will, of Camus’ The Plague and Golding’s Lord of the Flies. There are definite and perhaps intentional parallels with both works, especially the Camus, down to the food deliveries from outside and the use of a doctor as one of the protagonists.

Not to give away the plot, any more than I may have done by inference above, let me say that I have some dissatisfactions with occasional devices used, and the predictable if very short ending.

Those who are easily triggered may want to avoid it; there are epsoides of extreme brutality, though they are necessary to the thematic development and not, in context, exaggerated. Also, stylistically, the book, though brilliantly voiced, is a celebration of the comma splice, and slightly inconsistent (at least in this translation) in narrative voice.

All the heroes are women, by the way; it’s not a macho novel and in fact derides machismo.

I’m glad I read it, it’s definitely a serious, and in fact passionately so, exploration of disgrace under pressure as well as steadfast courage in the face of it, I will not re-read it. A valuable novel, but not easy on the soul.

Rick Risemberg