It took open eyes to write Blindness

Posted: January 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

Jose Saramago died last year, on June 18 to be exact. He was the first Portuguese language author to snag the Nobel Prize in literature. I was first made aware of Saramago through his novel, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. It is a creative biography full of as much imagined background for Jesus’ life as could be dreamed. But the book for which he became globally known was the terrifying Blindness.

Blindness revolves around losing sight and regaining it – on a societal level. Person by person every citizen of the realm goes blind due to some mysterious virus. Those who can see make sure that those who can’t are segregated, confined and controlled, often left to prey on one another in the darkness. In time, one by one, the captors themselves succumb and lose their sight as well. Only a few are immune to the virus and act as guides to the blind, helping to find a way through the dim land.

The story of Blindness is really an allegory about totalitarianism, fascism and the ever present inclination to control the many for the advantage of a few. This theme makes perfect sense, considering that Saramago lived through the fascist dictatorship of Salazar’s Portugal. It was aweful indeed and the reality against which Saramago would push for the rest of his 87 years.

Here is a book the contents of which guarantee a place in the literature that lasts. It speaks to the fundamental human condition, suggesting new ways to navigate through it, a worthy legacy of a life well considered. Blindness will open anyone’s eyes.

 

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