Guest Post by Ryan King, Author of the Land of Tomorrow Trilogy
The Nobel Prize winning Portuguese author Saramago himself is a controversial character. He was an avowed communist-pessimist-atheist who spent most of his life as a journalist and only achieved widespread public appeal at the age of sixty. His Gospel According to Jesus Christ was ridiculed by his own government for its anti-Christian views and resulted in his self-imposed exile on a Spanish island until his death in 2010.
Blindness itself is not surprisingly about a mysterious plague called “white blindness” that strikes the people of an unnamed country. The origin of this highly contagious disease is never identified and strikes those it infects within days with total blindness. Unlike normal blindness, those afflicted only see a milky white, even when asleep.
The book is a dark and realistic tale filled with cruelty, base human nature, and depressing scenarios. Despite this, there are some bright spots and victories that prove the survivors have not lost themselves or their humanity.
Saramago writes in his typical style. He uses no quotation marks to signify dialogue, nor does he separate dialogue between different characters by paragraphs. Rarely does he even use periods, simply substituting commas with sentences carrying on for hundreds of words and paragraphs for whole pages. This often makes the reading tedious and difficult. Many times I was confused by who exactly was speaking since the author rarely identifies them.
Even with these downsides, Blindness is a powerful post-apocalyptic novel. For the first time in my life I think I came close to understanding how horrific it would be to be blind. Those in this story were additionally vulnerable due to having no one who could see assist them except for one main character who has to hide her ability for fear of reprisal or being made a slave by the others.
(Spoiler Alert-Skip to Conclusion Option) Initially, only a few people are infected and the government quarantines these individuals in an insane asylum. When there are few internees, the system seems to work, although inefficiently. Once the asylum becomes overcrowded and the guards more and more fearful, chaos and cruelty ensue. The blind come close to losing their humanity and even stop identifying themselves by names as only voices matter is this white cloudy world.
Eventually society itself collapses and the inmates are free to escape, but the city they flee into is not much better than their earlier prison. Groups of blind refugees stumble through streets filled with bodily wastes looking for food. Violence, fear, and apathy towards others rules everyday life and the survivors not only have to watch out for each other, but packs of carnivorous dogs that have not been affected by the disease.
(Conclusion) Although this is not one of my top post apocalyptic novels, Blindness is well worth reading and very interesting.
Ryan King is a career army officer with multiple combat tours who continues to serve in the military. He has lived, worked, and traveled throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. He writes post-apocalyptic, dystopian, thriller, horror, and action short stories, short novels, and novels.