FIRST ORIGINAL EDITION: 1995
CHALLENGE: “Library books”, "European reading challenge"
SHORT INTRO: In an undefined time and place, the whole population suddenly goes blind due to an inexplicable pandemic, wrap up in a milky cloud. The psychological reactions of the anonymous protagonists are devastating, with an explosion of terror and violence. This mysterious pathology will have a dramatic impact on the civil society. As fear for the infection and heartlessness spread among the population, the first infected people are isolated and locked in a former psychiatric hospital where all the horror of which the human being is capable of is shown.
WHY I READ IT: This book was chosen by one of the reading group I attend, because many participants suggested it, intrigued by its unusual plot.
MY OPINION: Have you ever wondered what could happen if one day the whole world would go blind infected by an unknown pandemic? I hadn’t, but Saramago puts it down in black and white. Page after page, the reader enters into a vortex of anguish, incredulity, until reaching the bottom of human soul that shows the highest viciousness as always in extreme situations.
You are astonished, but not too much, seeing how fast civilization can be forgotten, how hard people fight for moulded bread and not drinkable water, the little, ludicrous privilege to prevail on the others gained with arrogance and threat.
The main topic of the novel is heartlessness, which explodes with blindness but already present before it.
Another crucial topic is hunger: the description of how “evil blinds” leave food moulding rather than sharing reminds the western waste of food to the detriment of poorest people.
It is not easy to swallow the images of gang bang rapes, army’s cruelty, filth. This book gives pain and anguish which are nearly physical, like if we were going through the events in first person. This novel makes you think and scares.
Are we all potentially like that?