Blindness by José Saramago
Weight: 12 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating
The first time I picked up Blindness I probably only made it 15 pages in before I put it down with an embarrassing bored feeling. I wanted it to be better, but it just felt painful. I did not pick it up again for at least four years. One day I forgot my initial disdain and reached for it again. This time I read it through in just a couple days. It took some adjusting of various components of my brain and some letting go of other components but, by the end of it, I thought it was brilliant. It was translated from the Portuguese, and I think that some of the rockiness is due to that. I wish there was some way for me to be sure but, for now, I cannot speak or read the language so I make no promises. Regardless of that muddle, my awe of the book and of the author stuck with me for years. I recommended the book to several people who could never finish it and/or did not enjoy it. I think they will if they try it again.
I felt that the author wrote about humanity to a depressing and deplorable tittle. I felt that if trapped in a building with scared, confused, and physically changed people this is exactly what would happen. People would turn on each other the second they could find a good excuse. Food would be hoarded, women would be raped, men would be shot, and someone would try to exterminate everyone else out of fear. Of course there would be the heros, the onlookers, and those who were in a constant state of panic. There would be the excuses and the theories and the unresolved truths. Maybe in a world where this idea has been shown, diluted, misused, and overdone the true glory of this book was unable to shine through for some people. I can understand that.
I do not understand, however, why this wonderful novel was made into one of the worst movies I have ever seen. That was truly depressing. I remember seeing the trailers and noting that they did not mention José Saramago or his book. At first, I hoped this meant it was not based on it, but I soon read the reviews and saw the new editions of the book complete with the movie poster cover. My second step was acceptance and then, finally, true and passionate excitement. I could not wait to see the wonderful movie based on the wonderful book at some wonderful time in my life. It did not go as planned, and I do not recommend making that mistake.
Despite the difficulties and the awful movie, this book is widely acclaimed. Do not misunderstand me when I say that so many people did not enjoy it, a lot (and by a lot I mean A LOT) of people loved it. It won the Nobel Prize for Literature and is an International Bestseller that has been translated into multiple languages. On June 18th 2010 I received the sad news via text message that José Saramago had died. He was 87 years old, and he left quite an impression behind. He is an author that will exist forever, and I am thankful for it.