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Blindness

Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
Length: 12 hrs and 33 mins
4.2 out of 5 stars (42 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A city is hit by a sudden and strange epidemic of "white blindness", which spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there social conventions quickly crumble and the struggle for survival brings out the worst in people.

There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers -among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears - out of their prison and through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing.

A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation and a vivid evocation of the horrors of the 20th century, by Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago, Blindness has swept the masses with its powerful portrayal of man's worst appetites and weaknesses - and man's ultimately exhilarating spirit.

English translation by Juan Sager.

©1997 Juan Sager (English translation); 1995 Jose Saramago and Editorial Caminho (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks America

What listeners say about Blindness

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved this thought provoking book

Well written and illustrating the rotten human nature and its needs and the struggle between the world and the soul. It also dhow the conflict of the Atheistic author, culture, religion and society.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Zoltan
  • 19-09-2020

Sexual violence is not entertainment.

The author creates, and dwells on, some horrendous scenes of gratuitous sexual violence which are not in any way necessary to the story. I really don't recommend this book.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cora Judd
  • 27-08-2008

Dark

This is a very different kind of doomsday fiction. The writing and reading of "Blindness" are vivid enough that I'm still a bit haunted by it several weeks after finishing.

The storytelling is very like Gabriel Garcia Marquez; disparate events are woven into a well told tale. While a Latino ken for life-metaphors is apparent, "Blindness" could be any time or place.

I heartily recommend it, but be prepared to "see" things differently.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard Pesavento
  • 04-10-2008

Surrealistic

Saramago is a Nobel laureate, so I think we have to credit him with having insight worthy of our attention. Blindness is a powerful parable, but I think it has to be read as a surrealistic allegory rather than any attempt to portray the situation as it might actually occur in the real world. I agree with the reviewer that pointed out that this parable is much more accessible in the oral than in the visual format. The endless run-on sentences and lack of proper names makes the reading hard to follow, but as a narrative, it isnt so bad. Maybe this was the intention of Saramago. In the story he has the blind listening to readings from the only sighted individual as their only source of entertainment, and he may have intended this as a more powerful verbal parable that a written one. I am an ophthalmologist myself, I found this story to be an intriguing thought experiment, but I was waylaid by the fact that the author made no attempt, or possibly consciously avoided the attempt, to make the story scientifically plausible. There are so many incongruous elements in time and space, its like a Dali painting. For instance he talks about the doctors wife being distraught about not winding her watch. The last time I had to wind my watch was probably in the 1960s, and then he talks later about computers functioning the water system. The ophthalmologist talks about ordering an encephalogram , which we havent used since the 1970s, instead of a CT scan or MRI. He also talks about how the blind stop gesticulation when they talk. But people with acquired blindness have their gesticulations programmed into their extrapyramidal system and never loose that habit. Did he intentionally ignore present day science so as to make the story more surrealistic, or is he a lazy Nobel laureate researcher?
I thought it was a provocative read, intriguing and thought provoking. But dont expect Crichton. Think Lord of the Flies by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

40 people found this helpful

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  • W Perry Hall
  • 25-08-2015

Stark Portrait of Blindness as Contagious Disease

The famous Portuguese author Jose Saramago paints a cold and halting portrait of what it would be like were Blindness suddenly contagious.

To prevent a pandemic, the government quarantines the first stricken, including the Doctor (an optometrist) and the Doctor's wife, the latter of whom is obviously immune to the disease. As the story progresses, the gov't puts more and more blind people into the abandoned building, with little food and zero supervision, forcing them all to fend for themselves. To add to the icy subtext, Saramago gives all the characters only descriptors, like the Doc, the Doctor's Wife, the Girl with Dark Glasses, the Cab Driver, etc.

This is a tale of both the goodness and baseness of humans in a world of darkness and squalor. Evil and the treachery of men initially wins, but goodness eventually prevails, so that this novel is ultimately hopeful.

The potential reader should be forewarned that this book contains graphic scenes of the rapes of several women.

As usual, the narrator Jonathan Davis is excellent.



12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Carol B.
  • 12-09-2008

One of the best books I've ever "read"

This book is being made into a movie and the trailer intrigued me. The book was not available on Audible yet, so I went to the book store and purchased the text version.

I could not read it. The author is known for his long sentences and paragraphs. Wikipedia warned me that the author does not give any of the characters names. It was too difficult to read the text. I wondered how in the world did this author ever win the Pulitzer Prize for literature.

Then, I saw the Audible version was available. I listened to a sample. The narrator made up for the author's idiosyncrasies. I purchased the book and could not stop listening. What a story! Rarely has a book taken me so deeply into the psychology of human nature ... why they do what they do ... how the mind works. I felt I knew some of these characters better than I knew members of my family. I recommended this book to a teacher/friend for her Advanced Placement English class.

Read this book. It's worth it. I hope Audible makes the sequel available.

25 people found this helpful

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  • nehifamily
  • 05-09-2020

Wordy

Well written and wordy. More philosophical than plot driven. Eloquent but disgusting. It’s a good thing it was included for free and not a waste of credit. Narration was great, though.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Sandi
  • 01-09-2020

Too many words

Enjoyed the movie, but found this wordy and a bit to involved by explaining feeling.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • 08-12-2019

Blindness is Powerful

This story has the structure of a parable, but here the parable is not transparent. The parable is interpreted through Blindness. Becoming one with the Blindness the story, characters, and the text cease to matter. This is definitely not a dystopian fantasy. It is not philosophy either. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of Blindness are the reviews. Some see darkness, nightmares, frightening, heartbreaking. Others see beauty, uplifting, thought-provoking, interesting. Some say boring, unrealistic, and just plain bad. Some are deeply offended by the violence, poop, stench, vomit, and decomposition. Some people even hate the Dog of Tears! All this is what makes Blindness powerful. The narration is excellent.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Casey C.
  • 02-09-2019

Good concept but so pretentious

So pretentious. Not sure if it's the translation, the Portuguese, or the writer. It's pretty hard to get through. Liked the concept, but could use 100x less philosophy in my opinion. A British narrator would have thrown it over the edge, good reading.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nicole
  • 26-12-2013

Very well read, audio is nice and clear.

Any additional comments?

Great audiobook. The story is for you to judge, but the audio was great. The quality was good, the audio was very clear. And the reader was able to change his voice in order to adapt to the characters. One of the best audiobooks I've heard!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Colin
  • 08-04-2013

Wonderful

Jose Saramago isn't well appreciated in this country, it seems to me. OK, so some of his books are very specific to his native Portugal so it's not that surprising but I find it a bit sad that this one seems to be the only full-length title available, and that only because it was made into a film. It's an eerily believable magical-realist tale about a world turned blind and the way society changes. when nobody can see. It's definitely worth a listen and when you've finished get hold of the paper copies of some of his other stuff too.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Danilo
  • 25-06-2010

We need more audiobooks from Saramago

Saramago left this world last week, leaving for us one of the most incredible work written by a human being. He won the Nobel prize as the only Portuguese writer to conquer that title, revealing to other languages an unique way to express through words. This way, is like somehow he collected all those poems throughout his entire life and connected with a prosaic line through his stories. His books are never about that or some other story, it is more than mere stories, it is about to touch our soul and move us, to be connected with human history again and be willing to do something better to this world. I think a better thing would be to record his entire work as audiobook. He deserves this homage. Looking forward, OK, audible? :) Thanks!

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • A. Reuben
  • 09-08-2016

Superb book and flawless narration

What made the experience of listening to Blindness the most enjoyable?

A harrowing book but well worth the ride.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Blindness?

The ending. I stopped what I was doing and put everything on hold until the final words had been spoken.

Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis – was your favourite?

Jonathan Davis' narration was phenomenal. This is a man who was born to read books aloud. The way he takes on every single character - with such care and consideration - is amazing.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When the doctor's wife gets bloody revenge on the brute who has abused her, on behalf of all the women, was particularly satisfying.

Any additional comments?

Some people have found this book hard to read due to the lack of punctuation. This being an audiobook removes that obstacle. The narrator makes it accessible and engaging. Great book, great narration.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
  • 28-01-2014

Gripping and chilling

Feeling completely steamrollered by this amazing novel! I listened to a BBC America audio, via Audible, and, although it was an English translation of the original Portuguese, the text retained its poetic quality, horrific and beautiful. Perhaps Margaret Atwood crossed with Cormac McCarthy! I appreciated the 'no names' device - the woman with dark glasses, the first blind man, the woman nobody knows - as it aided understanding their world. The philosophising throughout is very moving and I thought that the calm narration by Jonathan Davies was the perfect way to immerse myself in this dystopian city.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Fibri
  • 27-01-2013

Maybe it's me?

I suppose this is what one would call a good book, but I gave up half way. Both my husband and daughter really liked it (in French translation), but the unrelenting miserableness of it all really got to me. And I was bored, bored, bored. Maybe he writes wonderfully in Portuguese, and maybe it translates well into French, but I found the English stilted and clunky, not poetic at all. It really irritated me that the characters had no names (probably to dehumanise them even more) but I just felt this was a pretentious attempt to be "literary". And it just made it repetitious, having to constantly have people referred to as "the girl with dark glasses" or "the first man". I thought I would love this (I love post-apocalyptic fiction, and its themes of how normal people survive in a disastrous situation) - I never thought such a dramatic story could be so tedious.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • VDS
  • 26-07-2020

A bit too long

I like the concept of everyone going blind, but the author hasn't made it into an interesting story. It only covers a small social group. The book started really well, but I was disappointed afterwards.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • K
  • 15-04-2020

so slow and boring

The idea is good and I usually like books like this, but this one was so painfully slow and never really took off. None of the characters has any personality or fight in them, they just go on existing. It is just really flat and depressing and left me feeling flat and depressed. Will return.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 23-09-2020

Disappointing

Frivolous: this will really put you off Portugal. Their government, health system, police and army are nightmarish, and the ordinary people are not much better. More serious: the translation is so terrible I can't tell whether this is really badly written or just lost in translation. "Those rogues need a good thrashing" is not a line that has been uttered by a native speaker since the 19th century and even then it was in fiction. Intentional parody? Impossible to tell. There is so much casual sexism and an omnipresent males gaze that again I wonder if the translation is the problem. But when the two main female characters are dubbed 'the doctor's wife' (because she has no other identify?) and 'the girl in dark glasses' (a woman, and, as it happens, a sex worker) I suspect there's more going on. OK, it's a fable, but the lack of research on blindness and the experience of blind people is severe. The lack of humanity, the the triteness of the observations at every turn, made this read like something written by an over-ambitious college student who needs to see more of life and meet a few more people, and maybe find out a little about what actually happens in disasters. The use of the only remaining sighted character as a protoganist for much of it means that the opportunity to describe things from a non-visual perspective is largely wasted. Lines like 'the dead are all blind, but not all the blind are dead' 'we are all dead, because we are all dying' are crying out for an editor's pen. And someone needs to explain how loss of sight is not necessarily that bad and that people do adapt. The one already-blind character is parenthetical. And maybe racism and ageism becomes less of a factor when people do not judge by looks? It's more complex than Saramago wants to consider. Post-apocalyptic fiction is a whole genre, and for all the hoopla, this simply fails to stand out as anything special other than for the weakness of the translation.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • G M F
  • 13-09-2020

Easier to follow than a guide dog

It was an OK story, being bought up by a blind father I feel I am quite knowledgeable about this disability. This is just a story and for that it held my attention, just . Close your eyes, shut off you senses and don't try and apply logic or reality to this, and it's mildly entertaining. I generally listen to my audio books more than once, that won't be the case with this one.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Cliff Moyce
  • 06-08-2020

A timely reminder

Though this book is now 25 years old, I read it for the first time in August 2020 having survived the Covid-19 virus (a coincidence). Blindness is a good story with a good deal to teach us and remind us. I didn’t like the negative aspects of the story - of which there are many - but I am sure people held in the Houston Astrodome after Hurricane Katrina didn’t enjoy their experience much either (there are parallels). Nor do I think people being constrained to infected Russian hospitals are having a great time either. On balance, it’s a book worth reading.