Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Reader's Diary #2157- Jose Saramago, translated by Margaret Jull Costa: Seeing

It's been years since I read Jose Saramago's Blindness but I still consider it one of my favourites. To some it may seem surprising that it's taken me this long to read the sequel but I really liked Blindness so much that I was afraid of not enjoying Seeing and that experience detracting from my fond memory of the first book.

Now that I've finally read it, I can't say that my fears were unfounded. While I ultimately enjoyed Seeing, it was nowhere near the same extent. One of the things I liked the most about Blindness was how well the experimental style fit the plot. Eschewing quotation marks or changing paragraphs after a person spoke, a lot of the dialogue was blurred and it was difficult at times to tell who said what. However, in a world where everyone is suddenly struck blind, that made sense. Most of us would have difficultly differentiating between the various conversations going on around us.

In Seeing sight has been long (4 years) to the world and that style seemed less purposeful and more gimmicky. I suppose it did keep the pace up but otherwise I don't know that it did the story any favours.

Also I wasn't sure it worked as a sequel. In fact, it was only about halfway through the book that it's even clear that it is a sequel. The plot of this book involves an election in which a large majority of ballots are spoiled by being left blank. It leads to political chaos and then violence. Eventually, someone points to the doctor's wife, the woman who didn't go blind in Blindness, as somehow being responsible.

I mean it was still all rather interesting, had some provocative themes about democracy and corruption, and the ending was pretty unique. I won't say what happened or didn't happen, but I will say it probably wouldn't be everyone's favourite ending.

Seeing was good, nowhere near as great as Blindness, but it thankfully didn't detract from it either.

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