José Saramago - Ensaio sobre a Lucidez

Discovering the work of Nobel Prize winner José Saramago has been the most recent joy of my book-reading life. The fiercely atheist "Gospel according to Jesus Christ" and the dark fable "Blindness" are novels where style and content work together perfectly, flawlessly and tragically. These are not exactly feelgood books, but they are meaningful and more importantly, beautiful.
All of which means that when I say that "Ensaio sobre a Lucidez" ("Seeing" in English) is a bit of a disappointment, it still ranks high above most literature published these days.
As a counterpart and sequel to "Blindness" (in which blindness becomes a contagious disease that unhinges society in unimaginable ways), "Seeing" is more obviously political and harder to go along with. In "Blindness", every new event in the story seems to develop logically from what came before. By contrast, in "Seeing", over 80 percent of the voting population casts a blank vote in the elections, prompting politicians to take violently oppressive action. I don't pretend to know what would happen in such a situation, but I think it's quite a leap of the imagination to assume this kind of response.
That said, there is still Saramago's great style to admire. He sticks to his long strings of sentences in vast paragraphs (very Latin American), not mentioning any character by name, and not numbering or titling chapters. It's a book you read in a few gos.

Posted by cronopio at 01:14 PM, December 05, 2005