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    Lists | March 13, 2015

    Hanya Yanagihara: IMG Nine Tips for Finishing That Novel

    My second novel, A Little Life — about a group of men in New York and their friendship over the course of 30 years — will be published... Continue »
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      A Little Life

      Hanya Yanagihara 9780385539258

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Blindness Cover

ISBN13: 9780156007757
ISBN10: 0156007754
Condition: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

Q> What is Saramago's purpose in presenting the doctor's wife as the only person not afflicted by the white blindness? In what ways, and in what stages, does she grow in terms of both political and moral authority? What roles does she assume? How may we explain, in particular, her assumption of responsibility as guide and protector? Why does she experience a feeling of intense, unbearable loneliness at just that moment when the others begin to regain their sight? Q> What is the purpose of Saramago's use of proverbs, folk sayings, and cliches throughout the novel? How does the characters' new reality affect their former habits of expression and create new habits of expression? What are the implications of the narrator's later comment that "if sayings are to retain any meaning and to continue to be used they have to adapt to the times"? Q> As the white blindness spreads, the Minister of Health decides on the necessity of quarantine "both from the point of view of the merely sanitary aspects of the case and from that of the social implications and their politi-cal consequences." What "social implications" and "political consequences" do you think the minister has in mind? What social and political conse-quences does the quarantine itself have? Q> Waking to her second day in the mental hospital, the doctor's wife thinks, "what fragile walls we'd make" against our enemies. What "fragile walls" are erected, demolished, or made useless by the blindness? What frag-ile walls in your life and community would be threatened by a catastrophe similar to the white blindness? Q> "The whole world is right here," the doctor's wife says to her husband on the morning of their fourth day in the hospital. In what ways does the mental hospital contain "the whole world"? To what extent may we read Blindness as a commentary on the excesses and horrors of the world of the twentieth century? Q> What meanings can we attribute to the white blindness? To what extent does it represent ignorance, political ineptitude, the absence of per-sonal and social morality, and the failure of imagination? What other mean-ings can you suggest? How does the "harsh, cruel, implacable kingdom of the blind" differ, if at all, from our everyday world? Q> Why does Saramago provide no names for his characters and their city and country? What are the effects of this namelessness? Q> In what ways do the central characters' experiences lead them to a new kind of interdependence and, at the same time, a new awareness of the human potential for selfishness and cruelty? How do both contribute to the emergence or re-emergence of tenderness and love? Q> What pattern emerges in respect to the breakdown of order and of the various systems that we all take for granted -civic, social, political, and so on? How do individuals, identifiable groups, and institutions of authority contribute to that breakdown? How does the structure of society itself alter to fit a world in which virtually everyone is blind? Q> How do the women in the novel differ from the men in their attitude toward the blindness and the resulting conditions of life? What moral, emo-tional, psychological, and imaginative capacities do the women possess that the men lack? Q> Variants of the phrase "when the beast dies, the poison dies with it" recur in the novel. And we are told that "the mind suffers delusions when it succumbs to the monsters it has itself created." What beasts and monsters, actual and delusional, are the subjects of this novel? Q> In response to the newly interned old man's report on conditions out-side the hospital, the doctor comments, "Perhaps only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are. . . . People, too, no one will be there to see them." In what ways might this be true, and to what degree? Q> At the very end of the novel, the doctor tells his wife: "I don't think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see." What does he mean? How is this judgment related to the first blind man's report to the doctor that his going blind was "More like a light going on"? Q> How does the novel illustrate the doctor's wife's observation that "what is right and what is wrong are simply different ways of understanding our relationships with others"? Q> One reviewer has noted that Blindness conveys "the disturbing notion... that full humanity is achieved only through suffering." Do you agree or dis-agree with this statement, in respect to both Saramago's novel and actual life? Which characters achieve a fuller humanity because of their suffering? Copyright (c) 1999. Published in the U.S. by Harcourt, Inc. Written by Hal Hager & Associates, Sommerville, New Jersey

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Average customer rating based on 13 comments:

slsteckler, May 31, 2014 (view all comments by slsteckler)
When I first started to read this novel, I had a hard time getting into the writing structure. There just seemed to be a lot of adjectives, I didn’t know who was talking and there were no quotation marks around speech, things that I wasn’t sure I could handle for 326 pages but after getting into the story, I couldn’t put it down. The story reminds me of the 2005 Superdome incident with Hurricane Katrina only this book was written in 1995, both had major incidents where the government intervened yet were so unprepared and about how some people acted. To have the ophthalmologist’s wife hide among all the infected individuals witnessing what was happening and to keep quiet about it, I don’t know how she did it or how she stayed well so long. They had that gang mentality, to stay alive and stay together which I started to feel and gather within myself and I wanted them to succeed. Some of the book wasn’t pleasant but if you think about what they thought they were up against, it was a hard life they were living. A beautiful scene was when the three naked women were out washing clothes on the balcony during the rain storm. Exposed to the world, these women cried as they washed clothes, each woman uttering adjectives describing the other women as they washed - very emotional and powerful scene. It really was a moving book and put things into perspective for me.
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lukas, April 13, 2014 (view all comments by lukas)
I've read a few books by the late Portuguese Nobel winner Jose Saramago, but this is by far the best. He's sometimes described as a fabulist and compared to Calvino, Eco and Murakami. This novel, about an unnamed city, struck by a plague of blindness, feels something like J.G. Ballard rewriting Camus's "The Plague." It is both a powerful, resonant allegory and a visceral novel about regular people in extraordinary circumstances. It was made into a film several years ago. Followed by "Seeing."
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nsm2792, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by nsm2792)
It is a good book because it opens your mind through ideas and make you think about them.This book learns you to look positive to everything so your life become better.It's true that we are not living in a paradise but understanding that why some people or you are doing something wrong will make your world like paradise. With this book I understand that our looking and our judgments make our world worse and worse consequently we can make it better ourselves by looking good,thinking good and judging good.
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Product Details

Saramago, Jose
Mariner Books
Pontiero, Giovanni
San Diego :
Continental european fiction (fictional works
Psychological fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Number:
1st Harvest ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Harvest Book
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 9
8.25 x 5.5 in
Age Level:
from 14

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Blindness Used Trade Paper
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$7.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Mariner Books - English 9780156007757 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Beautifully written in a concise, haunting prose...this unsettling, highly original work is essential reading."
"Review" by , "Saramago's Blindness is the best novel I've read since Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Love in the Time of Cholera. It is a novel of enormous skill and authority....Like all great books it is simultaneously contemporary and timeless, and ambitiously confronts the human condition without a false note struck anywhere. Saramago is one of the great writers of our time, and Blindness, ironically is the product of his extraordinary vision."
"Review" by , "Blindness may be as revolutionary in its own way and time as were, say, The Trial and The Plague were in theirs. Another masterpiece."
"Review" by , "Saramago writes phantasmagoria — in the midst of the most astonishing fantasy he has a meticulous sense of detail. It's very eloquent stuff."
"Review" by , "It is the voice of Blindness that gives it its charm. By turns ironic, humorous and frank, there is a kind of wink of humor between author and reader that is perfectly imbued with fury at the excesses of the current century. Blindness reminds me of Kafka roaring with laughter as he read his stories to his friends....Blindness' impact carries the force of an author whose sensibility is significant."
"Review" by , "Blindness is a shattering work by a literary master."
"Review" by , "More frightening than Stephen King, as unrelenting as a bad dream, José Saramago's Blindness politely rubs our faces in apocalypse....A metaphor like 'white blindness' might easily seem forced or labored, but Saramago makes it live by focusing on the stubbornly literal; his account of a clump of newly blind people trying to find their way to food or to the bathroom provides some surprisingly gripping passages. While this epidemic has a clear symbolic burden, it's also a real and very inconvenient affliction."
"Synopsis" by , In Blindness, a city is overcome by an epidemic of blindness that spares only one woman. She becomes a guide for a group of seven strangers and serves as the eyes and ears for the reader in this profound parable of loss and disorientation. We return to the city years later in Saramagos Seeing, a satirical commentary on government in general and democracy in particular. Together here for the first time, this beautiful edition will be a welcome addition to the library of any Saramago fan.
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