Essay on blindness is the tenth novel by Jose Saragossa, published in 1995, and next to Tod’s Los sombreness, published two years later, was the definitive leap of quality that led him to be considered deserving of the Nobel Prize for Literature, honor that Awarded the Swedish Academy in 1998.
‘Essay on blindness’ is not an essay, but neither is it a novel; At least, not only a novel, but a hybrid of both genres that, fused, multiply their qualities thanks to the good work of the Portuguese writer. Taking advantage of the proximity between Gallic and Portuguese, I chose to read it in its original language, something that I advise everyone, especially my countrymen: it requires some initial effort and start slowly, but there will come a time when the brain will make you ‘ Click ‘and from there you can enjoy the immense pleasure of reading Saragossa in his native language. The Spanish translation, published by Araguaya in 2001, is carried out by Pillar Del Rio, wife of the Portuguese writer.
The novel (which this time I will not disembowel) addresses the chaos produced by an unprecedented plague of sudden blindness that kills an unidentified city. This “white blindness” (this is how the affected people define it, since all they can see is an infinite milky mantle) is scientifically inexplicable, incurable and very contagious. At the beginning of the pandemic, the government tries to take action on the issue, putting the patients in quarantine. All our protagonists will end there, and as the catastrophe advances and the state is overwhelmed, its conditions will deteriorate into a real human drama.
One of the most prominent stylistic resources is the omission of the proper names of the protagonists, an option for which it will also be chosen in La caverna (2000) and Essay on lucidity (2004); Thus, the characters are simply ‘the doctor’s wife’, ‘the girl with the dark glasses’ or ‘the car thief’. There are critics and readers who have seen in it an attempt of impersonation but I would not say so much: the exhaustive physical and psychological descriptions of the protagonists define them much more than any name they could have.
At the formal level, we find a technique that Saragossa had created for Ground Up (1980), which consists of the construction of very complex syntactic structures, creating sentences that are authentic paragraphs and, consequently, paragraphs that go beyond the extension page . To do this, it abuses subordination and strength punctuation, using commas where others would believe a point convenient and avoid separating the dialogues as mandated by orthodoxy, but introduces them one after another, delimited by commas and headlined with a capital. As it is not explicit who speaks, the vague reader may lose the thread of the conversation, but I think that, considering the author’s excellent portrait of the characters, it is not difficult to guess or at least suppose who has the floor.