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An Insightful Interview with José Saramago: Exploring the Blindness of Human Nature

Blindness by José Saramago

José Saramago, the acclaimed Portuguese novelist, is known for his unique and thought-provoking writing style that challenges traditional literary conventions. As one of the most celebrated authors of the 20th century, Saramago’s work has earned him numerous awards, including the Nobel Prize in Literature. Today, we have the privilege of sitting down with Saramago to delve into his creative process, inspirations, and the themes that drive his work. Join us as we explore the mind of a literary genius.

José Saramago was a Portuguese writer and Nobel laureate, known for his unique and masterful storytelling style. His novels often delved into philosophical and social themes, challenging readers to think deeply about the human condition and the complexities of society. Saramago’s works are characterized by their intricate narratives, rich character development, and thought-provoking exploration of morality and ethics. Throughout his prolific career, Saramago garnered numerous awards and accolades for his writing, solidifying his place as one of the most influential and respected literary figures of the 20th century.

10 Thought-Provoking Questions with José Saramago

1. Can you provide ten Blindness by José Saramago quotes to our readers?

Blindness quotes as follows:

a. Yes, I can provide ten quotes from my novel “Blindness”

b. “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.”

c. “The only truth in the whole universe that people refuse to believe.”

d. “If you can see, look. If you can look, observe.”

e. “Inside us there is something that has no name, that something is what we are.”

f. “You never know beforehand what people are capable of, you have to wait, give it time, it’s time that rules, time is our gambling partner on the other side of the table and it holds all the cards of the deck in its hand, we have to guess the winning cards of life, our lives.”

g. “When all this is over, said the doctor, everyone will go on being blind, blind as before.”

h. “How strange not to have sight but to have vision, to see without seeing.”

i. “Perhaps only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are.”

j. “Perhaps only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are.”

k. “Being good is a profession. It takes discipline and years of training.”

2.”Blindness” is a powerful and haunting exploration of a society struck by a sudden epidemic of blindness. What inspired you to write a novel that delves into the physical and moral darkness that descends upon the characters in the story?

I wrote “Blindness” as a reflection of the potential for both physical and moral blindness in society. The novel was inspired by my observations of human behavior and the fragility of civilization. I wanted to explore how people respond under extreme circumstances, how power dynamics shift, and how individuals grapple with their own sense of morality when faced with darkness. The sudden epidemic of blindness in the story serves as a metaphor for the loss of empathy, decency, and humanity in times of crisis. Through the characters and their struggles, I aimed to provoke reflection on the consequences of unchecked power, societal breakdown, and the importance of compassion and solidarity in times of adversity.

3.The novel features a unique narrative style with minimal punctuation and long, flowing sentences. How did you develop this distinctive writing style, and what effect did you aim to achieve by presenting the story in this manner?

I would explain that my distinctive writing style evolved organically from my desire to challenge traditional storytelling conventions. By eschewing traditional punctuation and breaking up sentences, I aimed to create a more fluid and immersive reading experience for the reader. I wanted to blur the lines between thought, dialogue, and description, allowing the narrative to flow seamlessly and inviting readers to engage more actively with the text. This unconventional approach also served to highlight the interconnectedness of all elements within the story, emphasizing the importance of relationships and the complexity of human experience. Ultimately, my goal was to push the boundaries of storytelling and encourage readers to think differently about the ways in which narratives can be constructed and experienced.

4.The characters in “Blindness” face extreme circumstances that test their humanity and morality. How did you approach developing these characters to reflect the complexities of human nature when faced with adversity and loss?

I approached developing the characters in “Blindness” by placing them in a challenging and extreme scenario where their humanity and morality would be put to the test. I wanted to explore how individuals react when faced with adversity and loss, and how their true nature is revealed in times of crisis. By creating a diverse group of characters with varying personalities, backgrounds, and beliefs, I was able to showcase the complexities of human nature and how people respond differently to difficult situations. Through their interactions and decisions, I aimed to demonstrate the fragility and resilience of the human spirit, as well as the capacity for both good and evil within each individual. Ultimately, I wanted to challenge readers to reflect on their own humanity and consider how they would behave in similar circumstances.

Blindness by José Saramago

5.The theme of blindness is not only a physical condition in the novel but also a metaphor for spiritual and moral blindness. How did you weave this metaphor throughout the narrative, and what messages did you hope to convey about human nature and society?

In “Blindness,” I utilized the physical condition of blindness as a metaphor for the spiritual and moral blindness that exists within individuals and society. Through the narrative, I depicted how the characters’ loss of sight revealed their true nature, exposing their deepest fears and desires. This metaphor allowed me to explore fundamental questions about human nature and society, shedding light on the darkness that can lurk within us all. Ultimately, I hoped to convey the message that true sight goes beyond the physical and requires an understanding of our own limitations, biases, and prejudices. By confronting these inner blind spots, we have the potential to create a more compassionate and just society.

6.The novel raises profound questions about power, authority, and the breakdown of social order in times of crisis. How do you see the events in “Blindness” reflecting larger societal issues and the fragility of civilization in the face of chaos?

In “Blindness,” I see the breakdown of social order as a reflection of larger societal issues and the fragility of civilization in times of chaos. The novel explores how power dynamics shift in the face of crisis, raising questions about the abuse of authority and the need for collective action to maintain order. The loss of sight serves as a metaphor for the blindness that can grip a society when faced with uncertainty and fear. As individuals grapple with their newfound vulnerabilities, societal structures crumble, revealing the thin veneer of civilization. Ultimately, the events in “Blindness” remind us of the delicate balance that holds our world together and the importance of solidarity and compassion in the face of adversity.

7.The unnamed characters in the novel are identified by their roles or characteristics rather than by names. What significance does this lack of personal names hold in the story, and how does it contribute to the themes of identity and dehumanization explored in the narrative?

In my novel, the choice to leave characters unnamed reflects a larger commentary on how individuals can be reduced to little more than their societal roles or defining characteristics. By stripping away personal names, I aimed to emphasize how easily people can lose their individuality and humanity in a dehumanizing society. This lack of personal names highlights the theme of identity being attached to external factors rather than inherent qualities, ultimately questioning the true essence of the characters as individuals. The novel delves into the dangers of dehumanization and the impact it has on society as a whole, showing how easily people can become lost in a system that values them for what they do rather than who they are.

8.The novel has been interpreted as a commentary on authoritarianism, social hierarchies, and the fragility of civilization. How do you see “Blindness” engaging with these themes, and what insights do you believe the story offers into the nature of power and control?

I would answer that “Blindness” engages with themes of authoritarianism, social hierarchies, and the fragility of civilization by highlighting how power and control can be easily manipulated and abused in times of crisis. The story offers insights into the nature of power through its depiction of how individuals can both exploit and resist oppressive systems when faced with adversity. By portraying a society that descends into chaos when faced with a sudden epidemic of blindness, the novel challenges readers to reconsider the foundations of power and control in our own world. Ultimately, “Blindness” serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked authority and the importance of maintaining a balance between power and empathy in order to safeguard our humanity and civilization.

9.As a writer known for your philosophical reflections and social critiques, how do you view the role of literature in challenging readers to confront uncomfortable truths and grapple with complex ethical dilemmas, as exemplified in “Blindness”?

I would answer that for me, literature serves as a powerful tool to provoke thought and spark dialogue about important issues. In “Blindness,” I use the concept of a sudden epidemic of blindness as a metaphor for how society can lose its moral compass when faced with crisis. Through challenging readers to confront uncomfortable truths and grapple with complex ethical dilemmas, I aim to make them question their own beliefs and values. Literature has the potential to incite empathy, inspire action, and bring about change by shining a light on difficult realities that are often overlooked or ignored. It is through engaging with these uncomfortable truths that readers can deepen their understanding of themselves and the world around them.

Blindness by José Saramago

10. Can you recommend more books like Blindness?

1. “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy – A harrowing tale of a father and son navigating a post-apocalyptic world, this novel explores themes of survival, morality, and the depths of human perseverance.

2. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro – Set in a dystopian society, this novel follows a group of young students who slowly uncover the dark truth about their existence. Thought-provoking and haunting, this book will leave you questioning the nature of humanity.

3. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood – In a totalitarian society where women are stripped of their rights, one woman fights against the oppressive regime to reclaim her autonomy. This classic dystopian novel is a chilling commentary on power, control, and resistance.

4. “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel – After a devastating flu pandemic wipes out most of humanity, a group of survivors band together to create a new civilization. Mixing elements of science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, and literary fiction, this novel is a gripping exploration of human resilience in the face of disaster.

5. “The Road to Wigan Pier” by George Orwell – This non-fiction work explores the plight of the working class in industrial England during the Great Depression. With searing insight and poignant prose, Orwell exposes the harsh realities of poverty, inequality, and social injustice.

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