Recent books

The summer is a busy time for me and I hardly find the time to read, usually can’t focus much. But even so, I found the time to read three titles. One is a post-apocalyptic novel set in a world struck by sudden blindness, the other two are adventures of a girl in a whimsical world.

Jose Sarmago – Blindness

Liked:

  • Concept
  • Characters
  • Thought-provoking


Imagine everyone in the world goes blind. It doesn’t take a nuclear war for society to degenerate. A city is hit by an epidemic of “white blindness” that spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital. In all this, one woman retains her eyesight and guides a group of companions. But the horrors they experience are chilling and stark. There are descriptions of abuse so be warned- but such things are not off the radar, circumstances being what they are, even more so with people panicking.

The character lines are not distinguished from the main text, which gives it a bit of a challenge to read but this way of doing things fits with the concept because they indicate just voices as the world of the blind may be, and the characters don’t even have names, because names are not relevant. Plus, I actually didn’t notice the stream of consciousness because the book was so compelling.

The story is rich, thoughtful and riveting like a horror. It explores various meanings of blindness and its associations.

The doctor’s wife, the guiding light, is the ultimate compassion and for what it’s worth her bond with her husband is strong through all this and every atrocity that happens. It’s hard not to like her. Same with other characters.

It’s a look at what blindness means. Perhaps we are all blind as we are now. Blind when we turn away from others. Blind when we fight. Blind when we wish to persevere. But is full humanity only achieved through suffering?

I like it because of the concept, exploration of blindness in its various senses, the riveting part is how the characters find their way, what happens to them. I think it’s an important book. Sarmago manages to makes the characters, especially the woman and her doctor husband and the dog, strongly sympathetic. The ending of this book is hopeful.

I’m reminded of Joseph Conrad’s quote. I think I’m getting this idea from Sarmago’s novel.

My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel — it is, before all, to make you see. That — and no more, and it is everything. If I succeed, you shall find there according to your deserts: encouragement, consolation, fear, charm — all you demand; and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask

Joseph Conrad

Before moving on to book 2, I will reread this part.


Lewis Carroll – “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”

Liked:

  • Whimsical
  • Creative / Imaginative
  • Fun
  • Inventive in terms of languague and word plays

For whatever reason I have not read this book before, but I think I appreciate it best as an adult. It’s a treasure trove and one I will need to revisit to study the contexts, especially the poems. The creatures she meets down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass are whimsical and fun, the logical order reversed. It’s a realm of the imagination, and anything is possible.

‘— so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation. ‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.’

there’s so much joy and pleasure to be had in reading this. I enjoy its linguistic and logical playfulness. This is the book to translate for an aspiring creative translator. I enjoy the word play-based exchanges, and there are many great lines. The ending part of Alice in Wonderland hits me with a strong nostalgia for the idyllic days of childhood. I also like that Through the Looking Glass feels like a dream.


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