Jose Saramago (Portugal, 1922)
"Levantado do Chao" (1980)
"Memorial do Convento/ Balthasar and Blimunda" (1982) +
is an epic poem to human madness: the madness of
endless and pointless wars, the madness of absolute monarchs, the madness of
religious bigotry, the madness of science, the madness of forced marriages, the
madness of eternal love, etc.
Intrinsic to this fresco of human madness is the passion for lengthy detailed witty descriptions of old religious and secular rites.
The other theme of the story is human vanity, spread equally throughout the
social classes: the king who wants immortality by building the most imposing
monastery in the world, the priest who wants to challenge God by flying to
the heavens, the humble cripple Baltasar who falls in love with a beautiful
witch, the devout wife Blimunda who spends years looking for her husband;
and all of this against the backdrop of an Inquisition that tends to condemn
every ambitious eccentricity as the work of the devil.
The narration is so accurate and detailed that at times it feels like a historical documentary.
The only drawback is the liberties that the writer takes with the punctuation:
it might have looked cool in his time but, after a while, it simply becomes
a distraction instead of an attraction.
The idea, however, is to mimic the tone of a half-sober popular bard of those
days and times.
At the time of the Inquisition,
the king Joao V of Portugal has been married for two years to the devout Maria Ana of Austria, but she is not pregnant yet. Their sexual intercourse have to respect a complicated ritual full of religious formalities. They sleep separately after intercourse, assisted each by a separate retinue of helpers.
One day a Franciscan friar tells the king that he will get a heir if and when he promises to build a convent in the town of Mafra. The kind solemny announces his pledge and proceeds to impregnate his wife. The queen indeed becomes pregnant.
Baltasar Sete-Sois is a young soldier who has lost his left hand in a bloody battle fought to decide which foreign aristocrat will inherit the throne of Portugal. He is reduced to beg for alms and has spent his first savings to replace his missing hand with a spike and a hook. He travels to the capital and makes friend with a pimp, Joao Elvas, who lives in the slums. One night Joao Elvas tells the story of how an unfortunate woman was murdered and her body parts scientifically cut off and dispersed all over the city. The murderer has never been found and the identity of the woman is still unknown. Baltasar finds employment in the royal slaughterhouse.
The city celebrates a special day when about 100 people are burned at the stake
and many other are tortured or flogged. One of them is Sebastiana Maria de
Jesus, who is about to be flogged and exiled to
Angola for pretending that she has visions (which she really has). Her daughter
Blimunda is in the crowd of spectators and she is standing next to Baltasar.
She invites him to her house and surrenders her virginity to him.
Baltasar notices that she eats bread every morning before opening her eyes.
A good priest, Bartolomeu Lourenco, is representing Baltasar's case at court,
hoping to win him a war pension. Bartolomeu is known as the "flying man" because
he is experimenting with balloons, with permission and encouragement from the
king. He even interviewed Blimunda's mother because she was having visions of
people flying over the city. The priest admonishes Baltasar that he is sinning
by sleeping with a woman who is not his wife but then takes him along to view
his invention. After confiding to him that God has only one hand too,
Bartolomeu convinces Baltasar to help him complete his invention, which is
simply a giant mechanical bird.
Blimunda's mystery is finally revealed: Baltasar had naively told her never to
look inside him, and it turns out that Blimunda can see inside people and
things... but only when she has not eaten. Therefore she eats before opening
her eyes to make sure she will never look inside Baltasar. Baltasar realizes
that Blimunda has inherited some witch powers from her mother.
The whole world around them is drenched in madness. The brother of the king
Francisco tests his
shooting skills by shooting at random sailors, and rejoices at the number of
innocents he kills or maims. Religious people enjoy sex orgies. The king
impregnates all the pretty nuns. The Inquisition burns people of all sorts.
And pointless wars among the European powers keep killing scores of soldiers
on all sides.
Blimunda and Baltasar become the loyal and trusted assistants of Bartolomeu
Lourenco at the secret place where he is assembling his invention. One day
he reveals to them that the mechanical bird needs "ether" in order to fly,
and he plans to obtain the ether from learned men in Holland. Therefore he
leaves for Holland, while they leave for Mafra, Baltasar's homeland, just
the place there the king is building a new monastery.
Baltasar is welcome back home by his parents and by his sister
Ines Antonia, now married to the stone-mason Alvaro Diogo, a man who is likely
to benefit from the construction of the monastery.
The adventures of Baltasar, crippled in the war for the king, and Blimunda,
turned into a de-facto orphan by the Inquisition, are contrasted with the
saga of the royal couple: the pious queen spends her life praying and
making children, while the sinful king finally gets sick and almost dies
(with his brother Francisco eagerly willing to inherit the kingdom and the queen).
After four years Bartolomeu returns. He is excited that he has found out what
the ether is: it is the will of individuals. The souls cannot be seen nor
used, but the will can be seen and captured. He begs Blimunda to look inside
him and Blimunda confirms that she can see the dark cloud which the priest
thinks is the will. Now the plan is to have Blimunda extract will from
people and then use it to fuel the mechanical bird.
Blimunda has her own religious crisis when one day she decides to fast in order
to see what is inside the sacred host that the priest serves at communion, and she only sees a dark cloud, just like when she looks inside human bodies.
Mafra is inaugurated with grand pomp, but Baltasar and Blimunda decide to follow
Bartolomeu back to Lisbon rather than stay and take advantage of the opportunities created by the monastery.
Bartolomeu encourages Blimunda to mingle with crowds of pilgrims and spectators,
wherever there are wills to apprehend.
Bartolomeu also befriends Domenico Scarlatti, the Italian composer and tutor of
the king's daughter.
Bartolomeu is not only attempting something that borders on demonic (fly to heaven) but is secretely also devoured by religious and philosophical doubts.
Then the plague hits Lisbon. People are dying like flies and Bartolomeu encourages Blimunda to take the wills of the many who are about to fall to the disease.
It is a dangerous job and Blimunda almost dies of it, but she manages to
capture two full phials of wills, just what is needed for the flight.
Bartolomeu confesses that now he fears the Inquisition more than failure,
and one day he announces that they need to flee as soon as possible.
They have no time to think: they prepare the mechanical bird, nicknamed
Passarola, and use the phials of wills to test Bartolomeu's theory.
The theory works and the giant bird takes off. Scarlatti sees them from below
and plays the harpsichord in their honor. He is the only eyewitness of the
engineering miracle. People see the object fly over Mafra but think it must
be the holy spirit that has come to bless the new monastery.
The trio lands a few hours from Mafra, in the middle of nowhere. Bartolomeu
runs away, out of his mind. Baltasar and Blimunda walk to Baltasar's parents
and return to their humble life of workers. One day Scarlatti shows up under
the pretense of checking the construction, but in reality to deliver the message
that Bartolomeu went mad and died in Spain. Only they know that Bartolomeu had
indeed found a way to fly.
A lengthy chapter is devoted to a detailed narration of how 400 oxen and 600 men are employed to transport a colossal marble stone.
Balthasar and Blimunda travel together to the carcass of the mechanical bird
and restore it as best as they can, still keeping the secret.
Meanwhile, the king of Portugal Joao V is beginning to think about his own
mortality. He spent his childhood building and rebuilding a miniature replica of the
greatest basilica of all, St Peter's in Rome, and now dreams of building a
lifesize replica of it. The chief architect talks him out of it but the king
then orders the monastery of Mafra to be enlarged to become as imposing as
St Peter's. Work to demolish the nearby hill begins immediately, despite the
warning by the royal treasurer that the country is basically bankrupt.
Paranoid that the project might not be finished during his lifetime, the king
even decides the date of inauguration regardless of how well advanced the work
This should be welcome news for the thousands of workers hired to complete
the project, but in truth most men resent the task and the royal army has
to round them up, causing displacement, death and assorted miseries.
Meanwhile, the daughter of the king is bethroted to the son of the king of
Spain, and viceversa, thereby preparing for the union of Spain and Portugal.
The king sets out towars Spain to seal the deal, preceded, followed and accompanied by an army
of notables, helpers and family. Tramps follow the royal party hoping to obtain
leftovers and alms. Joao Elvas, now an old vagabond, is one of them, but more
interested in seeing his king than in begging. He is stunned by the display of
wealth. Then he is left behind and is drafted to fix the roads for the passage
of the queen and her retinue. He meets another worker who hails from Mafra
and they realize that they have a friend in common, Baltasar, and they gossip
about Baltasar's incredible claim that he has flown, with Elvas confirming
that Baltasar did hang out with the Flying Man of Lisbon.
Joao Elvas is not exactly following them: he is going back to his hometown,
and it just so happens that his hometown is the place chosen by Portugal and
Spain for the royal weddings. Joao Elvas therefore witnesses the historical
encounter between the two royal parties and the weddings of the hapless
children, one of which, the king's daughter, learns by accident that a huge
monastery is being built because of her existence (the king's original vow)
and thousands of people are being drafted against their will because of it;
the asme girl has to marry a boy she never met and leave her home country
and her family forever to become the queen of Spain.
Amid all of this, Baltasar and Blimunda are still tender lovers, still working
in Mafra, still hiding their secret. The king comes from the inauguration of
the monastery. The same day Baltasar travels to inspect the flying machine
in the mountains and accidentally sets it in motion.
While everybody is excited about the consecration of the new monastery,
Blimunda senses that something is wrong. She sets out to find Baltasar.
After a long and ardous trek, she reaches the location where the Passarola
used to be and realizes that it must have taken off with Baltasar. She takes
for granted that it must have crashed nearby and begins to search the hills.
She has to kill a friar who tries to rape her. Then she goes back home
empty handed, hoping in vain that Baltasar makes it back on his own.
She begins a nomadic life. For nine years she looks everywhere for her beloved
spouse. She becomes famous in every village. Her unconditional love commands
respect even from the one tho think her crazy. Eventually she visits Lisbon
and finally finds her man: Baltasar is about to be burned at the stake by
the Inquisition. All that Blimunda can do is summon Baltasar's will.
The narrator of
"O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis/ The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis" (1984) ++
seems to be a superhuman observer, someone who knows everything about what
the protagonist does, feels and thinks, and shares it with the reader.
Ricardo Reis was the fictional poet invented by the great Portuguese poet
Pessoa. Here Reis materializes as a real person, and a person who has a
complex psychology. This narrator can also read in the future, because he
makes statements such as "one day people will remember him not as a doctor".
Nothing of consequence happens most of the time. The protagonist simply
lives a life of routines with no apparent goal. The only extraordinary event
is the occasional appearance of a ghost, but even that can be safely
explained out as an effect of dreams, alcohol or tiredness.
It is also a sort of historical novel because it continuously summarizes
the headlines of newspapers. The portrait of Reis seems to mirror the
world events: he drifts towards death the way nations drift towards war.
There is a choir that assists powerless to Reis' pointless tragedy: old men
in the street, the staff of the hotel, the neighbors, the doctor's assistant,
the police informer. They spy, eavesdrop, gossip, all behind his back,
but they never take action. They distance themselves from him while at the
same time dying to discover every detail of his mysterious life.
This too may have a historical equivalent: the silent majorities who morbidly
witnessed the rise of fascism and nazism, secretely scandalized by its
amorality, but incapable of doing anything about it.
By the end the portrait is complete: Reis is a man without a reason to exist,
indifferent to the history of the world, to the woman who loves him and is
pregnant of his child, to anything. The only thing that briefly excites him
is to seduce a much younger virgin. Once that fails, he has nothing to live for.
Ricardo Reis arrives at Lisbon on a ship bound from Buenos Aires to London,
having boarded in Brazil. The weather is terrible: it rains non-stop.
He spent 16 years abroad.
He takes a room in a hotel where he stayed before, welcome by the manager
Salvador and assisted by the maid Lidia.
He needs to reacquaint himself with his home country and with... himself.
He reads in the newspaper that the great poet Fernando Pessoa died two days
earlier. One of his pen names was reportedly Ricardo Reis... and Ricardo
Reis takes the tram to the cemetery, where he looks for Pessoa's tomb.
He is a doctor but has no desire to resume his profession.
He is also writing a poem.
He dines at the hotel, and his favorite guests to observe (discreetly) are
a girl with the paralyzed hand, Marcenda, and her father, a lawyer named Sampaio who takes
her to a specialist in the capital every month for three days.
On New Year's Eve, taking advantage of a pause in the rains, he goes for a
stroll, and this becomes a lengthy stream of
consciousness although told in the narrator's third-person.
Then he returns to the hotel and feels weird that he's having his dinner alone
while everybody else is celebrating. But all he can do is observe and meditate.
When he returns to the hotel, he finds a visitor: the ghost of Fernando Pessoa,
who has come to chat from the cemetery. Pessoa explains that dead people get
eight or nine months of free time to wander around, the symmetrical time of
the nine months that one spends in his mother's womb before being born.
Reis then explains that he returned for two reasons: 1. a telegram informing
him of the death of Pessoa and 2. a revolution in Brazil. Pessoa notes that
Reis left Portugal for the same reason: a failed revolution. When Pessoa leaves,
Reis hears the door of the hotel slam.
Reis reads in the newspapers what has changed in Portugal since the advent of
the Salazar dictatorship. He also reads the obituaries for Pessoa, a poet who
was largely ignored by the masses. Pessoa does not reappear and Reis begins to
wonder whether it was just a dream. Reis admits to himself that the reason he
returned to Portugal is neither fear for the political situation in Brazil
nor the death of his friend Pessoa. Something else is at work in his soul.
Then he meets him again, this time in the street, and, while they chat,
Reis states that he wants to settle down and start his own practice.
Reis is attracted by the hotel maid, Lidia. She accepts his attentions and
sleeps with him discreetly. However, he is also morbidly attracted to the
young girl Marcenda. She and her father return after a month for another series
of medical visits and Reis makes sure to run into them at theater.
Pessoa reappears in his room and scolds him for being infatuated with a
hotel maid. Reis claims to be a poet, but Pessoa doubts that he really wrote
the poems. Marcenda treats him like a friend because she wants his professional
opinion on her paralyzed hand. It's been four years, almost exactly
since her mother died, and her doctor's explanation is that the problem is
caused by a heart disease. Marcenda thinks her mother's death is more likely
to be the cause. Marcenda tells Reis that she is 23 years old. Reis reflects
that she is certainly still a virgin. Marcenda reveals that her father has
a second reason to come to the capital: he has a lover. Reis realizes that
Marcenda's infirmity provides a convenient alibi for her father to come and
see his woman. Lidia is jealous of Reis' chat with Marcenda and does not
sleep with him for a few days. Meanwhile, Reis attends the funeral of a
murdered man, a case that has been widely popular. Refugees from Spain (where
the civil war just started) arrive in town and two stay in Salvador's hotel.
The staff of the hotel found out about Reis' affair with Lidia and Salvador
is worried that it may become a scandal. It keeps raining and
the flooding is the worst of the last forty years.
During the feast of carnival Reis sees a man dressed in the costume of
a skeleton and suspects it could be Pessoa. That night he falls sick and
the following two days Reis remains in bed, nursed by Lidia.
A month has already gone by.
He hears that Marcenda and her father are about to return.
The day before their arrival Reis is summoned to the police station.
Lidia is terrified because her brother, a dissident, talks of torture being
administered there. Salvador is worried that he may have a guest who is
a dangerous revolutionary. When Sampaio arrives, he pretends not to see
Reis, because he has been told and prefers not to associate with him.
Marcenda has to write him a note in order to meet secretely with him.
At the meeting place Reis runs into Pessoa who makes sarcastic comments
about Reis' womanizing activities. Reis asks him if it was him dressed like
a skeleton and Pessoa laughs at the idea.
It turns out the police are suspicious of the fact that Reis left Brazil just
when the (failed) revolution started. Reis is annoyed by the questioning,
not realizing how dangerous it is not to cooperate. Nonetheless the deputy
chief lets him return home. Reis decides that it is time to move out of the
hotel and finds an apartment to rent very near the spot where he had secretely
Lidia is heartbroken and the manager Salvador is disappointed. The hotel staff,
that now gossips openly and sarcastically about Reis' affair with Lidia,
is also curious to find out where Reis is moving. Reis hires two porters to
carry his luggage to the new place. Old men watch him to move in and gossip
that the apartment is too large for one person alone.
It is still raining. Reis goes to bed and falls asleep. He is woken up by
someone knocking at the door: it is not Lidia, but Pessoa. They chat a bit
then Reis goes back to sleep. In the morning he wakes up when he hears the
door slam, and assumes it's Pessoa who left.
Lidia begins to visit him periodically with the excuse of helping keep his
apartment clean but also gladly indulges in their sexual affair. Reis also
writes his new address to Marcenda and then spends every day anxious for a
reply or a visit. Finally, Marcenda comes. She has broken all the rules
of morality. They kiss, her first kiss, then she quickly leaves. Nosy
neighbors gossip about the visits of these women. He sleeps with Lidia,
then he writes a love letter to Marcenda.
It is time for Reis to look for employment and eventually he finds a job
as a temporary substitute for a heart disease expert. His mental life is
mostly taken by the world news that he reads in the newspaper: nazists and
fascists are carrying out their imperial campaigns. He doesn't seem to care.
Finally Marcenda replies and, of course, she mainly writes of her confusion:
she loves him, but he is twice her age. To console himself, Reis takes a walk
to the cemetery. Pessoa, however, doesn't show up. He materializes two nights
later at the apartment. Reis now drinks too much with his evening meal.
They discuss death and oblivion. During their discussion the police informer,
Victor, shows up, obviously spying on Reis.
Reis has a new routine: read the newspaper while Lidia cooks breakfast,
make love to her, go to work. Lidia casually mentions marriage, but Reis
doesn't even notice. When he tries to make to her, however, he is terrified
that he cannot have an erection, for the first time in his life.
Three days later Marcenda appears at his office to repeat what she told him
in her letter: that she loves him but they would not be happy together.
He kisses her again and gets an erection. His assistant is eavesdropping
Marcenda sends him a letter of farewell and Reis goes back to his routine
of sleeping with Lidia as if they were married.
Mussolini is winning in Ethiopia and the fascists are winning in Spain
Suddenly Reis decides to look for Marcenda in Fatima. She has mentioned
that her father insisted on her trying Fatima, the place where sick people
can be healed by miracles. Lidia knows that Marcenda is going to Fatima because
the girl told her during her last stay at the hotel.
Reis arrives in Fatima, which is an incredible circus of sick people stacked
everywhere, merchants selling all sorts of goods, beggars, and religious
pilgrims. There is no place to sleep and he has to share a tent with a group
of pilgrims. Reis feels ridiculous: like them he is in search of a mirage,
but knowing that it is a mirage, and in the hope of a miracle, the miracle
of a young girl falling in love with a middle-aged man.
Reis returns from Fatima without having seen a miracle or Marcenda. When he
receives a letter, he hopes it is from Marcenda: but instead it is from the
doctor whom he has replaced telling him that Reis is no longer needed as
a substitute. Pessoa visits Reis and talks of his own affair with a woman
who was not a chambermaid but a typist. The fascist government stages a
spectacular mock air raid. Reis gets into the habit of rising late, walking
to the park to read his newspaper, writing his poetry and, once a week,
sleeping with Lidia who comes to clean up his place. This time, however,
Lidia brings news: she is pregnant and want to keep the child. He kisses her
but inside he is angry that he got himself into that mess. He tells Pessoa
when he comes to visit him next.
A military coup installs Franco as dictator in Spain. Spain joins Italy,
Portugal and Germany, the first three fascist revolutions. Pessoa has not
returned in a while, and Reis takes a walk imagining to talk to him while
admiring a panorama. Now Reis buys a radio to follow the events that are
rapidly changing the world he knew. He attends a mass rally of the fascists
but is largely indifferent. He is even indifferent when Lidia in tears tells him
that her brother is one of the sailors who are about to stage a mutiny, trying
to overthrow the government, certain to be killed. The only thing that seems
to excite him is Marcenda. He writes a letter to her, then tears it up.
He writes a poem to her, doesn't sign it and mail it. Her father will probably
just make fun that she has a secret admirer.
The day for which the mutiny is planned Reis takes a walk by the docks and
sees Victor, the cop, but does not warn Lidia to warn her brother that the
police are around. The revolution starts and, as expected, it fails. Lidia's
brother is among those killed.
Reis walks to the hotel to check on Lidia, but Lidia is nowhere to be found.
He waits in vain for Lidia to appears. Instead, Pessoa arrives. It is his
last visit: his time has run out. Now he will disappear forever. Reis decides
to go with him. Reis only takes on thing with him, the book that he never
managed to finish, Herbert Quain's "The God of the Labirynth" (which is a
book that doesn't exist, just like Reis doesn't exist: it is one of the
imaginary books reviewed by Jorge Luis Borges in his tale
"An Examination of the Work of Herbert Quain") in order to "relieve the world
of one enigma".
"A Jangada de Pedra" (1986)
"Historia do Cerco de Lisboa" (1989)
"O Evangelho Segundo Jesus Cristo/ The Gospel According to Jesus Christ" (1991)
"Ensaio sobre a Cegueira/ Blindness" (1995) +
is a historical apologue, a sci-fi parable that indirectly
projects the fears accumulated during a century of global tragedies.
The characters are nameless, the novel has no chapters.
The mood changes wildly, from comic to ferocious, mocking humankind affectonately one minute and describing in detail the worst horrors committedby humans the next minute.
A 38 year old man turns suddenly blind while ge js driving his csr. A stranger offersto drive himhome then steals his car.
While the wife of the first man takes him to the hospital, the thief suddenly turns blind.
The doctor who examined tbe blind man spends hours at home studying the case until suddenly he goes blind too.
A prostitute who was in his office goes blind too just when she is having an orgasm with a customer.
The car thief is taken home to his wife by a police officer.
In the morning the doctor informs his wife that he too has gone blind and that they need to inform the government that an epidemic might be spreading through the country.
Soon the authorities are told of the other people who have been infected by blindness after getting in touch with the first blind man, and the doctor's
hypothesis becomes a certainty. By the time the ambulance comes to pick up the doctor, his wife has turned blind too.
Or, better, she pretended too, so that they would take her with him. All the blind people are interned in a mental asylum. Soon the wife of the first blind man,
the man who slept with the prostitute and a police officer are also taken there, all gone blind.
The doctor's wife helps the blind without revealing that she can see, meekly awaiting her turn to go blind.
The thief gets injured trying to sexually assault the prostitute and his wound gets infected. Desperate, he tries to leave the compound but is quickly
shot dead by a sentinel. Later many more internees are massacred by panicking soldiers.
The order from the government is that the soldier must not allow any blind to leave the building in order to contain the contagion.
The number of blind people interned in the building keeps increasing.
The soldiers deliver food rations every day making sure there is no contact between them and the blind.
Blindness makes it difficult to trust each other and easy to cheat, especially when it comes to picking up food deliveries and dividing them fairly.
Furthermore, some of the soldiers guarding the compound are just waiting for an excuse to shoot the blind.
Panic is spreading in the nation after bus drivers and even airplane pilots went suddenly blind causing massive tragedies.
The situation in the mental asylum gets rapidly worse because nobody can guide the blind to the latrines. Excrements cover all the flooes.
The doctor's wife is about to reveal that she can see so that she can help keep order among the blind when a gang takes control of the food rations.
Led by a man who is armed with a gun and by his assistant who is a real blindwhi can read and write braille, the gang forces all the others to
deliver all valuable in returnfor food. The doctor's wife watches powerless as the blind gangster terrorizes the helpless blind people.
Later her husband and the first blind collect all the valuables of their group and bring them to the gangsters. The doctor's wife does not
tell anyone that she has brought scissors along, which can clearly be used as a weapon.
The group's misery further increases when the only radio station they can hear goes silent: its entire staff has just gone blind.
Next, the gangster demand women in exchange for more food. The initial outrage turns into a rational debate about the fact that,
by accepting, the women would be feeding the men. Some of the women are willing to sacrifice their dignity, including the doctor's wife
and the first blind's wife.
The other odd consequence of this request is that everybody seems to be sexually
aroused. Promiscuous sex spreads and the doctor's wife sees her own husband slip into the bed of a young single girl.
The doctor's wife watches without saying anything until they are done, then whispers to the girl that she can see.
The thugs ome to collect the women. The leader touches them and then select the young one and the doctor's wife.
Al the women are raped multiple times and forced into all sorts of humiliating sex. One dies of it.
None tries to rebel. When they finally return to their group, the doctor and an old man meekly go to
collect the reward, their food ration. Nobody tries to rebel, despite the fact that the thugs are as blind as them.
The following night, however, the doctor's wife grabs the scissors and enters the thugs den while they are
raping another group of women. She strikes the leader just when he is ejaculating into one of the women's mouth
and kills him. The real blind is the first one to understand what happened and to grab the leader's gun.
The doctor's wife helps all the women escape while still striking any thug on her path.
Retreating, she threatens to kill one thug for every day that food is not delivered.
The thugs barricade themselves. Now they are the only ones to have food because the soldiers
have stopped delivering the daily rations. The electricity also went off. An old man talks
the others into attacking the thugzs to seize their food but the attack fails badly: the
one born blind shoots three times and manages to kill two insurgents.
During the retreat the doctor's wife finally reveals to her entire group that she can see.
The blind are now starving. A woman remembers that she has a lighter. She uses it to set fire
to the beds of the thugs, but the fire gets out of control and she dies in it.
The fire quickly spreads to the entire building. The doctor's wife walks outside begging
the soldiers to let them flee. Then she realizes thst the soldiers are gone, possibly
all struck by the same blindness. The blind are free. The doctor's wife leads her husband, the young woman, the old man, the first blind, his wife and a child.
The seven venture into town, guided by the only one who can see. They are so starved
that they can barely walk. The whole population has gone blind. Groups of blind people wander around looking for food just like them.
Nobody can find their way home, so the blind sleep wherever they can.
The doctor's wife decides to leave her group into a shop and look for food alone. She eventually finds it in a supermarket's basement that eluded
the blind. She carries as much as she can back to her group, but also brings them the news that absolute chaos reigns and their homes
may be used by blind strangers who cannot find their own anymore.
She appears to be the only person to have escaped the contagion but doesn't seem to wonder why.
She leads the group through the wasteland: no electricity, no water, dogs eating human corpses.
Eventually they settle into her house, the doctor's house, which has been spared any destruction.
They don't even hAve enough water to wash themselves until the day it rains. One day the doctor's wife leads the first blind man and his wife to their old apartment. A writer now lives there with his wife and his two daughters. He has found a way to write the story of the epidemic even while being blind.
They decide to let him stay in the flat. They tell him that the doctor's wife seems the only one who did not go blind. That is their luck because they are the only group that can easily find groceries. The others roam the streets in desperation and many died in them. The city is becoming unlivable because of the excrements that are everywhere and the decomposing corpses. The old man declares his love to the young girl and she reciprocates. The doctor's wife heads for the supermarket's basement again, hoping that are others have not raided it yet. But she finds a horrible scene: dozens of rotting dead bodies. Not only did they find it but they died one after the other on the treacherous steps. She faints. Later she and her husband walk into a church and she suffers another shock: someone has erased the eyes of all the images in the church. The church is overcrowded and, when the rumor spreads that all the images are blind, a superstitious panic takes hold of the destitute mob.
Then suddenly the first blind regains his eyesight, and one by one all the others are cured too. People rejoice in the street. The epidemic is over, and nobody knows where it came from and why, and whh it ended.
"Todos os Nomes/ All The Names" (1997)