Archive for August, 2010

Ordeal of the Chilean miners: José Saramago lives?

I am wondering if I am the only person who has been thinking, while following the remarkable story of the 33 miners (32 Chileans and one Bolivian) trapped underground in Chile:


in English – 

in Spanish –


that despite his decease earlier this year, the spirit of Portugal’s Nobel-winning writer José Saramago is still very with us?


A group of people trapped in a closed space and unable to leave – thanks to the negligence of their employers, who failed to provide an emergency stairway. Extraordinary efforts of human solidarity and resourcefulness in finding water, arranging a living space and sharing out the little available food. They even temporarily went blind in a dust cloud. All the ingredients are there for a Saramago novel – critique of the economic system, resilience of the ordinary person, human psychology put to the test in an extreme situation. I am thinking of ‘Blindness’ (‘Ensaio sobre a cegueira’), to which Saramago himself wrote a sequel, but this begins to look like ‘Blindness III’. I join the many who will be watching the this unfold with deep sympathy and interest. When it is over, do we have a living writer capable of making a work of literature out of this? The challenge is on ….



Note added 15 Oct 2010: and … they’re out, all alive and all in good to reasonable health … this happy ending is strangely like that of Saramago’s "The Elephant’s Journey" ("A Viagem do Elefante"). Truth is at least as strange as fiction …