Saramago’s parents sent him to grammar school, though, they could not afford the tuition long enough for him to finish his studies.As a result, Saramago attended a technical school to become a mechanic while studying literature during his free time.
Salazar drew inspiration for his own dictatorial rule from Hitler and Mussolini, just as Saramago modeled his mental asylum in Blindness after Salazar’s appalling and inhumane prisons that simulated Nazi concentration camps as well as the Japanese internment camps in the United States following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
In an interview for a Portuguese newspaper, Saramago calls his mental asylum the “final solution,” a resemblance of Hitler’s plan to exterminate the Jews (quoted in Frier).
Although these prisoners try to approach their providers without provoking attack, their blindness prevents them from knowing whether they will be shot for making a wrong move.
Acquiring the daily rations most often ends in violence or verbal abuse from the military.
Saramago was highly distrusting of the Salazar regime and government, so he joined the Portuguese Communist Party in 1969. Within the last few years of Salazar’s rule, Saramago worked for two Lisbon newspapers, Diário de Lisboa and, later, Diário de Nóticias.
He lost his job from the latter in 1975 after the new anti-Communist government had come into power.
Baltazar and Bilmunda (1982) criticized the role of Catholicism in 18th-century Portugal.
The Church criticized The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (1991), claiming that Saramago’s depiction of Jesus was too human and offensive to the Church (Saramago, “Autobiography”).
With no hopes of finding another journalistic position, he turned to writing literature and developed his unique writing, consisting of very little punctuation and dialogue within narration.
His later novels became much more successful, though he met much opposition from both the Catholic Church and the Portuguese government because of Communistic and anti-religious undertones.