The Country of the Blind

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For the Christopher Brookmyre novel, see Country of the Blind. For the Skeleton Crew album, see The Country of Blinds.
Not to be confused with "The Country of the Blind", a poem by C. S. Lewis.
"The Country of the Blind "
Wells CountryOfTheBlindStories(1st edition).jpg
First edition cover of The Country of the Blind and Other Stories (1911)
Author H. G. Wells
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Short story
Published in The Strand Magazine
Media type Print (Magazine)
Publication date April 1904

"The Country of the Blind" is a short story written by H. G. Wells. It was first published in the April 1904 issue of The Strand Magazine and included in a 1911 collection of Wells's short stories, The Country of the Blind and Other Stories. It is one of Wells's best known short stories, and features prominently in literature dealing with blindness.

Wells later revised the story, with the expanded version first published by an English private printer, Golden Cockerel Press, in 1939.

Plot summary[edit]

While attempting to summit the unconquered crest of Parascotopetl (a fictitious mountain in Ecuador), a mountaineer named Nuñez (prn: noon-yes) slips and falls down the far side of the mountain. At the end of his descent, down a snow-slope in the mountain's shadow, he finds a valley, cut off from the rest of the world on all sides by steep precipices. Unbeknownst to Nuñez, he has discovered the fabled "Country of the Blind". The valley had been a haven for settlers fleeing the tyranny of Spanish rulers, until an earthquake reshaped the surrounding mountains, cutting the valley off forever from future explorers. The isolated community prospered over the years, despite a disease that struck them early on, rendering all newborns blind. As the blindness slowly spreads over many generations, the people's remaining senses sharpened, and by the time the last sighted villager had died, the community had fully adapted to life without sight.

Nuñez descends into the valley and finds an unusual village with windowless houses and a network of paths, all bordered by curbs. Upon discovering that everyone is blind, Nuñez begins reciting to himself the refrain, "In the Country of the Blind, the One-Eyed Man is King". He realises that he can teach and rule them, but the villagers have no concept of sight, and do not understand his attempts to explain this fifth sense to them. Frustrated, Nuñez becomes angry, but the villagers calm him, and he reluctantly submits to their way of life, because returning to the outside world seems impossible.

Nuñez is assigned to work for a villager named Yacob. He becomes attracted to Yacob's youngest daughter, Medina-Saroté. Nuñez and Medina-Saroté soon fall in love with one another, and having won her confidence, Nuñez slowly starts trying to explain sight to her. Medina-Saroté, however, simply dismisses it as his imagination. When Nuñez asks for her hand in marriage, he is turned down by the village elders on account of his "unstable" obsession with "sight". The village doctor suggests that Nuñez's eyes be removed, claiming that they are diseased and are affecting his brain. Nuñez reluctantly consents to the operation because of his love for Medina-Saroté. However, at sunrise on the day of the operation, while all the villagers are asleep, Nuñez, the failed King of the Blind, sets off for the mountains (without provisions or equipment), hoping to find a passage to the outside world, and escape the valley.

In the original story, Nuñez escapes the valley, but becomes trapped in the mountains, which ultimately leads to his death. In the revised and expanded 1939 version of the story, Nuñez sees from a distance that there is about to be a rock slide. He attempts to warn the villagers, but again they scoff at his "imagined" sight. He flees the valley during the slide, taking Medina-Saroté with him.

Characters[edit]

  • Nuñez – a mountaineer from Bogotá, Colombia
  • Yacob – Nuñez's master
  • Medina-Saroté – the youngest daughter of Yacob

Adaptations[edit]

  • Several radio adaptations of the story have been produced. Escape aired one adaptation Thanksgiving week, 1947, which featured a different ending – Nuñez escapes the Valley alone (and thus is able to tell the story in-character), but goes blind in the process due to the constant glare from the snow. In 1954, 1957 and 1959 adaptations were produced for the CBS radio series Suspense. CBS Radio Mystery Theater aired another radio adaptation May 7, 1979. The episode was titled "Search for Eden" (episode 0977) and the main characters' names were changed – Nunez was renamed Carlos and Medina-Saroté was renamed Eva.
  • A stage production was written by Frank Higgins; the only production to date has been in The Coterie Theater in Kansas City, Missouri in 2006.
  • A teleplay written by Frank Gabrielsen was produced in 1962 for the TV series The DuPont Show of the Week. The title of the hour-long episode was "The Richest Man in Bogota", and it aired on 17 June 1962.[1] It starred Lee Marvin as Juan de Nuñez, and Míriam Colón as "Marina" (not Medina-Saroté, as in the original story).
  • The Russian studio Soyuzmultfilm made a wordless 19-minute animated film adaptation in 1995 called Land of Blind (Страна Слепых).[2]
  • The composer Mark-Anthony Turnage wrote a chamber opera based on the story, completed in 1997.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Richest Man in Bogota". TV Guide 10 (24). June 16–22, 1962. 
  2. ^ "The Land of Blind". Animator.ru. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 

External links[edit]

Streaming Video

Streaming Audio