The Country of the Blind
|"The Country of the Blind"|
First edition cover of The Country of the Blind and Other Stories (1911)
|Author||H. G. Wells|
|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.
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 climbs high into the surrounding mountains until night falls, and he rests, weak with cuts and bruises, but happy that he has escaped the valley. His fate is not revealed. 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.
- Nuñez – a mountaineer from Bogotá, Colombia
- Yacob – Nuñez's master
- Medina-Saroté – the youngest daughter of Yacob
- Several radio adaptations of the story have been produced. Escape aired debuted its adaptation starring Raymond Burr Thanksgiving week, 1947, which featured a different ending in which 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. Another episode of Escape aired 6/27/1948, starring Paul Frees. In 1954, 1957 and 1959 the CBS radio series Suspense rebroadcast this version. CBS Radio Mystery Theater aired another radio adaptation May 7, 1979. The episode was titled "Search for Eden" (episode 977) and the main characters' names were changed—Nunez was renamed Carlos and Medina-Saroté was renamed Eva. The BBC folded the story in two others by Wells for a BBC Radio 4 Extra entitled "The Door in the Wall", also with a twist at the end in which the storyteller reveals himself to be the tale's protagonist.
- 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. 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).
- The composer Mark-Anthony Turnage wrote a chamber opera based on the story, completed in 1997.
- 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.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- The Country of the Blind Original H. G. Wells short story in the April 1904 issue of The Strand Magazine
- The Country of the Blind Short story by H. G. Wells
- The Country of the Blind and Other Stories – Public-domain text from Project Gutenberg
- The Country of the Blind title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Land of Blind (Страна Слепых) Russian animated film