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Proverbs from the Red Book of Hergest | Source

2022/05/21: ‘Industry in the Country of the Blind’ goes to Culture Matters

In a short story, ‘The Country of the Blind’ by H G Wells, a climber in the Andes separated from his party stumbles upon a highland valley cultivated by a forgotten community of the congenitally blind. These people, cut off in their isolated valley over centuries, have created a way of life so perfectly adapted to their blindness that they have forgotten that sight exists, their eyes have atrophied, and they have come to believe that the valley is the whole of the world, created for their benefit. Dismissing their discoverer Nuñez’s talk of cities and plains and vision as a mark of his apparent madness, and of the stupidity which accounts for his clumsiness and uselessness in their sightless world, they slowly reach the conclusion that his eyes should be gouged out as the evident source of his delusions and madness, before his marriage to the pious and beautiful young woman, Medina-Saroté.

The story contrasts a Plain People content with their rural simplicity and religious piety with the science and technology of the outside world – Nuñez has the choice of accepting mutilation as a condition of membership of the community, or leaving to attempt the dangerous journey home; and reading the story was helpful to me when a relationship with a woman from an intensely religious family was coming to an end. But any implication that life in the valley after Nuñez’s departure could continue as before seemed false; and in my short story, set in the present day, Nuñez returned at the head of an army of mercenaries to open gold mines run by forced labour, wreaking havoc on the valley’s ecology and nearly destroying its unique culture.

‘Industry in the Country of the Blind’ first appeared in Pugnacious Little Trolls, my fourth short-story collection publised by Cockatrice. It later appeared in Land of Change: Stories of Struggle and Solidarity from Wales, edited by Gemma June Howell and published by Culture Matters. You can read the story, and buy the books, below:

Pugnacious Little Trolls ))

Land of Change ))

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Books by Rob Mimpriss

Dangerous Asylums

‘In this exemplary collaboration between medical science and imagination, lives preserved in official records, in the language and diagnoses of their times, are restored not just to light, but to humanity and equality. This anthology is a resurrection.’

Philip Gross