Countries of the Blind: Blindness and the Creation of Other Worlds in “The Country of the Blind”, “The Black Grippe” and The Day of the Triffids
This thesis examines the depiction of mass blindness in three works: H.G. Wells’s “The Country of the Blind”, Edgar Wallace’s “The Black Grippe” and John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids. In their description of a near-universal impairment, blindness, these texts challenge the typical portrayal of disability in fiction, as an affliction affecting an individual. They reflect how society has been constructed around particular assumptions of ability and how that might be different in another society, be it an isolated village or a world changed by infection or Cold War era weapons. In their depictions of the sighted people in these worlds, they highlight the distinction between disability and impairment, including in one case a sighted man disabled by a society constructed for and by blind people. I place these texts in a context of the time of writing and argue that they themselves give context to more recent discussions of disability – and diversity generally – in speculative fiction. They demonstrate the unique potential of speculative fiction to move beyond an individualised representation of disability by the creation of new worlds.