It is not very original to refer to the length of the sentences one encounters in reading Blindness. Unspooling like so many tracks of flypaper, everything sticks between the periods—multiple speakers, direct and indirect discourse, metafictional asides and stage-whispered narratorial confidences, and a whole lot of proverbs. In discussing the specificities of Saramago's style, I can't really improve on the job done here by Edmond Caldwell. Read the two paragraphs beginning with "There comes a point, however…" In my opinion, Edmond hits several nails on the head, providing a very comprehensive analysis of the basic components of Saramago's style as well as his likely purpose and desired effect in writing in such a manner.
Yet it seems to me that most criticism which touches on the long "baroque" sentence is neither so subtle nor so specific. It treats the long sentence rather as an effect or a performance than as a strategy—one gets the sense that the length of the sentence is there primarily to be noticed, the author congratulated for threading a tricky needle or completing a high-wire act—for achieving art under precarious conditions. This stress tends to flatten the abundant variety of the long sentence, both within a single author and among the very many authors who practice the form in a wide assortment of contexts, for very different projects, and with very different results. When the long sentence is noted primarily for being notable—for being, in essence, experimentation-as-ostentation, a radical technique employed mainly to draw attention to its radicality—we lose sight of what the long sentence does for the author, what she tries to make it do, and why she tries to do it.
To me the most notable thing about the long sentence as a category is not its audacity, but its enormous dispersion into so many different (often transnational) contexts—it is quite obviously tremendously adaptable, malleable. I think what's called for is a good deal of comparative work, standing Bolaño up against Bernhard or Beckett up against Saramago or Stein up against Hrabal. Despite the popularity of these writers within the blogging community, I haven't seen much extended comparative work, although I'd be very glad if someone showed me what I've missed.
I think it would also be extremely valuable to consider the role of length or duration in the long sentence in relation to the role of duration in other media, particularly film. I'm hoping to have a post ready soon about long takes and the long sentence, and hopefully soon thereafter, I can start on some of this comparative work I think is needed.