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The World I Live In

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  377 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Out of print for nearly a century, The World I Live In is Helen Keller's most personal and intellectually adventurous work—one that transforms our appreciation of her extraordinary achievements. Here this preternaturally gifted deaf and blind young woman closely describes her sensations and the workings of her imagination, while making the pro-vocative argument that the wh ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 31st 2004 by NYRB Classics
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Jack Wolfe
The majority of Americans seem to understand Helen Keller in one of two ways: as an inspiring hero who overcame deafness and blindness in young life to become, well, an inspiring hero (see the play "The Miracle Worker" or just about every kid's book on Ms. Keller), or as an inspiring hero who overcame deafness and blindness in young life to become an ardent supporter of human rights and a champion of human dignity (she co-founded the ACLU, for Pete's sake!). "The World I Live In" has introduced ...more
Kathleen Brugger
What a beautiful person Helen Keller was. This book is a collection of essays that she wrote when she was about 24. It’s a quite interesting look into her mind. I read the book because I saw a quote from it in Daniel Dennett’s Consciousness Explained; the quote implied that before she possessed language, she had no self-consciousness. What astounded me was her ability to visualize! She makes it clear that there is a physical world of vision, and a mental world of vision, and if anything the worl ...more
A wonderful insight into the mind of an amazing woman. This work seems to be a response to those who think that the blind or the blind/deaf cannot experience reality but poorly. "The only lightless dark is the night of ignorance and insensibility," she replies. Then she explains her world of touch, smell, and taste, particularly how touch and feeling allow her to experience the world around her. "It is more difficult to teach ignorance to think than to teach an intelligent blind man to see the g ...more
My experiences with the Helen Keller story are like everyone else's: you read a story in elementary school about how deaf and blind Helen learned to speak and went to college because of her teacher, Annie Sullivan. Then a little while later you see one version or another of The Miracle Worker because every few years, without fail, The Miracle Worker comes on TV and you're like, "Oh, yeah, I remember that Helen Keller thing..." And between those experiences you hear the jokes about rearranging th ...more
Helen Keller is a surprisingly good writer. The interesting thing is that she is of her time -- she does not write like a modern writer would. She says things that no modern writer would say, or says things in a way that take a while to unpack. There is a section where she talks of her disabilities and her mental facilities, and it takes a while to realize that she's saying that she'd rather be blind and deaf than stupid. And then starts talking about people who don't get the kind hint to stop a ...more
Noé Ajo caamaño
Una obra maravillosa que expresa toda la luz que habita en la mente de quien algunos se empeñan en llamar sordociega. No es solo un estilo hermoso, ni siquiera una deliciosa descripción de la riqueza de un mundo dominado por el tacto, el olfato y el gusto. Es un manifiesto que expresa una inmensa gratitud por la existencia, y ensalza el valor que ilumina todos los valores: el amor, lo mas bello, el bien que ilumina al mundo.
Becky Safarik
I read this because Annie Dillard, in The Writing Life, referenced it. They have some similarity of style, but this was a very interesting read to help us see outside of the normal box that we are in.
Kylee Wright
This book would be good to use in a creative writing class. I liked reading her insights about the three senses she uses to interact with the world.
The irony that I can hear the audiobook and read the printed does not pass me
Laura Lee
I think I would call this a 3.5 star book. It is a bit saccharine. It is hard to believe that anyone could be that overflowing with joy about the world all the time. Of course, this was her public face, and she was surely working very hard to counter the assumption that a blind and deaf woman could not be happy or experience the world.

I would recommend this highly to writers, however, because it helps you to focus on the senses that are overlooked and overshadowed by sight. (Overlooked and overs
Fascinating. The book consists of Keller's collection of essays "The World I Live In," a second collection called "Optimism," and an article she wrote at twelve years old called "My Story." Keller dutifully answers the questions of an unknown reader: she tells us how the blind perceive colors, why she defends her use of words like "see" and "reflect" and "darkness" as accurate representations of her own experiences, how the deaf can identify many sounds merely through their vibrations, and how s ...more
Andrii Mironchenko
Хочу поделиться впечатлениями о произведениях Хелен Келлер — женщины, которая в полтора года потеряла зрение и слух (а следовательно, и речь), но получившей высшее образование, изучившей несколько языков помимо родного английского и написавшей несколько книг.

Я прочитал ее автобиографию «История моей жизни», переведенную на русский, и еще более удивительную книгу "The Word I Live In“, в которой Келлер описывает свое видение мира:

что она может узнать с помощью осязания и обоняния,

каким образом
This book is so inspiring. To think that someone can be transformed from a self-described state of "vacancy absorbing space" into a thoughtful, brilliant person writing beautiful observations about her three senses, is amazing.
"It is not for me to say whether we see best with the hand or the eye. I only know that the world I see with my fingers is alive, ruddy and satisfying."

"I have walked with people whose eyes are full of light, but who see nothing in city streets, nothing in books. What a wi
I finished this yesterday and was absolutely blown away! Helen Keller is a beautiful writer. Unbelievable. Toward the end of the book, she wrote too much about God and it got overly sentimental, but the first 4/5 of the book is lovely. She made me realize how important the senses of touch, hearing and smell are, and how often people neglect them, even though they are the most powerful, true, and trustworthy senses that have the ability to transport one to different memories, and are the most int ...more
I love the essays leading up to the penultimate 'Optimism' essays, which are rife with American-style delusions of how that and other countries around the world actually operated. This is unfortunate, since she seemed to be so psychologically astute about history in general. So, three stars for essays 1-15. And ditto for the remainder.
When I started reading this the first thing I thought was "what does Helen Keller Think of Racism?". This book is Amazing. Helen Keller was a remarkable being. What does she think of Racism I wonder? This book is so profound and full of insight. If only we were all a bit more like Helen Keller, the world would be an amazing place. She completely obliterates the idea that we need the sense of sight, interesting how our eyes can decieve us. It feels a little bit like this book was written in defen ...more
Kevin K
One of the most moving books I've ever read. An unusual combination of psychological insight (what is it like to live with no sight or hearing? what is the nature of touch?) and the thoughts of a wise, poetic and beautiful soul. I listened to the librivox version narrated by Laura Caldwell. Ms. Caldwell is outstanding. Her tone and demeanor perfectly suit Helen Keller's writing.
Dalam buku ini, Helen membagikan pengalamannya dalam mendayagunakan ketiga indra yg ia miliki, diperkaya dg imajinasi dan penglihatan batin, yg membuatnya mampu mengatasi kekurangannya.

Resensi lengkap bisa dibaca di
Steve Merrick

I have just started reading this one and wanted to say quite categorically that if the rest of the essays are as good as the first five pages then its a brilliant and poetical ride into the the world of the blind and dumb. Its a shame that the the term dumb is dual meaning because the writer has already become very real person and these first pages have a real beauty to them..........

So a full review will be posted when I HAVE FINISHED (WORK PERMITTING) this book.


Having finished the bo
Helen articulately describes her ability to sense the world through touch and smell, arguing the superiority of touch to sight and showing her powerful ability to interpret the world around her. Well before WWI, she describes her optimistic view of life and her pride in being American. Some of her insights are timeless, such as her urge to the Indian people to do away with the caste system, recognizing that she would have had no opportunity to learn and develop had she grown up in India. Her cha ...more
Ok, so, it is interesting to hear about the senses and language from Hellen Keller's perspective. BUT her style of writing is archaic and grandiose and very hard to remain interested in. Here's a representative sample:
"While I walk about my chamber with unsteady steps, my spirit sweeps skyward on eagle wings and looks out with unquenchable vision upon the world of eternal beauty."
And so on, for the entire book. I finished reading it because I hate leaving books unfinished, and that was about t
This is just a phenomenal book. To be able to examine ones senses, and investigate the sources of experience with such clearheadedness and imagination is a challenge so rarely taken on, and Keller does it with so much grace, this book has incredible insight into our sources of knowledge.
It is beautiful and refreshes beauty. And the tone has got that delicious turn of the century earnestness, that's a real palette cleanser.

I hope you'll get it and keep it close at hand!
Sarah Young keitges
I remember doing a book report on Helen Keller in 3rd grade and even then her life impacted me in such a great way.
She did not let her disability keep her from using her amazing gifting and creativity.
As I was reading this book I imagined myself in her shoes and how keen her other physical senses must have been and that's how she experienced life. Touch, taste, smell is what she had to experience life and it led to such great imagination and outlook on life.
Richard Mansel
Fascinating discussion about the senses and life without them. This was a joy to read!
This book is a bit slow because it is a serious of articles that she wrote about how she uses her sense of touch, smell and taste do interpret the world around her. She is very articulate. It is amazing the depth of her communication skills. It is a powerful account of how those we consider disabled don't consider themselves to be so. I would recommend reading her autobiography in conjunction with this book to understand her life better.
According to Keller, Schopenhauer is an enemy to the race and it was his own fault that he was given "ashes for bread." I say fooey on this. I enjoyed reading about her ways of "seeing" the world and her dreams, but I found her religious citations and insistence that blindness is not only perhaps equal but superior to sight quite naive and repetitive. A product of the times I suppose.
Keller's most distinctive message is that she is capable of accessing the world with the senses she possesses, even that she sees things that sighted and hearing individuals don't notice, such as the delicate nuances of touch and smell. It's a bit heavy prose wise but very skilled at times.
This was a very interesting read.
It's amazing how a person who cannot hear nor see is able to write so beautifully.
Devin Partlow
Wow Helen Keller was a little philosopher, which if you think about it isn't surprising at all. Since she was blind and deaf she spent a large portion of her time with books as the preferred way to perceive the world. And it shows.

Even with 3 of the 5 senses the sky is still the limit.
Can you imagine a dream without visual images or sound? This is a glimpse at the world of senses in Helen Keller's life. The rest of us use so little of our gifts of perception. It is humbling to read of the richness of her world.
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NYRB Classics: The World I Live In, by Helen Keller 1 5 Oct 31, 2013 08:42AM  
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Helen Keller would not be bound by conditions. Rendered deaf and blind at 19 months by scarlet fever, she learned to read (in several languages) and even speak, eventually graduating with honors from Radcliffe College in 1904, where as a student she wrote The Story of My Life. That she accomplished all of this in an age when few women attended college and the disabled were often relegated to the b ...more
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“The infinite wonders of the universe are revealed to us in exact measure as we are capable of receiving them. The keenness of our vision depends not on how much we can see, but on how much we feel.” 30 likes
“The mind is as big as the universe.” 8 likes
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