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The Blindfold

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  3,175 ratings  ·  253 reviews
Iris Vegan, a young, impoverished graduate student from the Midwest, finds herself entangled with four powerful but threatening characters as she tries to adjust to life in New York City. Mr. Morning, an inscrutable urban recluse, employs Iris to tape-record verbal descriptions of objects that belonged to a murder victim. George, a photographer, takes an eerie portrait of
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Picador USA (first published 1992)
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Antonio Puente It was translated into Spanish as Los ojos vendados by Editorial Circe.

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Average rating 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,175 ratings  ·  253 reviews

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Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kris by: Ian "Marvin" Graye
Shelves: contemporary, fiction
I recorded this review, previously for Bird Brian's Big Audio Project. You can listen at the following link:

In a Guardian interview from 2010, Siri Hustvedt describes herself as wanting "to write something with an uncanny feeling" a few years after her marriage to Paul Auster. At the time of her marriage, she had been writing poetry, but she shifted her focus and crafted this unsettling, haunting novel.

On the surface, The Blindfold is about three years i
Ian "Marvin" Graye
In Her Own Write

To paraphrase a less hyperbolic comment by David Foster Wallace, the point of this review is that “The Blindfold” is an extraordinary novel.

DFW described it as a “really good book” that is “clearly a feminist reworking of some of the central themes of [Don] DeLillo and his literary compadre, Paul Auster.”

I don’t think this does justice to what Siri Hustvedt achieved in her own right. Nor does the following question from a “reader” on

"Would this book have been publishe
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Blindfold by Siri Hustvedt tells the story of a young graduate student, Iris, and her relationships with four very different (but all very odd) men. The book was especially meaningful to me since I went to Columbia in the neighborhood where the story takes place.

Iris is changed by each relationship she participates in. She wears the suit of a friend's brother and travels the street in disguise as a man called Klaus, the name of a character in a book she translates for one of her partners, a
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's just on 2am and I tore through the second half tonight; finishing it in just over 24 hours.


I can't believe this was her debut, there's something in this that was missing from her later work, although seems to have returned in a The Blazing World.

Feb 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been obsessively cataloguing my books for awhile now, and last year I decided to reacquire titles that I have lost to a previous relationship. It was quite a task, since A. and I were both voracious readers. The more I delve into my bookshelf the more I discover books gone missing. I can't remember now if I gave them away because I loved him, or because I loved the books so much that I have made them a constant presence in his life: I wanted him to read them and see pieces of my self tucked ...more
May 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
Am impressive debut by Siri (married to Paul Auster) sees her weave a dark, intense wonderful written novel describing a few years in the college life of of Iris Vegan… including working as an assistant for a professon translating a dark novella, that impacts on both their lives. With compelling well thought out and realised characters a very good read indeed. 7 out of 12.
Jul 09, 2009 rated it did not like it
Certain books have to be read in a certain state of mind. I completely missed the point of this one. The only reason why I think this is, it's because currently I am really satisfied with my life. If we are talking about issues that are followed in this novella, then I can say that I am not over thinking and I am not analysing myself. When you read books like The blindfold, you have to go deep because it writes about search for identity. On the other hand, maybe this is my current lack of unders ...more
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
I like it better each time
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
I discovered this by going through the amazing archives of the fantastic website that's been devoted to all things David Foster Wallace for over a decade now:

For any serious fans of Wallace this site is a must-see, especially this section:

This section compiles every single essay, book review, and contribution of any kind he ever published and even gives a complete look at where excerpts from subsequent novels and short
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2015
An intense, visceral debut novel telling a story of a literature student in New York in search of her identity. The book takes the form of a confessional monologue. The first three chapters are episodic, self contained and only tenuously linked by the narrative voice. The long fourth and final chapter puts them in context and introduces a darker psychological element. The tone throughout is cool, and the characters she meets are enigmatic and often slightly menacing. A gripping book, but a diffi ...more
Jul 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Hustvedt, who is also a poet, presents us with four beautiful snapshots of a young woman in graduate school at Columbia, trying to pay her bills, understand her peers, and understand herself. Each section is so different, it's surprising they concern the same young woman, but the way the story lines end up fitting together is incredibly skillful and makes you rethink past sections and the characters involved. In one section, she takes a job describing in detail a collection of objects for a myst ...more
Wilhelmina Jenkins
Apr 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: novel
This is not a book I would choose for myself, but I'm glad I read it with a group. The book is surreal and disturbing, but not necessarily in a good way, although it is very well written. I can't identify with the protagonist at all, particularly her complete surrender of identity to men, even a fictional one. However, the descriptions of her migraines and the distortions in perception are brilliant, and are a perfect metaphor for the distorted perceptions experienced by the protagonist in each ...more
May 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
From The Blindfold:
Distortion is part of desire. We always change the things we want.

Weelllll..... then this book would be totally changed, because I truly did want it to be good.

But it's self-indulgent, in a newly-minted MFA sort of way. Migrainey, isolated young college student in NYC (oh, but she's from the MIDWEST!) meets up with a series of odd men whom she finds somehow fascinating -- and, of course, destructive.

Mostly, however, the narrator finds herself somehow fascinating. And, of cou
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this when it first came out. It's spooky and really gets under your skin. Having said that, only one part of the description even rang a bell with me. Must be time to read it again. ...more
Hannah Warnes
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My mind is fried. Scrambled and shattered, a jumbled mess. And I owe it all to this book. ‘The Blindfold’ is impossible to sum up, but I intend to try.

It was deliciously easy for me to delve into this story because in many ways, I am the protagonist, Iris. Iris Vegan is me on psychedelics (except she’s not on psychedelics). Our lives and psyches seem to overlap in the strangest ways, and even though I don’t believe in fate, I can’t help but feel that I was meant to pick up this book. In fact, I
Joan Winnek
Jan 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My handful of friends will notice that I tend to read more books by an author I like. This is Siri Hustvedt's first novel: it focuses on a young graduate student at Columbia, Iris, who is rather like the narrator's sister in The Sorrow of an American in her hypersensitivity. Motifs: whispering, secrecy, appearance/reality split ...

I finished the book, and I'm almost speechless. An engrossing, compelling novel.
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure what I just read, but I was entranced and disturbed, which is always great in my book. ...more
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Teo Mechea
Being obsessed with Hustvedt lately and going through almost every novel and essay she wrote I expected this book to be weaker than the rest of her work just because this was her debut novel. I wasn't far off the target as this is probably my least favorite work of hers yet, even though it's a pretty good novel.

The first part seems a bit wobbly and I wasn't quite sure where this leads to and if I even like it until after the first half of it. Then it all started flowing better, the character mad
Rachel Louise Atkin
Read for Tales of the City module. This was my first Hustvedt and there was so much inside this novel that it's going to take me a while to fully digest everything inside it.
I preferred the first two 'parts' over the other two - there seemed to be more structure and intrigue in them, and they reminded of specific parts of The New York Trilogy. The characterisation during the first half was haunting and to be honest this is the part I would be most likely to return to if I was to ever study this
A book I need to let sink in and ponder. I loved Hustvedt's writing: it is evocative, crisp and sharp. But I am not sure I really understood the book. It also felt like a dark and oppressive story, and I am not sure whether it felt too close to home or completely remote. So I think that, presently, I am a confused reader. Hence a 3.5 read for now, but I might change my mind over time. ...more
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Really like the first part, as it goes on it's still well written but a bit too much of literature students talking which is one of the most exhausting things in the world :) ...more
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
New Statesman said that the book was sexy without being steamy, intelligent without being complicated. I think it is a perfect summary. I really enjoyed it. It was my second book by Hustvedt.
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[ 3.5 stars ]
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was completely, fully immersed in each part of this strange, gorgeous little novella, but even now I'm not sure all the parts make sense as one whole. But no matter. Siri Hustvedt speaks to me like few other writers do. ...more
Lee Kofman
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
I do love some of Hustvedt's books, especially What I Loved and The Plea for Eros, but this one unfortunately felt to me as simply an unnecessary novel... Yes, I get it, it’s about New York’s odd residents, and about a provincial, and intellectual, young woman trying to survive in that intense city and even find love and make some sort-of career for herself. But Joan Didion already said it all, and much better, in her wonderful essay Goodbye to It All. The interconnected stories that constituted ...more
I finished this several days ago, but I'm still not entirely sure what to make of it. I connected so viscerally and immediately with The Blazing World, and I think I wasn't quite expecting to need to work so hard with this one. Interestingly, other readers thought The Blazing World required quite a bit of work, so perhaps there's a lesson for me in there somewhere.

I think, on reflection, that what this book is at least partly about is loneliness. Not that "I wish I had a feller" loneliness, but
May 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: ladykin
A friend recommended that I read the short story "Mr. Morning" and while trying to found a copy of it online we found that it, along with two more of Hustvedt's short stories, had been incorporated into this novel. Mr. Morning comprises the first chapter, and I felt was by far the most engaging part of the novel, if only because the titular character himself is so intriguing, and the idea and motivations for his project give pause for thought.

Unfortunately, I didn't feel as though the rest of th
Nov 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About 2/3 - 3/4 through, I knew I'd want/need to immediately re-read this in a different order and catch things I didn't catch the first time AS SOON as I finished. I have filled margins and eagerly scribbled themes/questions/arguments/inquiries to focus on for read 2.0. (i don't normally.)

And now though, at the end, I kind of just want to kill myself and everyone else stuck in this zero sum nightmare. This constitutes, according to this book... (SPOILERS)


Instead, because idiotically I
Jul 29, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Hustvedt was born in Northfield, Minnesota. Her father Lloyd Hustvedt was a professor of Scandinavian literature, and her mother Ester Vegan emigrated from Norway at the age of thirty. She holds a B.A. in history from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University; her thesis on Charles Dickens was entitled Figures of Dust: A Reading of Our Mutual Friend.

Hustvedt has mainly made

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