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The World I Live In

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  538 Ratings  ·  56 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 (first published 1904)
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H.A. Leuschel
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful rendition from an exceptional woman who tells the reader in this moving essay what it is like to be blind, deaf and mute. 'In touch is all love and intelligence', she writes and 'Imagination puts a sentiment to every line and curve'. She may not be able to 'touch the world in its entirely' but she touched me as a reader by her positive outlook and courage! Poetic and gentle.
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The irony that I can hear the audiobook and read the printed does not pass me
Jack Wolfe
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
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
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"The only lightless dark is the night of ignorance and insensibility. We differ, blind and seeing, one from another, not in our senses, but in the use we make of them, in the imagination and courage with which we seek wisdom beyond our senses."

"Ideas make the world we live in, and impressions furnish ideas."

"...for, without egotism, the mind is as large as the universe."

"The silent worker is imagination which decrees reality out of chaos."

"The bulk of the world's knowledge is an imaginary constr
Aug 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
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NYRB Classics: The World I Live In, by Helen Keller 1 6 Oct 31, 2013 08:42AM  
  • Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature
  • Fighting for Life
  • A Journey Round My Skull
  • Pages from the Goncourt Journals
  • Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship
  • Original Letters from India
  • Indian Summer
  • Conundrum
  • Religio Medici & Urne-Buriall
  • My Fantoms
  • The Quest for Corvo: An Experiment in Biography
  • The New York Stories of Edith Wharton
  • The World as I Found It
  • The Furies
  • Victorine
  • Prisoner of Love
  • Apartment in Athens
  • The Outward Room
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
More about Helen Keller...
“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.” 34 likes
“The only lightless dark is the night of ignorance and insensibility. We differ, blind and seeing, one from another, not in our senses, but in the use we make of them, in the imagination and courage with which we seek wisdom beyond our senses.” 11 likes
More quotes…