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Helen Keller: A Life
Helen Keller: A Life by Dorothy Herrmann 0679443541 9780679443544
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Helen Keller: A Life by Dorothy Herrmann

Helen Keller couldnt hear, couldnt see, and, at first, couldnt speak. Three decades after her death in 1968, she has become a symbol of the indomitable human spirit, and she remains a legendary figure. With her zest for life and learning--and her strength and courage--she was able to transcend her severe disabilities. In a society fearful of limitation and mortality, she is an enduring icon, a woman who, by her inspiring example, made disability seem less horrifying. William Gibsons play The Miracle Worker, which portrayed Helen Kellers childhood relationship with her teacher Annie Sullivan, was so compelling that most people are only familiar with this early part of Helens life. But the real Helen Keller did grow up, and her adult life was more problematic than her inspiring childhood. The existence she shared with the complicated, half-blind Annie Sullivan was turbulent--with its intrigues, doomed marriages and love affairs, and battles against physical and mental infirmity, as well as the constant struggles to earn a living. Dorothy Herrmanns biography of Helen Keller takes us through Helens long, eventful life, a life that would have crushed a woman less stoic and adaptable--and less protected. She was either venerated as a saint or damned as a fraud. And one of the most persistent controversies surrounding her had to do with her relationship to the fiercely devoted Annie, through whom she largely expressed herself. Dorothy Herrmann explores these questions: Was Annie Sullivan a miracle worker or a domineering, emotionally troubled woman who shrewdly realized that making a deaf-blind girl of average intelligence appear extraordinary was her ticket to fame and fortune? Was she merely an instrument through which Helens brilliance could manifest itself? Or was Annie herself the genius, the exceptionally gifted and sensitive one? Herrmann describes the nature of Helens strange, sensorily deprived world. (Was it a black and silent tomb?) And she shows how Helen was so cheerful about her disabilities, often appearing in public as the soul of radiance and altruism. (Was it Helens real self that emerged at age seven, when she was transformed by language from a savage, animal-like creature into a human being? Or was it a false persona manufactured by the driven Annie Sullivan?) Dorothy Herrmann tells why, despite her romantic involvements, Helen was never permitted to marry. She shows us the woman who, to communicate with the outside world, relied totally on those who knew the manual finger language. For almost her entire life, these people, some of whom were jealous or dogmatic, were the key to Helens world. Reading Dorothy Herrmanns engrossing book, we come to know the real Helen Keller, a complex and enigmatic person--beautiful, intelligent, high-strung, and passionate--a woman who might have lived the life of a spoiled, willful, and highly sexed Southern belle had her disabilities not forced her into a radically different existence.

Author: Dorothy Herrmann

Language: English

Edition: 1

Binding: Hardcover

Pages: 394

Publisher: Knopf

Publication Date: 1998-08-04

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ISBN: 0679443541


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Dorothy Herrmann (Edition: 1) Hardcover

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