SECOND SIGHT by Robert V. Hine


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 Uplifting, ruminative memoir by a history professor who went blind in middle age and regained his sight 15 years later. In 1941, the 20-year-old Hine (History Emeritus/UC Riverside) was told that his arthritis-induced eye condition of uveitis would eventually blind him. Thirty years later, it did, by ``blocking'' the surgery necessary to remove the cataracts that had slowly covered both eyes. But with all those years to prepare, Hine found his descent into darkness less a horrific ordeal than a challenge he met through intelligent adaptation. He learned Braille and how to navigate with a walking cane, and shifted his historical researches to ones relying less on obscure primary source material. Hine's account of his blind years is notable mostly for its calm, especially when detailing the inevitable suffering--for instance, in his relationship with his teenage daughter. More compelling is his description of regaining his sight--suddenly, almost miraculously, through an emergency operation requiring removal of one cataract to prevent catastrophic glaucoma. On March 25, 1986, Hine went under the knife--and the next day he could see his beloved wife, ``her silver hair shining, her loving face and eyes smiling.'' The author recorded his new life in a journal, liberally quoted here (``Thursday, March 27. The kitchen cupboards as I opened them this morning were like jewel cases'') as he considers the effects of blindness on body image and sex; comments on how other blind people, from Resistance leader Jacques Lusseyran to painter Andrew Potok, have dealt with their disability; discusses possible advantages of blindness (e.g., an immunity to visual status symbols); examines societal attitudes toward the blind; and expresses his ``overwhelming gratitude'' at again being able to see. Not an illuminating classic like Lusseyran's And There Was Light, but a pleasingly thoughtful, quietly courageous report from one who's lived his life both sighted and blind--but never, it seems, with blinders. (Three photographs)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-520-08195-1
Page count: 218pp
Publisher: Univ. of California
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1993


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