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In the Blink of an Eye: A Cultural History of Spectacles

In the Blink of an Eye: A Cultural History of Spectacles

Previous price: $23.95 Current price: $22.50
Publication Date: September 27th, 2021
Reaktion Books
The MIT Press Bookstore
1 on hand, as of Feb 27 5:58pm
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From monocles to pince-nez and goggle-eyes, a cultural and technological history of glasses in fact and fiction.
This book examines those who wore glasses through history, art, and literature, from the green emerald through which Emperor Nero watched gladiator fights to Benjamin Franklin’s homemade bifocals, and from Marilyn Monroe’s cat-eye glasses to the famed four-eyes of Emma Bovary and Harry Potter. Spectacles are objects that seem commonplace, but In the Blink of an Eye shows that because they fundamentally changed people’s lives, glasses were the wellspring of a quiet social, cultural, and economic revolution. Indeed, one can argue that modernity itself began with the paradigm shift that transformed poor eyesight from a severely limiting disease—treated with pomades and tinctures—into a minor impairment that can be remedied with mechanisms constructed from lenses and wire.

About the Author

Stefana Sabin has written for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, edited several anthologies of contemporary prose, and published biographies of Andy Warhol and Gertrude Stein, among others. She lives in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Nick Somers is the translator of many books from German including Eichmann’s Jews, Sigmund Freud/Anna Freud: Correspondence, and, most recently, Pearl Harbor. He lives in Vienna.

Praise for In the Blink of an Eye: A Cultural History of Spectacles

"A fascinating account of the cultural significance of spectacles. . . . Clearly written, full of tidbits of literary historical value, In the Blink of an Eye makes a pleasant, informative read, all the more so for the generous illustrations accompanying the text."
— Hong Kong Review of Books

“Spectacles not only enhance our vision; they contribute to our understanding of reality. Sabin’s charming history-in-miniature reveals how history, culture, and politics have been shaped over centuries by paired discs of polished glass, and why, every once in a while, they inspire such unease, such contempt, and even, sometimes, fear.”
— Simon Ings, author of "The Eye: A Natural History" and "The Smoke"