Jun 20

Story of My Life

Posted by Soliloquy in Adults with disabilities | Hearing Impaired | Vision Impaired

1911. With Helen Keller’s letters of 1887-1901 and a supplementary account of her education, including passages from the reports and letters of her teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan. This book is divided into three parts. The first two, Helen Keller’s story and the extracts from her letters, form a complete account of her life as far as she can give it. She cannot explain much of her education, and since a knowledge of that is necessary to an understanding of what sh… More >>

Story of My Life

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  • Helen Keller (1880-1968) is a revered figure in American popular culture. Struck deaf and blind by illness at the age of 19 months, she still managed to get an education and become a writer and activist. Her story was further popularized by William Gibson’s play “The Miracle Worker,” which was also adapted for both film and television.

    Keller’s autobiography, “The Story of My Life,” first appeared in installments in “Ladies’ Home Journal” in 1902. This book is truly one of the great American autobiographies: an inspiring story of a courageous individual who overcame tremendous odds.

    Keller writes about many things: her childhood in Alabama; her relationship with her beloved teacher, Anne Sullivan; her attendance at the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City; and meeting such eminent figures as Mark Twain. She especially stresses her love of literature, which she describes as “my Utopia.”

    Along the way are some fascinating details and profoundly moving passages. Her tribute to the Homer, the blind poet of ancient Greece, is particularly powerful. I also loved her interpretation of the biblical Book of Ruth: a story of “love which can rise above conflicting creeds and deep-seated racial prejudices.”

    I think that many will regard Keller’s autobiography as a mere historical or sociological document. But I think the book deserves a place as a great work of literature, and moreover as a work of literature in the great American tradition. Keller’s poetic, often sensuous words about the natural world are comparable to the work of Emily Dickinson. And her stirring account of her revelatory awareness of language reminds me of Frederick Douglass’ account of his first awareness of the power of literacy. The book as a whole is enhanced by Keller’s charming, likeable literary style.

    “The Story of My Life” is a wonderful book by an amazing individual. Helen Keller still has, I believe, much to say to contemporary audiences.

  • I was about 8 years old, my grandmother had a “bed and breakfast” type of house in Garmisch, Germany, I was on my way home from school and had picked some flowers for her “B & B” tables, when I saw a lady with awhite cane, I gave her the flowers which I had picked for my grandma, The lady to whom I gave the flowers was Ms. Keller, the lady accompanying her was Ms. Sullivan. The next day, my teacher at school asked me to her office. Thinking that I was in trouble (again) I was worried about what was going on. She asked me where I had met Helen Keller; To which I replied “Helen who??” , She then explained to me who Helen Keller was. My grandmother and I then were invited to one of the finer hotels in Garmisch to have dinner with Ms Keller and Ms Sullivan. At which time she presented me with a hardcover of her book “The story of my life”. What I belive makes this book special is the fact that Ms Keller wrote a note to me In GERMAN, she wrote: “An meiner kleine freund der meine hand froh machte mit ‘Primrosen’, eine botschft from fruehling mit liebe Helen Keller” In rough translation: “To my little friend, who made my hand happy with a message of spring with love Hellen Keller”. This book is most certainly one of my most price posessions.

  • I first read this book in 6th grade. I have read it several times in the intervening years, the most recent time being within the past one year.

    Helen Keller, blind and deaf since the age of 1 1/2 has offered, in her own words an accounting of her life experience. It is incredible to imagine how this woman, unable to see or hear can give such a strong voice to descriptions of nature. The book is replete with beautiful, articulate metaphors that draw the reader into the world as Helen knew it. One wonders how a person with no language can “think,” and Helen provides some clues. During these “dark days,” prior to the arrival of her “Teacher,” Annie Sullivan, Helen’s life was a series of desires and impressions. She could commnicate by a series of crude signs she and her parents had created. She demonstrated early on that she could learn.

    I like the way Helen herself takes her readers past that water pump when she learned that “all things have a name.” Instead of getting stuck there, Helen takes her readers on the journey of her life to that point.

    In addition to having a good linguistic base, Helen also demonstrates having a phenomenal memory. When she was twelve, she wrote a story she believed to be her own. Entitled “The Frost King,” it bore a strong resemblance to one written by a Ms. Canby called “The Frost Fairies.” Many of the sentences are identical and a good number of the descriptions are paraphrased. In relating this devasting incident, Helen and Annie recall that Annie had exposed Helen to the story some three years earlier and Helen had somehow retained that information. This plainly shows intelligence.

    Both the “Frost” stories are reprinted in full, thus giving the reader a chance to see just how amazing being able to remember such a work really was.

    Helen describes her work raising money for other deaf-blind children to attend the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston and in so doing, embarks upon her lifelong mission as a crusader for multiply challenged individuals.

  • Most people have seen the “Miracle Worker.” That story was more about Anne Sullivan, the teacher of Helen Keller. This book gives you a glimpse into the thoughts of the little girl, Helen. I was amazed to read about things from the point of view of a little girl who was blind and deaf. She was so lost and alone until Anne Sullivan came into her life. But, even she knew when she was doing something wrong. She describes great details of her life I never heard before. She even gives an idea of what life was like before she discovered words. Helen wondered why her mother and others moved their mouth, but it was some time before she knew they were communicating with each other and then her long struggle to communicate began. I was surprised to read how she learned to read lips with her hands and even eventually learned to speak audibly. Not only did she gain that knowledge, but she became a brilliant young woman, writing the English language with great skill, as well as a few other languages. This book is brief, but well worth your time. You will gain a better understanding into the life of one with Helen’s severe handicaps.

  • In the introduction Robert Russell says, “Imagine yourself whisked out of your room and suddenly landed on some distant planet where there was other life–but landed with your eyes permanently closed, your ears sealed, and your tongue all but useless. How would you sense an approaching danger or an approaching friend? What would such a life be like? But perhaps such a catastrophe seems so impossible that it isn’t worth thinking about. It isn’t so impossible. Things like it do happen. It happened to Helen Keller.”

    Helen Keller writes about her own experiences, perceptions, and understanding with a beauty and sweetness that you can touch and taste. Reading about her life expands your mind to life’s infinite possibilities, realities, and to the resiliency of the human mind. Helen was a kind, aware, and incredibly intelligent woman. Reading about her life in her own words is irreplaceable. Helen has truly left a mark on this world, and so has her teacher, Anne Sullivan. Both of their lives have left me equally awestruck.



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