In brief

24th September 2004 at 01:00
The World I Live In. By Helen Keller. Edited with an introduction by Roger Shattuck. New York Review BooksGranta. pound;8.99.

Helen Keller, blind and deaf from 19 months old, sits in a hotel dining room and feels, through her feet, the rhythm of the band and the footsteps of two waiters. In The World I Live In she tells us what that means to her.

"One of the waiters walked in time to the band, graceful and light, while the other disregarded the music and rushed from table to table to the beat of some discord in his own mind. Their steps reminded me of a spirited war-steed harnessed with a carthorse."

Keller's first book, The Story of My Life, published in 1903 when she was 23, became an enduring classic, given further impetus in the 1950s by the film The Miracle Worker, then by Keller's death in 1968 and the centenary of publication in 2003.

The World I Live In was published in 1908, but has been long out of print.

It is a beautifully written set of reflections on what Roger Shattuck calls "the redemptive power of language". Keller's story, with that of Anne Sullivan, her teacher, has inspired many an assembly - but for me her achievement is an affirmation of the fact that real miracles are the product of human endeavour and inspiration.

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