In the Blink of an Eye

A Cultural History of Spectacles

In the Blink of an Eye
Stefana Sabin
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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 Emma Bovary and Harry Potter. Spectacles are objects that seem commonplace, but this book 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.
"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"
Stefana Sabin has written for the Neue Zurcher 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.