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Distributed for Reaktion Books

In the Blink of an Eye

A Cultural History of Spectacles

Translated by Nick Somers

Distributed for Reaktion Books

In the Blink of an Eye

A Cultural History of Spectacles

Translated by Nick Somers
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.

112 pages | 30 color plates, 15 halftones | 4 3/4 x 7 3/4

History: General History


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Reviews

“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"

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