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Blind Rage

Letters to Helen Keller

Georgina Kleege

Publication Year: 2006

As a young blind girl, Georgina Kleege repeatedly heard the refrain, “Why can’t you be more like Helen Keller?” Kleege’s resentment culminates in her book Blind Rage: Letters to Helen Keller, an ingenious examination of the life of this renowned international figure using 21st-century sensibilities. Kleege’s absorption with Keller originated as an angry response to the ideal of a secular saint, which no real blind or deaf person could ever emulate. However, her investigation into the genuine person revealed that a much more complex set of characters and circumstances shaped Keller’s life. Blind Rage employs an adroit form of creative nonfiction to review the critical junctures in Keller’s life. The simple facts about Helen Keller are well-known: how Anne Sullivan taught her deaf-blind pupil to communicate and learn; her impressive career as a Radcliffe graduate and author; her countless public appearances in various venues, from cinema to vaudeville, to campaigns for the American Foundation for the Blind. But Kleege delves below the surface to question the perfection of this image. Through the device of her letters, she challenges Keller to reveal her actual emotions, the real nature of her long relationship with Sullivan, with Sullivan’s husband, and her brief engagement to Peter Fagan. Kleege’s imaginative dramatization, distinguished by her depiction of Keller’s command of abstract sensations, gradually shifts in perspective from anger to admiration. Blind Rage criticizes the Helen Keller myth for prolonging an unrealistic model for blind people, yet it appreciates the individual who found a practical way to live despite the restrictions of her myth.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Contents, A Note to Readers, Acknowledgments.pdf

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pp. 7-14

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Part One Consciousness on Trial.pdf

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pp. 16-59

Dear Helen Keller: Allow me to introduce myself. I am a writer and part-time English professor. I am American, married, middle-aged, middle class. Like you, I am blind, though not deaf. But the most important thing you need to know about me, and the reason for my letter, is that I grew ,...

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Part Two Full Body Contact.pdf

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pp. 60-107

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I have no way of knowing for sure, but I sense you’d be happy to keep it that way. But here I am again. And now I’ve got a new topic. We’ve talked about your mind. Now let’s talk about The subject now is sex. Another aspect of the Helen Keller Myth is that you had no sex life. It’s a myth a lot of people work hard to preserve. All ...

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Part Three Working the Pump.pdf

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pp. 108-171

What am I up to, Helen? I know you’ve probably grown tired of asking yourself this question. It’s bad enough that I’ve read every word you ever published, and every biography ever written about you, and that I bore all my friends with tidbits of Helen Keller trivia. But now, I find myself spending endless hours speculating about the truth behind the facts of your life, ...

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Part Four The Hand's Memory and, A Note on Sources.pdf

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pp. 172-224

I’m writing this on a stormy day. The wind must be blowing forty miles an hour. It makes me feel unsettled, uneasy, even a little afraid. There could be power lines torn down by falling limbs. I think I should shut down my computer and pull the plug. I wish I were not alone. I would like to talk to You see, Helen, I don’t want to go through it either. I’ve only just come ...


E-ISBN-13: 9781563683718
E-ISBN-10: 1563683717
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563682957
Print-ISBN-10: 1563682958

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 1 photograph
Publication Year: 2006

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Subject Headings

  • Blind -- Psychology -- Miscellanea.
  • Keller, Helen, 1880-1968 -- Miscellanea.
  • Kleege, Georgina, 1956- -- Correspondence.
  • Deafblind women -- United States -- Biography -- Miscellanea.
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