Imagine losing one of your senses. Now imagine losing all except one. Now imagine that you lost all but the sense of touch when you were only two years old.
That was the unimaginable circumstance of the life of Laura Bridgman. What is Visible by Kimberly Elkins is a heart-rending, thought-provoking novel based on Laura Bridgman’s life and the lives of the many fascinating people who surrounded her. Laura Bridgman was taught to communicate at the age of seven by the use of alphabetical sign language pressed into the palm of the other person. Her teacher was Samuel Gridley Howe, husband of the poet and activist, Julia Ward Howe. Charles Dickens was a personal friend of the Howe’s along with Longfellow and Senator Charles Sumner.
Laura Bridgman was world-famous in her lifetime and was the teacher of Annie Sullivan. And although her fame for having no sense of sight, sound, taste or smell was soon eclipsed by Helen Keller learning to speak, Bridgman was no less an amazing woman for her lack of speech.
Elkins uses this phenomenal historical figure to craft a novel that is much more about isolation, love, and communication than it is about the individual in question. Her writing is lyrical but also a bit stark at times.
As Laura muses over her relationships she says, “Love, I think, is by necessity constructed of a ladder of lies you climb together.”
To learn more about the true Laura Bridgman visit the Perkins Institute’s website.
And to read about Laura Bridgman and Dickens’ other impressions of the United States check out American Notes: And, Picture from Italy by Charles Dickens.
If your status is Confirmed Registration, your spot for the event is confirmed.
If registration for this event is full, you will be placed on a waiting list. Wait listed registrants are moved to the confirmed registration list (in the order of registration) when cancelations are received. You will receive an email notification if you are moved from the wait list to the confirmed registration list.
The Library offers various venues in which patrons can contribute content that is accessible to the public. These include, but are not limited to, blogs, reviews, forums, and social tagging on the Library’s website and catalog. Any instance in which a patron posts written or recorded content to any of the Library’s venues that are accessible to the public is considered “patron-generated content” and is subject to this policy.
By contributing patron-generated content, patrons grant the Library an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use, copy, modify, display, archive, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works based upon that content.
By submitting patron-generated content, patrons warrant they are the sole authors or that they have obtained all necessary permission associated with copyrights and trademarks to submit such content.
Patrons are liable for the opinions expressed and the accuracy of the information contained in the content they submit. The Library assumes no responsibility for such content.
The Library reserves the right not to post submitted content or to remove patron-generated content for any reason, including but not limited to:
content that is profane, obscene, or pornographic;
content that is abusive, discriminatory or hateful on account of race, national origin, religion, age, gender, disability, or sexual orientation;
content that contains threats, personal attacks, or harassment;
content that contains solicitations or advertisements;
content that is invasive of another person’s privacy;
content that is unrelated to the discussion or venue in which it is posted;
content that is in violation of the Library’s Code of Conduct or any other Library policy