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The Story of My Life (Anglais) Poche – 1 mai 1990


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Extrait

Chapter I

It is with a kind of fear that I begin to write the history of my life. I have, as it were, a superstitious hesitation in lifting the veil that clings about my childhood like a golden mist. The task of writing an autobiography is a difficult one. When I try to classify my earliest impressions, I find that fact and fancy look alike across the years that link the past with the present. The woman paints the child's experiences in her own fantasy. A few impressions stand out vividly from the first years of my life; but "the shadows of the prison-house are on the rest." Besides, many of the joys and sorrows of childhood have lost their poignancy; and many incidents of vital importance in my early education have been forgotten in the excitement of great discoveries. In order, therefore, not to be tedious I shall try to present in a series of sketches only the episodes that seem to me to be the most interesting and important.

I was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, a little town of northern Alabama.

The family on my father's side is descended from Caspar Keller, a native of Switzerland, who settled in Maryland. One of my Swiss ancestors was the first teacher of the deaf in Zurich and wrote a book on the subject of their education-rather a singular coincidence; though it is true that there is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his.

My grandfather, Caspar Keller's son, "entered" large tracts of land in Alabama and finally settled there. I have been told that once a year he went from Tuscumbia to Philadelphia on horseback to purchase supplies for the plantation, and my aunt has in her possession many of the letters to his family, which give charming and vivid accounts of these trips.

My Grandmother Keller was a daughter of one of Lafayette's aides, Alexander Moore, and granddaughter of Alexander Spotswood, an early Colonial Governor of Virginia. She was also second cousin to Robert E. Lee.

My father, Arthur H. Keller, was a captain in the Confederate Army, and my mother, Kate Adams, was his second wife and many years younger. Her grandfather, Benjamin Adams, married Susanna E. Goodhue, and lived in Newbury, Massachusetts, for many years. Their son, Charles Adams, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and moved to Helena, Arkansas. When the Civil War broke out, he fought on the side of the South and became a brigadier-general. He married Lucy Helen Everett, who belonged to the same family of Everetts as Edward Everett and Dr. Edward Everett Hale. After the war was over the family moved to Memphis, Tennessee.

I lived, up to the time of the illness that deprived me of my sight and hearing, in a tiny house consisting of a large square room and a small one, in which the servant slept. It is a custom in the South to build a small house near the homestead as an annex to be used on occasion. Such a house my father built after the Civil War, and when he married my mother they went to live in it. It was completely covered with vines, climbing roses and honeysuckles. From the garden it looked like an arbour. The little porch was hidden from view by a screen of yellow roses and Southern smilax. It was the favourite haunt of humming-birds and bees.

The Keller homestead, where the family lived, was a few steps from our little rose-bower. It was called "Ivy Green" because the house and the surrounding trees and fences were covered with beautiful English ivy. Its old-fashioned garden was the paradise of my childhood.

Even in the days before my teacher came, I used to feel along the square stiff boxwood hedges, and, guided by the sense of smell, would find the first violets and lilies. There, too, after a fit of temper, I went to find comfort and to hide my hot face in the cool leaves and grass. What joy it was to lose myself in that garden of flowers, to wander happily from spot to spot, until, coming suddenly upon a beautiful vine, I recognized it by its leaves and blossoms, and knew it was the vine which covered the tumble-down summer-house at the farther end of the garden! Here, also, were trailing clematis, drooping jessamine, and some rare sweet flowers called butterfly lilies, because their fragile petals resemble butterflies' wings. But the roses-they were loveliest of all. Never have I found in the greenhouses of the North such heart-satisfying roses as the climbing roses of my southern home. They used to hang in long festoons from our porch, filling the whole air with their fragrance, untainted by any earthy smell; and in the early morning, washed in the dew, they felt so soft, so pure, I could not help wondering if they did not resemble the asphodels of God's garden.

The beginning of my life was simple and much like every other little life. I came, I saw, I conquered, as the first baby in the family always does. There was the usual amount of discussion as to a name for me. The first baby in the family was not to be lightly named, every one was emphatic about that. My father suggested the name of Mildred Campbell, an ancestor whom he highly esteemed, and he declined to take any further part in the discussion. My mother solved the problem by giving it as her wish that I should be called after her mother, whose maiden name was Helen Everett. But in the excitement of carrying me to church my father lost the name on the way, very naturally, since it was one in which he had declined to have a part. When the minister asked him for it, he just remembered that it had been decided to call me after my grandmother, and he gave her name as Helen Adams.

I am told that while I was still in long dresses I showed many signs of an eager, self-asserting disposition. Everything that I saw other people do I insisted upon imitating. At six months I could pipe out "How d'ye," and one day I attracted every one's attention by saying "Tea, tea, tea" quite plainly. Even after my illness I remembered one of the words I had learned in these early months. It was the word "water," and I continued to make some sound for that word after all other speech was lost. I ceased making the sound "wah-wah" only when I learned to spell the word.

They tell me I walked the day I was a year old. My mother had just taken me out of the bath-tub and was holding me in her lap, when I was suddenly attracted by the flickering shadows of leaves that danced in the sunlight on the smooth floor. I slipped from my mother's lap and almost ran toward them. The impulse gone, I fell down and cried for her to take me up in her arms.

These happy days did not last long. One brief spring, musical with the song of robin and mockingbird, one summer rich in fruit and roses, one autumn of gold and crimson sped by and left their gifts at the feet of an eager, delighted child. Then, in the dreary month of February, came the illness which closed my eyes and ears and plunged me into the unconsciousness of a new-born baby. They called it acute congestion of the stomach and brain.1 The doctor thought I could not live. Early one morning, however, the fever left me as suddenly and mysteriously as it had come. There was great rejoicing in the family that morning, but no one, not even the doctor, knew that I should never see or hear again.

I fancy I still have confused recollections of that illness. I especially remember the tenderness with which my mother tried to soothe me in my waking hours of fret and pain, and the agony and bewilderment with which I awoke after a tossing half sleep, and turned my eyes, so dry and hot, to the wall, away from the once-loved light, which came to me dim and yet more dim each day. But, except for these fleeting memories, if, indeed, they be memories, it all seems very unreal, like a nightmare. Gradually I got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded me and forgot that it had ever been different, until she came-my teacher-who was to set my spirit free. But during the first nineteen months of my life I had caught glimpses of broad, green fields, a luminous sky, trees and flowers which the darkness that followed could not wholly blot out. If we have once seen, "the day is ours, and what the day has shown."

Revue de presse

“The greatest woman of our age.”
Winston Churchill

“Helen Keller is fellow to Caesar, Alexander, Napoleon, Homer, Shakespeare, and the rest of the immortals. . . . She will be as famous a thousand years from now as she is today.”
Mark Twain



Détails sur le produit

  • Poche: 240 pages
  • Editeur : Bantam Classics; Édition : Reissue (1 mai 1990)
  • Collection : A Bantam classic
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0553213873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553213874
  • Dimensions du produit: 10,6 x 1,4 x 17,4 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.5 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 27.010 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par tabare27 COMMENTATEUR DU HALL D'HONNEURTOP 50 COMMENTATEURS le 13 décembre 2011
Format: Broché
Un livre merveilleux, écrit par la même Helen Keller, dans un style qui vous émerveille, vous entraîne, , vous donne des ailes. Mark Twain, l'écrivain américain, dixit que les 2 personnages les plus intéressants du XIXème siècle étaient Napoléon et Helen Keller, et en lisant son autobiographie, on comprend pourquoi. A cause d'une congestion maligne du cerveau ,( la rubéole?) selon les critères du médecin de l'époque, elle est devenu sourde , muette et aveugle, restant dans l'obscurité total jusqu'à l'âge de 7 ans. Un médecin des sourds muets, Alexandre Graham Bell conseille à son père de s'adresser à L'institut Perkins pour demander de l'aide, et ce fut le début de sa renaissance. Anni Sullivan travaillait à l'Institut Perkins et avait suivi une formation s'inspirant des travaux du Dr.Howe, qui avait enseigné à lire à Laura Bridgman, dont la rubéole lui avait perdre l'ouïe, l'odorat,la vue et le goût. Avec ce bagage intellectuel, Annie Sullivan devient l'enseignante de Helen Keller, dont elle découvre les capacités , la sortant de sa vie de sauvageonne ,la conduisant de l'ombre à la lumière. Guidée par une intuition hors normes, une empathie à toute épreuve, elle guidera son élève à accomplir ce que personne n'aurait pu penser possible: lire, écrire, faires des études universitaires, faisant jaillir son génie.Lire la suite ›
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2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Mr. Neville S. Gay le 29 mai 2012
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
The first part of Helen Keller's story was very interesting but the latter part consisted mostly of correspondence with friends and relatives. These gave a good impression of what she achieved in life but I felt there were just too many. After a while I began to lose interest which was a shame as Helen was a very remarkable woman. Her spirit and tenacity against all odds and that of her devoted teacher is still to be very much admired.
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Jérémy le 4 juillet 2014
Format: Poche Achat vérifié
Une personnalité hors du commun, et pas seulement à cause de son handicap, mais aussi par sa grande intelligence et sa volonté d'apprendre. Je l'ai découverte grâce au film "Miracle en Alabama" qui retrace la façon dont elle a appris à communiquer grâce au sens du toucher. Ce film donnait envie d'en savoir plus et ce livre qui rend aussi hommage à son institutrice devenue son amie permet de découvrir la suite...Pour qui lit l'anglais.
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Format: Poche Achat vérifié
Ce livre est sympathique pour connaître les débuts de la vie d'Hélèn mais s'arrête assez rapidement puisque publié dans sa vingtaine . On reste donc en attente de la suite ...
Qui plus est le récit est très détaillé vers la fin , voir longuet ...
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Amazon.com: 103 commentaires
84 internautes sur 84 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An extraordinary woman; an inspiring story 28 octobre 2001
Par Michael J. Mazza - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
Helen Keller (1880-1968) is a revered figure in American popular culture. Struck deaf and blind by illness at the age of 19 months, she still managed to get an education and become a writer and activist. Her story was further popularized by William Gibson's play "The Miracle Worker," which was also adapted for both film and television.
Keller's autobiography, "The Story of My Life," first appeared in installments in "Ladies' Home Journal" in 1902. This book is truly one of the great American autobiographies: an inspiring story of a courageous individual who overcame tremendous odds.
Keller writes about many things: her childhood in Alabama; her relationship with her beloved teacher, Anne Sullivan; her attendance at the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City; and meeting such eminent figures as Mark Twain. She especially stresses her love of literature, which she describes as "my Utopia."
Along the way are some fascinating details and profoundly moving passages. Her tribute to the Homer, the blind poet of ancient Greece, is particularly powerful. I also loved her interpretation of the biblical Book of Ruth: a story of "love which can rise above conflicting creeds and deep-seated racial prejudices."
I think that many will regard Keller's autobiography as a mere historical or sociological document. But I think the book deserves a place as a great work of literature, and moreover as a work of literature in the great American tradition. Keller's poetic, often sensuous words about the natural world are comparable to the work of Emily Dickinson. And her stirring account of her revelatory awareness of language reminds me of Frederick Douglass' account of his first awareness of the power of literacy. The book as a whole is enhanced by Keller's charming, likeable literary style.
"The Story of My Life" is a wonderful book by an amazing individual. Helen Keller still has, I believe, much to say to contemporary audiences.
18 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An Amazing Woman! 3 août 2003
Par Nelson Aspen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
The miraculous Helen Keller and her equally astounding teacher, Annie Sullivan, go into great detail of their struggles to overcome Helen's grave disabilities. It is so astounding, in fact, that it's almost incomprehensible. Helen's amazing mental ability, Annie's guidance and their mutual tenacity are surely to be credited.
It is a wonderful story to read, especially so because it is told BY them and not as interpreted by a third-party biographer.
Unfortunately, Helen's eloquence and the prose of the day can border on the flowery side (to be it mildly) which made me unable to push through as quickly as I might have otherwise.
But then again, that's the beauty of her success story: it WASN'T too good to be true!
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An Autobiography by a Deafblind Author 5 août 2005
Par Gillian Buchanan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
This book is Helen Keller's autobiography and is somewhat unusual because Helen Keller was deafblind. It is beautifully written and although I don't necessary agree with all the conclusions drawn by the author of the introduction, I found the autobiography very moving to read. Much of the time Helen wrote in a way that you would not realise she could neither see nor hear anything around her.

The fact that Miss Keller was not deaf from birth but became deafblind as a very small child following an illness makes her achievements particularly incredible. She had to re-learn her communication skills and this is due in no small part to her teacher and mentor, Annie Sullivan. Miss Keller came from a wealthy family who were prepared to go to endless lengths to help their daughter to live a fulfilling life, and it is thanks to them and to Miss Sullivan that we have Miss Keller's writings and pioneering work for deaf and deafblind people.

This is an incredible book to read and it also provides some interesting cameos of some of the people Miss Keller met (such as Mark Twain) because her letters are included at the end.
22 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A STORY WORTH TELLING 12 novembre 2000
Par BeatleBangs1964 - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
I first read this book in 6th grade. I have read it several times in the intervening years, the most recent time being within the past one year.
Helen Keller, blind and deaf since the age of 1 1/2 has offered, in her own words an accounting of her life experience. It is incredible to imagine how this woman, unable to see or hear can give such a strong voice to descriptions of nature. The book is replete with beautiful, articulate metaphors that draw the reader into the world as Helen knew it. One wonders how a person with no language can "think," and Helen provides some clues. During these "dark days," prior to the arrival of her "Teacher," Annie Sullivan, Helen's life was a series of desires and impressions. She could commnicate by a series of crude signs she and her parents had created. She demonstrated early on that she could learn.
I like the way Helen herself takes her readers past that water pump when she learned that "all things have a name." Instead of getting stuck there, Helen takes her readers on the journey of her life to that point.
In addition to having a good linguistic base, Helen also demonstrates having a phenomenal memory. When she was twelve, she wrote a story she believed to be her own. Entitled "The Frost King," it bore a strong resemblance to one written by a Ms. Canby called "The Frost Fairies." Many of the sentences are identical and a good number of the descriptions are paraphrased. In relating this devasting incident, Helen and Annie recall that Annie had exposed Helen to the story some three years earlier and Helen had somehow retained that information. This plainly shows intelligence.
Both the "Frost" stories are reprinted in full, thus giving the reader a chance to see just how amazing being able to remember such a work really was.
Helen describes her work raising money for other deaf-blind children to attend the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston and in so doing, embarks upon her lifelong mission as a crusader for multiply challenged individuals.
31 internautes sur 38 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Educational, good information, BUT.... not fine literature. 23 septembre 2003
Par He who knows, knows. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
The book is educational, historic, somewhat interesting, but as far as great memoirs go, Keller was not a very good writer. Her book is full of purple prose. (If you are unfamiliar with the term, look it up, the term will last you a lifetime.)
She may have been a greatly accomplished activist and spokesperson for various causes. She certainly accomplished more in one life time than most people could ever accomplish in thirty lifetimes, if they were granted the chance to live over and over. As far as accomplishments, Keller was outstanding.
Nevertheless, Keller was no writer, novelist, or autobiographist of any literary merit. If you are looking to learn about Keller, read it. If you want fine literature, don't bother.
Also, there are great gaps of Keller's life left out of this book. It portrays a prissy, lily white, sanitized version of Keller's life. Read other biographies of her life if you are interested in the truth. If not, don't bother. This book offers a small fraction of what Keller's life truly encompassed; the immensity of her later accomplishments are not contained in this book. Consequently, if you have always relied on this one book as a true portrayal of Keller, then you know nearly nothing about her. There is much, much more that she does not write about in "My Life".
I would highly recommend this book for adolescents.
In other words, both greatness and great deficiencies can be found in this book, it depends on what you are reading it for.
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