Initially written in 1970, Patrick Trevor-Roper was a British eye surgeon whose book brings together his professional knowledge of ophthalmology with his deep interest in art, literature, and psychology. He is interested here in showing how the organ of sight, as it evolved in humans, impacts who we are, what we notice, and what we create. Among other things, he establishes some broad categories of ways in which a person’s sight might be “blunted”—through an imperfection in the eyeball that results in an unfocused image, through color blindness that results in a restricted apprehension of the full range of spectral colors, through imbalance in stereoscopic vision, etc. He then discusses how these visual impediments manifest in the character, art, and writings of those who suffer from them. This book includes fascinating references to a wide range of texts and is amply illustrated.
“[There] are two kinds of disturbances of the eyes, stemming from two sources – when they have been transferred from light to darkness and when they have been transferred from darkness to light.”