The Art of Seeing.

First Edition of Aldous Huxley's The Art of Seeing; Inscribed by Him in the year of publication

The Art of Seeing.

HUXLEY, Aldous.


Item Number: 139207

New York: Harper & Brothers, 1942.

First edition of this classic work which details Huxley’s experience with and views on the controversial Bates method, which according to him improved his eyesight. Octavo, original cloth. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author in the year of publication on the front free endpaper, “For Gordon Ross, Sincerely, Aldous Huxley 1942.” Near fine in a near fine dust jacket. Rare and desirable signed and inscribed.

In the preface to the book, Huxley describes how, at the age of sixteen, he had a violent attack of keratitis punctata which made him nearly completely blind for eighteen months, and left him thereafter with severely impaired sight. He managed to live as a sighted person with the aid of strong spectacles, but reading, in particular, was a great strain. In 1939 his ability to read became increasingly degraded, and he sought the help of Margaret Corbett, who was a teacher of the Bates method. He found this immensely helpful, and wrote “At the present time, my vision, though very far from normal, is about twice as good as it used to be when I wore spectacles, and before I had learned the art of seeing”. Margaret Darst Corbett was an American vision educator who used the Bates Method for better eyesight. She became famous after her prosecution and acquittal on a charge of violating Californian law against the practice of medicine without a licence. Margaret Corbett met Dr. William H. Bates after consulting him about her husband’s eyesight. She became interested in his approach and became his pupil, and eventually taught his methods of vision education in her Los Angeles “School of Eye Education”. In late 1940 Mrs. Corbett and her assistant were charged with violations of the Medical Practice Act of California for treating eyes without a licence. At the trial, many witnesses testified on her behalf. They described in detail how she had improved their sight and had enabled them to discard their glasses. One witness testified that he had been almost blind from cataracts, but that, after receiving treatment, his vision had improved to such an extent that for the first time he could read for eight hours at a stretch without glasses. Mrs. Corbett explained in court that she was practising neither optometry nor ophthalmology and represented herself not as a doctor but only as an “instructor of eye training”. The trial attracted widespread interest, as did the “not guilty” verdict. The optometrists and the ophthalmologists caused a bill to be introduced into the Californian State Legislature to make such vision education illegal without an optometric or medical licence. After a lively campaign in the media, the bill was defeated.

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