Despite being blinded as a child, Jacques Lusseyran went on to help form a key unit of the French Resistance — and survive the Nazis’ Buchenwald concentration camp. He wrote about these experiences in his inspiring memoir And There Was Light. In this remarkable collection of essays, Lusseyran writes of how blindness enabled him to discover aspects of the world that he would not otherwise have known.
From Homer to Borges, the Western canon is replete with blind poet-seers. In this luminous book, Lusseyran (1924-1971; And There Was Light) demonstrates once again his place among the illustrious sightless sages. Here, six biographical essays explore the mystical conjunction among the realms of literature, epistemology and phenomenology. Clear and insightful prose inspires the reader to look beyond the limitations of the senses, as Lusseyran speaks of an inner seeing, reminiscent of the finer works of Martin Buber and Viktor Frankl. Totally blind from the age of eight, Lusseyran went on to become a distinguished student, a leader of the French Resistance, a prisoner at Buchenwald and a distinguished academic. The related but free-standing essays here, appearing for the first time in book form, explore the nature of blindness and our attitude toward the blind; the liberating quality of poetry in the hell of the concentration camp; how, by personal example, a secular saint helped fellow inmates transcend the barbed wire of Buchenwald; the importance of the individual soul rising above the illusory limitations of time and place to unite with the ultimate source of purpose and meaning in the universe. The clarity of the writing, and the force of both grim and exalted experience behind the words, carry an extraordinary authority and wisdom.