Through the Looking Glasses

Travis Elborough


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27 April 2023
ISBN: 9780349144115
352 pages

From the publisher

‘Elegant and multi-focal. Glorious!’ Simon Garfield

‘It will make you look at specs with fresh eyes’ New Statesman

‘Lively, engaging and admirably wide-ranging’ The Times

‘Fascinating’ Observer

The humble pair of glasses might just be one of the world’s greatest inventions, allowing millions to see a world that might otherwise appear a blur. And yet how much do many of us really think about these things perched on the ends of our noses?

Through the Looking Glasses traces the fascinating story of spectacles: from their inception as primitive visual aids for monkish scribes right through to today’s designer eyewear and the augmented reality of Google Glass. There are encounters with ingenious medieval Italian glassmakers, myopic Renaissance rulers and spectacle-makers, as well as the silent movie star Harold Lloyd, the rock’n’roller Buddy Holly and the full-screen figure of Marilyn Monroe. This is a book about vision and the need for humanity to see clearly, and where the impulse to improve our eyesight has led us.