Deaf Sentence by David Lodge

Deaf Sentence

David Lodge

Elderly fathers, deaf husbands, irritated partners – I really identified with this book! I laughed through the tears and cried through the giggles. Desmond the ‘hard of hearing’ retired professor, his wife, his elderly father and the bizarre post graduate student all fail to communicate for a variety of reasons, leading to all sorts of misunderstandings and frustrations. The actions of the deaf may appear comic, but they can also be isolating and embarrassing. This first person journal, written with wit, style and sympathy draws you into this strange world.


The blind have pathos. Sighted people regard them with compassion, go out of the way to help them, guide them across busy roads, warn them of obstacles, stroke their guide dogs. ... We deafies have no such compassion-inducing warning signs. Our hearing aids are almost invisible and we have no loveable animals dedicated to looking after us. (What would be the equivalent of a guide dog for the deaf? A parrot on your shoulder squawking into your ear?). Strangers don’t realise you’re deaf until they’ve been trying and failing to communicate with you for some time, and then it’s with irritation rather than compassion. ‘Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind,’ says the Bible (Leviticus, 19.14). Well, only a sadist would deliberately trip up a blind person, but even Fred lets out the occasional ‘Bloody hell!’ when she can’t get through to me. Prophets and seers are sometimes blind – Tiresias for instance – but never deaf. Imagine putting your question to the Sybil and getting an irritable ‘What? What?’ in reply.

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