LOS ANGELES — Robert V. Hine, a memoirist, novelist and prolific historian of the American West who wrote a highly praised chronicle of regaining his sight after 15 years of blindness, has died of natural causes at his Irvine, Calif., home. He was 93.

Hine was a founding member of the faculty at the University of California, Riverside, where he taught history from 1954 to 1990. His death March 27 was announced last week by UC Irvine, where he spent part of his retirement writing books and mentoring colleagues in the history department.

An expert on California’s utopian movements and the philosopher Josiah Royce, Hine wrote or edited more than a dozen books, including an overview of the history of the American West that remains a standard college text more than four decades after its original publication in 1973.

But it was a non-academic work that brought the longtime professor his broadest public recognition.

A Book-of-the-Month Club selection, “Second Sight” (1993) was a frank, eloquent memoir of his journey into blindness and back, exploring not only his own experiences but those of other blind writers, including humorist James Thurber and poet Jorge Luis Borges.

In the book he suggested that if anyone could adapt to the requirements of a sightless life, he was such a person.

“‘Dark is a long way,’ as Dylan Thomas said, and I never will deny the blackness and the sadness,” Hine wrote. “But blind is one way to live, and creative or not I would live.”

Being blind, Hine noted, had some advantages. He was not embarrassed when he conducted research in a clothing-free commune. On another occasion, he reported in “Second Sight,” he turned down a marijuana joint “because I thought it was a carrot stick.”

In 1986, Hine had to have surgery to remove a leaking cataract that was causing glaucoma. His doctor told Hine that it was possible that after the surgery he would regain some ability to perceive light but held out no hope for anything more.

When his bandages were removed, Hine not only saw light but his wife’s silver hair. When he got home, he was dazzled by the simplest things, like the “transparent ruby redness” of the toothbrush he had thought was white.