From Tomorrow's Eve to High Fidelity

Novel responses to the gramophone in twentieth century literature

Colin Symes

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    1 Citation (Scopus)
    15 Downloads (Pure)


    Music and literature have long-standing links. Music has drawn on literature, and vice versa. The advent of the phonograph transformed the condition of music in myriad ways. It made music more accessible and more portable. It also created a new industry of music makers: record producers and engineers, recording artists and record journalists. In this paper I examine the literary responses to the phonograph, and argue that novelists such as Jules Verne, Sinclair Lewis, Bram Stoker and Thomas Mann were among the first to respond to the phonograph, helping to demystify many of the fears that accompanied a machine that was able to preserve sound. I suggest that novelists and short stories, well in advance of phonographic historians and analysts, identified the ways in which records and recordings were incorporated into the day-to-day lives of individuals.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)193-206
    Number of pages14
    JournalPopular Music
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2005 Cambridge University Press. Reprinted from Popular music.

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