Landlines, as Seen in Nabokov, Kafka, and More

July 31, 2020

In the New Yorker, Sophie Haigney bids farewell to the presence of landlines in literature, which have made important appearances in the work of Vladimir Nabokov, Franz Kafka, Muriel Spark, and more. “Uncertainty is invaluable in fiction,” Haigney writes. “It is often what makes reading a novel so pleasurable: the instability of the world that we enter; the sense that something is going to happen, though we do not know what; the promise that what we imagine might, in fact, unfold. The mechanics of this uncertainty have often required certain objects: the broken-down car, the doorbell, the unopened package. The landline telephone is perhaps the greatest of these objects.”

Image credit: Billy Brown

is a writer and illustrator. She is the author of two illustrated books, Last Night's Reading (Penguin Books, 2015) and Sanpaku (Archaia 2018).

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