restricted access Kipling’s Wireless Impressionism: Telecommunication and Narration in Early Modernism

While Kipling’s 1902 story “Wireless” has often been thought to exemplify an already outmoded realist narration, this essay argues that the story is an early experiment with impressionism. Midway through, the narrator’s point of view suddenly becomes distorted and private. The story makes sense of this change through the figure of the wireless telegraph, which Kipling uses to imagine a dizzying excess of technological chatter—a serious concern in contemporary discourse about the wireless—that makes communication impossible and isolates the individual despite his permeability to the world. “Wireless” reveals impressionism to be a specifically post-telegraphic telecommunication discourse.