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Quotations: Stereoscopy in Books & Literature

Stereoscopy is mentioned in various books and works of literature. On this page, you will find a few examples, sorted by Author.

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Calvino, Italo
I watched him in silence, sitting on my already closed little trunk, mechanically hammering at a stud that stuck out, a bit crooked; we had said nothing to each other after a grunted hello; I followed him in all his movements, trying to be thoroughly aware of what was going on: an outsider was taking my place, was becoming me, my cage with the starlings would become his, the stereoscope, the real Uhlan helmet hanging from a nail, all my things that I couldn't take with me remained to him; or, rather, it was my relationship with things, places, people, that was becoming his, just as I was about to become him, to take his place among the things and people of his life.

p. 35, "If on a Winter's Night a Traveler", Harvest Books (1982), ISBN 0-15643961-1

Carnegie, Dale
Pawning his camera for five dollars, he put an ad in the Paris edition of The New York Herald and got a job selling stereopticon machines. I can remember those old-fashioned stereoscopes that we used to hold up before our eyes to look at two pictures exactly alike. As we looked, a miracle happened. The two lenses in the stereoscope transformed the two pictures into a single scene with the effect of a third dimension. We saw distance. We got an astounding sense of perspective.
Well, as I was saying, Kaltenborn started out selling these machines from door to door in Paris - and he couldn't speak French.

p. 261, "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living", Pocket Books (1985), ISBN 0-67173335-4

Cornwell, Patricia D.

Ten days later. April 27, 2007. A Friday afternoon. Inside the virtual-reality theater are twelve of Italy's most powerful law enforcers and politicians, whose names, in the main, forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta can't keep straight.


He sits directly in front of Scarpetta, front row center, and rarely takes his eyes off her. On his right is Benton Wesley, who is silent most of the time. Everyone is masked by stereoscopic glasses that are synchronized with the Crime Scene Analysis System, a brilliant innovation that has made the Polizia Scientifica Italiana's Unità per l'Analisi del Crimine Violento the envy of law enforcement agencies worldwide.


She uses a laser pointer to direct attention to the three-dimensional muddy construction site projected on the wall-size screen.


His 3-D glasses stare at her, reminding her of Zorro. "Italian, please," he says to her. "I never was so good in Latin."


Captain Poma's 3-D glasses—and rows of other 3-D glasses—remain fixed on her. "I regret if I bore you with my reexamination, Dr. Wesley, but we need to find sense in this.


She feels Benton's 3-D glasses looking at her. [...] The one that shows her being placed into the body bag," she says. The three-dimensional photograph of the construction site fills the wall again, but this time there are investigators in white Tyvek suits, gloves, and shoe covers lifting Drew's limp, naked body into a sheet-lined black pouch on top of a stretcher.


This is no animation, but a three-dimensional photograph. One can see her clearly—her famous face, the savage wounds on her slender, athletic, naked body.


New images—video recordings in 3-D—fill the screen. [...] Close on, his point of view: Drew's body. It's so real in the stereoscopic glasses, it's bizarre. Scarpetta feels as if she can touch Drew's flesh and her gaping dark red wounds that are smeared with mud and glistening wet from the rain. [...] You have, of course, studied Professor Fiorani's report, but as you look at the body itself in three-dimension and are placed at the scene with it, please give us your own opinion.


A three-dimensional image fills the screen: Drew's body on a stainless-steel autopsy table, her skin and hair wet from washing.

Chapter 1, "Book of the Dead ", Little Brown (2007), ISBN 978-0-316-72423-4

Eugenides, Jeffrey
Already latent inside me, like the future 120 mph serve of a tennis prodigy, was the ability to communicate between the genders, to see not with the monovision of one sex but in the stereoscope of both.

p. 269, "Middlesex: A Novel", Picador (2003), ISBN 0-31242215-6

Greer, Andrew Sean
Nothing modern. No kerosene lamps smelling things up, or gaslight. Hurts your eyes. No groups of people crowded around a stereoscope , or a piano singing another round of `Grandfather Clock' for heck's sake.

p. 63, "The Confessions of Max Tivoli", Farrar Straus Giroux (2004), ISBN 0-37412871-5

Joyce, James
Flat I see, then think distance, near, far, flat I see, east, back. Ah, see now, Falls back suddenly, frozen in stereoscope . Click does the trick, You find my words dark.

p. 48, "Ulysses", Vintage Books USA (1990), ISBN 0-67972276-9

King, Stephen
Looking down at the driveway, these two titles came together in Kinnelli's mind like a double-image in a stereopticon.

p. 357, from the story "The Road Virus Heads North" in: "Everything's Eventual - 14 Dark Tales", New English Library, Holder & Stoughton, London (2002), ISBN 0-340-77074-0
When I rolled my fingers open again, my eyes had filled with tears and the words on the button had doubled, overlaying each other in a shimmer. It was like looking at a 3-D movie without the glasses.

p. 522, from the story "Riding the Bullet " in: "Everything's Eventual - 14 Dark Tales", New English Library, Holder & Stoughton, London (2002), ISBN 0-340-77074-0

Martini, Steven Paul
He's carrying several glass slides in his hand and slips one of them under a stereoscope on the table next to the counter. "I've told 'em to bag the hands," he says. "Always bag the hands."

p. 72, "Compelling Evidence", Jove Books (1993), ISBN 0-51511039-6
NOTE: "stereoscope" is mis-used in the context; a stereo-microscope is actually meant.

Morris, Edmund
Ronald Reagan once claimed to project stereoscopes of childhood at will, running them back and forth in memory "exactly as we used to do in the parlor". My own mental carousel carries at least thet rapturous day in similar detail.

p. 48, "Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan", Random House (1999), ISBN 0-39455508-2

Pasternak, Boris Leonidovich
"Yurochka, do look at this. It's a stereoscope, Averkii Stepanovich's son made it when he was a child."
"He still hasn't grown up and settled down, even though he has captured district after district for the Soviets from Komuch."
"What's Komuch?"
"It's the army of the Siberian Government; it's fighting to restore the Constituent Assembly."
"We've been hearing praise of your son all day long. You must be very proud of him."
"Those stereoscopic photographs of the Urals - they are his work too, and he took them with a homemade camera."

p. 275, "Doctor Zhivago", Pantheon Books (1997), ISBN 0-67977438-6

Patterson, J. H.
It was a calm and perfect night, such as can be seen only in the tropics; everything looked mysteriously beautiful in the glorious moonlight, and stood out like a picture looked at through a stereoscope.

p. 170, "The Man-Eaters of Tsavo", St. Martin's Press (1986), ISBN 0-31251010-1

Pullman, Philip
"What do you sell most of?" Sally asked. "Photographic plates and chemicals. He laid in a great store of stereoscopes, Mr. Fred, a few months back, when he got some money for an invention. But they ain't selling. People want the pictures to go with 'em, and he's hardly got any of them."
"He ought to take some."
"You tell him, then. I've tried, but he won't listen to me."
"What sort do people like best?"
"Views is best. Stereoscopic views is different from ordinary ones. Then there's humorous, sentimental, romantic, devotional, and risky. Oh, and temperance. But he won't touch 'em. Says they're vulgar."

p. 82, "The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart Trilogy, Book 1)", Laurel-Leaf Books (1994), ISBN 0-39489589-4
"Stereographic pictures," she said. "I spent an hour or so in a photographer's shop. Do you know how many people came into the place while I was there and bought stereographic pictures? Six of them, in just one hour. D'you know how many have come into your shop and asked for them?"
"I haven't the vaguest idea."
"Trembler says more people ask for them than for anything else. And why buy all those stereoscopes if you don't sell the pictures to go in them?"
"But we sell stereographic cameras. People can take the pictures for themselves."
"They don't want to. Taking stereographs is a job for an expert. And anyway, people like pictures of far-off countries and things like that - things they can't see for themselves."
"But -"
"People could buy them just as they buy books and magazines. They'd buy thousands! What sort of pictures did you take today?"
"I was trying a new Voigtlander two hundred millimeter lens with a variable diaphragm I'm trying to get right."
"But what sort of pictures?"
"Oh, buildings and things."
"Well, you could take stereographs of places like Oxford and Cambridge and thell them as a set. 'The Colleges of Ocford' - or 'The Bridges of Lindon' - or 'Famous Castles." Honestly, Frederick, you could sell thousands."
He was scratching his head; his two-colored hair stood up stiffly, and his face, in the mobile, vivid way he shared with his sister, seemed to be struggling to contain three or four different expressions at once.
"I don't know," he said. "I could take them easily enough - it's no more difficult than taking and ordinary photograph. But I couldn't sell them."
"I could, though."
"Ah, well, that's different. But photography's changing, you know. In a few years' time we won't be using these great clumsy glass plates at all. We'll be taking negatives on paper in lightweight cameras. We'll be working at phenomenal speeds. There's all kinds of work going on .... Well, I'm doing some of it myself. And no one will look at old-fashiones stereographs then."
"But I'm talking about now. At the moment people want them, and they'll pay you for them. And how can you do anything exciting in the future if you don't make some money now?"
"Well, you could be right. Got any more ideas?"

pp. 94, 95, "The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart Trilogy, Book 1)", Laurel-Leaf Books (1994), ISBN 0-39489589-4
"It's something I thought about in Oxford the other day. I started to tell Frederick on the train."
"Mmm," he said. "Stereoscopes."
"Not the stereoscopes themselves, but the pictures for them. People are always wanting them. I looked at the rest of the house this morning, and I duddenly realized the kind of thing we could do. There's a room that's full of strange things - spears and drums and idols and I don't know what -"

p 105, "The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart Trilogy, Book 1)", Laurel-Leaf Books (1994), ISBN 0-39489589-4
They worked all morning, and Trembler, fired by the general enthusiasm, sold a stereoscope to a customer who had only called to book a portrait sitting.

p. 108, "The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart Trilogy, Book 1)", Laurel-Leaf Books (1994), ISBN 0-39489589-4
That cheered her up again; and then a customer came to book a portrait sitting for himself and his fiancée, and Sally took a leaf out of Trembler's book and sold him a stereoscope. They would soon have the finest selection of stereographs in London, she told him. He went away impressed.

p. 112, "The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart Trilogy, Book 1)", Laurel-Leaf Books (1994), ISBN 0-39489589-4
That weekend, the first artistic and dramatic stereographs were taken. Taking a stereograph was much easier than Sally had imagined. A stereo camera was just like an ordinary one, except that it had two lenses as far apart as a person's eyes, each taking a separate image. When the two images were printed side by side and viewed through a stereoscope, which was only a device with two lenses set at a certain angle to blend the images into one, the viewer saw a picture in three dimensions. The effect was almost magical.

p. 132, "The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart Trilogy, Book 1)", Laurel-Leaf Books (1994), ISBN 0-39489589-4
"We used to look at pictures in the old stereoscope, and he'd tell me all about them. He was lovely." Sally smiled.

p. 154, "The Shadow in the North (Sally Lockhart Trilogy, Book 2)", Laurel-Leaf Books (1989), ISBN 0-39482599-3
She took the little picture upstairs to his study, and then folded the easel and put it away. The stereoscope on its little mahogany stand on the side- board, and the box of pictures . . . That had been the start of Garland and Lockhart. She had persuaded Frederick to take a series of comic pictures to view through stereoscopes, those parlor optical toys which give a magical impression of three dimensions, and they'd sold so well that they were able to go on and produce many more series and start their business properly. And here they all were: the scenes from Shakespeare, the castles of Great Britain, the corners of Old London ... And the very first ones: Jim as the boy David, with a monstrous papier-mâché head of Goliath; Sally herself as a kitchen maid discovering a swarm of goose-sized black beetles in the cupboard; the little girl Adelaide, whom they'd rescued from a dismal lodging house in Wapping, sitting on the knee of Frederick's assistant Trembler Molloy to illustrate a sentimental song .... Adelaide had vanished. She must be somewhere in London now, but they'd never found here. The city had swallowed her up in a moment.
These stereographs brought back that time so sharply that she found herself blinking back tears. She returned the pictures to their box, shut the lid, and put them and the stereoscope away in the cupboard.

p. 62, "The Tiger in the Well (Sally Lockhart Trilogy, Book 3)", Laurel-Leaf Books (1992), ISBN 0-67982671-8

Stegner, Wallace Earle
Cataract sufferers must see like this when the bandages are removed after the operation: every detail as sharp as if seen for the first time, yet familiar too, known from before the time of blindness, the remembered and the seen coalescing as in a stereoscope.

p. 1, "Crossing to Safety", Modern Library (2002), ISBN 0-37575931-X

Warren, Robert Penn
They would coincide perfectly, there would be a perfect focus, as when a stereoscope gets the twin images on the card into perfect alignment.

p. 282, " All the King's Men", Harvest Books (1996), ISBN 0-15600480-1
Lucy led me into the parlor, which was just the place I had kown it would be, the carved black-walnut furniture upholstered in red plush, with a few tassels still left hanging here and there, the Bible and the stereoscope and the neat pile of cards for the stereoscope on the carved black-walnut table, a flowered carpet, with little rag rugs laid over the places most worn, the blig walnut and gilt frames on the wall enclosing the stern, malarial, Calvinistic faces whose eyes fixed you with little sympathy.

p. 333, " All the King's Men", Harvest Books (1996), ISBN 0-15600480-1
I got up, rescued my old Panama off the carved walnut table, where the Bible and stereoscope were, walked across to Lucy, put out my hand to her, and said, "It'll be all right".

p. 335, " All the King's Men", Harvest Books (1996), ISBN 0-15600480-1
Then as I stood in the parlor surrounded by the walnut and red plush and the cards for the stereoscope and the malarial crayon portrait on the easel, and built Lucy up for the news, it was definitely not fun.

p. 373, " All the King's Men", Harvest Books (1996), ISBN 0-15600480-1

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Last modified on January 6, 2008
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