by Anthony Doerr, Thorndike Press, Waterville, Maine, 2014


Doug Boilesen, 2023

This PhonoLiterature selection takes place in Saint Malo, France during World War II. A Frenchman known as the Professor has over the years played his phonograph and records and brought philosophy and science to children by broadcasting over his radio system.

Ettiene LeBlanc is the "Professor" who broadcasts the educational program from his attic. Ettiene uses the records that he and his brother Henri had made for the radio program and he always included playing the piano recording of Claude Debussy's “Claire de Lune” which his brother had performed. Werner and his sister Jutta Pfennig grew up in Germany listening to the Frenchman's voice, his words of truth and reason, and "Claire de Lune."

The Professor's nephew Daniel LeBlanc and his daughter Marie-Laure must flee Paris and they go to Ettiene's home in Saint Malo where Ettiene shows his blind grand-niece how the radio broadcasting system works. Marie-Laure takes over the broadcasts and uses her braille books for reading "Twenty-thousand Leagues Under the Seas" by the French writer Jules Verne. Her broadcasts continue the work of her great-uncle and support the local French Resistance by providing the allies with information secretly coded within the text that she reads such as positions and numbers of German troops in Saint Malo and the names of ships travelling on their coastline or in harbor.

The following are phonograph connected excerpts from ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE.


The Professor on the radio

Page 48


"This is the least one gramophone."

Page 158


We had a dream together, Henri and I, to make recordings and sell them. He had the voice and I had the brains and back then everyone wanted gramophones. And hardly anyone was making programs for children. So we contracted a recording company in Paris, and they expressed interest, and I wrote ten different scripts about science, and Henri rehearsed them, and finally we started recording.

Page 159


'The gramophone company in Paris wasn't interested anymore, but every night I played the ten recordings we'd made, until most of them were worn out. And his song...Debussy's 'Clair de Lune.'"



"Clair de Lune," a song that makes her think of leaves fluttering, and the hard ribbons of sand beneath her feet at low tide. The music slinks and rises and settles back to earth, and then the young voice of her long-dead grandfather speaks: There are ninety-six thousand kilometers of blood vessels in the human body, children! Almost enough to wind around the earth two and a half times...


She listens to her great-uncle's footfalls across the ceiling, and his voice -- 310 1467 507 2222 576881 -- and then her grandfather's song, "Clair de Lune," strains over her like a blue mist.


Page 352


-- here the phonograph, here the microphone...

Page 377


Even a phonograph record that she says contains her grandfather's voice, lessons in science for children.


Page 472




ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE is also a Phonographia PhonoMovie. To see details and screenshots from the 2023 Netflix Limited Series, visit PhonoMovies - "All the Light We Cannot See."