Reading: The Light Bulb Fake


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The Light Bulb Fake


Helke Schwan ,

Erich Ritter


Reading Pynchon, I learned about "The Story of Byron the Bulb," which originally was to be "manufactured by Tungsram in Budapest," but then, at the last minute," was "reassigned to Osram in Berlin." This light bulb, as a matter of fact, was an "immortal" one that was persecuted by an organization named Phoebus and was to be destroyed. Concealed behind Phoebus was an "international light-bulb cartel, headquartered in Switzerland. Run pretty much by International GE, Osram, and Associated Electrical Industries of Britain, which are in turn owned 100%, 29% and 46%, respectively, by the General Electric Company in America. Phoebus fixes the prices and determines the operational lives of all the bulbs in the world" (649). I read this story about the chase of the immortal light bulb with suspense, yet as a fairly unimportant aspect of Pynchon's entire novel, and I soon forgot it.
How to Cite: Schwan, H. and Ritter, E., 1987. The Light Bulb Fake. Pynchon Notes, (20-21), pp.121–133. DOI:
Published on 22 Sep 1987.
Peer Reviewed


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