Thomas Pynchon

Who is
Thomas Pynchon?

Thomas Pynchon is a reclusive American novelist possessed by a certain eclectic genius, an architect of literary structures that range from immense tesseracts to tiny, perfect gems. Charting a dizzying course through the worlds hidden in the curve between the blue depths of Absolute Zero and the ineffable awareness of the Universe Entire, his works explore the vast space between Burroughs' shlupp! and Joyce's yes. Author of only a quintet of novels and a few short stories, his creations have been hailed as some of the most original works to have been transmuted from the decay of the twentieth century.

Pynchon's style of writing is unique, electrifying, and complex. A potential map to self-awareness as well as an intricate puzzle-box, this postmodern Deadalus has paradoxically constructed his verbal mazes not to confound, but to reveal. Simply put, his iconoclastic prose is both gnostic in intention and delightful in execution. Like the labyrinthine chains of DNA coiled in the nucleus of life, it is often dense and convoluted in structure, but the encoded message is shimmering, elusive, and profound. And, like life itself, it presents equal measures of beauty and obscenity, awareness and obfuscation, comedy and tragedy.

Brief Pynchon Overview (WordIQ)
Thomas Pynchon (Wikipedia)
Thomas Pynchon (Pop Matters)
Thomas Pynchon (Literary Encyclopedia)


V. (1963) - V. is a wild, macabre tale of the twentieth century (and of a world gone mad with despair) and of two men (one looking for something he has lost; the other never had much to lose so isn't looking for it) - and "V.," the unknown lady of the title, who may be somebody's mother or somebody's mistress. V. was the winner of the William Faulkner First Novel Award in 1963.

The Crying of Lot 49 (1966) - Oedipa Maas is made the executor of the estate of her late boyfriend, Pierce Inverarity. As she diligently carries out her duties, Oedipa is enmeshed in what would apprear to be a worldwide conspiracy, meets some extremely interesting characters, and attains a not-inconsiderable amount of self-knowledge. The Crying of Lot 49 is a satirical tour de force akin to (but thinner!) than Joyce's Ulysses.
Gravity's Rainbow (1973) - "A screaming comes across the sky . . ." A few months after the German's secret V-2 rocket bombs began falling on London, British Intelligence discovers that a map of the city pinpointing the sexual conquests of one Lieutenant Tyrone Slothrop, U.S. Army, corresponds identically to a map showing the V-2 impact sites. The implications of this discovery will launch Slothrop on an amazing jouney across wartorn Europe, fleeing an international cabal of military-industrial superpowers, in search of the mysterious Rocket 00000, through a wildly comic extravaganza that has been hailed as the most accomplished American novel since the second World War.
Slow Learner(1984) - Thomas Pynchon wrote four of the five stories in this book around the age of twenty-one, the fifth at twenty-seven. Readers who discovered these stories in little magazines in the 1950's would have seen in them an adroit young talent that would bear watching. Readers who discover them now may witness the beginnings of a great writer. Slow Learner contains "The Small Rain," "Low-lands," "Entropy," "Under the Rose, "The Secret Integration" and a lengthy introduction by Pynchon.
Vineland (1990) - Listen closely: Zoyd Wheeler, father of the beautiful teenage Prairie, whose mother Frenesi Gates, went off with the arch-baddie Brock Vond, federal prosecutor and psychopath, collects mental disability checks from the state by jumping through plate-glass windows once a year. Vineland begins with such a jump, and thereafter fragments into myriad different narrative shards (but at the end, the pieces all leap off the floor and fit miraculously together, as if a film were being run backward). Prairie is obsessed with her vanished mother, and so is everybody else in this novel. So is Zoyd, so is Brock Vond, who was her lover and who turned her from a radical filmmaker, the child of a blacklisted and Wobbly family, into an FBI sting specialist. Seventeen years after he shocked and dazzled readers with Gravity's Rainbow. Thomas Pynchon returns with a novel as astonishing, as kaleidoscopic, as funny, and as satisfying as that legendary work.
Mason and Dixon (1997) - It's 773 pages long and purportedly the book he's been working at on & off since Gravity's Rainbow. A synopsis-of-sorts: "Charles Mason (1728-1786) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733-1779) were the British Surveyors best remembered for running the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland that we know today as the Mason-Dixon Line. Here is their story as re-imagined by Thomas Pynchon, in an updated eighteenth-century novel featuring Native Americans and frontier folk, ripped bodices, naval warfare, conspiracies erotic and political, major caffeine abuse. We follow the mismatch'd pair - one rollicking, the other depressive; one Gothic, the other pre-romantic - from their first journey together to the Cape of Good Hope, to pre-Revolutionary America and back, through the strange yet redemptive turns of fortune in their later lives, on a grand tour of the Enlightenment's dark hemisphere, as they observe and participate in the many opportunities for insanity presented to them by the Age of Reason."
Against The DayAgainst The Day (2006) - At 1,085 pages long, Against the Day is enough to give even the most rabid Pynchon-phile more than enough to chew on. "Spanning the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I, "Against the Day" moves from the labor troubles in Colorado to turn-of-the-century New York, to London and Gottingen, Venice and Vienna, the Balkans, Central Asia, Siberia at the time of the mysterious Tunguska event, Mexico during the revolution, Paris, silent-era Hollywood, and one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all. With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred. The sizable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics and stage magicians, spies, detectives, adventuresses, and hired guns. There are cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi, and Groucho Marx. As an era of certainty comes crashing down around their ears and an unpredictable future commences, these folks are mostly just trying to pursue their lives. Sometimes they manage to catch up; sometimes it's their lives that pursue them. Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what they're doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it is not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two. According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction. Let the reader decide, let the reader beware; Good luck." - Thomas Pynchon.
  • "The Small Rain" (The Cornell Writer, March 1959)
  • "Mortality and Mercy in Vienna" (Epoch 9, No.4, 1959)
  • "Low-lands" (New World Writing 16, 1960)
  • "Entropy" (Kenyon Review 22, No. 2, 1960)
  • "Under the Rose" (Noble Savage 3, 1961)
  • "The Secret Integration" (Saturday Evening Post, 19-26 December 1964)
  • "The World (This One), the Flesh ( Mrs. Oedipa Maas), and the Testament of Pierce Inverarity" (Esquire, December 1965)
  • "The Shrink Fits" (Cavalier, March 1966)
Literary Criticism
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Gravity's Rainbow: A Study in Duplex Fiction by Danuta Zadworna-Fjellestad, Almqvist & Wiksell International
  • A Companion to the Crying of Lot 49 by J. Kerry Grant, Univ. of Georgia Press, 1994 XXX The Fictional Labyrinths of Thomas Pynchon by David Seed, Univ. of Iowa Press, 1988
  • The Gnostic Pynchon by Dwight Eddins, Indiana Univ. Press, 1990
  • A 'Gravity's Rainbow' Companion : Sources and Contexts for Pynchon's Novel by Steven C. Weisenburger, Univ. of Georgia Press, 1988
  • A Hand to Turn the Time: The Menippean Satires of Thomas Pynchon by Theodore D. Kharpertian, Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Press,1990
  • Ideas of Order in the Novels of Thomas Pynchon by Molly Hite, Ohio State Univ. Press, 1983
  • Mindful Pleasures: Essays on Thomas Pynchon Little Brown & Company, 1976
  • New Essays on the Crying of Lot 49 edited by Patrick O'Donnell, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992
  • The Style of Connectedness: Gravity's Rainbow and Thomas Pynchon by Thomas Moore, Univ. of Missouri Press, 1987
  • Thomas Pynchon: A Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Materials (The Dalkey Archive Bibliography Series, I) by Clifford Mead, Dalkey Archive Press, 1989
  • The Vineland Papers: Critical Takes on Pynchon's Novel by Geoffrey Green, Donald J. Greiner, Larry McCaffery, Dalkey Archive Press, 1994

Pynchon Notes
Waste-LPynchon-L ListPynchon-L Archive
Pynchon Wiki
(with new Against The Day Wiki Web Guide)
Against the Day Blog
Pomona Pynchon SiteThe Straight Dope About Pynchon
Hyperarts - Pynchon
The Pynchon Files
The Thomas Pynchon Connection
Spermatikos Logos
Reading Pynchon - Advice For Newbies
Pynchon-L List
Pynchonoid Blog
Pynchon Portal
Who Is Thomas Pynchon... And Why Did He Take Off With My Wife?
Pynchon News Service
V. Web Guide
The Crying of Lot 49 Guide (Spark Notes)
Gravity's Rainbow Web Guide
The Illustrated Gravity's Rainbow
A Companion's Companion to Gravity's Rainbow
Vineland Guide (Babies of Wackiness)
Mason & Dixon Web Guide
Mason & Dixon Reading Guide

Gravity's Rainbow GR Overview (WordIQ)
GR Summary
GR Web Guide (HyperArts)
GR Guides (Spermatikos Logos)
GR at Pomona College
GR Mac HyperCard Stack (Hyperbola) - Revolution (formally Metacard) for Windows
GR Companion's Companion
GR Character Index
GR Essay1234 567
Zak Smith's Illustrations for Each Page of Gravity's Rainbow

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