Pynchon and the Political
Routledge – 2007 – 214 pages
Thomas Pynchon's writing has been widely regarded as an exemplary form of postmodern fiction. It is characterized as genre-defying and enigmatic, as a series of complex and esoteric language games. This study attempts to demonstrate, however, that an oblique yet compelling sense of the "political" Pynchon disappers all too easily under the mantle of postmodernity. Innovative and unsettling discussions of freedom, war, labor, poverty, community, democracy, and totalitarianism are passed over in favor of constrictive scientific metaphors and theoretical play. Against this current, this study analyzes Pynchon's fiction in terms of its radical dimension, showing how it points to new directions in the relationship between the political and the aesthetic.
Introduction: Text-Politics-Criticism-Methodology 1. Retro-Vertigo: Escaping the Enlightenment in Mason & Dixon 2. Blank Checks: Invisibility and Economy in Mason & Dixon 3. Theatre of Operations: Surgery, War and Questing in V. and Gravity’s Rainbow 4. Memento-Mori: War-Life and War-Experience in Gravity’s Rainbow and V 5. (What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding? Resistance vs. Withdrawal in The Crying of Lot 49 6. Sir Yes Sir!: Doing It To Yourself and Doing It For Yourself in Vineland. Conclusion: Pynchon-Politics-Everybody
Samuel Thomas is Lecturer in the Department of English Studies at Durham University, UK.