Thomas Pynchon: Contribution as American Novelist

Also Read

      Thomas Pynchon, is the most acclaimed and most elusive of post-modernists. He, as a mysterious publicity-shunning author, was born in New York and graduated from Cornell University in 1958 where he may have come under the influence of Vladimir Nabokov. In his introductory essay to his, book Slow Learner (1984) he said that his fundamental problem when he began writing was inclination ‘to begin with a theme, symbol, or other unifying agent, and then try to force characters and events to conform to it.” His books are packed with ideas and esoteric references. Certainly, his innovative fantasies use themes of translating clues, games, and codes that could derive from Nabokov. Pynchon’s flexible tone can modulate paranoia into poetry. All of his fiction is similarly structured. A vast plot is unknown at least to one of the main characters whose task is then to render order out of chaos and decipher the world. This project exactly the job of the traditional artist devolves also upon the reader who must follow along and watch for clues and meanings. This paranoid vision is extended across the continents and times itself his for he employs the metaphor of entropy. The gradual running down of the universe. The masterful use of popular culture particularly science fiction and detective fiction is evident in his works.

      Pynchon’s first novel V (1963) is loosely structured around Benny Profane, a failure who engages in pointless wanderings and various weird enterprises and his opposite the educated Herbert Stencil, who seeks a mysterious female spy (alternatively Venus, Virgin, Void). The book confirms its author’s sense of the modern world as an entropic wasteland, inhabited by men and women dedicated to the annihilation of all animatedness. It is bounded by dead landscapes. It is a populous narrative not of people but of things, objects; they lapse into roles, masquerade and cliche. Benny Profane is a schlemiel, the suffering absurd comedian of Jewish lure. He appears to be a faded copy of picaro as he drifts through life such enterprises as hunting alligators underneath New York City; in fact, it is there in the darlaiess and oblivion of sewers, he finds his great comfort and peace. On the other hand, Herbert Stencil searches the world for V, the mysterious female spy who is by turns, Venus, Virgin and Void. She seems to be everywhere and nowhere. Stencil seems to be on a quest. The Crying of the Lot 49 is a short work dealing with secret system associated with the US postal service. In this novel, the central figure is Oedipal Maas learns that her once time lover, Pierce Inveracity has made her an executor of his estate. Now, he is dead; she is to investigate property of Inverarity. Her investigation leads to the discovery of what she takes to be conspiratorial underground communications a system dating back to the sixteenth century. Following the clues, she finally believes that she solves the enigma through a mysterious bidder keen to buy Inverarity’s stamp collection but the novel ends with the unsolved enigma. The Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) takes place during the World War II in London when rockets are falling on the city, and concerns a farcical yet symbolic search for the Nazi and other disguised figures. The story is an intricate web of plots and counterplots. It involves a Nazi Lieutenant Weissman, disguised as a mysterious Captian Blicero and an American sleuth Lieutenant Tyrone Slothrop, while V-2 rockets rain down on London. Weissman appears to be the lover of V in this elaborately inter textual world. Pynchoti’s texts echo his own as well as the texts of others. The violence, comedy, and flair for innovation in his work inexorably link Pynchon with the typical fiction of 1960s.

Previous Post Next Post