Thomas Pynchon

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Oxford University Press, 2015 - Literary Criticism - 254 pages
This is a comprehensive study of the most influential figure in postwar American literature. Over a writing career spanning more than fifty years, Thomas Pynchon has been at the forefront of America's engagement with postmodern literary possibilities. Famously elusive, he is nevertheless central to any understanding of the story that the nation tells about itself and its relationship to the wider world. Pynchon's fiction is at once encyclopedic and devastatingly satirical, formally experimental and acutely political. It ranges across a wide span of historical moments - pre-revolutionary America, both World Wars, the counter-cultural sixties, Reagan's California - to explore the idea of the "United States" as it collides and colludes with forces of corruption and reaction. In chapters that address the full range of Pynchon's career, from his earliest short stories and first novel, V., to his most recent work, Inherent Vice, this book offers a highly accessible and detailed series of readings of a writer whose work is indispensable for anyone wanting to understand how the American novel has met the challenges of postmodernity. The authors discuss Pynchon's relationship to literary history, his engagement with discourses of science and utopianism, his interrogation of imperialism, and his preoccupation with the paranoid sensibility. This wide-ranging study will be invaluable to Pynchon scholars and to everyone working in the field of contemporary American fiction. It surveys an entire writing career to show how Pynchon's complex narratives work both as exuberant examples of formal experimentation and as serious interventions in the political health of the nation.

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the fork in the road
1 Refuge and refuse in Slow Learner
identity interpretation and reference in The Crying of Lot 49
power presentation and history in Gravitys Rainbow
5 Cultural nostalgia and political possibility in Vineland
6 Mason Dixon and the transnational vortices of historical fiction
political and aesthetic disruption in Against the Day
Inherent Vice as Pynchon Lite?
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About the author (2015)

Simon Malpas is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh

Andrew Taylor is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh