Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow Essay

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Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow


Thomas Ruggles Pynchon was born in 1937 in Glen's Cove, New York. He is the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Slow Learner, Vineland, and Mason & Dixon. Nothing else is known of this author (not exactly true, but close enough to the truth to make that last blanket statement passable). He has attempted to veil himself in total obscurity and anonymity. For the most part, he has succeeded in this, save for a rare interview or two. In 1974 he received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow. He would have been awarded The Pulitzer Prize as well, but his blatant disregard for narrative sequence led to a rift between the judges and the editorial board. Ultimately,
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He has the innate ability to take over people's daydreams so they can get on with their daily routine. In the book's first few chapters, he is delegated to the task of succoring a giant adenoid, which has been interfering with the thought processes of a high ranking British Official. And the story of Tyrone Slothrop is even stranger than Mexico's.


American Lieutenant Tyrone Slothrop is the chief protagonist in this book (being the main character in a book containing over 400 of them is a tough call). Dr. Lazlo Jamf, a prominent Pavlovian researcher conditioned him at birth to experience erections as a response to a conditioned set of stimuli (a loud noise, etc.). Something went awry however. Slothrop is now in England, an adult, and being extremely promiscuous with its female denizens. He records each of his conquests by placing a star on a map of London. The real problem lies in the fact that the star showing each liaison is the exact location of a V-2 strike, usually a couple of days later (and no, Slothrop is not working for German Intelligence). Throw in Pavlovian Theory, Pouisson distributions, Ranier Marie Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Thermodynamics, Organic Chemistry, Chaos Theory (which was not even around at the time of the book's publication), Eliot's Wasteland, Kabbalistic rituals, the Signs of the Zodiac, and a myriad of erudite minutiae, and you have but scratched the surface of the book's concepts.

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