The highly original satire about Oedipa Maas, a woman who finds herself enmeshed in a worldwide conspiracy, meets some extremely interesting characters and attains a not inconsiderable amount of self-knowledge.
Author: Patrick O'Donnell
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Release Date: 1991
Genre: Literary Criticism
The Crying of Lot 49 is widely recognized as a significant contemporary work that frames the desire for meaning and the quest for knowledge within the social and political contexts of the '50s and '60s in America. In the introduction to this collection of original essays on Thomas Pynchon's important novel, Patrick O'Donnell discusses the background and critical reception of the novel. Further essays by five experts on contemporary literature examine the novel's "semiotic regime" or the way in which it organizes signs; the comparison of postmodernist Pynchon and the influential South American writer, Jorge Luis Borges; metaphor in the novel; the novel's narrative strategies; and the novel within the cultural contexts of American Puritanism and the Beat movement. Together, these essays provide an examination of the novel within its literary, historical, and scientific contexts.
A Best Book of the Year for the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon—private eye Doc Sportello surfaces, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era. It’s been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. It’s the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that “love” is another one of those words going around at the moment, like “trip” or “groovy,” except this one usually leads to trouble. In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren’t there . . . or . . . if you were there, then you . . . or, wait, is it . . .
Human beings have believed in conspiracies presumably as long as there have been groups of at least three people in which one was convinced that the other two were plotting against him or her. In that sense one might look back as far as Eve and the serpent to find the world’s first conspiracy. Whereas recent generations have tended to find their conspiracies in politics and government, the past often sought its mysteries in religious cults or associations. In ancient Rome, for example, the senate tried to prohibit the cult of Isis lest its euphoric excesses undermine public morality and political stability. And during the Middle Ages, many rulers feared such powerful and mysterious religious orders as the Knights Templar. Fascination with the arcane is a driving force in this comprehensive survey of conspiracy fiction. Theodore Ziolkowski traces the evolution of cults, orders, lodges, secret societies, and conspiracies through various literary manifestations—drama, romance, epic, novel, opera—down to the thrillers of the twenty-first century. Arguing that the lure of the arcane throughout the ages has remained a constant factor of human fascination, Ziolkowski demonstrates that the content of conspiracy has shifted from religion by way of philosophy and social theory to politics. In the process, he reveals, the underlying mythic pattern was gradually co-opted for the subversive ends of conspiracy. Cults and Conspiracies considers Euripides’s Bacchae, Andreae’s Chymical Wedding, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, among other seminal works. Mimicking the genre’s quest-driven narrative arc, the reader searches for the significance of conspiracy fiction and is rewarded with the author’s cogent reflections in the final chapter. After much investigation, Ziolkowski reinforces Umberto Eco’s notion that the most powerful secret, the magnetic center of conspiracy fiction, is in fact "a secret without content."
Compiling five short stories originally written between 1959 and 1964, Slow Learner showcases Thomas Pynchon’s writing before the publication of his first novel V. The stories compiled here are “The Small Rain,” “Low-lands,” “Entropy,” “Under the Rose,” and “The Secret Integration,” along with an introduction by Pynchon himself.
Author: J. Kerry Grant
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Release Date: 2011-03-15
Genre: Literary Criticism
Contains more than 500 notes keyed to the "2006 Harper Perennial Modern Classics", the "1986 Harper Perennial Library", and the 1967 Bantam editions. This edition adds quotations and paraphrases drawn from criticism published since 1994. It includes more than fifty annotations that have been added and eighty annotations that have been expanded.
Fascination with the arcane is a driving force in this comprehensive survey of conspiracy fiction. Theodore Ziolkowski traces the evolution of cults, orders, lodges, secret societies, and conspiracies through various literary manifestations—drama, romance, epic, novel, opera—down to the thrillers of the twenty-first century. Lure of the Arcane considers Euripides’s Bacchae, Andreae’s Chymical Wedding, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum, among other seminal works. Mimicking the genre’s quest-driven narrative arc, the reader searches for the significance of conspiracy fiction and is rewarded with the author’s cogent reflections in the final chapter. After much investigation, Ziolkowski reinforces Umberto Eco’s notion that the most powerful secret, the magnetic center of conspiracy fiction, is in fact "a secret without content."
“Later than usual one summer morning in 1984 . . .” On California’s fog-hung North Coast, the enchanted redwood groves of Vineland County harbor a wild assortment of sixties survivors and refugees from the “Nixonian Reaction,” still struggling with the consequences of their past lives. Aging hippie freak Zoyd Wheeler is revving up for his annual act of televised insanity when news reaches that his old nemesis, sinister federal agent Brock Vond, has come storming into Vineland at the head of a heavily armed Justice Department strike force. Zoyd instantly disappears underground, but not before dispatching his teenage daughter Prairie on a dark odyssey into her secret, unspeakable past. . . . Freely combining disparate elements from American popular culture—spy thrillers, ninja potboilers, TV soap operas, sci-fi fantasies—Vineland emerges as what Salman Rushdie has called in The New York Times Book Review “that rarest of birds: a major political novel about what America has been doing to itself, to its children, all these many years.”
How have twentieth-century writers used techniques in fiction to communicate the human experience of time? Dramatizing Time in Twentieth-Century Fiction explores this question by analyzing major narratives of the last century that demonstrate how time becomes variously manifested to reflect and illuminate its operation in our lives. Offering close readings of both modernist and non-modernist writers such as Wodehouse, Stein, Lewis, Joyce, Hemingway, Faulkner, Borges, and Nabokov, the author shares and unifies the belief, as set forth by the distinguished philosopher Paul Ricoeur, that narratives rather than philosophy best help us understand time. They create and communicate its meanings through dramatizations in language and the reconfiguration of temporal experience. This book explores the various responses of artistic imaginations to the mysteries of time and the needs of temporal organization in modern fiction. It is therefore an important reference for anyone with an interest in twentieth-century literature and the philosophy of time.
Publisher: Stanford University
Release Date: 2011
This project explores how changing models of literary production are blurring or erasing the divisions between authors, critics and readers. Millions of cultural consumers are participating in previously closed literary conversations and expressing forms of mass distinction through their purchases and reviews of books. These traces of popular reading choices constitute a fresh perspective on elusive audience reactions to literature and reveal evolving networks of conversation. Employing network analysis methodologies and 'distant reading' of book reviews, recommendations and other digital traces of cultural distinction, I develop a new model for literary culture in America today. Through readings of the fiction and reception of Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison, David Foster Wallace and Junot Díaz, this model outlines the fundamental requirements for contemporary literary fame. My introduction outlines methodological tools I developed and situates them in the critical traditions of literary reception, cultural sociology and media theory before describing the digital ecologies that have emerged around literature online and their value. Chapter 1 explores the nature of literary fame through a case study of Thomas Pynchon, whose carefully guarded anonymity and ironic distance from capitalism are reflected in the networks his readers construct around his long, challenging books. In stark contrast, Toni Morrison, the subject of Chapter 2, has succeeded critically and commercially, tirelessly seeking out readers to form literary communities around her writing, most prominently through her collaboration with Oprah's Book Club. Chapter 3 considers David Foster Wallace and Junot Díaz and sets out a model for contemporary literary culture: a reading society that demands new forms of authorial reflexivity to mirror the collaborative, iterative nature of digital literary conversations. I conclude with a brief consideration of the exciting prospects and challenges for fiction in a world that reads more than ever but is growing disaffected with the material realities of literary production.
Winner of the 1974 National Book Award “A screaming comes across the sky. . .” A few months after the Germans’ secret V-2 rocket bombs begin 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 journey across war-torn 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 in The New Republic as “the most profound and accomplished American novel since the end of World War II.”
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year Spanning the era between the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I, and constantly moving between locations across the globe (and to a few places not strictly speaking on the map at all), Against the Day unfolds with a phantasmagoria of characters that includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, drug enthusiasts, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, spies, and hired guns. As an era of uncertainty 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.
Barth's lively, highly original collection of short pieces is a major landmark of experimental fiction. Though many of the stories gathered here were published separately, there are several themes common to them all, giving them new meaning in the context of this collection.
In the 1950s prolific U.S. fiction writer Stephen Marlowe became a cult author for lovers of noir fiction mainly for his Drumbeat series, which present his best-known character: private eye Chester Drum. Yet, the academia never paid much attention to his multifaceted, extensive oeuvre . Chaos and Madness is the first volume offering a critical approach to MarloweOCOs riveting historical novels. Their relevance in the field of literary studies derives from their well-wrought structure and captivating prose as well as from their portrayal of remote European history OCo a distinctive feature that makes Marlowe a unique figure in the North American trend of historiographic metafiction. Chaos and Madness provides a comprehensive narratological and ideological analysis of three novels in which Marlowe deals with Spanish history. Preceded by an in-depth if reader-friendly theoretical chapter that traces the evolution of the historical novel as a genre, Calvo-PascualOCOs meticulous investigation into MarloweOCOs fiction proves compelling for anyone interested in contemporary American fiction, in Spanish history, or in the interaction of metafiction and the scientific discourse of chaos theory."