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Thomas Ruggles Pynchon Jr. ( , ; born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist. A
MacArthur Fellow The MacArthur Fellows Program, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship and commonly but unofficially known as the "Genius Grant", is a prize awarded annually by the MacArthur Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation typically to b ...
, he is noted for his dense and complex novels. His
fiction Fiction is any creative work A creative work is a manifestation of creativity, creative effort including Work of art, fine artwork (sculpture, paintings, drawing, Sketch (drawing), sketching, performance art), dance, writing (literature), filmm ...

fiction
and non-fiction writings encompass a vast array of subject matter,
genres Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a Category of being, category of literature, ...
and
themes Theme or themes may refer to: * Theme (arts), the unifying subject or idea of the type of visual work * Theme (Byzantine district), an administrative district in the Byzantine Empire governed by a Strategos * Theme (computing), a custom graphical a ...
, including
history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...

history
,
music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated concepts , , and ...

music
,
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...

science
, and
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and their changes (cal ...
. For ''
Gravity's Rainbow ''Gravity's Rainbow'' is a 1973 novel by American writer Thomas Pynchon Thomas Ruggles Pynchon Jr. ( , ; born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist. A MacArthur Fellow The MacArthur Fellows Program, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship a ...
'', Pynchon won the 1973 U.S.
National Book Award for Fiction The National Book Award for Fiction is one of five annual National Book Awards, which recognize outstanding literary work by United States citizens. Since 1987 the awards have been administered and presented by the National Book Foundation, but t ...
."National Book Awards – 1974"
National Book Foundation The National Book Foundation (NBF) is an American nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated fo ...
. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
(With essays by Casey Hicks and Chad Post from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog. The mock acceptance speech by Irwin Corey is not reprinted by NBF.)
Hailing from
Long Island Long Island is a densely populated island in the southeast part of the U.S. state In the , a state is a , of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a , each state holds al jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic ...
, Pynchon served two years in the
United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and gold  , colors_label = Colors , march = "Anchors Aweigh" , mascot = , equipment = List of equipment of the United St ...
and earned an English degree from
Cornell University Cornell University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...
. After publishing several short stories in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he began composing the novels for which he is best known: '' V.'' (1963), ''
The Crying of Lot 49 ''The Crying of Lot 49'' is a novel written by American author Thomas Pynchon and published in 1966. The shortest of Pynchon's novels, the plot follows Oedipa Maas, a young Californian woman, who begins to embrace a conspiracy theory as she possib ...
'' (1966), and ''
Gravity's Rainbow ''Gravity's Rainbow'' is a 1973 novel by American writer Thomas Pynchon Thomas Ruggles Pynchon Jr. ( , ; born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist. A MacArthur Fellow The MacArthur Fellows Program, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship a ...
'' (1973). His 2009 novel ''
Inherent Vice ''Inherent Vice'' is a novel by American author Thomas Pynchon, originally published in August 2009. A darkly comic detective novel set in 1970s California, the plot follows sleuth Larry "Doc" Sportello whose ex-girlfriend asks him to investigate ...
'' was adapted into a feature film of the same name by director
Paul Thomas Anderson Paul Thomas Anderson (born June 26, 1970) is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He developed an interest in filmmaking from a young age. He made his feature-film debut with ''Hard Eight (film), Hard Eight'' (1996). He found cr ...
in 2014. Pynchon is notoriously
reclusive A recluse is a person who lives in voluntary seclusion Seclusion is the act of secluding (i.e. isolating from society), the state of being secluded, or a place that facilitates it (a secluded place). A person, couple, or larger group may g ...
from the media; few photographs of him have been published, and rumors about his location and identity have circulated since the 1960s. Pynchon's most recent novel, ''
Bleeding Edge ''Bleeding Edge'' is a novel by American author Thomas Pynchon Thomas Ruggles Pynchon Jr. ( , ; born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist. A MacArthur Fellow The MacArthur Fellows Program, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship and commonly ...
'', was published on September 17, 2013.


Early life

Thomas Pynchon was born on May 8, 1937, in Glen Cove,
Long Island Long Island is a densely populated island in the southeast part of the U.S. state In the , a state is a , of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a , each state holds al jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic ...
, New York, one of three children of engineer and politician Thomas Ruggles Pynchon Sr. (1907–1995) and Katherine Frances Bennett (1909–1996), a nurse. His earliest American ancestor,
William Pynchon William Pynchon (October 11, 1590 – October 29, 1662) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early ...

William Pynchon
, emigrated to the
Massachusetts Bay Colony The Massachusetts Bay Colony (1630–1691), more formally The Colony of Massachusetts Bay, was an English settlement on the east coast of America around the Massachusetts Bay Massachusetts Bay is a bay A bay is a recessed, coastal body ...
with the
Winthrop Fleet The Winthrop Fleet was a group of 11 ships led by John Winthrop out of a total of 16 funded by the Massachusetts Bay Company which together carried between 700 and 1,000 Puritans plus livestock and provisions from England to New England over the ...

Winthrop Fleet
in 1630, then became the founder of
Springfield, Massachusetts Springfield is a city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, su ...
, in 1636, and thereafter a long line of Pynchon descendants found wealth and repute on American soil. Aspects of Pynchon's ancestry and family background have partially inspired his fiction writing, particularly in the Slothrop family histories related in the short story " The Secret Integration" (1984) and ''
Gravity's Rainbow ''Gravity's Rainbow'' is a 1973 novel by American writer Thomas Pynchon Thomas Ruggles Pynchon Jr. ( , ; born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist. A MacArthur Fellow The MacArthur Fellows Program, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship a ...
'' (1973). During his childhood, Pynchon alternatively attended
Episcopal Episcopal may refer to: *Of or relating to a bishop, an overseer in the Christian church *Episcopate, the see of a bishop – a diocese *Episcopal Church (disambiguation), any church with "Episcopal" in its name ** Episcopal Church (United State ...
services with his father and
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...

Roman Catholic
services with his mother.


Education and military career

A "voracious reader and precocious writer," Pynchon is believed to have skipped two grades before high school. Pynchon attended
Oyster Bay High School Oyster Bay High School is a state school, public high school located in Oyster Bay (hamlet), New York, Oyster Bay, New York, United States. The school is a part of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District. As of the 2014-15 school year ...
in Oyster Bay, where he was awarded "student of the year" and contributed short fictional pieces to his school newspaper. These juvenilia incorporated some of the literary motifs and recurring subject matter he would use throughout his career: oddball names, sophomoric humor, illicit drug use, and paranoia. Pynchon graduated from high school in 1953 at the age of 16. That fall, he went to
Cornell University Cornell University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...
to study
engineering physics Engineering physics, or engineering science, refers to the study of the combined disciplines of physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology, and engineering, particularly computer, nuclear, electrical, electronic, aerospace, materials or mechanical en ...
. At the end of his sophomore year, he enlisted to serve in the
U.S. Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and gold  , colors_label = Colors , march = " Anchors Aweigh" ...
. He attended boot camp at
United States Naval Training Center Bainbridge United States Naval Training Center Bainbridge (USNTC Bainbridge) was the U.S. Navy Training Center at Port Deposit, Maryland, on the bluffs of the northeast bank of the Susquehanna River. It was active from 1942 to 1976 under the Commander of th ...
, Maryland, then received training to be an
electrician An electrician is a tradesman A tradesman, skilled tradesman, or tradie refers to a skilled worker who specializes in a particular occupation that requires work experience, on-the-job training, and often formal vocational education ...

electrician
at a base in
Norfolk, Virginia Norfolk ( ) is an independent city An independent city or independent town is a city or town that does not form part of another general-purpose local government entity (such as a province). Historical precursors In the Holy Roman Empire ...
. In 1956, he was aboard the
destroyer In naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically ...

destroyer
USS ''Hank'' in the Mediterranean during the
Suez Crisis The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli war, also called the Tripartite Aggression ( ar, العدوان الثلاثي, Al-ʿUdwān aṯ-Ṯulāṯiyy) in the Arab world and the Sinai War in Israel,Also known as the Suez War or 1956 War ...
. According to recollections from his Navy friends, Pynchon said at the time that he did not intend to complete his college education. In 1957, he returned to Cornell to pursue a degree in English. His first published story, "The Small Rain", appeared in the ''Cornell Writer'' in March 1959, and narrates an actual experience of a friend who had served in the
Army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch Military branch ...
; subsequently, however, episodes and characters throughout Pynchon's fiction draw freely upon his own experiences in the Navy. His short story, "Mortality and Mercy in Vienna", was published in the Spring 1959 issue of ''
Epoch In chronology 222px, Joseph Scaliger's ''De emendatione temporum'' (1583) began the modern science of chronology Chronology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-E ...
''. While at Cornell, Pynchon started his friendships with Richard Fariña,
Kirkpatrick Sale Kirkpatrick Sale (born June 27, 1937) is an American author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of ...
and David Shetzline; Pynchon would go on to dedicate ''Gravity's Rainbow'' to Fariña, as well as serve as his best man and as his pallbearer. Together the two briefly led what Pynchon has called a "micro-cult" devoted to
Oakley Hall Oakley Maxwell Hall (July 1, 1920 – May 12, 2008) was an American novelist. He was born in San Diego, California, graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and served in the United States Marine Corps, Marines during World War II. ...
's 1958 novel ''
Warlock A warlock is a male practitioner of witchcraft In many cultures, witchcraft traditionally means the use of magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Ch ...
''. Pynchon later reminisced about his college days in the introduction he wrote in 1983 for Fariña's novel ''
Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me ''Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me'' is a novel by Richard Fariña. First published in the United States in 1966 the novel, based largely on Fariña's college experiences and travels, is a comic picaresque story that is set in the Western ...
'', first published in 1966. He reportedly attended lectures given by
Vladimir Nabokov Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (russian: link=no, Влади́мир Влади́мирович Набо́ков ; 2 July 1977), also known by the pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym ...
, who then taught literature at Cornell. Although Nabokov later said that he had no memory of Pynchon, Nabokov's wife Véra, who graded her husband's class papers, commented that she remembered his distinctive handwriting as a mixture of printed and
cursive Cursive (also known as script, among other names) is any style of penmanship Penmanship is the technique of writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. Writi ...

cursive
letters, "half printing, half script." In 1958, Pynchon and Sale wrote part or all of a science-fiction musical, ''Minstrel Island'', which portrayed a dystopian future in which
IBM International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Armonk, New York, with operations in over 170 countries. The company began in 1911, founded in Endicott, New York, as the C ...

IBM
rules the world. Pynchon received his
B.A. Bachelor of Arts (BA or AB; from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Thro ...
with distinction as a member of
Phi Beta Kappa The Phi Beta Kappa Society () is the oldest academic honor society In the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country in . It consists of 50 , ...
in June 1959.


Career


Early career


''V.''

After leaving Cornell, Pynchon began to work on his first novel: ''V''. From February 1960 to September 1962, he was employed as a technical writer at
Boeing The Boeing Company () is an American multinational corporation A multinational company (MNC) is a corporate A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personal ...

Boeing
in
Seattle Seattle ( ) is a seaport The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Barcola The thumb is the first digit of the hand, next to the index finger. When a person is standing in the medical anatomical position (where the palm is facing to the front) ...

Seattle
, where he compiled safety articles for the ''Bomarc Service News'', a support newsletter for the BOMARC surface-to-air missile deployed by the
U.S. Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of the atmosphe ...
. Pynchon's experiences at Boeing inspired his depictions of the " Yoyodyne" corporation in '' V.'' and ''
The Crying of Lot 49 ''The Crying of Lot 49'' is a novel written by American author Thomas Pynchon and published in 1966. The shortest of Pynchon's novels, the plot follows Oedipa Maas, a young Californian woman, who begins to embrace a conspiracy theory as she possib ...
'', and both his background in physics and the technical journalism he undertook at Boeing provided much raw material for ''
Gravity's Rainbow ''Gravity's Rainbow'' is a 1973 novel by American writer Thomas Pynchon Thomas Ruggles Pynchon Jr. ( , ; born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist. A MacArthur Fellow The MacArthur Fellows Program, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship a ...
''. When published in 1963, ''V.'' won a
William Faulkner Foundation Award The William Faulkner Foundation (1960-1970) was a charitable organization founded by the novelist William Faulkner in 1960 to support various charitable causes, all educational or literary in nature. The Foundation The foundation programs included ...
for the best first novel of the year. (It was a finalist for the National Book Award.)"National Book Awards – 1964"
National Book Foundation. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
After resigning from Boeing, Pynchon spent some time in New York and Mexico before moving to California, where he was reportedly based for much of the 1960s and early 1970s, most notably in an apartment in
Manhattan BeachManhattan Beach may refer to: Places In the United States: * Manhattan Beach, California * Manhattan Beach (Denver), Colorado, first amusement park built west of the Mississippi River (1881) that burnt down in 1908 and was rebuilt as Luna Park * Man ...
, as he was composing what would become the highly regarded ''Gravity's Rainbow''. A negative aspect that Pynchon retrospectively found in the hippie cultural and literary movement, both in the form of the Beats of the 1950s and the resurgence form of the 1960s, was that it "placed too much emphasis on youth, including the eternal variety." In 1964, his application to study mathematics as a graduate student at the
University of California, Berkeley The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley, Berkeley, Cal, or California) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization ...

University of California, Berkeley
was turned down. In 1966, Pynchon wrote a first-hand report on the aftermath and legacy of the
Watts Riots #REDIRECT Watts riots#REDIRECT Watts riots The Watts riots, sometimes referred to as the Watts Rebellion or Watts Uprising, took place in the Watts neighborhood and its surrounding areas of Los Angeles Los Angeles (; es, Los Ángeles; ...
in Los Angeles. Titled "A Journey Into the Mind of Watts", the article was published in ''
The New York Times Magazine ''The New York Times Magazine'' is a Sunday magazine A Sunday magazine is a publication inserted into a Sunday newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current event ...
''. From the mid-1960s Pynchon has also regularly provided blurbs and introductions for a wide range of novels and non-fiction works. One of the first of these pieces was a brief review of
Oakley Hall Oakley Maxwell Hall (July 1, 1920 – May 12, 2008) was an American novelist. He was born in San Diego, California, graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and served in the United States Marine Corps, Marines during World War II. ...
's ''
Warlock A warlock is a male practitioner of witchcraft In many cultures, witchcraft traditionally means the use of magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Ch ...
'' which appeared, along with comments by seven other writers on "neglected books", as part of a feature titled "A Gift of Books" in the December 1965 issue of ''Holiday''. In 1968, Pynchon was one of 447 signatories to the "
Writers and Editors War Tax Protest Tax resistance, the practice of refusing to pay taxes that are considered unjust, has probably existed ever since rulers began imposing taxes on their subjects. It has been suggested that tax resistance played a significant role in the collapse of ...
". Full-page advertisements in the ''
New York Post The ''New York Post'' (''NY Post'') is a conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy ...

New York Post
'' and ''
The New York Review of Books ''The New York Review of Books'' (or ''NYREV'' or ''NYRB'') is a semi-monthly magazine with articles on literature, culture, economics, science and current affairs. Published in New York City, it is inspired by the idea that the discussion of i ...
'' listed the names of those who had pledged not to pay "the proposed 10% income tax surcharge or any war-designated tax increase", and stated their belief "that American involvement in Vietnam is morally wrong".


''The Crying of Lot 49''

In an April 1964 letter to his agent, Candida Donadio, Pynchon wrote that he was facing a creative crisis, with four novels in progress, announcing: "If they come out on paper anything like they are inside my head then it will be the literary event of the millennium." In the mid-1960s, Pynchon lived at 217 33rd St. in
Manhattan Beach, California Manhattan Beach is a city in southwestern Los Angeles County, California Los Angeles County, officially the County of Los Angeles, and sometimes abbreviated as L.A. County, is the most populous county in the United States and in the U.S. st ...
, in a small downstairs apartment. In December 1965, Pynchon politely turned down an invitation from Stanley Edgar Hyman to teach literature at
Bennington College Bennington College is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two de ...

Bennington College
, writing that he had resolved, two or three years earlier, to write three novels at once. Pynchon described the decision as "a moment of temporary insanity", but noted that he was "too stubborn to let any of them go, let alone all of them." Pynchon's second novel, ''The Crying of Lot 49'', was published a few months later in 1966. Whether it was one of the three or four novels Pynchon had in progress is not known, but in a 1965 letter to Donadio, Pynchon had written that he was in the middle of writing a "
potboiler A potboiler or pot-boiler is a novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any do ...
". When the book grew to 155 pages, he called it, "a short story, but with gland trouble", and hoped that Donadio could "unload it on some poor sucker." ''The Crying of Lot 49'' won the Richard and Hilda Rosenthal Foundation Award shortly after publication. Although more concise and linear in its structure than Pynchon's other novels, its labyrinthine plot features an ancient, underground mail service known as "The Tristero" or "Trystero", a parody of a Jacobean revenge drama called ''The Courier's Tragedy'', and a corporate conspiracy involving the bones of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
American
GIs A geographic information system (GIS) is a type of database In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processe ...
being used as charcoal
cigarette filter A cigarette filter, also known as a filter tip, is a component of a cigarette A cigarette is a narrow cylinder containing burnable material, typically tobacco village in Xanthi, Greece Tobacco is the common name of several plants i ...
s. It proposes a series of seemingly incredible interconnections between these events and other similarly bizarre revelations that confront the novel's protagonist, Oedipa Maas. Like ''V.,'' the novel contains a wealth of references to science and technology and to obscure historical events, with both books dwelling on the detritus of American society and culture. ''The Crying of Lot 49'' also continues Pynchon's strategy of composing parodic song lyrics and punning names, and referencing aspects of
popular culture Popular culture (also called mass culture or pop culture) is generally recognized by members of a society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and ...
within his prose narratives. In particular, it incorporates a very direct
allusion Allusion is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persu ...
to the protagonist of Nabokov's ''
Lolita ''Lolita'' is a 1955 novel written by Russian American, Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov. The novel is notable for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, a French middle-aged literature professor under the ...
'' within the lyric of a love lament sung by a member of "The Paranoids", an American teenage band who deliberately sing their songs with British accents (p. 17).


''Gravity's Rainbow''

Pynchon's most celebrated novel is his third, ''
Gravity's Rainbow ''Gravity's Rainbow'' is a 1973 novel by American writer Thomas Pynchon Thomas Ruggles Pynchon Jr. ( , ; born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist. A MacArthur Fellow The MacArthur Fellows Program, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship a ...
'', published in 1973. An intricate and allusive fiction that combines and elaborates on many of the themes of his earlier work, including preterition,
paranoia Paranoia is an instinct or thought process that is believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety Anxiety is an emotion Emotions are mental state, psychological states brought on by neurophysiology, neurophysiological changes, variously a ...

paranoia
,
racism Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority Superior may refer to: *Superior (hierarchy), something which is higher in a hie ...

racism
,
colonialism Colonialism is a practice or policy of control by one people or power over other people or areas, often by establishing colony, colonies and generally with the aim of economic dominance. In the process of colonisation, colonisers may impose the ...

colonialism
,
conspiracy A conspiracy, also known as a plot, is a secret plan or agreement between persons (called conspirers or conspirators) for an unlawful or harmful purpose, such as murder Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification ...
,
synchronicity Synchronicity (german: Synchronizität) is a concept first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl G. Jung "to describe circumstances that appear meaningfully related yet lack a causal connection." In contemporary research, synchronicity ...
, and
entropy Entropy is a scientific concept as well as a measurable physical property that is most commonly associated with a state of disorder, randomness, or uncertainty. The term and the concept are used in diverse fields, from classical thermodynamic ...

entropy
, the novel has spawned a wealth of commentary and critical material, including reader's guides, books and scholarly articles, online concordances and discussions, and art works. Its artistic value is often compared to that of
James Joyce James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist, short story writer, poet and literary critic. He contributed to the modernist , Solomon Guggenheim Museum 1946–1959 Modernism is both a philosoph ...
's ''
Ulysses Ulysses is the Roman name for Odysseus, a hero in ancient Greek literature. Ulysses may also refer to: People * Ulysses (given name), including a list of people with this name Places in the United States * Ulysses, Kansas * Ulysses, Kentucky * U ...
''. Some scholars have hailed it as the greatest American post-WW2 novel, and it has similarly been described as "literally an anthology of postmodernist themes and devices". The major portion of ''Gravity's Rainbow'' takes place in London and Europe in the final months of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
and the weeks immediately following
VE Day Victory in Europe Day is the day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II : Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill meeting at the Cairo Conference (1943), Cairo Conference in 1943 ...
, and is narrated for the most part from within the historical moment in which it is set. In this way, Pynchon's text enacts a type of
dramatic irony Irony (), in its broadest sense, is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or event in which what on the surface appears to be the case or to be expected differs radically from what is actually the case. Irony can be categorized into diffe ...

dramatic irony
whereby neither the characters nor the various are aware of specific historical circumstances, such as the
Holocaust The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide Genocide is the intentional action to destroy a people—usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural syst ...
and, except as hints, premonitions and mythography, the complicity between Western corporate interests and the Nazi war machine, which figure prominently in readers' apprehensions of the novel's historical context. For example, at war's end the narrator observes: "There are rumors of a War Crimes Tribunal under way in Nürnberg. No one Slothrop has listened to is clear who's trying whom for what ... " (p. 681) Such an approach generates dynamic tension and moments of acute self-consciousness, as both reader and author seem drawn ever deeper into the "
plot Plot or Plotting may refer to: Art, media and entertainment * Plot (narrative), the story of a piece of fiction Music * The Plot (album), ''The Plot'' (album), a 1976 album by jazz trumpeter Enrico Rava * The Plot (band), a band formed in 2003 ...
", in various senses of that term: The novel invokes anti-authority sentiments, often through violations of narrative conventions and integrity. For example, as the protagonist, Tyrone Slothrop, considers the fact that his own family "made its money killing trees", he apostrophizes his apology and plea for advice to the
coppice Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ''plurale tantum A ''plurale tantum'' (Latin for "plural ...
within which he has momentarily taken refuge. In an overt incitement to eco-activism, Pynchon's narrative agency then has it that "a medium-sized pine nearby nods its top and suggests, 'Next time you come across a logging operation out here, find one of their tractors that isn't being guarded, and take its oil filter with you. That's what you can do.'" (p. 553) Encyclopedic in scope and often self-conscious in style, the novel displays erudition in its treatment of an array of material drawn from the fields of
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
, chemistry, mathematics, history, religion, music, literature, human sexuality, and film. Pynchon wrote the first draft of ''Gravity's Rainbow'' in "neat, tiny script on engineer's quadrille paper". Pynchon worked on the novel throughout the 1960s and early 1970s while he was living in California and Mexico City. ''Gravity's Rainbow'' shared the 1974
National Book Award The National Book Awards are a set of annual U.S. literary awards. At the final National Book Awards Ceremony every November, the National Book Foundation presents the National Book Awards and two lifetime achievement awards to authors. The Nat ...
with ''A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories'' by
Isaac Bashevis Singer Isaac Bashevis Singer ( yi, יצחק באַשעװיס זינגער; November 11, 1903 – July 24, 1991) was a Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ...

Isaac Bashevis Singer
(split award). That same year, the
Pulitzer Prize#REDIRECT Pulitzer Prize The Pulitzer Prize () is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature and musical composition within the United States. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of Joseph ...
fiction panel unanimously recommended ''Gravity's Rainbow'' for the award, but the Pulitzer board vetoed the jury's recommendation, describing the novel as "unreadable", "turgid", "overwritten", and in parts "obscene". (No
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is one of the seven American Pulitzer Prize#REDIRECT Pulitzer Prize The Pulitzer Prize () is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature and musical composition within the U ...
was awarded and finalists were not recognized before 1980.)"Fiction"
''Past winners & finalists by category''. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
In 1975, Pynchon declined the
William Dean Howells Medal The William Dean Howells Medal is awarded by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Established in 1925 and named for William Dean Howells, it is given once every five years, generally in recognition of the most distinguished American novel publ ...
.


Later career

A collection of Pynchon's early short stories, ''
Slow Learner ''Slow Learner'' is the 1984 published collection of five early short story, short stories by the American novelist Thomas Pynchon, originally published in various sources between 1959 and 1964. The book is also notable for its introduction, wr ...
'', was published in 1984, with a lengthy autobiography, autobiographical introduction. In October of the same year, an article titled "Is It O.K. to Be a Luddite?" was published in the ''New York Times Book Review''. In April 1988, Pynchon contributed an extensive review of Gabriel García Márquez's novel ''Love in the Time of Cholera'' to ''The New York Times'', under the title "The Heart's Eternal Vow". Another article, titled "Nearer, My Couch, to Thee", was published in June 1993 in the ''New York Times Book Review'', as one in a series of articles in which various writers reflected on each of the Seven Deadly Sins. Pynchon's subject was "Seven deadly sins, Sloth".


''Vineland''

Pynchon's fourth novel, ''Vineland'', was published in 1990, but disappointed some fans and critics. It did, however, receive a positive review from the novelist Salman Rushdie. The novel is set in California in the 1980s and 1960s and describes the relationship between an Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI COINTELPRO agent and a female radical filmmaker. Its strong socio-political undercurrents detail the constant battle between authoritarianism and communalism, and the nexus between resistance movement, resistance and complicity, but with a typically Pynchonian sense of humor. In 1988, he received a MacArthur Fellowship and, since the early 1990s at least, he has been frequently cited as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature. American literary critic Harold Bloom named him as one of the four major American novelists of his time, along with Don DeLillo, Philip Roth, and Cormac McCarthy.


''Mason & Dixon''

Pynchon's fifth novel, ''Mason & Dixon'', was published in 1997, though it had been a work in progress since at least January 1975. The meticulously researched novel is a sprawling postmodern literature, postmodernist saga recounting the lives and careers of the English astronomer Charles Mason and his partner, the surveyor Jeremiah Dixon, the surveyors of the Mason–Dixon line, during the birth of the American Revolution, American Republic. Some commentators acknowledged it as a welcome return to form. The American critic Harold Bloom hailed the novel as Pynchon's "masterpiece to date". The novel is a Frame story, frame narrative told from the focal point of one Rev. Wicks Cherrycoke – a clergyman of dubious orthodoxy – who, on a cold December evening in 1786, attempts to entertain and divert his extended family (partly for amusement, and partly to keep his coveted status as a guest in the house). Claiming to have accompanied Mason and Dixon throughout their journeys, Cherrycoke tells a tale intermingling Mason and Dixon's biographies with history, fantasy, legend, speculation, and outright fabrication.


''Against the Day''

A variety of rumors pertaining to the subject matter of ''Against the Day'' circulated for a number of years. Most specific of these were comments made by the former German minister of culture Michael Naumann, who stated that he assisted Pynchon in his research about "a Russian mathematician [who] studied for David Hilbert in Göttingen", and that the new novel would trace the life and loves of Sofia Kovalevskaya. In July 2006, a new, untitled novel by Pynchon was announced along with a synopsis written by Pynchon himself, which appeared on Amazon.com; it stated that the novel's action takes place between the World's Columbian Exposition, 1893 Chicago World's Fair and the time immediately following World War I. "With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead", Pynchon wrote in his blurb, book description, "it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred." He promised cameos by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi and Groucho Marx, as well as "stupid songs" and "strange sexual practices". Subsequently, the title of the new book was reported to be ''Against the Day'' and a Penguin spokesperson confirmed that the synopsis was Pynchon's. ''Against the Day'' was released on November 21, 2006, and is 1,085 pages long in the first edition hardcover. The book was given almost no promotion by Penguin and professional book reviewers were given little time in advance to review the book. An edited version of Pynchon's synopsis was used as the jacket-flap copy and Kovalevskaya does appear, although as only one of over a hundred characters. Composed in part of a series of interwoven pastiches of popular fiction genres from the era in which it is set, the novel inspired mixed reactions from critics and reviewers. One reviewer remarked, "It is brilliant, but it is exhaustingly brilliant." Other reviewers described ''Against the Day'' as "lengthy and rambling" and "a baggy monster of a book", while negative appraisals condemned the novel for its "silliness" or characterized its action as "fairly pointless" and remained unimpressed by its "grab bag of themes".


''Inherent Vice''

''
Inherent Vice ''Inherent Vice'' is a novel by American author Thomas Pynchon, originally published in August 2009. A darkly comic detective novel set in 1970s California, the plot follows sleuth Larry "Doc" Sportello whose ex-girlfriend asks him to investigate ...
'' was published in August 2009. A synopsis and brief extract from the novel, along with the novel's title, ''Inherent Vice'', and dust jacket image, were printed in Penguin Press' Summer 2009 catalogue. The book was advertised by the publisher as "part-hardboiled, noir, part-psychedelia, psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon—private investigator, private eye Doc Sportello comes, occasionally, out of a cannabis (drug), cannabis haze to watch the end of an era as free love slips away and
paranoia Paranoia is an instinct or thought process that is believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety Anxiety is an emotion Emotions are mental state, psychological states brought on by neurophysiology, neurophysiological changes, variously a ...

paranoia
creeps in with the L.A. fog." A promotional video for the novel was released by Penguin Books on August 4, 2009, with the character voiceover narrated by the author himself. A 2014 film adaptation of the Inherent Vice (film), same name was directed by
Paul Thomas Anderson Paul Thomas Anderson (born June 26, 1970) is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He developed an interest in filmmaking from a young age. He made his feature-film debut with ''Hard Eight (film), Hard Eight'' (1996). He found cr ...
.


''Bleeding Edge''

''Bleeding Edge'' takes place in Manhattan's Silicon Alley during "the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11 attacks, September 11." The novel was published on September 17, 2013 to positive reviews.


Style

Poet L. E. Sissman wrote from ''The New Yorker'': "He is almost a mathematician of prose, who calculates the least and the greatest stress each word and line, each pun and ambiguity, can bear, and applies his knowledge accordingly and virtually without lapses, though he takes many scary, bracing linguistic risks. Thus his remarkably supple diction can first treat of a painful and delicate love scene and then roar, without pause, into the sounds and echoes of a drugged and drunken orgy." Pynchon's style is commonly classified as postmodernism, postmodernist.


Themes

Along with its emphasis on sociopolitical themes such as
racism Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority Superior may refer to: *Superior (hierarchy), something which is higher in a hie ...

racism
and imperialism, its awareness and appropriation of many elements of traditional high culture and literature, literary form, Pynchon's work explores philosophical, theological, and sociological ideas exhaustively, though in quirky and approachable ways. His writings demonstrate a strong affinity with the practitioners and artifacts of low culture, including comic books and animated cartoon, cartoons, pulp magazine, pulp fiction, popular films, television, television programs, cookery, urban myths, paranoia and conspiracy theories, and folk art. This blurring of the conventional boundary between "high" and "low" culture has been seen as one of the defining characteristics of his writing. In particular, Pynchon has revealed himself in his fiction and non-fiction as an aficionado of popular music. Song lyrics and mock musical theater, musical numbers appear in each of his novels, and, in his autobiographical introduction to the ''Slow Learner'' collection of early stories, he reveals a fondness for both jazz and rock and roll. The character McClintic Sphere in ''V.'' is a fictional composite of jazz musicians such as Ornette Coleman, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk. In ''The Crying of Lot 49'', the lead singer of The Paranoids sports "a The Beatles, Beatle haircut" and sings with an English accent. In the closing pages of ''Gravity's Rainbow'', there is an apocryphal report that Tyrone Slothrop, the novel's protagonist, played kazoo and harmonica as a guest musician on a record released by The Fool (design collective), The Fool in the 1960s (having Magic realism, magically recovered the latter instrument, his "Blues harp, harp", in a German stream in 1945, after losing it down the toilet in 1939 at the Roseland Ballroom in Roxbury, Massachusetts, Roxbury, Boston, to the strains of the jazz standard "Cherokee (Ray Noble song), Cherokee", upon which tune Charlie Parker was simultaneously inventing bebop in New York, as Pynchon describes). In ''Vineland'', both Zoyd Wheeler and Isaiah Two Four are also musicians: Zoyd played keyboards in a '60s surf music, surf band called The Corvairs, while Isaiah played in a punk rock, punk band called Billy Barf and the Vomitones. In ''Mason & Dixon'', one of the characters plays on the "Clavier" the varsity drinking song that will later become "The Star-Spangled Banner"; while in another episode a character remarks tangentially Stand by your man, "Sometimes, it's hard to be a woman". In his introduction to ''
Slow Learner ''Slow Learner'' is the 1984 published collection of five early short story, short stories by the American novelist Thomas Pynchon, originally published in various sources between 1959 and 1964. The book is also notable for its introduction, wr ...
'', Pynchon acknowledges a debt to the anarchic bandleader Spike Jones, and in 1994, he penned a 3000-word set of liner notes for the album ''Spiked!'', a collection of Jones's recordings released on the short-lived BMG Catalyst label. Pynchon also wrote the liner notes for ''Nobody's Cool'', the second album of indie rock band Lotion (band), Lotion, in which he states that "rock and roll remains one of the last honorable callings, and a working band is a miracle of everyday life. Which is basically what these guys do". He is also known to be a fan of Roky Erickson. Investigations and digressions into the realms of human sexuality,
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
, sociology,
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and their changes (cal ...
,
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...

science
, and technology recur throughout Pynchon's works. One of his earliest short stories, "Low-lands" (1960), features a meditation on Werner Heisenberg, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle as a metaphor for telling stories about one's own experiences. His next published work, "Entropy" (1960), introduced entropy, the concept which was to become synonymous with Pynchon's name (though Pynchon later admitted the "shallowness of [his] understanding" of the subject, and noted that choosing an abstract concept first and trying to construct a narrative based on it was "a lousy way to go about writing a story"). Another early story, "Under the Rose" (1961), includes among its cast of characters a cyborg set anachronistically in Victorian-era Egypt (a type of writing now called steampunk). This story, significantly reworked by Pynchon, appears as Chapter 3 of ''V.'' "The Secret Integration" (1964), Pynchon's last published short story, is a sensitively handled coming-of-age tale in which a group of young boys face the consequences of the American policy of racial integration. At one point in the story, the boys attempt to understand the new policy by way of the antiderivative, mathematical operation, the only sense of the word with which they are familiar. ''The Crying of Lot 49'' also alludes to entropy and communication theory, and contains scenes and descriptions which parody or appropriate calculus, Zeno's paradoxes, and the thought experiment known as Maxwell's demon. At the same time, the novel also investigates homosexuality, celibacy and both medically sanctioned and illicit psychedelic drug use. ''Gravity's Rainbow'' describes many varieties of sexual fetishism (including sado-masochism, coprophilia and a borderline case of tentacle erotica), and features numerous episodes of drug use, most notably cannabis (drug), cannabis but also cocaine, naturally occurring hallucinogens, and the mushroom ''Amanita muscaria.'' ''Gravity's Rainbow'' also derives much from Pynchon's background in mathematics: at one point, the geometry of garter belts is compared with that of cathedral spires, both described as mathematical singularity, mathematical singularities. ''Mason & Dixon'' explores the scientific, theological, and socio-cultural foundations of the Age of Enlightenment, Age of Reason while also depicting the relationships between actual historical figures and fictional characters in intricate detail and, like ''Gravity's Rainbow'', is an archetypal example of the genre of historiographic metafiction.


Influence


Precursors

Pynchon's novels refer overtly to writers as disparate as Henry Brooks Adams, Henry Adams (in ''V.'', p. 62), Jorge Luis Borges (in ''Gravity’s Rainbow'', p. 264), Deleuze and Guattari (in ''Vineland'', p. 97), Emily Dickinson (in ''Gravity’s Rainbow'', pp. 27–8), Umberto Eco (in ''Mason & Dixon'', p. 559), Ralph Waldo Emerson (in ''Vineland'', p. 369), "Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hopkins, T.S. Eliot, Giorgio de Chirico, di Chirico’s novel ''Hebdomeros''" (in ''V.'', p. 307), William March,
Vladimir Nabokov Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (russian: link=no, Влади́мир Влади́мирович Набо́ков ; 2 July 1977), also known by the pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym ...
(in ''The Crying of Lot 49'', p. 120), Patrick O'Brian (in ''Mason & Dixon'', p. 54), Ishmael Reed (in ''Gravity’s Rainbow'', p. 558), Rainer Maria Rilke (in ''Gravity’s Rainbow'', p. 97 f) and Ludwig Wittgenstein (in ''V.'', p. 278 f), and to a heady mixture of iconic religious and philosophical sources. Critics have made comparisons of Pynchon's writing with works by François Rabelais, Rabelais, Miguel de Cervantes, Cervantes, Laurence Sterne, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Mann, William S. Burroughs, Ralph Ellison, Patrick White, and Toni Morrison. Pynchon's work also has similarities with writers in the modernist tradition who wrote long novels dealing with large metaphysics, metaphysical or political issues, such as ''
Ulysses Ulysses is the Roman name for Odysseus, a hero in ancient Greek literature. Ulysses may also refer to: People * Ulysses (given name), including a list of people with this name Places in the United States * Ulysses, Kansas * Ulysses, Kentucky * U ...
'' by
James Joyce James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist, short story writer, poet and literary critic. He contributed to the modernist , Solomon Guggenheim Museum 1946–1959 Modernism is both a philosoph ...
, ''A Passage to India'' by E. M. Forster, ''The Apes of God'' by Wyndham Lewis, ''The Man Without Qualities'' by Robert Musil and the U.S.A. (trilogy), ''U.S.A.'' trilogy by John Dos Passos. Pynchon explicitly acknowledges his debt to Beat Generation writers, and expresses his admiration for Jack Kerouac's ''On the Road'' in particular. He also outlines the specific influence on his own early fiction of literary works by T. S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Saul Bellow, Herbert Gold, Philip Roth, Norman Mailer, John Buchan and Graham Greene, and non-fiction works by Helen Waddell, Norbert Wiener and Isaac Asimov.


Legacy

Pynchon's work has been cited as an influence and inspiration by many writers, including David Foster Wallace, William Vollmann, Richard Powers, Steve Erickson, David Mitchell (author), David Mitchell, Neal Stephenson, Dave Eggers, William Gibson, Salman Rushdie, Alan Moore, and Tommaso Pincio (whose pseudonym is an Italian rendering of Pynchon's name). Thanks to his influence on Gibson and Stephenson in particular, Pynchon became one of the progenitors of cyberpunk fiction; a 1987 essay in ''Spin magazine, Spin'' magazine by Timothy Leary explicitly named ''Gravity's Rainbow'' as the "Old Testament" of cyberpunk, with Gibson's ''Neuromancer'' and its sequels as the "New Testament". Though the term "cyberpunk" did not become prevalent until the early 1980s, since Leary's article many readers have retroactively included ''Gravity's Rainbow'' in the genre, along with other works—''e.g.,'' Samuel R. Delany's ''Dhalgren'' and many works of Philip K. Dick—which seem, after the fact, to anticipate cyberpunk styles and themes. The encyclopedia, encyclopedic nature of Pynchon's novels also led to some attempts to link his work with the short-lived hypertext fiction movement of the 1990s. The main-belt asteroid 152319 is named after Pynchon.


Media scrutiny of private life

Relatively little is known about Pynchon's private life; he has carefully avoided contact with reporters for more than forty years. Only a few photos of him are known to exist, nearly all from his high school and college days, and his whereabouts have often remained undisclosed. A 1963 review of ''V.'' in the ''New York Times Book Review'' described Pynchon as "a recluse" living in Mexico, thereby introducing the mass media, media label with which journalists have characterized him throughout his career. Nonetheless, Pynchon's personal absence from mass media is one of the notable features of his life, and it has generated many rumors and apocryphal anecdotes. Pynchon wrote an introduction for his short story collection ''
Slow Learner ''Slow Learner'' is the 1984 published collection of five early short story, short stories by the American novelist Thomas Pynchon, originally published in various sources between 1959 and 1964. The book is also notable for its introduction, wr ...
''. His comments on the stories after reading them again for the first time in many years, and his recollection of the events surrounding their creation, amount to the author's only autobiographical comments to his readers.


1970s and 1980s

After the publication and success of ''Gravity's Rainbow'', interest mounted in finding out more about the identity of the author. At the 1974 National Book Awards ceremony, the president of Viking Press, Thomas Guinzburg, Tom Guinzberg, arranged for double-talking comedian Irwin Corey, "Professor" Irwin Corey to accept the prize on Pynchon's behalf. Many of the assembled guests had no idea who Corey was and had never seen the author, so they assumed it was Pynchon himself on the stage delivering Corey's trademark torrent of rambling, pseudo-scholarly verbiage. Toward the end of Corey's address a streaker ran through the hall, adding further to the confusion. An article published in the ''SoHo Weekly News'' claimed that Pynchon was in fact J. D. Salinger. Pynchon's written response to this theory was simple: "Not bad. Keep trying." Thereafter, the first piece to provide substantial information about Pynchon's personal life was a biographical account written by a former Cornell University friend, Jules Siegel, and published in ''Playboy'' magazine. In his article, Siegel reveals that Pynchon had a complex (psychology), complex about his teeth and underwent extensive and painful reconstructive surgery, was nicknamed "Tom" at Cornell and attended mass (liturgy), Mass diligently, acted as best man at Siegel's wedding, and that he later also had an affair with Siegel's wife. Siegel recalls Pynchon saying he did attend some of
Vladimir Nabokov Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (russian: link=no, Влади́мир Влади́мирович Набо́ков ; 2 July 1977), also known by the pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym ...
's lectures at Cornell but that he could hardly make out what Nabokov was saying because of his thick Russian accent. Siegel also records Pynchon's commenting: "Every weirdo in the world is on my wavelength", an observation borne out by the crank (person), crankiness and zealotry that has attached itself to his name and work in subsequent years.


1990s

Pynchon does not like to talk with reporters, and refuses the spectacle of celebrity and public appearances. Some readers and critics have suggested that there were and are perhaps aesthetic (and ideological) motivations behind his choice to remain aloof from public life. For example, the protagonist in Janette Turner Hospital's short story "For Mr. Voss or Occupant" (published in 1991), explains to her daughter that she is writing More recently, book critic Arthur Salm has written that Pynchon has published a number of articles and reviews in the mainstream American media, including words of support for Salman Rushdie and his then-wife, Marianne Wiggins, after the fatwa was pronounced The Satanic Verses controversy, against Rushdie by the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In the following year, Rushdie's enthusiastic review of Pynchon's ''Vineland'' prompted Pynchon to send him another message hinting that if Rushdie were ever in New York, the two should arrange a meeting. Eventually, the two did have dinner together. Rushdie later commented: "He was extremely Pynchon-esque. He was the Pynchon I wanted him to be". In 1990, Pynchon married his literary agent, Melanie Jackson—a great-granddaughter of Theodore Roosevelt and a granddaughter of Robert H. Jackson, U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg trials prosecutor—and fathered a son, Jackson, in 1991. The disclosure of Pynchon's 1990s location in New York City, after many years in which he was believed to be dividing his time between Mexico and northern California, led some journalists and photographers to try to track him down. Shortly before the publication of ''Mason & Dixon'' in 1997, a CNN camera crew filmed him in Manhattan. Angered by this invasion of his privacy, he called CNN asking that he not be identified in the footage of the street scenes near his home. When asked by CNN, Pynchon rejected their characterization of him as a recluse, remarking "My belief is that 'recluse' is a code word generated by journalists ... meaning, 'doesn't like to talk to reporters'." CNN also quoted him as saying, "Let me be unambiguous. I prefer not to be photographed." The next year, a reporter for the ''Sunday Times (South Africa), Sunday Times'' managed to snap a photo of him as he was walking with his son. After several references to Pynchon's work and reputation were made on NBC's ''The John Larroquette Show'', Pynchon (through his agent) reportedly contacted the series' producers to offer suggestions and corrections. When a local Pynchon sighting became a major plot point in a 1994 episode of the series, Pynchon was sent the script for his approval; as well as providing the title of a fictitious work to be used in one episode ("Pandemonium of the Sun"), the novelist apparently vetoed a final scene that called for an extra playing him to be filmed from behind, walking away from the shot. Pynchon also insisted that it should be specifically mentioned in the episode that Pynchon was seen wearing a T-shirt showing psychedelic-rock musician Roky Erickson. According to the ''Los Angeles Times'', this spurred an increase in sales of Erickson's albums. Also during the 1990s, Pynchon befriended members of the band Lotion (band), Lotion and contributed liner notes for the band's 1995 album ''Nobody's Cool''. Although the band initially claimed that he had seen them in concert and become a groupie, in 2009 they revealed to ''The New Yorker'' that they met him through his accountant, who was drummer Rob Youngberg's mother; she gave him an advance copy of the album and he agreed to write the liner notes, only later seeing them in concert. The novelist then conducted an interview with the band ("Lunch With Lotion") for ''Esquire'' in June 1996 in the lead-up to the publication of ''Mason & Dixon''. More recently, Pynchon provided faxed answers to questions submitted by author David Hajdu and permitted excerpts from his personal correspondence to be quoted in Hajdu's 2001 book, ''Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Fariña, Mimi Baez Fariña and Richard Fariña''. Pynchon's insistence on maintaining his personal privacy and on having his work speak for itself has resulted in a number of outlandish rumors and hoaxes over the years. Indeed, claims that Pynchon was the Theodore Kaczynski, Unabomber or a sympathizer with the Waco Branch Davidians after the 1993 siege were upstaged in the mid-1990s by the invention of an elaborate rumor insinuating that Pynchon and one "Wanda Tinasky" were the same person. A collection of the Tinasky letters was eventually published as a paperback book in 1996; however, Pynchon himself denied having written the letters, and no direct attribution of the letters to Pynchon was ever made. "Literary detective" Donald Foster (professor), Donald Foster subsequently showed that the ''Letters'' were in fact written by an obscure Beat generation, Beat writer, Tom Hawkins (writer), Tom Hawkins, who had murdered his wife and then committed suicide in 1988. Foster's evidence was conclusive, including finding the typewriter on which the "Tinasky" letters had been written. In 1998, over 120 letters that Pynchon had written to his longtime agent, Candida Donadio, were donated by the family of a private collector, Carter Burden, to the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City. The letters ranged from 1963 to 1982, thus covering some of the author's most creative and prolific years. Although the Morgan Library originally intended to allow scholars to view the letters, at Pynchon's request the Burden family and Morgan Library agreed to seal these letters until after Pynchon's death.


2000s

Responding to the image which has been manufactured in the media over the years, Pynchon made two cameo animated appearances on the television series ''The Simpsons'' in 2004. The first occurs in the episode "Diatribe of a Mad Housewife", in which Marge Simpson becomes a novelist. He plays himself, with a paper bag over his head, and provides a blurb for the back cover of Marge's book, speaking in a broad Long Island accent: "Here's your quote: Thomas Pynchon loved this book, almost as much as he loves cameras!" He then starts yelling at passing cars: "Hey, over here, have your picture taken with a reclusive author! Today only, we'll throw in a free autograph! But, wait! There's more!" In his second appearance, in "All's Fair in Oven War", Pynchon's dialogue consists entirely of puns on his novel titles ("These wings are 'V'-licious! I'll put this recipe in 'The Gravity's Rainbow Cookbook', right next to 'The Frying of Latke 49'."). The cartoon representation of Pynchon reappears in a third, non-speaking cameo, as a guest at the fictional WordLoaf convention depicted in the 18th season episode "Moe'N'a Lisa". The episode first aired on November 19, 2006, the Sunday before Pynchon's sixth novel, ''Against the Day'', was released. According to Al Jean on the 15th season DVD episode commentary, Pynchon wanted to do the series because his son was a big fan. During pre-production of "All's Fair in Oven War", Pynchon faxed one page from the script to producer Matt Selman with several handwritten edits to his lines. Of particular emphasis was Pynchon's outright refusal to utter the line "No wonder Homer Simpson, Homer is such a fat-ass." Pynchon's objection apparently had nothing to do with the salty language as he explained in a footnote to the edit, "... Homer is my role model and I can't speak ill of him." In celebration of the 100th anniversary of George Orwell's birth, Pynchon wrote a new foreword to Orwell's celebrated dystopian novel ''Nineteen Eighty-Four''. The introduction presents a brief biography of Orwell as well as a reflection on some of the critical responses to ''Nineteen Eighty-Four''. Pynchon also offers his own reflection in the introduction that "what is perhaps [most] important, indeed necessary, to a working prophet, is to be able to see deeper than most of us into the human soul." In July 2006, Amazon.com created a page showing an upcoming 992-page, untitled, Thomas Pynchon novel. A description of the soon-to-be published novel appeared on Amazon purporting to be written by Pynchon himself. The description was taken down, prompting speculation over its authenticity, but the blurb was soon back up along with the title of Pynchon's new novel ''Against the Day''. Shortly before ''Against the Day'' was published, Pynchon's prose appeared in the program for "''The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Daily Show'': Ten Fu@#ing Years (The Concert)", a retrospective on Jon Stewart's comedy-news broadcast ''The Daily Show''. On December 6, 2006, Pynchon joined a campaign by many other major authors to clear Ian McEwan of plagiarism charges by sending a Typewriter, typewritten letter to his British publisher, which was published in the ''Daily Telegraph'' newspaper. Pynchon's 2009 YouTube promotional teaser for the novel ''Inherent Vice'' is the second time a recording of his voice has been released to mainstream outlets (the first being his appearances on ''The Simpsons'').


2010s

In 2012, Pynchon's novels were released in e-book format, ending a long holdout by the author. Publisher Penguin Press reported that the novels' length and complex page layouts made it a challenge to convert them to a digital format. Though they had produced a promotional video for the June release, Penguin had no expectation Pynchon's public profile would change in any fashion. In 2013, his son, Jackson Pynchon, graduated from Columbia University, where he was affiliated with St. Anthony Hall. In September 2014, Josh Brolin told ''The New York Times'' that Pynchon had made a cameo in the Inherent Vice (film), ''Inherent Vice'' film adaptation. This led to a sizable online hunt for the author's appearance, eventually targeting actor Charley Morgan, whose small role as a doctor led many to believe he was Pynchon. Morgan, son of ''M*A*S*H (TV series), M*A*S*H''s Harry Morgan, claimed that Paul Thomas Anderson, whom he described as a friend, had told him that such a cameo did not exist. Despite this, nothing has been directly confirmed by Anderson or Warner Bros. Pictures. On November 6, 2018, Pynchon was photographed near his apartment in New York's Upper West Side district when he went to vote with his son. The photo was published by the ''National Enquirer'' and was said to be the first photo of him "in decades".Cazar a Pynchon
El Pais January 17, 2019


List of works

* '' V.'' (1963) * ''
The Crying of Lot 49 ''The Crying of Lot 49'' is a novel written by American author Thomas Pynchon and published in 1966. The shortest of Pynchon's novels, the plot follows Oedipa Maas, a young Californian woman, who begins to embrace a conspiracy theory as she possib ...
'' (1966) * ''
Gravity's Rainbow ''Gravity's Rainbow'' is a 1973 novel by American writer Thomas Pynchon Thomas Ruggles Pynchon Jr. ( , ; born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist. A MacArthur Fellow The MacArthur Fellows Program, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship a ...
'' (1973) * ''
Slow Learner ''Slow Learner'' is the 1984 published collection of five early short story, short stories by the American novelist Thomas Pynchon, originally published in various sources between 1959 and 1964. The book is also notable for its introduction, wr ...
'' (1984) — collection of previously published short stories * ''Vineland'' (1990) * ''Mason & Dixon'' (1997) * ''Against the Day'' (2006) * ''
Inherent Vice ''Inherent Vice'' is a novel by American author Thomas Pynchon, originally published in August 2009. A darkly comic detective novel set in 1970s California, the plot follows sleuth Larry "Doc" Sportello whose ex-girlfriend asks him to investigate ...
'' (2009) * ''
Bleeding Edge ''Bleeding Edge'' is a novel by American author Thomas Pynchon Thomas Ruggles Pynchon Jr. ( , ; born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist. A MacArthur Fellow The MacArthur Fellows Program, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship and commonly ...
'' (2013)


Reviews

* Stevenson, Randall (1983), review of ''The Small Rain'', in Hearn, Sheila G. (ed.), ''Cencrastus'' No. 11, New Year 1983, pp. 40 & 41,


See also

* Postmodern literature * Hysterical realism


References


Further reading

* Theodore D. Kharpertian, ''Thomas Pynchon and Postmodern American Satire'' pp. 20–2, in Kharpertia
''A Hand to Turn the Time: The Menippean Satires of Thomas Pynchon''
* McHale, Brian (1981), ''Thomas Pychon: A Portrait of the Artist as a Missing Person'', in ''Cencrastus'' No. 5, Summer 1981, pp. 2 – 7,


External links

:''The following links were last verified on May 31, 2017. *
Inherent Vice Diagrammed
' A reader's guide to Pynchon's novel ''
Inherent Vice ''Inherent Vice'' is a novel by American author Thomas Pynchon, originally published in August 2009. A darkly comic detective novel set in 1970s California, the plot follows sleuth Larry "Doc" Sportello whose ex-girlfriend asks him to investigate ...
'', with diagrams showing all the character relationships, a character-relationship index, and chapter and plot summaries. * *
Thomas Pynchon – ThomasPynchon.com

The Thomas Pynchon Wiki
*
Pynchon Notes
'' a journal operated from 1979 and 2009 by the Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, archived by the Open Library of Humanities. *
Pynchon in Public Podcast
'' a podcast going through each of Pynchon's novels, one episode at a time. * {{DEFAULTSORT:Pynchon, Thomas Thomas Pynchon, 1937 births 20th-century American novelists 21st-century American novelists American historical novelists American male novelists American tax resisters Cornell University alumni Living people American Roman Catholics MacArthur Fellows National Book Award winners Postmodern literature Postmodern writers Writers from Glen Cove, New York United States Navy sailors Novelists from New York (state) American male essayists 21st-century American essayists Catholics from New York (state) Roosevelt family 20th-century American male writers 21st-century American male writers