A Screaming. . .
Pynchon Criticism

Selected General Criticism

Several dozen books have been written about Thomas Pynchon and his works; but unfortunately, most of them are out of print. The following list is by no means comprehensive -- it is a selection of titles dealing with Pynchon's work in general, and reflects titles that are either currently in print or have a high probability of being easily ordered over the Internet. The list is arranged by publishing date, and as any casual perusal will reveal, many of the earlier books lack commentary. Spermatikos Logos welcomes any informed reviews or comments, so please feel free to email us!
If you wish to see a more comprehensive catalog of titles, with more out-of-print listings, you may visit the Critical Bibliography or Bookstore sections.


The Grim Phoenix: Reconstructing Thomas Pynchon

William M. Plater

Indiana University Press, 1978, ISBN 0253326702; Hardcover; Out-of-Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us! Here are some words from an Amazon.com reviewer:

William M. Plater, a respected Indiana academician and college dean, gives an amazing analysis of Pynchon's fiction up to and including Gravity's Rainbow (the book was written before Vineland and Mason & Dixon) using not only literary references, but philosophical, mathematical, sociological, and mythological as well. He references Pynchon back to some of his own source material such as The Education of Henry Adams and Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. He delves not so much into the structure of Pynchon's dense prose, but the reasons behind it, the ideas behind it, and where Pynchon resides in the mental and literary landscape. Plater outlines the major themes of Pynchon's fiction (eg, death transfigured, paranoia, reality and its projected image) and weaves them into a very readable and thought-provoking examination of the greatest American writer of the latter 20th century and certainly the archetype of postmodernism. If you read Pynchon, you should also read Plater.


Thomas Pynchon's Art of Illusion

David Cowart

Southern Illinois University Press, 1980, ISBN 0809309440; Hardcover $23.00. [Browse/Purchase]

We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us!

Rainbow Quest of Thomas Pynchon

Douglas A. Mackey

Bongo Press, 1980, ISBN 0893701424; Hardcover; Out-of-Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us!

Ideas of Order in the Novels of Thomas Pynchon

Mollie Hite

Ohio State University Press, 1983, ISBN 0814203507; Hardcover; Out-of-Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us!

Fictional Labyrinths of Thomas Pynchon

David Seed

University of Iowa Press, 1988, ISBN 0877451656; Hardcover; Out-of-Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us! Here are some words from an Amazon.com reviewer:

This book is helpful for people like me, who aren't searching for really deep and complex meanings in Pynchon's novels. This manages to not only demystify some of the complexities, it also helps to simply add some structure to the novels. The chapter on V was particularily helpful in just finding out what was going on, especially with Stencil's eight impersonations. A good place to start for those wondering more about Pynchon's novels...

Gnostic Pynchon

Dwight Eddins

Indiana University Press, 1989, ISBN 0253319072; Hardcover; $42.95. [Browse/Order]

We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us!

Thomas Pynchon: A Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Materials

Clifford Mead

Dalkey Archive Press, 1989, ISBN 0916583376; Hardcover $25.00. [Browse/Purchase]

A book from the from the Dalkey Archive Bibliography Series. From the Publisher:

Thomas Pynchon has received an unparalleled amount of criticism in the twenty-five years since the publication of his first novel: two dozen books, dozens of chapters in other books, hundreds of articles, even his own journal. No other novelist has generated as much criticism in as short a time, making Clifford Mead's bibliography a welcome and indispensable guide. Section one catalogues Pynchon's own writingsbooks, magazine contributions, reprints, translations, and piracieswhile section two offers an exhaustive listing of virtually everything that had been written on Pynchon by 1989.

Two special sections enhance the value of this book: one reprints Pynchon's dozen or so endorsements written for other booksmost inaccessible or out-of-printwhile the other reprints Pynchon's hitherto unknown contributions to his high school newspaper. The book is illustrated throughout with photographs of dust jacket covers (including a trial cover for Gravity's Rainbow), rare ephemera, and pictures of the young Pynchon from his high school yearbook.

Christian Allusions in the Novels of Thomas Pynchon

Victoria H. Price

Peter Lang Publishing, 1989, ISBN 082040859X; Hardcover $37.95. [Browse/Purchase]

This book is from the American University Studies, Series IV, English Language and Literature, Vol 89. We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us!

Thomas Pynchon: Allusive Parables of Power

John Dugdale

Palgrave Macmillan, 1990, ISBN 0312046308; Hardcover; Out-of-Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us!

A Hand to Turn the Time: The Menippean Satires of Thomas Pynchon

Theodore D. Kharpertian

Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1990, ISBN 0838633617; Hardcover; $34.50. [Browse/Order]

We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us!

Fragmented Urban Images: The American City in Modern Fiction from Stephen Crane to Thomas Pynchon

Gerd Hurm

Peter Lang Publishing, 1991, ISBN 3631432267; Paperback; Out-of-Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

From the Neue Studien Zur Anglistik Und Amerikanistik series. We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us!

Pynchon's Poetics: Interfacing Theory and Text

Hanjo Berressem

1. University of Illinois Press, 1993, ISBN 0252019199; Hardcover $21.95. [Browse/Order]

2. University of Illinois Press, 1993, ISBN 0252062485; Paperback. [Browse/Order]

We are currently researching more about this book. If you would like to submit a review or synopsis of this work, please contact us!

Thomas Pynchon's Narratives: Subjectivity and Problems of Knowing

Alan W. Brownlie

Peter Lang Publishing, 2000, ISBN 0820445061; Hardcover $50.95. [Browse/Purchase]

From the Publisher:

In his first three novels, Thomas Pynchon focuses in part on the inability to achieve reliable knowledge of the self and the world. As a consequence of this and of the events around which Pynchon builds these early novels, V., The Crying of Lot 49, and Gravity's Rainbow tend to be read as nihilistic. This book focuses on Pynchon's use of ideas of western history, philosophy, and science to arrive at a reading that suggests that Pynchon's project in these early novels is to provoke his readers into taking precisely the sort of personal and political action his characters cannot.

Lines of Flight: Discursive Time and Countercultural Desire in the Work of Thomas Pynchon

Stefan Mattessich

Duke University press, 2002, ISBN 0822329948; Hardcover $21.95. [Browse/Purchase]

From the Publisher:

For Thomas Pynchon, the characteristic features of late capitalism — the rise of the military-industrial complex, consumerism, bureaucratization and specialization in the workplace, standardization at all levels of social life, and the growing influence of the mass media — all point to a transformation in the way human beings experience time and duration. Focusing on Pynchon’s novels as representative artifacts of the postwar period, Stefan Mattessich analyzes this temporal transformation in relation not only to Pynchon’s work but also to its literary, cultural, and theoretical contexts.

Mattessich theorizes a new kind of time — subjective displacement — dramatized in the parody, satire, and farce deployed through Pynchon’s oeuvre. In particular, he is interested in showing how this sense of time relates to the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s. Examining this movement as an instance of flight or escape, and exposing the beliefs behind it, Mattessich argues that the counterculture’s rejection of the dominant culture ultimately became an act of self-cancellation, a rebellion in which the counterculture found itself defined by the very order it sought to escape. He points to parallels in Pynchon’s attempts to dramatize and enact a similar experience of time in the doubling-back, criss-crossing, and erasures of his writing. Linking this to the problem of what Henri LeFebvre called "grammatological terrorism"— the problem of being trapped within discourses that dictate conditions of possibility and deep structures of belief — Mattessich lays out a theory of cultural production centered on the ethical necessity of grasping one’s own susceptibility to discursive forms of determination.

Thomas Pynchon: Reading from the Margins

Niran Abbas, ed.

Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003, ISBN 0838639542; Hardcover $43.50. [Browse/Purchase]

From the Publisher:

Thomas Pynchon: Reading from the Margins is a collection of essays by various academics looking at how identity is shaped, gendered, and contested throughout Pynchon's work. By exploring sociological, anthropological, literary, and political dimensions, the contributors revise important ideas in the debate over individualism using political and feminist theory and examine the different ways in which their writings embody, engage, and critique the official narratives generated by America's culture. The first half of the book is a site for the mutually constitutive interaction between discourses about the body and the materiality of specific bodies. These essays serve as the locus for thinking differently about both feminist histories and feminist futures, and the political aims of cultural criticisms. The second half of the book questions the context and pretext of political ideas of nationhood, political states, and political parties, the economic divisions of fiscal and monetary policies, and the sociological concepts of societies, tribes, and families. The papers question the forces of monopoly to exclude and obscure the underside of the American dream, the degradation of dreams, and what dreams become.

The essays include:

"Closed Circuit: The White Male Predicament in Pynchon's Early Stories," by Robert Holton
"Death and The Crying of Lot 49," by Diana York Blaine
"Menstruation and Melancholy: The Crying of Lot 49," by Dana Medoro
"The Clockwork Eye: Technology, Woman, and the Decay of the Modern in Thomas Pynchon's V.," by Kathleen Fitzpatrick
"Black and White Rainbows and Blurry Lines: Sexual Deviance/Diversity in Gravity's Rainbow and Mason & Dixon," by Julie Christine Sears
"Awakening to the Physical World: Ideological Collapse and Economic Resistance in Vineland," by Madeline Ostrander
"Influence and Incest: Relations Between The Crying of Lot
49
and The Great Gatsby," by Thomas Schaub
"Waste, Death, and Destiny: Heterotopic Scenarios in The Crying of Lot 49," by Carolyn Brown
"Pynchonian Pastiche," by Gary Thompson
"'Serving Interests Invisible': Mason & Dixon, British Spy Fiction, and the Specters of Imperialism," by Kyle Smith
"Pynchon's Postcoloniality," by Michael Harris
"The Fourth Amendment and Other Modern Inconveniences: Undeclared War, Organized Labor, and the Abrogation of Civil Rights in Vineland," by David Thoreen

American Postmodernity: Essays On The Recent Fiction Of Thomas Pynchon

Ian D. Copestake

Peter Lang Publishing, 2003, ISBN 0820462861; Hardcover $44.95. [Browse/Advance Order]

From the Publisher:

This book brings together nine original essays from Pynchon scholars around the world whose work furthers the debate concerning the nature of perceived shifts in the sensibility, style and subject-matter of Pynchon's fiction from The Crying of Lot 49 to Mason & Dixon. Of particular concern is the complex relationship between Pynchon's challenging and evolving œuvre and notions of postmodernity which this volume's focus on Pynchon's most recent fiction helps bring up-to-date. Five of the collection's essays examine the writer's achievement in Mason & Dixon and were first presented in 1998 as papers at King's College, London, as part of International Pynchon Week. The volume includes contributions from renowned Pynchon scholars such as David Seed, David Thoreen and Francisco Collado Rodríquez, and offers perspectives on Pynchon's achievement in The Crying of Lot 49, Vineland and Mason & Dixon which view those works in relation to a fascinating variety of subjects such as hybridity, mapmaking and representation, the work of Marshall McLuhan, American comic traditions, metafiction, madness in American fiction, science and ethics. Reconfirmed throughout is the ethical seriousness of a writer who remains one of American literature's most fascinating, important and ever elusive figures.

Contents:
Contents: Ian D. Copestake: Introduction. Postmodern Reflections: The Image of an Absent Author - David Seed: Media System in The Crying of Lot 49 - David Dickson: Pynchon's Vineland and «That Fundamental Agreement in What is Good and Proper»: What Happens when we Need to Change it? - David Thoreen: In which «Acts Have Consequences»: Ideas of Moral Order in the Qualified Postmodernism of Pynchon's Recent Fiction - Francisco Collado Rodríguez: Mason & Dixon, Historiographic Metafiction and the Unstable Reconciliation of Opposites - William B. Millard: Delineations of Madness and Science: Mason & Dixon, Pynchonian Space and the Snovian Disjunction - Martin Saar/Christian Skirke: «The Realm of Velocity and Spleen»: Reading Hybrid Life in Mason & Dixon - John Heon: Surveying the Punch Line: Jokes and their Relation to the American Racial Unconscious/Conscience in Mason & Dixon and the Liner Notes to Spiked! - Robert L. McLaughlin: Surveying, Mapmaking and Representation in Mason & Dixon - Ian D. Copestake: «Off the Deep End Again»: Sea-Consciousness and Insanity in The Crying of Lot 49 and Mason & Dixon

Go To:

Criticism Main Page -- Returns you to the Main Criticism page and the Quick Reference Card of titles.

Shorter Works -- Guides and criticism for V., The Crying of Lot 49, and Vineland.

Gravity's Rainbow -- Guides and criticism pertaining to Gravity's Rainbow.

Mason & Dixon -- Guides and criticism pertaining to Mason & Dixon.

Critical Bibliography -- Dr Larry Daw's hyperlinked bibliography of selected Pynchon criticism, including books, journals and newspapers.


--Allen B. Ruch
17 October 2003


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