A Companion to The Crying of Lot 49

A Companion to The Crying of Lot 49

Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 2
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    A Companion to The Crying of Lot 49
    Book Description:

    The Crying of Lot 49 is Thomas Pynchon's most accessible work and perhaps the one most widely read and taught. Nonetheless, the novel poses many challenges with its impressive range of references to contemporary popular and material culture, history and geography, and slang and technical jargon. This expanded and updated companion to the novel contains more than five hundred notes keyed to the 2006 Harper Perennial Modern Classics, the 1986 Harper Perennial Library, and the 1967 Bantam editions. The majority of notes are interpretive, although some are designed to provide a historical context or to recover the meaning of a reference that, over time, has proved ephemeral. This new edition adds quotations and paraphrases drawn from criticism published since 1994, thus adding more than seventy new entries to the list of works cited. More than fifty annotations have been added and some eighty annotations have been expanded.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4076-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction (1994)
    (pp. ix-xvi)

    Ask most people who Thomas Pynchon is and chances are they will either have no idea or they will identify him as the author of The Crying of Lot 49. They may be able to name some or all of his other works, but most are unlikely to have read them, even in college literature courses.

    For those readers who were exposed to Pynchon in college, the reasoning behind this state of affairs is not hard to deduce. Pynchon, so goes the thinking, is a hugely talented and innovative writer who has made such a name for himself that ignoring...

  5. A Note on the Second Edition (2008)
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. A Companion to The Crying of Lot 49
    • Chapter 1
      (pp. 1-32)

      HP1.1, H9.1, B1.1 One summer afternoon Pellegrin notes the evident conformity of the novel’s opening to the conventions of realist fiction and argues that it serves to set up the rapid subversion of those codes (73).

      HP1.1, H9.1, B1.1 Mrs Oedipa Maas Few commentaries on the novel are silent on the subject of Oedipa’s name. Most take for granted that it is significant in a straightforward way: by referring the reader to some extratextual network of meanings the name appropriates some or all of those meanings for the novel, which thus draws part of its own significance from the resonances...

    • Chapter 2
      (pp. 32-52)

      HP13.2, H23.3, B12.3 “I Want to Kiss Your Feet” The song that Mucho is whistling contains in its title an allusion to the legend of Saint Narcissus, third-century bishop of Jerusalem. Oedipa will learn during the performance of The Courier’s Tragedy of the death of the good Duke of Faggio as a result of his practice of kissing the feet of a picture of the saint (HP49.31n). This is one of many embedded pointers to the novel’s preoccupation with the concept of narcissism.

      Cooper sees in such internal allusiveness a version for the reader of Oedipa’s sense that a pattern...

    • Chapter 3
      (pp. 52-79)

      HP31.2, H44.3, B28.3 Tristero Seed has noted the stylistic characteristics of the passage in which we first come across the name of this strange, shadowy organization. “Pynchon constantly draws back from attributing too definite an awareness to Oedipa. The Jamesian periphrastic tenses (‘was to label,’ ‘would come to haunt,’ etc.) suggest a knowledge of subsequent events—Pynchon is not tying himself rigidly to the moment—and yet the tone of the passage reflects Oedipa’s early sense of puzzlement, rather like Alice in Wonderland, as the first sentence hints” (129). Petillon suggests an even stronger connection with James, arguing that the...

    • Chapter 4
      (pp. 79-94)

      HP65.6, H81.8, B58.7 woven into the Tristero Again, the reference to the Varo painting is clear and serves to suggest that everything that Oedipa will “learn” may in fact fail to free her from the tower of her own imagination, just as Pierce had failed to liberate her from her buffered life in Kinneret.

      HP65.9, H81.10, B58.10 an organized something This is a rather casual introduction of a speculation that will come to haunt Oedipa much later in the novel. The notion that Pierce may have used his will to cheat the effects of death on the human organism is...

    • Chapter 5
      (pp. 94-142)

      HP80.1, H100.1, B73.1 her next move should have been Why “should”? What is the first-time reader to make of this somewhat cryptic suggestion of error on Oedipa’s part? It creates the impression, surely, that there is somehow a right way for Oedipa to be going about her quest and hence that there is a definite solution to the “problem” of the Tristero.

      In retrospect, however, we see that the narrator is anticipating the revelation of Driblette’s death and the closing off of one avenue of inquiry for Oedipa, though the implication that she might have been able to prevent his...

    • Chapter 6
      (pp. 142-168)

      HP120.15, H147.6, B109.17 Humbert Humbert cats Humbert Humbert is the protagonist of Nabokov’s novel Lolita and hence a prototype for the older man obsessed with very young girls. The jury is still out on the question of Pynchon’s contact with Nabokov at Cornell. For a long time it was asserted that Pynchon took a course from Nabokov, a belief accompanied by the suggestion that he was somehow personally known to the great man. Hollander devotes some space to dismissing this possibility, having determined that Pynchon was not actually enrolled in Nabokov’s class, which he may simply have audited (“Pynchon’s Politics”...

  7. References
    (pp. 169-180)
  8. Index
    (pp. 181-188)