Thomas Pynchon helped pioneer the postmodern aesthetic. His
formidable body of work challenges readers to think and perceive in
ways that anticipate-with humor, insight, and cogency-much that has
emerged in the field of literary theory over the past few decades.
For David Cowart, Pynchon's most profound teachings are about
history-history as myth, as rhetorical construct, as false
consciousness, as prologue, as mirror, and as seedbed of national
and literary identities.
In one encyclopedic novel after another, Pynchon has
reconceptualized historical periods that he sees as culturally
definitive. Examining Pynchon's entire body of work, Cowart offers
an engaging, metahistorical reading of V.; an exhaustive analysis
of the influence of German culture in Pynchon's early work, with
particular emphasis on Gravity's Rainbow; and a critical
spectroscopy of those dark stars, Mason & Dixon and
Against the Day. He defends the California fictions
The Crying of Lot 49, Vineland, and Inherent
Vice as roman fleuve chronicling the decade in which
the American tapestry began to unravel. Cowart ends his study by
considering Pynchon's place in literary history.
Cowart argues that Pynchon has always understood the facticity
of historical narrative and the historicity of storytelling-not to
mention the relations of both story and history to myth. Thomas
Pynchon and the Dark Passages of History offers a deft
analysis of the problems of history as engaged by our greatest
living novelist and argues for the continuity of Pynchon's
Subjects: Language & Literature
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