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Gravity's Rainbow  
Gravitys rainbow cover.jpg
First edition cover design
Author Thomas Pynchon
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Historical novel, Postmodern literature, Hysterical realism, Science Fiction
Publisher Viking Press (first edition), Penguin Books, Bantam Books
Publication date February 28, 1973
Media type Print (clothbound hardcover, paperback)
Pages 760 (Penguin)
ISBN ISBN 0-14-018859-2 (Penguin)
OCLC Number 32513609
Dewey Decimal 813/.54 20
LC Classification PS3566.Y55 G7 1995
Preceded by The Crying of Lot 49
Followed by Slow Learner

Gravity's Rainbow is a postmodern novel written by Thomas Pynchon and first published on February 28, 1973.

The narrative is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II and centers on the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military, and, in particular, the quest undertaken by several characters to uncover the secret of a mysterious device named the "Schwarzgerät" ("black device") that is to be installed in a rocket with the serial number "00000."

Gravity's Rainbow is transgressive—not only because it questions and inverts our standards of deviance and disgust[1] but also because it breaks down, or transgresses, the hermetically sealed either/or boundaries and categories of Western culture and reason.[2][3] Frequently digressive, the novel subverts many of the traditional elements of plot and character development, and traverses detailed, specialist knowledge drawn from a wide range of disciplines.

The novel has been praised for its innovation and complexity, though the acclaim has been criticized by some. In 1974, the three-member Pulitzer Prize jury on fiction supported Gravity's Rainbow for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. However, the other eleven members of the board overturned this decision, branding the book "unreadable, turgid, overwritten and obscene."[citation needed] The novel was nominated for the 1973 Nebula Award for Best Novel and won the National Book Award in 1974. Since its publication, Gravity's Rainbow has spawned an enormous amount of literary criticism and commentary, including two readers' guides and several online concordances, and it is frequently cited as Pynchon's magnum opus.[4]

Time Magazine included the novel in its All-Time 100 Greatest Novels, a list of the best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.[5] In addition, it has appeared on several other "Greatest" lists, and is considered by some critics as one of the greatest American novels ever written.[6]

Contents

Structure and chronology

Quotation
[...] a million bureaucrats are diligently plotting death and some of them even know it [...]
Thomas Pynchon

The novel's title is a reference to the parabolic trajectory of a V-2 rocket (the 'rainbow-shaped' path described by the missile as it moves under the influence of gravity, subsequent to its engine's deactivation; 'rainbow' being used with poetic license as rainbows are semicircles, not parabolas); it is also thought to refer to the 'shape' of the plot, which many critics, such as Weisenburger have found to be cyclical or circular, like the true shape of a rainbow. This follows in the literary tradition of Joyce's Finnegans Wake and Melville's The Confidence-Man.[7]

Gravity's Rainbow is composed of four parts, each of these composed of a number of episodes whose divisions are marked by a graphical depiction of a series of squares. It has been suggested that these represent sprocket holes as in a reel of film, although they may also bear some relation to the engineer's graph paper on which the first draft of the novel was written.[8] One of the book's editors has been quoted as saying that the squares relate to censored correspondence sent between soldiers and their loved ones during the war. When family and friends received edited letters, the removed sections would be cut out in squared or rectangular sections. The squares that start each of the four parts would therefore be indicative of what is not written, or what is removed by an external editor or censor.[9] However, it should be noted that the square frames that divide each chapter were the work of the publisher's production department, and were not suggested by Pynchon.[10] The number of episodes in each part carries with it a numerological significance which is in keeping with the use of numerology and Tarot symbolism throughout the novel.[11]

Part 1: Beyond the Zero

"Part 1: Beyond the Zero" consists of 21 episodes. [12] The name "Beyond the Zero" refers to lack of total extinction of a conditioned stimulus; that is, as seen in Part One, Laszlo Jamf decreases to zero the stimulus he conditioned on Tyrone Slothrop as an infant, but "there can still be a silent extinction beyond the zero." The events of this part occur primarily during the Christmas Advent season of 1944 from December 18–26. The epigraph is a quotation from a pamphlet written by Wernher von Braun and first published in 1962: "Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation. Everything science has taught me, and continues to teach me, strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death."[13]

Part 2: Un Perm' au Casino Hermann Goering

"Part 2: Un Perm' au Casino Hermann Goering" (French for "A Furlough at the Hermann Göring Casino") contains 8 episodes. [14] The events of this section span the five months from Christmas 1944 through to Whitsunday the following year; May 20, 1945. The epigraph is attributed to Merian C. Cooper, speaking to Fay Wray prior to her starring role in King Kong, as recounted by Wray in the September 21, 1969 issue of the New York Times: "You will have the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood."[15]

Part 3: In the Zone

"Part 3: In the Zone" comprises 32 episodes. [16] The action of Part 3 is set during the summer of 1945 with analepses (literary flashbacks) to the time period of Part 2 with most events taking place between May 18 and 6 August; the day of the first atomic bomb attack and also the Feast of the Transfiguration. The epigraph is taken from The Wizard of Oz, spoken by Dorothy as she arrives in Oz and shows her disorientation with the new environment: "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas any more..."

Part 4: The Counterforce

"Part 4: The Counterforce" is made up of 12 episodes. The plot of this part begins shortly after August 6, 1945 and covers the period up to September 14 of that same year; the day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, with extended analepsis to Easter/April Fool's weekend of 1945 and culminating in a prolepsis to 1970. The simple epigraphical quotation, "What?" is attributed to Richard M. Nixon, and was added after the galleys of the novel had been printed to insinuate the President's involvement in the unfolding Watergate scandal.[17] The original quotation for this section (as seen in the Advanced Reading Copies of the book) was a Joni Mitchell poem, so the change in quote jumped a large cultural divide.

Plot summary

A rocket based on the V-2 design being fired.

The plot of the novel is complex, containing over 400 characters and involving many different threads of narrative which intersect and weave around one another.[18] The recurring themes throughout the plot are the V-2 rocket, interplay between free will and Calvinistic predestination, breaking the cycle of nature, behavioral psychology, sexuality and conspiracy theories such as the Phoebus cartel and the Illuminati. Gravity's Rainbow also draws heavily on themes that Pynchon had probably encountered at his work as a technical writer for Boeing, where he edited a support newsletter for the Bomarc Missile Program support unit. The Boeing archives are known to house a vast library of historical V-2 rocket documents, which were probably accessible to Pynchon. The novel is narrated by many distinct voices, a technique further developed in Pynchon's much later novel Against the Day. The style and tone of the voices vary widely: Some narrate the plot in a highly informal tone, some are more self-referential, and some at times may possibly even break the fourth wall. Some voices even narrate in drastically different formats, ranging from movie-script format to stream of consciousness prose.

As if to showcase both the erudite and the naughty, the narrative contains numerous descriptions of illicit sexual encounters and drug use by the main characters and supporting cast, sandwiched between dense dialogues or reveries on historic, artistic, scientific, or philosophical subjects, interspersed with whimsical nonsense-poems and allusions to obscure facets of 1940s pop culture. Many of the recurring themes will be familiar to experienced Pynchon readers, including the singing of silly songs, recurring appearances of kazoos, and extensive discussion of paranoia. According to Richard Locke, megalomaniac paranoia is the "operative emotion" behind the novel,[19] and an increasingly central motivator for the many main characters. In many cases, this paranoia proves to be vindicated, as the many plots of the novel become increasingly interconnected, revolving around the identity and purpose of the elusive 00000 Rocket and Schwarzgerät. The novel becomes increasingly preoccupied with themes of Tarot, Paranoia, and Sacrifice. All three themes culminate in the novel's ending, and the epilogue of the many characters. The novel also features the character Pig Bodine, of Pynchon's novel V.. Pig Bodine would later become a recurring avatar of Pynchon's complex and interconnected fictional universe, making an appearance in nearly all of Pynchon's novels thereafter.

The novel also shares many themes with Pynchon's much later Against the Day, and indeed some critics have called Against the Day a "prequel" to Gravity's Rainbow.[citation needed] Against The Day becomes increasingly dark as the plot approaches World War I, and Gravity's Rainbow takes these sentiments to their extreme in its highly pessimistic culmination of World War II .

The opening pages of the novel follow Pirate Prentice, first in his dreams, and later around his house in wartime London. Pirate then goes to work at ACHTUNG, a top-secret military branch, with Roger Mexico and Pointsman, who both worked there at the time. It is here the reader is introduced to the possibly promiscuous US Army lieutenant named Tyrone Slothrop (at certain points in the book, Pynchon leads the reader to doubt the very existence of the women Slothrop claims to sleep with), whose erratic story becomes the main plot throughout most of the novel. In "Beyond The Zero", some of the other characters and organizations of the book note that each of Slothrop's sexual encounters in London precedes a V-2 rocket hit in the same place by several days. Both Slothrop's encounters and the rocket sites match the Poisson Distributions calculated by Roger Mexico, leading into reflections on topics as broad as Determinism, the reverse flow of time, and the sexuality of the rocket itself. Slothrop meets a woman named Katje, and they fall in love, maintaining a relationship until Slothrop's sudden removal to Germany in part three. Many characters not significant until later are introduced in "Beyond the Zero", including Franz and Leni Pökler, Roger Mexico and Jessica, and Thomas Gwenhidwy, some of whom don't appear until the closing pages of the novel, many of whom don't appear again at all. Indeed, most of the four hundred named characters only make singular appearances, serving merely to demonstrate the sheer scope of Pynchon's universe. Slothrop is also submitted to various psychological tests, many involving the drug Sodium Amytal. Pavlovian conditioning is a recurring topic, mostly explored through the character of Pavlovian researcher Pointsman. One of the more bizarre Pavlovian episodes involves the conditioning of octopus Grigori to respond to the girl Katje. Early in part two, the octopus attacks Katje on the beach, and Slothrop is "conveniently" at hand to rescue her. Their romance begins here, extending into Part Three and the events that follow.

In part two, "Un Perm' au Casino Hermann Goering", Slothrop is studied covertly and sent away by superiors in mysterious circumstances to the Hermann Göring casino in recently liberated France, in which almost the entirety of Part Two takes place. There he learns of a rocket, with the irregular serial number 00000 (Slothrop comments that the numbering system doesn't allow for four zeroes in one serial, let alone five), and a component called the S-Gerät (short for Schwarzgerät, which translates to black device) which is made out of the hitherto unknown plastic Imipolex G. Several companions suddenly disappear or re-appear after extended amounts of time, including the two guards watching Slothrop and Katje. It is hinted at that Slothrop's prescience of rocket hits is due to being conditioned as an infant by the creator of Imipolex G, Laszlo Jamf. Later, the reality of this story is called into question in a similar fashion as the existence of Slothrop's original sexual exploits were. After getting this information, Slothrop escapes from the casino into the coalescing post-war wasteland of Europe, "The Zone", searching for the 00000 and S-Gerät. In the closing of Part Two, Katje is revealed to be safe in England, enjoying a day at the beach with Roger Mexico and Jessica, as well as Pointsman, who is in charge of Slothrop's furtive supervision. While unable to contact Slothrop (or prohibited from contacting him), Katje continues to follow his actions through Pointsman.

Slothrop's quest continues for some time "In The Zone" as he is chased by other characters. Many of these characters are referred to as "shadows," and are only partially glimpsed by the protagonist. Much of the plot takes place on "The Anubis", a ferry on which many different characters travel at various times. Slothrop meets and has an extended relationship with Margherita Erdman, a Pornographic film actress and masochist. Originally meeting her in an abandoned studio in The Zone, it is she who leads him on to the Anubis. Here, Slothrop later also has extended encounters with her twelve-year-old daughter Bianca, though it is unclear whether or not he has stopped his casual relationship with Margherita by this time. Margherita is later shown to know a great deal more about the 00000, S-Gerät, and Imipolex G than she lets on, even having spent many days in a mysterious and ambiguously described factory and being clothed in an outfit made from the "erotic" plastic. Towards the end of this section, several characters not seen since early in the novel make a return, including Pirate Prentice, in his first appearance since the novel's very start, as well as Roger Mexico. "In The Zone" also contains the longest episode of the book, a lengthy tale of Franz Pökler, a rocket engineer unwittingly set to assist on the S-Gerät's production. The story details Pökler's annual meetings with his daughter Ilse, and his growing paranoia that Ilse is really a series of impostors sent each year to mollify him. Through this story, we find out sparse details about the S-Gerät, including that it has an approximate weight of thirty-four kilograms. The story ultimately reveals that the 00000 was fired in the spring of 1945, close to the end of the war. Slothrop spends much of the time as his invented alter-ego Rocketman, who wears a white Zoot Suit and the cone of a rocket-nose. Rocketman completes various tasks for his own and others' purposes, including retrieving a large stash of hashish from the centre of the Potsdam Conference. This continues until he leaves the region for northern Germany, continuing his quest for the 00000, as well as answers to his past. It becomes steadily apparent that Slothrop is somehow connected to Dr. Laszlo Jamf, and a series of experiments performed on him as a child.

Slothrop later returns to the Anubis to find Bianca dead, a possible trigger for his impending decline. He continues his pilgrimage through northern Germany, at various stages donning the identities of a Russian General and mythical Pig Hero in turn, in search of more information on his childhood and the 00000. Unfortunately, he is repeatedly sidetracked until his persona fragments totally in part four, despite the efforts of some to save him. Throughout "The Counterforce", there are several brief, hallucinatory stories, of superheroes, silly Kamikaze pilots, and immortal sentient lightbulbs. These are presumed to be the product of Slothrop's finally collapsed mind. The final identification of him of any certainty is his picture on the cover of an album by obscure English band "The Fool" (another allusion to Tarot, which becomes increasingly significant), where he is credited as playing the Harmonica and Kazoo. At the same time, other characters' narratives begin to collapse as well, with some characters taking a bizarre trip through Hell, and others flying into nothingness on Zeppelins. A variety of interpretations of this fact exist, including theories that all of the involved characters have a shared consciousness, or even that the other characters are part of Slothrop's mind, and thus disintegrate along with it. Slothrop's narrative ends a surprisingly long time before the novel's end, which focuses more on the 00000, and the people associated with its construction and launch (namely Blicero, Enzian, and Gottfried, amongst others). At this point, the novel also concludes many characters' stories, including those of Mexico, Pointsman, and Pirate, leaving only the 00000.

As the novel closes, many topics are discussed by the various protagonists around the world, ranging from Tarot cards to Death itself. Towards the end of "The Counterforce", it transpires that the S-Gerät is actually a capsule crafted by Blicero to contain a human. The story of the 00000's launch is largely told in flashbacks by the narrator, while in the present Enzian is constructing and preparing its successor, the 00001 (which isn't fired within the scope of the novel), though it is unknown who is intended to be sacrificed in this model. In the flashbacks, the maniacal Captain Blicero prepares to assemble and fire the 00000, and asks Gottfried to sacrifice himself inside the rocket. He launches the rocket in a pseudo sexual act of sacrifice with his bound prepubescent sex slave Gottfried captive within its S-Gerät. At the end of a final episode, told partially in second person, the rocket descends upon Britain. The text halts, in the middle of a song composed by Slothrop's ancestor, with a complete obliteration of narrative as the 00000 lands (or is about to land) on a cinema.[20] Thus the novel opens and closes in wartime Britain, and opens and closes with the landing of a V-2 rocket.

This image of Wernher von Braun is referenced in the narrative, giving a quite exact timeframe for some events in the book.

Many facts in the novel are based on technical documents relating to the V-2 rockets. Equations featured in the text are correct. References to the works of Pavlov, Ouspensky, and Jung are based on Pynchon's actual research. The firing command sequence in German that is recited at the end of the novel is also correct and is probably copied in verbatim from the technical report produced by Operation Backfire.

In reality, a V-2 rocket hit the Rex Cinema in Antwerp, where some 1200 people were watching the movie The Plainsman, on December 16, 1944, killing 567 people, the most killed by a single rocket during the entire war.

The secret military organizations practicing occult warfare has an historical backdrop in the Ahnenerbe and other Nazi mysticism, whereas the allied counterparts are Pynchon's invention.

Additionally, the novel uses many actual events and locations as backdrops to establish chronological order and setting within the complex structure of the book. Examples include the appearance of a photograph of Wernher Von Braun in which his arm is in a cast. Historical documents indicate the time and place of an accident which broke Von Braun's arm, thereby providing crucial structural details around which the reader can reconstruct Slothrop's journey. Another example is the inclusion of a BBC Radio broadcast of a Benny Goodman performance, the contents of which, according to historical record, were broadcast only once during the period of the novel and by which the events immediately surrounding its mention are fixed. Further historical events, such as Allied bombing raids on Peenemünde and the city of Nordhausen (close to the V-2 producing concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora) also appear in the novel and help to establish the relation of the work's events to each other.

Cultural Effect

Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, with cover art by Frank Miller, released October 31, 2006.

The novel is regarded by scholars like Guido Almansi as the greatest postmodern work of 20th century literature.[6]

Though the book won the National Book Award for 1974, Pynchon chose neither to accept nor acknowledge this award. Thomas Guinzberg of the Viking Press suggested that the comedian "Professor" Irwin Corey accept the award on his behalf. Pynchon agreed, which led to one of the most unusual acceptance speeches of all time,[21] complete with a streaker crossing the stage in the middle of Corey's musings.

In 1974 the Pulitzer Prize committee for fiction unanimously recommended Gravity's Rainbow be awarded the prize for that year. The Pulitzer board, which have final say of awarding the prize, chose to override their recommendation and decided to hand out no award for fiction that year.[22]

Gravity's Rainbow was translated into German by Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek, and some critics think that it had a big influence on Jelinek's own writing.[23]

Music

The novel inspired the 1984 song "Gravity's Angel" by Laurie Anderson. In her 2004 autobiographical performance The End of the Moon, Anderson said she once contacted Pynchon asking permission to adapt Gravity's Rainbow as an opera. Pynchon replied that he would allow her to do so with one condition: the opera had to be written for a single instrument: the banjo. Anderson said she took that as a polite "no."

German avant-rock group Cassiber incorporated texts from the novel in their 1990 album A Face We All Know. The use of the texts was cleared with Pynchon's agent.[24]

Canadian composer and satirical message board rambler dghkjflfhlfglfa also wrote a track called Gravity's Rainbow in the year 2000 as a movement in a concept record about The War of The Worlds[25].

The 2007 Mercury Prize recipients from South London, Klaxons, have a song called "Gravity's Rainbow". The song "Atlantis to Interzone" also contains references to the book.

The song "All Her Favorite Fruit" on Camper Van Beethoven's 1989 album Key Lime Pie was said by writer David Lowery to be loosely based on the character of Roger Mexico.[26]

Pat Benatar released an Album Titled "Gravity's Rainbow" in 1993, though it seems to have no connection to the novel in any way.

Television

The novel also figures in the television series The Simpsons: in the 13th-season episode "Little Girl in the Big Ten", Lisa Simpson spies a college girl's recreational reading material. Awestruck, she asks, "You're reading Gravity's Rainbow?" To which the student replies, "Well, re-reading." Pynchon appeared as a guest-star in three later episodes (though only twice in speaking roles), which preserved (and satirized) his anonymity by animating him with a paper bag over his head. Matt Groening's other television series, Futurama, features a novel called Antigravity's Rainbow on a library shelf in the episode A Head in the Polls.

In episode 409 of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Gravity's Rainbow is attached to the back of a box of Lucky Charms to create one of the set of 'Cereal Novel' inventions. Tom Servo is heard to state, "It's Magically Obscure!"

On the August 3, 2009 episode of "The Colbert Report", host Stephen Colbert pledged to mail a copy of "Gravity's Rainbow" autographed by Colbert along with a copy of economist Paul Krugman's "The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008" and all seven books of the "Harry Potter" series to an 7 year old boy of Tatamy Borough, Pennsylvania who had been denied a public library card.

Film

A German film, Prüfstand VII (Test Stand 7, 2002) is based upon Gravity's Rainbow. Starring Inga Busch as Bianca and Jeff Caster as Pointsman, it was nominated for the 2003 Adolf Grimme Award in the area of "outstanding individual achievement" (recognizing its writer/director Robert Bramkamp).

In the 1988 movie Miracle Mile, the efficient executive type woman pulls out a Cliff's Notes of Gravity's Rainbow right before Harry tells everyone about the phone call warning about the imminent nuclear war.

Art

New York artist Zak Smith created a series of 760 drawings entitled, "One Picture for Every Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow" (also known by the title "Pictures of What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow").[27] Occupying eleven rows and over eleven meters of wall space, the drawings attempt to illustrate, as literally as possible, every page of the book. The piece includes palm trees, shoes, stuffed toys, a lemon meringue pie, Richard Nixon, Sigmund Freud, an iron toad wired to an electric battery, a dominatrix, and other images from the novel. The series had a successful reception at New York's 2004 Whitney Biennial event, and was described "as a tour de force of sketching and concept" (Abbe 2004). In November, 2006, Tin House Books published the book Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow (ISBN 097731278X).

Popular Culture

A recent episode of the Sally Forth comic strip parodied the opening lines of Gravity's Rainbow.[28]

Gravity's Rainbow is famous for not being read. Larry McMurtry jokingly boasted that he knew two people who claimed to have read it.[29]

The book is featured in episode 9 season 4 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 taped to the back of a Lucky Charms cereal box during the invention exchange.[30]

Availability

Gravity's Rainbow is available in paperback under ISBN 0-14-018859-2 (New York: Penguin, 1995), ISBN 0-14-028338-2 (New York: Penguin, 2000), and ISBN 0-14-303994-6 (New York: Penguin, 2006).

Also available is Steven C. Weisenburger's A Gravity's Rainbow Companion: Sources and Contexts for Pynchon's Novel (Athens: U of Georgia P, 1988, ISBN 0-8203-1026-3), which documents many of the references and allusions used in the book. A revised and expanded second edition of Weisenburger's book, now including maps and illustrations, was published in November 2006 under ISBN 0-8203-2807-3.

References

  1. ^ Booker, Techniques of Subversion in Modern Literature, p.13
  2. ^ G. Schwab, Subjects Without Selves, p. 221
  3. ^ Thomas Moore, The Style of Connectedness: Gravity's Rainbow and Thomas Pynchon, p.3
  4. ^ Pynchon, Thomas | Authors | guardian.co.uk Books at books.guardian.co.uk
  5. ^ "ALL-TIME 100 Novels". TIME. http://www.time.com/time/2005/100books/. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  6. ^ a b Guido Almansi (1994) L'estetica dell'osceno p.226 "piu' importante romanzo americano del secondo dopoguerra, Gravity's Rainbow di Thomas Pynchon (romanzo mai pubblicato in Italia, con grande vergogna dell'editoria nazionale)." English translation "most important american novel of the second post-war, Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (a novel never published in Italy, why great shame of the national publishing industry)".
  7. ^ Weisenburger, Steven (1988). "Introduction". A Gravity's Rainbow Companion. University of Georgia Press. p. 11. ISBN 0-8203-1026-3. "the shape of Gravity's Rainbow is circular. The literary precursors of this design ... are Joyce's Finnegans Wake and Melville's ... The Confidence Man." 
  8. ^ Weisenburger, Steven (1988). "Introduction". A Gravity's Rainbow Companion. University of Georgia Press. p. 1. ISBN 0-8203-1026-3. "The first draft of Gravity's Rainbow was written out in neat, tiny script on engineer's quadrille paper." 
  9. ^ Howard, Gerald (2005). "Pynchon from A to V". Bookforum (Summer 2005): 1. http://www.bookforum.com/archive/sum_05/pynchon.html. 
  10. ^ Mendelson, Edward (1976). "Gravity's Encyclopedia". Mindful Pleasures: Essays on Thomas Pynchon (1976): 193. 
  11. ^ Weisenburger, Steven (1988). "Part 1: Beyond the Zero". A Gravity's Rainbow Companion. University of Georgia Press. p. 15. ISBN 0-8203-1026-3. "Numerological correspondences also shape part 1." 
  12. ^ Weisenburger, Steven (1988). "Part 1: Beyond the Zero". A Gravity's Rainbow Companion. University of Georgia Press. p. 15. ISBN 0-8203-1026-3. ""Numerological correspondences also shape part 1... There are twenty-one episodes in part 1; the Tarot deck has twenty-one numbered cards, if one omits another — The Fool — which is a ... null card."" 
  13. ^ Von Braun, Wernher, 'Why I Believe in Immortality', in William Nichols (ed.), The Third Book of Words to Live By, Simon and Schuster, 1962, pp. 119–120.
  14. ^ Weisenburger, Steven (1988). "Part 2: Un Perm au Casino Hermann Goering". A Gravity's Rainbow Companion. University of Georgia Press. pp. 86, 105, 125–126, 152, 153, 291. ISBN 0-8203-1026-3. "The number eight has a widespread significance throughout GR: there were eight episodes in part 2; Slothrop assumes eight different identities; V-E Day, White Lotos Day and Pynchon's birthday all fell on May 8; the text references Krishna, eighth avatar of Vishnu; and in Judaeo-Christianity eight is the number of letters in the Tetragrammaton." 
  15. ^ Weisenburger, Steven (1988). "Part 2: Un Perm au Casino Hermann Goering". A Gravity's Rainbow Companion. University of Georgia Press. p. 105. ISBN 0-8203-1026-3. "The epigraph derives from a New York Times feature of September 21, 1969, entitled "How Fay Met Kong..."." 
  16. ^ Weisenburger, Steven (1988). "Part 3: In The Zone". A Gravity's Rainbow Companion. University of Georgia Press. p. 105. ISBN 0-8203-1026-3. "Part 3 of the novel contains thirty-two episodes...because the gravitational pull...is a constant thirty-two feet per second and...because the number is significant in Kabbalistic mythology." 
  17. ^ Pynchon Notes 11, February 1983, p. 64.
  18. ^ Tanner, T. (1982). "Gravity's Rainbow". Thomas Pynchon. London and New York: Methuen. p. 74. ISBN 0-416-31670-0. "There are over 400 characters ... there are many discernible ... plots ... these plots touch and intersect, or diverge and separate." 
  19. ^ Richard Locke, book review for The New York Times Book Review, March 11, 1973
  20. ^ Pynchon, Thomas (1973). Gravity's Rainbow. 
  21. ^ The Official Site Of Irwin Corey at www.irwincorey.org
  22. ^ McDowell, Edwin. "Publishing: Pulitzer Controversies." The New York Times, May 11, 1984: C26.
  23. ^ Konzett, Elfriede Jelinek, p.16
  24. ^ "Cassiber's use of Gravity's Rainbow texts". The Modern Word. http://www.themodernword.com/pynchon/pynchon_music_cassiber.html. Retrieved 2007-05-22. 
  25. ^ http://www.last.fm/music/jason+parent/Deny+Everything
  26. ^ http://www.popgurls.com/article_show.php3?id=602
  27. ^ Title Page at www.themodernword.com
  28. ^ Sally Forth 7/26/09
  29. ^ McMurtry, Film Flam, p. 77
  30. ^ Screenshot from episode 9 season 4 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 featuring Gravity's Rainbow

External links

The following links were last verified September 8, 2008.

See also


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Gravity's Rainbow is an epic postmodern novel written by Thomas Pynchon and first published on February 28, 1973. It is widely regarded as Pynchon's magnum opus.

The narrative is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II and centers around the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military, and, in particular, the quest undertaken by several of the characters to uncover the secret of a mysterious device named the "Schwarzgerät," or "00000."

The novel was nominated for the 1973 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and won the National Book Award in 1974. Since its publication, Gravity's Rainbow has spawned an enormous amount of literary criticism and commentary, including two reader's guides and several online concordances.

From Gravity's Rainbow

  • In the static space of the architect, he might've used a double integral now and then, early in his career, to find volumes under surfaces whose equations are known — masses, moments, centers of gravity. But it has been years since he's had to do with anything that basic...in the dynamic space of the living Rocket, the double integral has a different meaning. To integrate here is to operate on a rate of change so that time falls away: change is stilled....'Meters per second' will integrate to 'meters'. The moving vehicle is frozen, in space, to become architecture, and timeless. It was never launched. It will never fall.
  • It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...secretly, it was being dictated instead by the needs of technology...by a conspiracy between human beings and techniques, by something that needed the energy-burst of war.
  • Homosexuality in high places is just a carnal afterthought now, and the real and only fucking is done on paper....
  • A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.
  • They are in Love. Fuck the War.
  • But why are we taught to feel reflexive shame whenever the subject comes up? Why will the Structure allow every other kind of sexual behavior but that one? Because submission and dominance are resources it needs for its very survival. They cannot be wasted in private sex. In any kind of sex. It needs our submission so that it may remain in power. It needs our lusts after dominance so that it can co-opt us into its own power game. There is no joy in it, only power. I tell you, if S and M could be established universally, at the family level, the State would wither away.
  • Death has come in the pantry door: stands watching them, iron and patient, with a look that says try to tickle me.
  • Tap my head and mic my brain / stick that needle in my vein
  • pronouncing asshole with a certain sphinctering of the lips so it comes out ehisshehwle.
  • read old agonies inside poor Dumpster, who'd tried suicide last semester: the differential equations that would not weave for him into any elegance.
  • If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers.
  • But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably. It is the parabola. They must have guessed, once or twice — guessed and refused to believe — that everything, always, collectively, had been moving toward that purified shape latent in the sky, that shape of no surprise, no second chance, no return. Yet they do move forever under it, reserved for its own black-and-white bad news certainly as if it were the rainbow, and they its children.

Quotes about Gravity's Rainbow

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