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Revisiting Style in Literary and Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Articulations

Edited By Jasmin Herrmann, Moritz Ingwersen, Björn Sonnenberg-Schrank and Olga Ludmila Tarapata

The collected volume brings together leading scholars from a broad range of disciplines in the humanities to interrogate the productivity of style as an element of cultural expression and a parameter of cultural analysis. Despite its ubiquity in examinations of artistic singularity or postulations of epochal patterns, style remains a notoriously elusive concept. Suspicious of monolithic definitions, the contributions assembled in this volume address style from a multiplicity of methodological and conceptual angles, drawing from fields that include literary studies, film and media studies, post-structuralist philosophy, philosophy of science, and American cultural studies.

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24 Thomas Pynchon’s Stylistic Transformations: From V. to Bleeding Edge


Abstract: From early on, Pynchon has been a master of stylistic disguise: he stages his texts as a fast-changing sequence of stylistic masques, takes delight in burlesque and parody, in the mixing of genres as much as in the mixing of discourses. His texts—as much as the world his protagonists experience—are marked by the paranoid’s craving for order and coherence, at the same time that they allow for the possibility of total incoherence, the random listing of facts, dates, objects. Yet despite their narrative discontinuities, their multiple changes of perspective, their time-leaps, their broken stylistic surfaces, Pynchon’s fictions extend into the reader’s everyday experience so that text and world blend into each other. This essay attempts to show how the stylistic surfaces of Pynchon’s fictions – from V. to Bleeding Edge – change and yet continue to be recognizably his.

Keywords: Style, Pynchon’s fictions, metaphor, allegory, Gravity’s Rainbow, Pynchon’s late phase

Although it is safe to assume that Pynchon-readers would be able to easily identify any of Pynchon’s texts by certain recurring characteristics of style and structure, what exactly constitutes the Pynchon-signature remains nevertheless strangely elusive. That this elusiveness might be precisely an aspect of his signature was most persuasively suggested by Hanjo Berressem’s brilliant analysis of Pynchon’s poetics. Maneuvering with impressive intellectual and stylistic ease between a broad spectrum of contemporary theory and precise textual analysis, he writes with reference to his own (as well as to Pynchon’s) strategy: “[r]ather than being...

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