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American Postmodernity

Essays on the Recent Fiction of Thomas Pynchon

Ian Copestake

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: 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.