Synopses & Reviews
Tyrone Slothrop is an archetypal innocent abroad, but in the worst possible circumstances: he's an American on a mission to locate V-2 rocket-launching sites in war-torn Europe. On a larger level, the novel illustrates the struggle between those who perceive and rebel against the war, seeing it as an overt movement toward the obliteration of the individual, and those who suppress individual identity to serve the war machine controlled by "Them." Which side Slothrop is on remains highly ambiguous. An encyclopedic work much like Joyce's Ulysses
, this is perhaps one of the two or three most critically acclaimed and pondered novels of the 20th century.
Gravity's Rainbow is dedicated to Richard Farina, a young writer Pynchon met at Cornell whose promising literary career was cut short by a fatal motorcycle accident. In 1974, the Pulitzer Prize Committee recommended this novel unanimously, but the Pulitzer Prize Board rejected it as "obscene" and "unreadable." As a result, there was no prize awarded that year.
"[H]e is searching for the same complex imitations of complexity that Joyce, Proust, Faulkner, and now William Gass use so beautifully. There is no reason to think that he will not soon succeed. The man is only 35 years old, and the language of each of his novels is more interesting than the last." Earl Shorris, Harper's
"I've been turning pages day and night, watching my fingers go ink black, I've been bleeding from paper cuts, reading Gravity's Rainbow. Forests have gone to the blade for this novel. Don't mourn the trees; read the book. Gravity's Rainbow will be compared with Ulysses and with Duck Soup." Geoffrey Wolff, San Francisco Examiner
"We're accustomed to circular and linear stories, but [Pynchon's] is structured in the shape of Poisson's ratio--a bunch of unrelated fragments come together, form a cohesive arc, then scatter as they descend. Pynchon blends all manner of fact, fiction, characters, relationships, and metaphors into this metastructure." Lisa Goldman
"At thirty six, Pynchon has established himself as a novelist of major historical importance. More than any other living writer, including Norman Mailer, he has caught the inward movements of our time in outward manifestations of art and technology so that in being historical he must also be marvelously exorbitant." Richard Poirier, Saturday Review
Winner of the 1973 National Book Award, Gravity's Rainbow
is a postmodern epic, a work as exhaustively significant to the second half of the twentieth century as Joyce's Ulysses
was to the first. Its sprawling, encyclopedic narrative and penetrating analysis of the impact of technology on society make it an intellectual tour de force.
About the Author
Pynchon received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.