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Gravity's Rainbow (Penguin Twentieth-Century…

Gravity's Rainbow (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics) (original 1973; edition 1995)

by Thomas Pynchon

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,239113579 (4.08)1 / 437
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.… (more)
Title:Gravity's Rainbow (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
Authors:Thomas Pynchon
Info:Penguin Classics (1995), Paperback, 768 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (1973)

  1. 80
    Ulysses by James Joyce (Jen7r)
  2. 70
    Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (AndySandwich)
    AndySandwich: Books that cause neuroses.
  3. 42
    House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (AndySandwich)
    AndySandwich: Gravity's Rainbow = paranoia House of Leaves = claustrophobia
  4. 10
    Ratner's Star by Don DeLillo (alaskayo)
    alaskayo: Like Pynchon? Like DeLillo? Here we gots DeLillo's enthusiastic and goofy response to his own, favorable experience with Pynchon's most famous monsterwork. Wit, mathematical math and DeLillo dialogue.
  5. 44
    Moby Dick by Herman Melville (ateolf)
  6. 00
    Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg by Derek Swannson (jasbro)

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English (111)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (113)
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
No words. I just need to come back to reality for a while. ( )
  victorvila | Oct 29, 2020 |
I first read this a long time ago when it was given to me by a someone whose tastes I admire.

Over the years since that initial immersion it has never been far from my mind. It often surprised me how many things would be on the radio, on TV, in songs, in films, where you could say, "do you know that bit in Gravity’s Rainbow where......."

So I returned to Gravity's Rainbow. But first I read a few reviews on Amazon because when I first read it there was no Internet.

This is my favourite one star review:
"Every sentence (every, single sentence) of this novel attempts grandiose, complex profundity, so much so that it feels like being flayed alive by words alone. I wanted to stab myself in the head just to relieve the pain."

Imagine wearing a pair of glasses that have one eye covered with one of those thick lenses that distort everything and the other with one of those prism lenses that split the image into six or eight kaleidoscopic images. Then imagine wearing those glasses while facing backwards on a runaway horse that is running through a hallucogenic landscape populated with very strange people having sex in every imaginable position. Somewhere in front of you someone is shouting something and even though you can catch most of the words you do not understand a single thing that is being said.

That is what it is like when you start to read Gravity's Rainbow. It is not a book with a "beginning", it just "is", hence the numerous one star reviews like the one above.

If you have ever taken really good strong LSD you will feel right at home here. If you have read and enjoyed Ulysses you will be right at home here. If you have ever had a serious mental condition you will be right at home here. If you have lived your whole life between the lines and never looked sideways then you may feel a tad uncomfortable with this book. There is more that is bent in this book than you can shake a very large penis shaped stick at.

BUT...once you are in there you will feel really alive and wonder if you are becoming addicted. At 776 pages there is time enough to form a very unhealthy addiction and for anal sex to look like a healthy pastime.

BUT...fear not dear reader, for once you have acclimatised you will witness one author achieving something that painters, potters, philosophers, musicians, writers, film makers have all tried at least once to do and that is to make something come alive and transcend its medium. For this book will take you to another place entirely.

There is a flow about this book that once experienced will never completely leave you. It is like visiting another country while you are dreaming and yet awake at the same time. There are those shifting sliding dioramas familiar in dreamscapes, words that will stretch out to mean something altogether different.

Like a spell this book will make you its own. You will never be really sure that you know what it is about then one day you will think you do know only for a later revelation that you never really knew even while snatches of it will be reaching out for you to hold on to.

It's like this book wants to be rated at exactly 5.01293774265 Stars ( )
  Ken-Me-Old-Mate | Sep 24, 2020 |
This is where the 5-star rating system falls short. Do I think this book is brilliant, yes. Do I think that the author exhibited some sort of genius and is writing a book at a level above my comprehension, definitely! Did I enjoy the book, not so much...

It took me about a year to read this novel, there are parts in it that are masterful and with prose and style that I couldn't believe. There was so much however that I simply didn't understand or have a clue as to what was going on. I felt like I was trying to play baseball with Major-League players - I was totally out of my league.

I am happy I finished the novel, despite not knowing what a majority of it was about. I would like to think I'm a somewhat experienced and competent reader having enjoyed Cervantes, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, DeLillo, Steinbeck, Dostoyevsky and many other classic authors. But this book was way beyond me. I have read Infinite Jest and Underworld and really enjoyed both thinking I would be able to handle Gravity's Rainbow and I was sorely mistaken. Beware future reader with what you're getting into with this book. The commitment of trying to read this novel is immense and I fully admit it's probably worth your time reading something else unless you're up for the effort of reading a book for 30 hours where you really don't know what's going on most of the time. To add to the overall frustration, I fully realize as well it's probably worth me now re-reading it to get a better appreciation of its depth but I admit I'm just not up for reading this book again any time soon. ( )
  briandarvell | Aug 7, 2020 |
Brilliant. Revolting. Not at all concerned with your 'beliefs' or sensitivities. A heavy underpinning of statistical interpretation of purpose. I'm thinking he was influenced by Tolstoy's 'individual dots of experience' approach to War & Peace. As far as the oldfashioned slapstick and 'narrative defined by those controlling media'... well, anticipates DFW's Infinite Jest there. ( )
  MccMichaelR | Jul 24, 2020 |
I dallied with the idea of writing a very short review, saying pithy things like:

"I'm glad that's over."



OR should I go more eloquent: "I'm going to set this day as an anniversary to commemorate why I'll never read this book again."

But I think I'll just state that I think I just got post-moderned in the ass.

Or I could say some wonderful things about the novel, too, of which there are many, many wonderful things, such a great and funny commentary on WAR, Operant Conditioning, Drug Fiends, Erections, Scatophagy, Porn, Dirty Limericks, Porn, the Physics of rocketry and drug making, Porn, Orgasmo, Porn, and a great scene near the beginning that brought to mind Pink Floyd's The Wall movie with the buttcheeks over London mixed with a sampling of the BLOB and Bananas.

Do you think this was an easy book to read? You might think so with all the Porn. But no. It's a drug-trip with funny scenes that's very smart and it goes way beyond my tolerance level for being smug. Maybe all this 60's and 70's thing about making sure every penis and vagina is getting it on to shock the straights just isn't for me. I'd like a little story with my porn. Fortunately, there's a lot of story hidden right beneath the surface, here. It might be hiding right beneath all the SS or a few more Nazis or just behind that other Nazi, or is it behind this one?

Golly, it's kinda hard to find it. I know it's there. But at least there's yet another erection and girls everywhere are flocking to this inexplicable sex symbol... but wait! Yeah... I have to admit the nasal erection bit was funny as hell.


I've read better bricks. I've even had better bricks slam across my head.

Alas, this one was not a solid gold brick with a slice of lemon wrapped around it, but it *might* be just as crazy. (Thank you, Pan-Galactic Gargle-Blaster. I need you so bad right now.)

( )
1 vote bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
There’s a dirty secret tucked away in Thomas Pynchon’s novels, and it’s this: beyond all the postmodernism and paranoia, the anarchism and socialism, the investigations into global power, the forays into labor politics and feminism and critical race theory, the rocket science, the fourth-dimensional mathematics, the philatelic conspiracies, the ’60s radicalism and everything else that has spawned 70 or 80 monographs, probably twice as many dissertations, and hundreds if not thousands of scholarly essays, his novels are full of cheesy love stories.
Those who have read Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow know that those 700+ pages add up to more than just a novel; it’s an experience. The hundreds of characters are difficult to follow, the plot is nonsensical, sex is graphically depicted, drugs are smoked out of a kazoo and a poor light bulb goes through many humiliating experiences. But the brilliance of Gravity’s Rainbow is not in spite of its oddness but because of it.
Like one of his main characters, Pynchon in this book seems almost to be "in love, in sexual love, with his own death." His imagination--for all its glorious power and intelligence--is as limited in its way as Céline's or Jonathan Swift's. His novel is in this sense a work of paranoid genius, a magnificent necropolis that will take its place amidst the grand detritus of our culture. Its teetering structure is greater by far than the many surrounding literary shacks and hovels. But we must look to other writers for food and warmth.

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pynchon, Thomasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bergsma, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Britto, Paulo HenriquesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doury, MichelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fučík, ZdeněkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gryzunovoĭ, AnastasiiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jelinek, ElfriedeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koshikawa, YoshiakiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kunz, AnitaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindholm, JuhaniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, FrankCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Natale, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nemt︠s︡ova, MaksimaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nilsson, Hans-JacobTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ondráčková, HanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pigrau i Rodríguez, AntoniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piltz, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sudół, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zabel, IgorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"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." – Wernher von Braun (Beyond the Zero)
"You will have the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood." – Merian C. Cooper to Fay Wray (Un Perm' au Casino Hermann Goering)
"Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas any more...." – Dorothy, arriving in Oz (In the Zone)
"What?" – Richard M. Nixon (The Counterforce)
For Richard Farina
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A screaming comes across the sky.
This classic hustle is still famous, even today, for the cold purity of its execution: bring opium from India, introduce it into China – howdy Fong, this here's opium, opium, this is Fong – ah, so, me eatee! – no-ho-ho, Fong, you smokee, [smokee], see? pretty soon Fong's coming back for more and more, so you create an inelastic demand for the shit, get China to make it illegal, then sucker China into a couple-three disastrous wars over the right of your merchants to sell opium, which by now you are describing as sacred. You win, China loses. Fantastic.
A former self is a fool, an insufferable ass, but he's still human, you'd no more turn him out than you'd turn out any other kind of cripple, would you?
They'll always tell you fathers are 'taken,' but fathers only leave – that's what it really is. The fathers are all covering for each other, that's all.
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answer.
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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.

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