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Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

Gravity's Rainbow (original 1973; edition 1973)

by Thomas Pynchon

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7,23972492 (4.13)1 / 337
Title:Gravity's Rainbow
Authors:Thomas Pynchon
Info:Viking Compass Edition (1973), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 760 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (1973)

Recently added byprivate library, paul17, Zining, HeathDAlberts, AKingston
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Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
I'm fairly sure this book will meet, and then exceed, your expectations. Whichever way they run. Brilliant, pretentious, deviant, long, and so much more. If you're planning on reading this for the first time, I'll echo some good advice: most of the hard to understand stuff is at the beginning, and Slothrop is the main character (to a certain degree).
4.5 stars oc ( )
  starcat | Aug 11, 2014 |
all-time favorite. ( )
  KRoan | Jul 25, 2014 |
I have three copies of this book, all read at various times of my life with notes in the margins. I studied Pynchon extensively in college, a fact which always amazes me when I look at my reading habits now. Still, it's a significant read in my development, and sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I'd continued down the po-mo road in my graduate studies. I still love flipping through the copies I have and seeing how my thoughts about the book changed over time. I should do it again. ( )
  Crowinator | Sep 23, 2013 |
A great deal of the book I absolutely hated; post-modernism just ain't for me. But I would be a lousy literary snob without reading the damn thing. ( )
1 vote bontley | Aug 24, 2013 |
A friend once reviewed a book merely by asserting how long it had been around, as if this were an automatic testament to its worth. I had to remind them that Mein Kampf was quickly approaching a centennial, and still remains a worthless read (excepting for historians. It is also a great book to throw at the Hitler-exonerating fools who deny the holocaust).
As our society progresses, the collective culture is becoming increasingly saturated with works. This saturation causes communities to spring up around certain values and tastes, often at the ignorance of other equally worthy works.
If we want to argue for the existence of a cannon of excellence in any of the arts, we must consume these works with a critical eye, and not just assume their excellence on the basis of the fact that they have been handed down to us. We must ask how relevant they are to us, and we must ask whether it will be worth the time of the coming generations.
Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow is a much loved book by many people, but to a certain extent it suffers from he flaw of being automatically entered into the cannon without paying its right dues. Many people who sings its praise on the college campuses have never actually read it, but merely name-drop it to look and feel more intelligent. This is an absolute shame, for the book is rather wonderful. The humor in it is absolutely wonderful (I suspect Woody Allen pilfered one of his more famous jokes from this work). Though it is not the same funny of, say Terry Pratchett, I did have to put the book down a few times to work the chuckles out of my system (An example that will not ruin to much of the story: A certain character has the gift of Papyromancy - the ability to read someone's future from the way the roll joints). Vividly detailed to an incredible degree, the work I think can be thought of as a painting painted with a single haired brush. The dedication it must have taken to write this is absolutely incredible.
But let us as well be very wary of that last point; it is something of the books fault as much as it is a virtue. A painting crafted with a single haired brush would not tax the viewer in any way; they could marvel at it and the artist's dedication without any kind of burden. That is not the case with Gravity's Rainbow: the reader must follow the writer, stroke by stroke, from beginning to end. And this, in such a difficult work, is incredibly demanding of the reader. And while some people argue that it is a good litmus test for education or taste, I find that at the end of the day all such a journey proves is tenacity in the reader (I've met many people, with whom I am at odds on the way and the purpose of their reading, and they have read this book, cover to cover). And I do not feel that is something that should be rewarded.
Despite the book's many merits, I do not feel that it is Pynchon's best. Of the one's I have read so far, V and Vineland hold that honor. This is not to say this book is worthless; it is still an excellent work. The biggest flaw with this work is that it has over-stuffed itself, to point of being somewhat immobile. It is why so many people ultimately put this book down. V, on the other hand (a book that resembles the book in terms of density) while still being as richly detailed as Gravity's Rainbow, has not pushed it, and still has a lightness to it that eases the reader.
Now, onto the coming generations I would want to give the cannon of Pynchon's work, as I have felt that of everything I have so far read all of it is worth while. But had I to chose just one, I would easily pick V. It is just as challenging, as well demands much of the reader, but does a better job of incentivizing them to continue, without playing to the game of having to be one of those works a person finish only for the hipster-ish reason of 'few others have.' ( )
  M.Campanella | Jul 28, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
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
Thomas Pynchonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bergsma, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Britto, Paulo HenriquesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doury, MichelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fučík, ZdeněkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gryzunovoĭ, AnastasiiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jelinek, ElfriedeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koshikawa, YoshiakiTranslatorsecondary 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
First words
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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143039946, Paperback)

Tyrone Slothrop, a GI in London in 1944, has a big problem. Whenever he gets an erection, a Blitz bomb hits. Slothrop gets excited, and then (as Thomas Pynchon puts it in his sinister, insinuatingly sibilant opening sentence), "a screaming comes across the sky," heralding an angel of death, a V-2 rocket. The novel's title, Gravity's Rainbow, refers to the rocket's vapor arc, a cruel dark parody of what God sent Noah to symbolize his promise never to destroy humanity again. History has been a big trick: the plan is to switch from floods to obliterating fire from the sky.

Slothrop's father was an unwitting part of the cosmic doublecross. To provide for the boy's future Harvard education, he took cash from the mad German scientist Laszlo Jamf, who performed Pavlovian experiments on the infant Tyrone. Laszlo invented Imipolex G, a new plastic useful in rocket insulation, and conditioned Tyrone's privates to respond to its presence. Now the grown-up Tyrone helplessly senses the Imipolex G in incoming V-2s, and his military superiors are investigating him. Soon he is on the run from legions of bizarre enemies through the phantasmagoric horrors of Germany.

That's just the Imipolex G tip of the shrieking vehicle that is Pynchon's book. It's pretty much impossible to follow a standard plot; one must have faith that each manic episode is connected with the great plot to blow up the world with the ultimate rocket. There is not one story, but a proliferation of characters (Pirate Prentice, Teddy Bloat, Tantivy Mucker-Maffick, Saure Bummer, and more) and events that tantalize the reader with suggestions of vast patterns only just past our comprehension. You will enjoy Pynchon's cartoon inferno far more if you consult Steven Weisenburger's brief companion to the novel, which sorts out Pynchon's blizzard of references to science, history, high culture, and the lowest of jokes. Rest easy: there really is a simple reason why Kekulé von Stradonitz's dream about a serpent biting its tail (which solved the structure of the benzene molecule) belongs in the same novel as the comic-book-hero Plastic Man.

Pynchon doesn't want you to rest easy with solved mysteries, though. Gravity's Rainbow uses beautiful prose to induce an altered state of consciousness, a buzz. It's a trip, and it will last. --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:19 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

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)

(summary from another edition)

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