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Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

Gravity's Rainbow (1973)

by Thomas Pynchon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,594103574 (4.1)1 / 430
  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 (101)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (103)
Showing 1-5 of 101 (next | show all)
Last week I viewed The Raid: Redemption and found myself actually astonished with the cardboard limitations of action cinema being actually transcended and nearly reinvented. One may ask about the relationship between a shootout with Jakarta's badasses and a hefty literary wormhole where Malcolm X and Orson Welles are but a staggered pair of chemical responses and Death gives Roger and Jessica the finger. Both examples pushed buttons and test our resolve. One could ruminate on bananas and Rilke for pages and not begin to grasp the richness of this novel. I consider it a gift that I was able to read Gravity's Rainbow twice. A yellow reader's guide was employed as was considerable espresso. The vision and nuance are maddening. I think of the latter albums from Scott Walker or Godard's Historie(s) du Cinema. There are limitless riches in this world, most have nothing to do with GDP or peer status.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
This book has been my bathroom doorstop for years. I've read it multiple times. I think maybe the next time through, I may actually get it. As tedious as it can tend to be in places, it's brilliantly written. The author is a human phrase-turning machine without equal. Slothrop is the only character I've found even remotely likable, so the fact that everyone ends up annihilated makes it extremely satisfying. The part where they jack the Red Cross truck is comedy gold. ( )
  SoylentRamen | Dec 24, 2018 |
Tried reading this a couple times. Got to page 400 (of 887) before bogging down with Pynchon's gumbo up to the hubs. (Uh, gumbo. Missouri River Breaks mud. It is known for stopping even horse drawn buggies with no fenders, let alone motor vehicles.) It's funny and ironic, but that's not enough. A story like this needs to be at least believable. This is tne main reason I had to stop. It just got too unbelievable. (A German in an FW 190 chasing a helium balloon and he can't shoot it down? Come on!!) I'll probably try finishing it again, but not soon. ( )
1 vote | Farree | Oct 17, 2018 |
I think I found it difficult in the sense of its denseness in fact. Well, I find it hard to answer the “difficulty” question with much certainty; I'm equivocating. I don't love it all equally no, that's not the case. There are parts that I prefer immeasurably to others however, simply because I prefer I'm not sure whether that persuades me that it would be 'better' in some sense without them. I don't have the figures for specific chapters with me but I do know that Joyce added a lot to some of the later chapters - from Oxen of the Sun to Ithaca I think - meaning that the manuscript expanded in proof. I think you notice this as you read it, right? On balance I'm not entirely convinced how 'necessary' some of the parts of the sections are, e.g., the example of Nausicaa would be a good sample of that. Still, I wouldn't want this to be a judgement too forcefully made - sometimes length, in my opinion, can be used not simply as 'story' or 'padding' but a sense of the passing of the time itself or a changing impression of the situation as it continues. For example, to some degree if Nausicaa was a great degree shorter I would be wary that the joke was too easy, the more critical parallel, ironical perhaps, less so.

To take, again, a bit of care with words: for me, Donne and Keats and Dickinson are "difficult", in that seeing the image(s) and working with the syntax both to come to understand the meaning-generation in the poem and to enable the emotion in me to be clear (though not dissolute for its discernment) are slow and toilsome. Others may find these poets 'easy'. Proust is, for me, "difficult"; a lot of times, I have to rewind sentences and whole pages to figure out what he's saying. Again, other readers might find Proust to be a smooth cruise.

I gulped Gravity's Rainbow in a couple of weeks, I think now because the sophomoric humor and 'cabals and caries' intellection were just the companionship I then needed. "Dense"- lots of characters, situations, ideas, cleverness- sure. "Difficult"? Not that anything potent doesn't continue to mean 'more' because it continues to mean differently, nor that effective writing is ever controlled by one's understanding of it, but I didn't, and don't, think Pynchon is, let me say, 'hard' to read because one doesn't know what's happening in his pages. That's not burdensomely much rarefaction "to admit" to, is it? I'm of the opinion that a novel should be as long or as short as its contents demand. I have conquered such novels of length as “Underworld”, “The Runaway Life”, “Ulysses” and “2666”, all of which I feel were not too long, as there power relied on their length. I do feel however that a novel will suffer financially if it exceeds 500 pages but this is just one of the many casualties of the era "I want it big and right now" generation.

I think you'll find, if you keep reading, that there is depth of character in Pynchon (save where, as in all fiction, we're dealing with one-liners). You'll also find, if you get through it, that you'll have to read it again someday. And it'll be a different book when you do, characters included. Whereas a James Michener or Dan Brown tome will never, ever change. Ever read that paradigm work of fiction, The Bible? Is there "depth of character" there? Read, e.g., the story of David's career- all we're given as description is that he's a ruddy good-lookin' kid. That's all. (Which is about as descriptive as Biblical narration ever gets- what did Abraham look like? Not a word!) But in a few books you learn a great deal about (his) character. Actually, if you read the painfully succinct account of "The binding of Isaac" in Genesis, you'll find a great deal of Abraham's character revealed as well. There's more than one way to get there.

Bottom-Line: Pynchon employs paranoia and conspiracy themes in his work because those are the warp and woof of America's Puritan heritage. Which, although most present-day Americans wouldn't recognize it, is no less present than the air we breathe. Pynchon's family tree is entwined in that heritage; William Pynchon, the first in the new world, wrote a theological treatise titled The “Meritorious Price of Our Redemption”, published in 1650, denounced as heretical and publicly burned. In “Gravity's Rainbow”, Tyrone Slothrop's ancestor William writes a treatise titled “On Preterition”, which suffers a similar fate. Plenty of clues there as to what Pynchon's up to! But it took me about 200 pages before I even worked out where I was and what I was doing there... ( )
1 vote antao | Sep 5, 2018 |
El fin de una odisea. ( )
  andresborja42 | Mar 24, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 101 (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
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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Wikipedia in English (3)

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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:51 -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)

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